I turned 29 on Friday, marking ten years since I did my first ever photoshoot. (What a decade-long ride!!) As I’ve been inactive here for the past couple of months- though VERY active elsewhere- I have so much news to put into some semblance of order and tell you:
I was spotted by a talent scout at Infest festival back in 2006 and began modelling that very day. I signed up to the portfolio websites of the time and that’s the scintillating tale of how I got into modelling. I should really make up a story involving a rogue fashion designer, a kilo of Scottish oatcakes and the Illuminati… 😛
2006: First photoshoot EVER!
I often get told that I don’t look as old as I am. I have my moments in which I feel terribly jaded but I also have the same sense of adventure and awe at my weird life as I did when I began this crazy decade. Though I have my ‘off’ days, I’m so grateful for the freedom I have to see anything I want, dress in anything I like and meet an incredible range of people. I have no intention of hanging up my travelbag yet and over the past year I have enjoyed more new experiences than ever… and that’s partly due to a change in attitude. I’m going to sound like a grumpy old woman now… 😉
2007: the year I met the fetish modelling industry- this picture was the flyer image for London Fetish Weekend!
Photo by Gothic Image, latex by Libidex, ropework by Esinem
Back in my day, when I was a wide-eyed innocent young thing, there was no mass culture surrounding internet fame the way there is today. There was no Zoella equivalent, or that annoying-ish Russell Brand guy that’s taken over the cooking channel. When I began modelling, I saw a small group of beautiful and talented women rise to the top of the internet modelling profession. Some of these have now retired, some are still going strong. And then the second wave came, and now the third. Each wave of strange bohemian artsy-nudesy internet models has brought different kinds of beauty, new looks, more exciting women to get to know. There are still standout models at the top of their game but now things are different…
2008: Upping my ‘fetish model’ game
Photo by Arwendur
The rise of ‘internet famous’ has changed the industry. Certainly in the fashion, fetish and glamour genres, people begin to pay attention to how many social media followers a model has. This includes bookers. I began working in the fetish industry very early on and the scene runs a lot of competitions and giveaways based on votes. While a public vote sounds nice, the fact is that a person with 100 social media followers stands no chance against somebody with 100,000. It makes business sense- a person with hundreds of thousands of fans will get a lot more exposure for the brand.
It was a no-brainer: if I was to keep my place as a respected model I needed more social media fans. I spent about two years doing photoshoots and updates I thought potential fans would like and my fanbase grew albeit slowly. This social media following had NO effect on my paying work. None. I was still making a full time living from modelling but the added stress of self-shooting mediocre content in the hope of growing my followers began to take the joy from my work. I noticed on modelling forums that the top questions were no longer “how do I perfect this pose/style this hair/stay healthy while travelling?” but “how to I grow my social media fanbase?”
On September 6th 2015, I walked away. Though I have been automatically entered and shortlisted in competitions since, I have not entered any myself. I stopped shooting boring (to me) snaps and poured my efforts into creative castings, visiting ‘bucket list’ places and enjoying modelling once again. I still love latex fashion and the friends I have made at fetish fashion shows. I still regularly appear onstage at events. I have no intention of stopping and am now sponsored by several well-known designers but now, when I work, my first thought is ‘how can I make this picture awesome?’ rather than ‘will this picture help me get more fans?’
In all honesty, I can say I feel this is one of the best decisions I ever made for my mental health and my creativity. ❤
2009: Still quite new to nude modelling!
Photos by Titus Powell
One of the main creative things I am proud of making is this blog! I never thought I’d still be burbling at you after all this time! 😛 This blog has helped me make sense of my crazy life, got me paying work as a writer (which is what I originally wanted to do after all), helped put a very dangerous person behind bars and ironically got me the following that I had originally hoped I’d get from social media! My statistics show an insane amount of views- thankyou all so much.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that my posts have become more of a ‘travelling model memoir’ than ‘here’s my butt in latex- please vote for me’. That’s going to continue- this blog is now my platform for sharing advice, observations and funny stories from my life in this industry. I have also been writing elsewhere on another blog… I’ll give you the links in a post very shortly. 😉
2010: I think that’s the year this blog started! I learned so much during this trip to Spain- it was my first time being booked abroad for paying work(!)
Photo by Gregory Brown
I’ve been photographed in sixteen countries, featured in multiple art exhibitions, had magazine covers worldwide, represented some of my favourite designers on the catwalk and even after that, one of my favourite things about this job is still meeting interesting people and hearing their stories. Most of my best friends are people I have met through modelling.
In fact… photographer, blogger and plus size model Kitty Wood (now Morris) honoured me by asking me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding in June. ❤ It was an incredible experience and a memory I will treasure (at risk of sounding extraordinarily soppy!) I’ll post some pictures from the wedding in my next blog- they are well worth seeing!
2011: Shooting for Zivity with Kitty (of course). She always brings something different or unusual out in me!
Photos by Kitty Wood
It was in 2011 that I finally took the plunge and left my job at the local hippy/spiritual/beautiful things shop (that’s a whole other set of memoirs!) and began modelling full-time. Less than a year later in 2012, I left the city I had been living in due to sad reasons that have no place on this blog, and travelled the world for two years without a home at all.
If I said I’d enjoyed living that way, I’d be lying. I LOVE to visit new places but if I’m going to see amazing sights on my own terms, meet strangers and put the world to rights on a mountaintop at 3am, I need to be travelling for the sake of it. Having a huge suitcase attached to my hand made the mental baggage I was travelling with worse and I ended up physically injured due to the sheer weight of it all! I now have a home of my own and though not all memories of that period are good, I wouldn’t change them.
