Nothing inspires more creativity, desire, revulsion or confusion than the industry of fashion modeling. Its exhausting to sort through all the emotions I feel when I try to describe it to a layperson. And unless you are a professional model (ie: work for money and repped by an agent who manages your career), you, dear reader, are a layperson. And that is a good thing.
I’m trying to have you unlearn what you think you’ve learned so we can get a better understanding of what this career actually is: a bad decision for most to pursue, and a door to opportunity for a very few others.
So, what is modeling? I always learn best by not a definition per se, but by describing what something is NOT.
1) Modeling is not always glamorous.
After having been an international professional model for most of my life, i cannot wait to share with you all the unglam jobs I’ve had that led in retrospect to hilarious stories… like that time I had to pose in a tall tree in the middle of Somewhere Greece (which was lovely that time of the year, by the way) in a bikini during a snowstorm… and i had to LOOK AMAZING whilst doing it.
And by AMAZING i mean “not to succumb to exposure, to control my body whilst it was spasming with chills, and then not to fall out of the tree.” How very UNGLAM.
2) Modeling is not brain surgery
But is sometimes a mentally tough job. The series of pictures you see in this article are from a photoshoot i did while in Milan. Looks “Effortless” right? That’s my job. I’m supposed to make it look effortless.
Each shot took 2 hours to light properly, and there were 8 shots in total. Oh, and while they lit the shot? I had to be contorted into shape and made to stay that way. Freeze modeling for 2 hours for each shot actually takes a lot of mental self discipline. No complaining. I got the shots. I was the hero of that shoot – not just because of the pictures, but b/c i made everyone’s job easier by doing what i was told FOR HOURS and NOT complaining.
There was no massage to ease my cramped muscles. I walked home along a cold street in the dark unescorted for my troubles, and passed out for 12 hours with mental fatigue. But what great shots!
3) Modeling is NOT the same thing as prostitution
Not long ago I was speaking with a woman who mentioned she had started her career in modeling under the fact that she had to LIE to her family, because they equated modeling with prostitution. I was so livid for her. What an outright misunderstanding of BOTH careers actually. Prostitution is selling your body for the express use of sex. Pretty easy, right?
Modeling is the selling of a person’s IMAGE for the use of marketing purposes. Think about that for a moment. A client (or a photographer) has ZERO rights to any part of your body. But images of you, and in the case of shoes, jewelry or other accessories – parts of your body – are available for a price and to be used in marketing materials.
That’s why contracts are so very very important, and necessary for one to be able to have some semblance of control.
4) Modeling is NOT a career (except for a select few), but merely a hobby for the vast majority
Fact: most models are out of the biz in two short years or less. Why? Well, because LIFE happens. Some people have goals that are outside of modeling, like university, or starting a family, and modeling is just what they do before they get there. They’ll make some money, then get a “real” job.
Some don’t have the physical traits that will allow them to continue modeling. Growth spurts and changes in bodies derail many a career. And that’s ok. Not being a model anymore doesn’t mean you are less than a person.
And that is just the beginning, folks. Stay tune on Modeling Black Book, where I will help cover all the basics of modeling.
I’m used to standing in front of a group of young folks and their parents and giving my 2 cents worth – and my favorite part of the whole session is answering questions. So if you have any – and I’m sure that you do – please feel free to comment (down below) and I’ll answer them – as soon as I’m done freeze modeling for this catalog. Work work work!