Upping your game- model resolutions

29 Dec

It’s that time of year again- the time we collectively freak out over our tax returns (hey, it isn’t January yet…) and many of us start looking at self-improvement, myself included. As I have a few big projects on the go, my resolutions are little ones this year but one involves upping my game as a model. The other is setting up a new website for my professional and fiction writing.

While I have a blog in the works about the ways people shoot themselves in the foot when trying to make a living as a model (or any professional really), this one’s about the little things that make all the difference. I asked industry people how they knew they were working with a really good pro model and combined their advice with mine.
NB: When I say ‘professional’, I am referring to attitude and not whether modelling is a full-time occupation.

While I detest the phrase, this is how to “take it to the next level” as Tyra Banks would say…

1) Arrive professionally!
I considered this ‘basic’ knowledge but it came up so often I couldn’t not add it to the list.
Wear loose-fitting clothing and no underwear when travelling to photoshoots- it means there will be no lines or marks on your body that will need photoshopping out. During the photoshoot, work from less clothed to more clothed. Nude to fashion. Same reason- starting in lingerie before moving onto nude means you’ll have red marks from your bra and knickers.
If there will be a stylist, come with no make-up on at all. If not, check in advance how the photographer would like you to arrive- some models prefer to come 100% shoot-ready, others apply foundation, powder and eyebrow pencil so they can freshly do any look required with the basics already in place. This works well for studio days or if the photographer is unsure what order to shoot outfits in.

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Arriving “naked”. 

2) Remember your fingers and toes!
Hands are often hard to pose. One of the lessons I learned very early on in my modelling career was that unless you are going for the ‘trapped in a box’ or ‘ugly-pretty’ vibe, hands should be made as elegant as possible by:
– Posing with the sides or backs of your hands to the photographer.
– Keeping the wrists relaxed and the elbows strong. Ballerinas already know this!
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– Consciously paying attention to the way they look and feel, so you’re less likely to get spade hands (picture below), clenched fists or “Dr Zoidberg hands” (which is when you look as though you’re impersonating a lobster and what I end up with if I don’t remember to relax!)
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Left: way back when! (photo by Gothic Image)
Right: last year (photo by Emma-Jane)

Point your toes- especially when shooting nude.It lengthens the leg and tapers it to a point rather than an angle.

3) Embrace your face
I read the BEST article about the ‘contouring’ craze recently, which mirrored my own feelings on the matter (more in a later post). Learning to do your own make-up is ‘modelling 101’ but knowing when to take some of it off is also invaluable.
Pre-Raphaelite style or very high-end Art with a capital ‘A’ photographs often feature a (seemingly) make-up-free face. Though you may rarely have to do it (especially if you’re a glamour or pin-up model), knowing how to do ‘natural’ properly and having at least one photo showing that style on your portfolio can help you if you want to move away from the more made-up genres.
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Case in point- this is Ivory Flame, photographed by Derek.

I now wear minimal make-up for art-nude work unless the photographer is going for something different- which leads me to…

4) Ask the photographer what they want to achieve.
Your job is to get more amazing shots than the photographer needs- so they are spoiled for choice by the end of the shoot. If they have not already sent you a moodboard or plan, ask them at the beginning what kind of images they would like to make.
If they’re all about going with the flow, then put your ‘muse hat’ on and offer a few ideas along with a wide variety of poses, outfits and accessories. Not everybody has a ‘plan’ so as long as they’re happy, you’re doing a good job!
Also, ask where your light is so you know which direction to look and pose toward.

5) Ask to see the back of the camera
We aren’t judging you, photographers! 🙂 Models understand that the finished shots will often look nothing like what we can see in that teeny screen, but we’re looking so that we can check our side of things- the posing- is working. A model who asks to see their work is a model who wants to know if there’s a way s/he can improve and get a better shot.
Photographers: if your model asks to do something again, or asks to change pose so they no longer have a double chin/foreshortened arm/eye bag etc, they are not full of self-loathing, but working hard to make sure the raw photo is the best and most flattering photo you could possibly get! Learning to criticise our own work is part of improving as a model and a couple of photographers have seemed surprised and maybe a little sorry for me when I have pointed out a flaw I could fix. Don’t be! (Unless I run to the bathroom crying that I look like Mad Madam Mim…. and that hasn’t happened yet.) 😛
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“The magnificent, marvelous, Mad Madam Mim…”

6) Communicate en-route
Make sure you have the photographer’s number a few days before the shoot just in case of emergencies. Though I could definitely improve upon promptly replying to emails (though I do clearly note my constant travelling and 100% reply rate on my profile), I always always, always text the photographer when I am on my way to the photoshoot and again if there are any delays to my journey. This means that if I go off radar en-route (e.g. on the tube) the photographer does not automatically assume I have no-showed.

