From Both Sides of the Lens: Straight Talk from a Model Turned Photographer


So… You want to be a model. Good for you! You’ve got the confidence to go out there and flaunt it- or do you? Do you want to be a model because you think that Kate Upton don’t have anything on you? Or do you think you can be a model because you look like hot shit in your Instagram and Facebook selfies? Or maybe, just maybe, you were plucked from a crowd by a photographer that kissed you in the ear with promises of stardom, when really all he wanted was to see how far you’d go in hopes of that promised stardom? The odd of you becoming the next Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, or even more old school Kate Moss are slim to none. It hurts to hear it, but let’s face facts ladies.

I was a model while in college- I enjoyed getting all made up and sitting pretty for a photographer, naked, for a hundred dollars an hour. It was fun, and did wonders for my self-esteem. I like looking through my old modeling books, knowing that was me back then- it still gives me a boost of that sexy feeling today. But now I am on the other side of the camera- I’m the one calling the shots, throwing out ideas, and making other women feel beautiful, if only for those few hours we’re locked away in the studio with great music playing and the strobes are bursting. For me- making other women feel beautiful is the most rewarding thing in the world. It’s even better when the model is in the same mindset and we get to playing with some crazy idea that pops up. Developing trust between myself and model is key to getting great images. If the model it is in for the fun and has been up front with what she will or will not do- then we will get along great!

Now- here’s the hard to hear at some point- honest truth. You, as model, unless you put all the effort into it and do your homework- will not go far if anywhere. Definitely not if you don’t to some research on the photographer you’ll be working with. I will not lie to you- there are “creepers” out there. There are guys with big sexy cameras that know how to spill a line of “ …you’ll be famous if you work with me. I’ll get you in fashion. I’ll get you in print,  you’ll go far, blah blah blah…” all so he can get you to take your clothes off for him. But- for every solid, professional photographer there are at least five creepers. DO YOUR HOMEWORK- talk to other models out there. Ask the photographer to give concrete examples of his work, then talk to that model and find out what he/she was like to work with.  Talk to the photographer, via e-mail as this is the safest should you run into a not so keen photographer, BE UP FRONT ABOUT WHAT YOU WILL AND WILL NOT DO!! This is so far beyond important I cannot stress this enough!! If you have a Model Mayhem profile, be honest on there in the genres you will be willing to model in. Many of you put- does nudes- then seem shocked when the photographer wants to shoot that genre. If you aren’t comfortable, for whatever reason, shooting a specific genre- don’t say you will do it!

Don’t expect there to be a full hair and make-up team at each shoot you book, once you are comfortable enough to book one. Know how to do your own make-up and hair. With all the tutorials on Youtube and Pintrist- there is absolutely no reason to now know how to do this yourself.

Another thing that is more bothersome to us- the photographers- do not assume that “Photoshop” is god and can take care of every little flaw you don’t like. I do not rely on Photoshop to fix everything. Sure, it can take out a gnarly looking zit or fix a flyaway piece of hair, but Photoshop is not a makeover, and definitely not a plastic surgeon. If you want your tummy tucked in a shot, then suck it in or maybe don’t eat a six course meal right before show time. Learning how to pose to hide a flaw like a less than rock hard set of abs is very important- you know how you look in the mirror- practice at home. Arching the back can cure a million things- it hides a fluffy tummy (to an extent), it makes short necks look long, it makes your “twins” look more perky. Practice in a mirror- it might feel odd, but it does wonders!

When it comes to the shoot itself, the actual interaction between you the model and he/she the photographer- do not hesitate to say when something feels weird. If the guy behind the camera asks you to do something you aren’t keen on- SAY SO! If, for the third time, he compliments your breasts and you don’t like it- tell him to knock it off or walk out! Don’t go along with it and bitch about it later. Along those lines- everyone has a gut instinct- if you set up a shoot, get there and “the studio” they were referring to is actually a sheet nailed the wall in their bedroom- get the hell out of there! Some of us professionals do work out of our homes, I know I have thrown together a last minute studio set up in my basement when the weather for the outdoor shoot took a poop.

If you get a bad vibe at any point- cut bait and get out. If you’ve worked with a photographer once and didn’t really enjoy it for whatever reason- please, do not book with them again! If you weren’t honest enough with them to not tell them you didn’t enjoy the shoot- and come up with bail out for the next booked shoot- it frustrates us, the photographer and makes you the model look like a flake. Models talk to one and other, so do photographers. If you bail three times on a photographer, expect to know that word has gotten out and you’ve probably been tagged as a flake and untrustworthy. I cannot count how many of my very professional photographer friends have had this happen to them and each time how frustrating it is! Act professional- at all times. Furthermore, treat the photographer with respect- even if you bail in the middle of a shoot, do it gracefully and honestly.

If you want to bring an escort to a shoot- be it a girlfriend to help with the hair and make-up, or a boyfriend/husband to make sure nothing hinky goes on- fine. Personally, I do not mind escorts being brought along- other photographers are strictly against it for their own reasons. Talk about the possibility of bringing an escort before the shoot- do not ambush them by bringing one without talking about it first. But there are ground rules. If jealousy sparks between you and your escort or worse yet the escort and the photographer- this is unacceptable. I will end the shoot right there. I will give you the best of the images that we’d taken and I will end the shoot. I do not tolerate drama when I am working. And neither should you. And please, leave your cellphone in your purse in the changing room- taking three shots then rushing to check your phone is unprofessional and unacceptable as well.

I take my photography very seriously. I will work my butt off to give you the model great images, as will all the other professional photographers. If you trust me and treat me with respect- you will get the same from me. If you are late, unprepared, rude, and unprofessional- don’t complain when the images we get are less then stellar.


Here’s just a little bit of the hard truth of modeling- from someone who’s been there and has seen things from both sides of the camera. Be into it for the fun, for the opportunity to be creative and to get pictures of you looking fabulous. Don’t be into it on the hopes of making millions in a fashion contract.

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