I got lost on a bus in Queens (New York), possibly hallucinated Morgan Freeman, went on a crazy latex walk through Montreal, did a guerrilla fashion show, had my own private blues concert, toured four countries in four weeks and by the time it all ended, I did feel that I had changed. I was less afraid of Things Going Wrong and it has made me a calmer person- though I’m still a feisty creature, I no longer annoy myself with it!
2012: I never told anyone that I was in so much pain during this trip. My host/photographer Paul Ward and co-model “A Raw Muse” were some of the most interesting, kind, fun, welcoming people to be around that during the shoot I cracked my first smiles and laughs in a very long time. (I’ve even posted a very embarrassing outtake below)
I can’t remember what on earth we were laughing at but it must have been HILARIOUS!
You may have noticed that the pictures posted so far are all art-nude and/or fetish. That’s because it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been regularly booked for other work! I was the face of a jewellery company for a few years, did some studio days with my vast outfit collection and always brought options to photoshoots but the majority of my work was either nude or fetish related. But… just as the ‘internet famous’ phenomenon has changed the internet modelling industry, another high fashion ‘trend’ has also trickled down to the internet crew; plus size modelling.
No, I’m not officially ‘plus size’ though at a UK size 10 (occasionally a 12), I would be if I were taller. (The ethics of that are for another blog or person to address.) I am plus size when it comes to bras as I do not fit standard sizing. Either way, I’m very curvy and up until a few years ago, I was probably the UK’s only professional curvy nude model. That’s unusual in itself as the preferred size for nude models had been either very petite or very tall and willowy. It had never even occurred to me to try promoting myself for fashion work but with the rise of plus size fashion models and the plus size acceptance movement, I am now getting booked for fashion jobs on a fairly regular basis!
It is a very strange feeling- watching the world change around you- even if it’s only a very small corner of the world. In the grand scheme of things, me getting an increase in fashion bookings means nothing, though it has had quite an impact on my life. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in a rapidly developing country, or to be a few decades older and watching somewhere like Los Angeles change. I guess one day I won’t have to imagine! 😛
2013: A fashion shoot in Sweden with Josefine Jonsson. We bonded over our love of birds. ❤
Of course, fashion loves youth (though even that is very slowly changing) and I am getting older- as we know! As a curvy lady, I’m likely to age more obviously than petite models though so far things are staying in their rightful places! 😀 Looking back at my pictures though, I have noticed a difference in my face BUT I cannot work out if it’s from physical aging, life experience, weight loss or just getting better at knowing my angles! My cheekbones seem more pronounced and there just seems to be more oomph in my eyes. (When I am not as tired as I am now, the previous sentence will annoy the hell out of me- I can feel it!)
By the time my boobs are in my shoes and my face starts to look like an elephants knee, I will no longer be modelling professionally- that shouldn’t be a shock! A common gripe among models is being informed by the well-meaning public that we’ll need to find a job to do after all the glitz and glamour is fading. (Glitz and glamour? HA!!!) We know. Believe me, we do. Most of us have degrees or other paths we were following before we took a photographic detour! My degree is in writing and that’s what I’m doing now. I’m also painting and I take commissions. *cough*
I’m not going anywhere yet but I’m starting to put wheels in motion. I’d rather have my next career ready before I stop having my picture taken for a living even if that doesn’t happen for another five years. Then again, life is unpredictable so if you haven’t worked with me and want to, please get in touch to let me know because once I do retire, I will not be returning… 😉
2014: The faraway look from my first few shoots has gone. And it’s an editorial!
Photographer is Emma-Jane Photography
I sometimes feel silly for asking advice from fellow models online- after ten years, shouldn’t I already know how to handle X situation or do X style make-up? But the modelling community comes with a sense of camaraderie- especially among the older or more experienced women. I hear advice I wouldn’t have considered, find myself answering questions I never thought I’d hear or writing down hilarious and bizarre sentences so that I never forget them. (“I’d never dress you up as a merman! What do you take me for??!”)
Something I learned from another model a few years ago was to take a few days off each tour to see the sights. What was the point in travelling if all I saw was the inside of a hotel room? It was around then that I started documenting my life outside of modelling- the food I tried, people I met and things I saw. That little piece of wisdom changed my life- I rediscovered my love for adventure and there are certain photoshoots that I would not have considered doing had I not begun to explore on my owm terms and become more comfortable with pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
2015: Shoots like this, of course! The blog I wrote about this one (“Death Becomes Her”) is one of my most popular of all time!
Photographer- Rebecca Bathory, Dress- Joanne Fleming
And now I’m writing a blog I never imagined writing in a million years! 😀 I’ve posted a lot of my life in here and sometimes (usually at airports at 4am) the things that seemed so exciting and strange a decade ago are commonplace- like working around the world or travelling solo.
But then I write it down.
And then I read it.
And then I pinch myself. 😛
And even now, there are still things on my modelling bucket list!
I want to dress up as a Cenobite, I want to shoot in Iceland, I want to be in a film, to shoot an art-nude bodyscape set with a snake, to shoot in Australia, to buy another custom-made latex outfit!
And I think that’s why I’m still here- the core of what keeps me doing this. I still feel I have something to give- more creativity to shoot. Here’s hoping…
NOW: Lastly, here’s something I shot with the AWESOME Leigh Eros in Scotland. I’m wearing a chestplate I made myself and christened ‘Helga’.