7) Rewrite your profile notes
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to your profile.
One: keep it concise and invite enquiries.
Two: Tell clients everything they could possibly need to know.
I can’t NOT write so I have a great big burble on my profile, BUT… it is spaced-out, separated, with headlines and font in bold. It may be lengthy to read but it is easy to read. Once you’ve saved your notes, check how they appear on the page- make sure you don’t have a wall of text and that what you’ve written is comprehensible.

8) Lose the ‘stripper rates’
I have never understood why so many models charge according to how naked they are! £15 per hour for fashion, £20 for lingerie, £30 for nude etc etc. How does it even work? If you’re booked for a fashion, lingerie and nude shoot, do you charge a different rate per hour? Divide the rate by the mean and median and consult the calculator? Stop this madness!!
Professionals understand that they put as much effort into a clothed shoot as into a nude shoot. They are posing for people who want to capture an image, not watch a glorified striptease. While the main ‘product’ you are selling is your appearance, it is also your skill at posing, your make-up, the guarantee that you will arrive on time etc etc etc. Therefore, your time should cost the same regardless of your state of undress- this places the value on you, not how much flesh you’re willing to show.

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“Implied clothed”. 😛
Photo by GSTim, dress by Falcieri designs

On that subject…

9) Don’t ever (EVER) have ‘secret levels’.
It is completely okay to be selective about who you work with, especially with higher levels, but hiding the fact that you pose nude (or any other level) does not work. People talk and it gives the impression that some of your work is a shameful secret.

There are many ways to be clear on the subject of levels:
– “I work up to and including lingerie level and take on very occasional nude work depending on the project.”
– “Please note I only work to art-nude level with a few individuals I select- other enquiries about nude work will be ignored.”
– “I only work to open leg level with proven photographers in the genre, with extensive references provided. Thankyou for your understanding”
– Please note that as of __insert date here__ my highest level is now lingerie. (This is a good way to state that any more naked images found are simply old work and not your ‘guilty secret’).

Facial recognition software is now scarily good- photos of you are online to stay and just like celebrities who protest through lips that have tripled in size overnight that of course they haven’t had surgery, trying to hide the obvious is an exercise in futility. Post your levels honestly and people will stop obsessing!

10) Stay pro.
Leave your photographer a reference after the shoot if everything went well! Hopefully, they will do the same for you.
If your photoshoot was TF*, you are being paid in images so make sure you receive those pictures. If it’s been a while, send a polite follow-up message. Communicating well is everything.
If you have been paid, but would like to post images on your blog or facebook etc, ask first!! Some photographers are perfectly happy for you to use the images. Others are not, so always check even if it seems obvious. If you have permission to post the pictures, credit the team if there was one. (The whole team- make-up artist, stylist, etc etc- nobody likes to be left out.)

Bonus point:
Don’t nick the photographers pasty. That’s just not acceptable… 😛

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I couldn’t decide which pictures to share (as per usual) but as this awesome set from Dirk Glassly show me as the polished lady who has it all, it had to be this set! 😉
Outfit by Lady Allura’s latex
Hair and make-up by me.

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The Urge To Migrate

21 Dec

I haven’t left the country in nearly six weeks. Usually I tour internationally at least once a month and though I love to return home and make a cinnamon-scented duvet nest over the Christmas period, I’m now planning next years tours even further in advance. (It’s one of my New Years Resolutions but that’s another post)…
For photographers (and other models who would like to meet up), this blog is my current plan for 2017- including studio days, discounts and travel.

