I really like what my Facebook group is becoming; a real community, where people of all different types and backgrounds can go to view photography, share their own, and learn.
Last night, a model posted one hell of a question about Image – this deserves to be categorized as 'Best Of' material, if you ask me really. Sometimes I try to keep my responses short; other times, I feel a little elaboration is needed.
This was one of those times.
Halfway through my second paragraph, I knew that I’d ultimately share this response on my blog.
The model’s question:
I think this is a phenomenal question, and one not often asked, but I think it should be. I think your mind is already on the right things, since it appears you have an idea of the direction you want to go with your modeling. A few things:
You mentioned "Career."
Whether it's a hobby or career for a model, either is good, but the fact that you identify it early on that you want a career, the fact that it's a conscious decision for you, especially this early in, that's great. So that makes the resulting decisions you need to make about your career easier.
When the line is blurred between career and hobby, it can be sometimes difficult to figure out what decisions you should make.
From a hobby standpoint, you can easily do whatever kinds of shoots you want to do, having fun with it all, with no repercussions. The minute you try to have a go at it commercially, looking at modeling as more of a career, the more you have to be concerned with how certain actions you take are perceived by potential clients, business partners and associates.
When you do shoots, you should really consider how not only magazine editors see your work and overall image, but also other photographers you may want to work with, clothing designers, and fans. What image do you want to portray? You are, after all, hired as a model for your image.
You are literally the face of the picture. Your image, and everything that goes along with it, from the genetics (the physical part you can't change and have little control over), to the things you have more control over (your expression, clothing, etc.).
Models who generally have success in their careers generally take pride in maintaining control over their image, as much as possible.
That's successful artists in general. Look at musicians like Janelle Monae, Prince, Michael Jackson -- they maintain staunch control over their image, and how they are portrayed. They do so to maintain control over the perception, not only to consumers, but also to business partners. I feel like these are good things to take note of, for other creative professionals.
So you asked how you can grow as a model and avoid these things? I'd say this. Any model wanting to grow as a professional, realize that YOU have control over your image, and you don't have to do things you don't want to do. Realize that your image and how it is perceived is bigger than any SINGLE shoot, regardless of what an agency, photographer, or designer may tell you.
You have control, and you should keep it.
Once you realize that and internalize it, the next step is figuring out a DIRECTION you want to go in, as far as genre(s), style(s). Which models do you look up to? Who would you want to emulate, to some degree? And where is there room for improvement, with your own style? These are good questions to get you thinking about that.
So in general, I'd say: 1) Figure out what you DON'T want to do, and then 2) Figure out what you DO want to do.
Then try to stay true to your decisions.