If your location is not listed or marked as ‘considering’ and you would like to book me, please get in touch! I plan tours according to demand and if I don’t know you’re interested, I can’t arrange anything. 🙂

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Photo by Sabrina Fenn, taken in a gorgeous Norfolk lavender field last year.
I’m wearing Yummy Gummy latex.

Discounts
I am running a 10% discount on shoots for January/February that are booked before the end of the year. If you would like to start 2017 with a bargain, get in touch asap with your location and any enquiries.

Short notice
You are welcome to book as far in advance as you like but I understand that you cannot always know what you’ll be up to in four months time! So… if you prefer short notice bookings, get in touch and I will add you to a ‘first refusal’ mailing list. If I still have days free within a couple of weeks of my tour beginning, you will be the first to know.

Events
Fantastic value for money, and a location ready and waiting. I have a few very exciting studio events coming up next year:
Joel Hicks’s studio: February 11th/12th and April 22nd/23rd
Hangleton Lane: March 25th/26th*.
*My first ever SHIBARI DAY– March 26th, with a very experienced rigger. (3 slots remaining)

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Left photo by huitgalerie, right photo by Follyhouse, taken in the grounds at Joel Hicks’s.

2017 DIARY

January: I’m thinking about visiting the Manchester area and also offering some short street fashion shoots in London. If you’re based in either, let me know and we’ll arrange something. I am of course available for local-ish bookings (Milton Keynes, London, Birmingham, Cambridge etc) from the 6th onwards.

February:
11th/12th Studio Weekend at Joel Hicks’s studio near Leicester
25th  Available in Oxford and the surrounding area
Considering Chester

March:
22nd-27th South Coast Tour. Available on the 22nd, 24th and 27th
25th Studio Day- Hangleton Lane
26th Shibari Studio Day- Hangleton Lane
Considering Norfolk- 17th-20th

April:
8th/10th Guildford area (available 8th and 10th )
22nd/23rd Studio Weekend at Joel Hicks’s studio near Leicester
Considering Kent

May:
Ireland tour- dates TBC
Considering Northern England tour

June:
Denmark, Norway and Sweden tour- dates TBC

July:
Switzerland-  considering the 7th-9th
Scotland tour- considering the 19th-26th

August:
Germany- art-nude tour
Considering Iceland

September:
Ireland tour- dates TBC
Scotland tour- dates TBC
Considering Wales

October
Eurotour- dates TBC

November:
Open to suggestions!

December:
Reading/Wokingham area- dates TBC

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In the near future, I may be spending more time writing rather than modelling so if you are interested in booking me while I’m travelling around, get in touch and lets plan something fantastic!

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Now, my last blog about Helmut Newton got some attention! 😉 Some people agreed, some didn’t but I like making people think and starting conversations. I searched my computer for some unseen pictures that evoked the fetish/fashion style in the few pictures of his that I like and in terms of mood and outfit, I have found some! 🙂
John Duder is hands-down, one of my favourite photographers to work with! He and I get on like a house on fire (though I’ve never understood that expression) and it seems that every time we work together we create something completely different! Here’s a shoot that’s a little bit of a throwback, with one of my favourite designers- Fabulously Fetish.

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Committing heresy: I (mostly) hate Helmut Newton

21 Nov

Are you following my new instagram? 😉

I first came across Helmut Newton’s work when I was about eight. I was having a chocolate brownie with my mum and her friend in a Covent Garden cafe, and the smallish framed pictures on the walls featuring tall busty women in, if my memory is still working, wet t-shirt contests, all bore dates and the words “Helmut Newton”. The women looked so similar I assumed it was one model and that was her name. At age eight, I also thought that a wet t-shirt contest was about who could get their t-shirt the wettest…

Three thoughts I have about Helmut Newton.
1) He looks like Robert De Niro if you ironed him.
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2) His life is fascinating- I don’t hate the man, just most of his pictures…
3) … which are an eclectic mishmash of spectacular and bloody hideous.

Over a decade after that sighting, I was working as a professional model and finding that Mr Newton is the untouchable pinnacle of fetish and erotic creative achievement according to many people I worked with and spoke to online. Bob Carlos Clarke is another (I adore his work but suspect I wouldn’t have got on with him.) In the same way Joe Public thinks of Kate Moss first and foremost when discussing modelling, Helmut Newton’s name is synonymous with many genres that make up my workload. I can’t get away from the man! More specifically, the phrase “Helmut Newton style”.

These images are by Helmut Newton.

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If you would like to book me for a femme fatale, glamourous nude or lingerie shoot in a gorgeous hotel or any other location with perfect hair and make-up, in black and white then please, oh please do! I love the first three images below!
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Charlotte Rampling
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Daryl Hannah
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I don’t love these ones…

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And don’t get me started on these.

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When somebody says “Helmut Newton style”, I have no idea whether they are thinking about nude models in five star hotels with stunning hair, make-up and old fashioned decadence….. or unflattering angles on an unmade bed, legs splayed, fellating a gun. Helmut Newton has several styles and they do not look like the same photographer! I can only imagine the horror for a new model expecting the former, being booked for the latter and realising that yes, Dr Jekyll is also Mr Hyde.

I understand that his images were risque for the time, that they were influencers, but it was easier to be edgy in the 70s. When I first started modelling, I thought a gothic shoot in a graveyard with Crow make-up and photoshopped bats was an amazing idea. Fortunately, I moved on. Yes, Newton’s work is historically significant- I’m not suggesting that he be confined to history’s dustbin, just suggesting that a name should not turn a bad photo into a good one.
If this picture wasn’t a “Newton”, what stops it from being very thin woman with ‘spade’ hands and her legs hanging open?
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If this wasn’t a Newton, why isn’t it just a cheesy, overacted, rather unflattering shot?
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I think that one thing keeping his images from being thought of as trashy is his choice of models. Helmut mostly worked with extremely tall thin women with long limbs and fairly small breasts. Women with ‘fashion’ figures can often make almost anything look daring and edgy. There are poses that fashion models can pull off but make a curvier model look lurid and tacky. This is a prime example. The pose makes smaller breasts look bigger and most big (natural) breasts look like droopy udders.
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Charlotte Rampling, Daryl Hannah, Carla Bruni… his choice of model also happened to be particularly beautiful celebrities- of course his images will remain in the public eye as long as the subjects do! Would they still be considered timeless and iconic if he had exclusively picked pretty women from the local bar?
This isn’t just any woman looking bored, grabbing her tit- this is Catherine Deneuve looking bored, grabbing Catherine Deneuve’s tit.
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In my opinion, Helmut Newton had some truly beautiful photos and some equally dire ones in a mostly cool-ish portfolio which was helped by his choice of subject and use of stark black and white (somehow it makes many photos look more ‘arty’.)
As a fetish model, I can appreciate his daring to try weird stuff and as I usually do my own hair and makeup, I find the glamourous styling makes its way onto several of my personal moodboards. I love his hotel shots and sometimes his framing is just perfect. It’s why I’ll gladly consider a Helmut Newton style shoot with you… but first I’ll ask “what style?” ;P

Doing it better…

I’ve actually wanted to write this blog for quite some time… and then the pieces fell into place when a forum post on Purpleport started up…  So I frantically mailed a few photographers I greatly admire who, in my opinion, do “Helmut Newton style” better than Helmut Newton.

John Tisbury
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Model: Vic

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Models: Katy Cee and Iveta (both retired from modelling)

Max Operandi
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Assisting Don McCrae

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Model: Your humble blogger. That’s me.

Jeremy
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Model: Ella Rose

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Model: Rosa Brighid

As I just realised I only have one image of me in an entire blog, here’s one of my all-time favourites, by Gregory Brown.
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Now, I’m sure one of you is going to tell me that many of the images above were heavily influenced by Newton. I know. I am very aware of this, but the fact is that Helmut Newton was also inspired by other people and somebody (can’t think who!) said that you can copy whatever you want but what matters is being better than the original. 😉

It’s okay to disagree with me- come and have a chat about it if you want! I’m just glad I got that off my chest. ;P

ROSWELL x

P.S. Here I am demonstrating how to correctly work with a cat. Take note, Helmut Newton- wherever you are in time and space!

Incorrect cat-handling.
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Correct cat-handling.
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Photo by Elena Isac.

A little bit of news…

14 Oct

I’ve been all mysterious recently… I had to postpone photoshoots (which I NEVER do). I’ve been in hospital. It’s time to reveal all!!!
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I hate secrets... 😛

On June 22nd, I was sterilised.

Almost every parent I know says that having a child is one of the most life changing things you can do. (Possibly THE most, in my opinion.) Nothing can prepare you for the reality and it is a permanent, life altering decision. Hold that thought…

As many of you may remember, I’ve been fighting to be sterilised for a long time. If you’re a newcomer, my rant is here but I’ll summarise:

I’ve never wanted children and hormonal contraception is not good for me. As I’m nearly 30, I decided enough was enough and wanted to be free of the worry once and for all. I am aware that this is a permanent decision. I have been reminded of this by friends, strangers and medical professionals and I have been fully aware of the permanence of this option since I was eight.
None of my friends with children are continually reminded by shocked people that their decision to bring another human into the world and be responsible for them for at least the next eighteen years is irreversible. None of my friends have been told “you’ll change your mind” on announcing their pregnancy. The decision whether or not to bear a child is a serious choice concerning our bodies and fertility and if age 28 (as I was) is old enough to permanently become a parent then it is old enough to permanently choose not to. What matters is having the right to make the decision in the first place. You (or ‘one’) may feel I’ve made the wrong choice, but that choice should be mine to make.

As I said in my viral rant, I got a rejection letter regarding funding. What had not been explained to me was that while funding was denied by my local hospital (which could be for any legitimate reason), it was not denied altogether- I’d just have to go to a different hospital. So when a different hospital called me for an appointment, I was grouchily prepared for a stern finger-wagging and another assertion that I was too young to make such a permanent decision. (As though parenthood is temporary…)
Not so. I walked into the doctor’s office and… SURPRISE STERILISATION! I embarrassingly enough burst into tears at the shock and relief. Yes he went through the usual questions (permanent, surgery risks etc, other options) but prefaced each question with the words “I legally have to ask…” which made all the difference. So we set a day for surgery and off I went!
The actual surgery, waiting times and hospital details were stressful and horrid (if you have questions, mail me directly- I’m happy to be open but don’t want to publicly overshare medical stuff) but the nurses were amazing, took care of me and ‘my needy boyfriend’ (the drip I was attached to) and as I was severely dehydrated, I spent the night in hospital where I got a 5am wake-up call in the form of a woman giving birth on the floor below. Changed my mind yet? Naaaaah…

Moving on! Photographers- please worry not. I have two tiny scars- one hidden in my bellybutton, one hidden just below my pubic hairline. I’m back to what passes for normal in my life. 😉

Still a fetish model, but almost everything in the shots are mine (and the coat was made by yours truly…)

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ROSWELL xxx

Assorted meows!

10 Sep

As this blog is mostly about the relationship and camaraderie internet models have, how better to start it off than with a crowd of us off-duty and celebrating friendship and love? (Uh-oh- hippy Roswell’s out again!) 😛 A few months ago, I had the honour of being a bridesmaid for photographer, blogger and plus size model Kitty Morris (formerly Wood). Meow. Kitty. See what I did there? 😛

Kitty has been writing a fantastic series of blogs about different aspects of her wedding which are really interesting and beautiful- click here for some purple dress and cactus action….
For me, it was not only a chance to see someone I love dress up like a mermaid rockstar and marry a besuited Dothraki but also to make new friends and catch up with two other models I hardly ever get the chance to see. (It’s Jess and Liv Free, who also did Kitty’s and my hair and make-up, and rocked it.)
You may remember them from previous blogs!
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Jess and me

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Liv and me!

I actually took far fewer photos than I expected as I just wanted to enjoy the moment- and photographer Click Click Bang was already on the case and considerably better at photography than me!
Here are a couple of mine:

Gurning again with Liv… we are just the sexiest! 😉
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Look at Kittys mermaid hair!
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What happens when three off-duty models get in a photobooth
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And here are some much better ones from Click Click Bang
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Look at that bouquet. LOOK AT IT!!!

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Happy (and nervous) bridesmaid!

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“…that’s when love walked in...”

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L-R: Fal, Jess, Kitty, Me, Liv

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The cakes. The one on the left is made of cheese. It is a literal CHEESE CAKE!!

Seriously, read Kittys blog for extra awesomeness. 🙂

On to some more meows…

Photos by MattB
Outfit by Yummy Gummy
Kitty ears by Lady Allura
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It’s been my experience that there’s always a little drama in any environment but if you believe the media, the modelling industry has it in disproportionate bucketfuls. Watch Top Model, watch a documentary- hell, watch Zoolander- the model stereotype is about 30% eating disorder, 20% pouting and 50% cattiness. While just like any stereotype there is a grain of truth to it, my experiences among fellow internet and travelling models have been almost entirely positive and supportive.

Though the majority of us look different and of course we all work in our own ways, the  lifestyle of any travelling model can be remarkably similar no matter the genre or country! I never thought I’d know two models who have lived out of their vans while travelling with their dogs, for example. 😀
Late cancellations on tour, expensive train fares, shoots you weren’t expecting to be just so damned awesome, a once-in-a-lifetime publication or booking, sad news while out of the country, loneliness, happiness etc etc etc. It’s no wonder that the community spirit is often so strong when we’ve all experienced the same very specific situations! There are even facebook groups for stranded models who need urgent hostel or airbnb recommendations. We have no agency to find work for us. We work our butts off to get jobs and contacts- posting castings, applying for castings, updating our portfolios and contacting photographers and designers directly. Our reputations as both skilled models and professionals are what puts food on our tables (yes, we eat!)
Though as I’ve said, we’re a friendly bunch, one thing I’ve seen bring out the ‘inner bitch’ in both models and designers is lazy networking. It tends to be a newbie model crime- I’ve been guilty of it and so have most people I know so maybe it’s a rite of passage like cheesy poses or mixing up your measurements- one you can look back on and see how far you’ve come both in terms of skill and professionalism. Either way, let me explain…

Most of us are more than happy to help other models network. I’ve had messages from photographers whose model has had to cancel but recommended me as a replacement. I have recommended other models to photographers who have a certain project in mind. On request, I’ve given honest feedback on portfolios in exchange for the same honesty about mine. Model networking is a two-way street. What really grinds my gears is receiving a message asking simply for a list of my photographer or designer contacts. I’m more than happy to give advice to newbies regarding how to find work or make contacts but simply asking for mine is lazy and rude. (“Please tell me who pays and who lends corsets.” Well how about I just cut out the middle man and give you money and corsets?!) The same goes with models asking to be recommended to a designer- if I don’t know you, I will not risk my reputation vouching for you.
Designers get some especially ludicrous messages from chancers which produce amazing rants online! (“please lend me this exact latex dress for a hen party in three days time- I’ll take pictures of it on my really good cameraphone.”) I’ve explained how to work with designers in this blog here: https://roswellivory.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/what-do-models-wear/

Another thing we don’t like is when people (and this can be anyone) pay us a compliment by insulting other models! We all know that a huge no-no for models is misrepresenting yourself by overphotoshopping, lying about measurements, shaving your head with no warning etc. Photographers have every right to be annoyed at that and every right to have an aesthetic preference. We all do- but if I am booked for a job due to my curves, that is great for me so please don’t ruin it by telling me that certain other models were passed over because they look like a bag of spanners. That could well be my friend you are talking about.

Of course, stereotypes being what they are, I must say (again) that the vast majority of my experience working alongside other models (and women in this industry!) has been fantastic. This includes things I have witnessed – like models in trouble who have posted online for help and got it within minutes, even at 3am. Like having/seeing the level of help and care offered in comparatively minor but scary health situations- a panic attack or hypoglycaemic meltdown for example. Like the way people rallied around to help me find extra work when I had a frighteningly large number of bills come through at once (yet again, thankyou for that, from the bottom of my little black heart.)

I’m off to be a tourist next week (for the first time in what feels like years) so I’ll blog again in a couple of weeks (the big one…) 😉

For now though… adding some ‘cattiness’ to the modelling world. Prrrrrr… 😛

ROSWELL xxx

Photos by Luci Alice
Outfit by Dawnamatrix
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