If you tuned in last week, you got to read some of my unique on-the-job moments. If you missed it or are hungry for more, you’re in luck… Today I’m going to tell you all about five more.
Being a model means you have to do the extraordinary and make it seem ordinary. Or you may be given the task of making the ordinary appear extraordinary. Whatever you do, you have to sell the fantasy to the viewers of the final image and make them believe what you are representing. This often makes for some unnerving, odd, and sometimes comical moments. It’s so hard to narrow down a list of specific moments to share with you, but these are some of the situations that first come to mind. Without further ado, let’s begin.
- “You may now kiss the groom.”
I have done many a bridal or fashion shoot where I pose with a male model. This was one of those days. I was the bride for an event venue publicity shoot and party. My job was to walk around the venue, look beautiful, stop for photos, mingle with the guests, and speak with the vendors. I felt just like a princess in the beautiful satin gown. People walked behind me to carry my train and everyone did their best to wait on me hand-and-foot. I couldn’t stop thanking everybody for the royal treatment I was getting! The night ended with an amazing fire dance routine (not performed by me, of course), but before that I had an experience I’ll remember forever.
Remember when I said I posed with a male model? Yes, I was taken to an area of the venue for a special segment of the shoot. This venue just so happened to have a kangaroo exhibit and I got to go inside! They gave me special treats and I lured the handsome kangaroo over for some photos. He held my hands in his paws as he ate my yummy present for him. Everyone then started saying; “Kiss him!” They didn’t have to tell me twice.
- Being Drug Around…Literally
My male model friend and I were shooting for a photographer who wanted to depict a series of traumatic personal events in her life. We were out in a beautiful state park shooting a variety of scenes that told her story from beginning to end. Somewhere along the line she got an idea to shoot him dragging me across the dirt path towards the woods. We were told to literally fight each other. I soon found myself with him dragging me across the ground by my throat and hair while I kicked up the dust with my feet. I clawed quite a few nasty streaks across his arms in the struggle. I felt so terrible afterwards and all he did was laugh at me as I apologized profusely. In the moment it was a bit unsettling to pose that way, but extremely comical at the same time. We all had a wonderful laugh out of it.
- Human Trafficking Awareness
Eating disorders, depression, human trafficking, and suicide are all awareness causes I have shot for. However, my shoot for human trafficking awareness took things from an implied portrayal to a simulation. The photographer was shooting myself and another female model to exhibit in a gallery show for the cause. I remember smearing my face with dirt, creating knots in my hair as best I could, and ripping a few carefully-placed tears in my tank top before going out on set. The other model and I completed a variety of sets alone and together. It was a moving experience to lay crumpled on the floor and reach to the camera for help. At multiple points we were chained or tied, told to look over our shoulders in fear at the imaginary captors that were coming for us.
- Concentration Camp Tourist
Among the many roles I have been given to play through pictures, one I will never forget. I was chosen to portray a little girl that was taken to a concentration camp during the Bosnian War. I was told the way everyone was treated, told the feelings everyone felt in the over-cramped cells. Trying to become as attached as I could to the role, I asked many, many questions…
The location for the shoot happened to be somewhat of a tourist attraction. It was a large fort with quite a few cells and barred windows. For some images I was peering through the bars at the sun, doing my best to follow the commands to cry. Others, I was crumpled on the dirt floor against the stone walls in my filthy attire, holding onto a candle with a dying flame. The amusing part was the fact that we were shooting these scenes with hordes of tourists steering around us with confused expressions.
The photographer then pulled out a tub of charcoal… She proceeded to make choke marks on my neck, grasp marks on my arm, and a large black handprint on my back. I was then told to stand facing the wall, as if I had been shoved there and told to stay. I imagined being afraid that if I moved I would die. Then it was time for the final set…
We went to a darker cell that had only one small window. This room was restricted access, so our team were the only people present for this portion. I was told to lie face down in the dirt, then to look up and reach for the candle in front of me. I thought I was doing alright, but the photographer wasn’t happy.
“No, you’re still fighting Ashley. I need you to stop fighting. You’ve lost hope now, it’s gone.” I closed my eyes and the room went silent as I took a moment to mentally take myself to this place. All of her instructions were whispered after that; “Pull your hand back now, there’s no point anymore… Now let your head fall back to the ground… Yes, you’ve given up.” The camera clicking grows louder and despite my closed eyes I can feel her coming closer. She then whispered into my ear where only I could hear; “You’re dead, Ashley.” The camera clicked a few more times. And we were through. Part of me couldn’t quite process what I had just seen and felt in that moment… The other part wished I could portray roles like that more often.
- The Eight-Legged Co-Star
If you have followed my modeling work you have probably seen one of my most-prized projects. This year I had the absolute thrill of posing with a tarantula with a team of incredible ladies behind the camera. The entire shoot was my idea. I planned the entire thing. Everyone involved worked so hard to make my vision as amazing as it could be.
Now, a few things about tarantulas… No, they cannot be de-fanged. This would kill the spider, if done. The fangs of a tarantula can grow up to 0.75 inches long. While the venom can’t kill a human, if the spider is an old-world species a bite could probably land you in the hospital. I’m unsure precisely what species my little friend was, but at the same time I didn’t want to know too many details.
I arrived on-set in my silk open-back evening gown and we took a few shots of me and me only so I could work out the nerves. Then I took my place on the stool and the handler brought out the spider. After a little prodding and nudging, I was soon sitting there with a large spider on my hand. Everyone in the room held their breath. At first I was afraid I was going to faint, but the more I saw her up close, the more delicate and graceful her movements looked to me. I may have fallen a bit in love with her. By the end of the shoot she had begun to spin the beginnings of her web around my hands and arms. It was absolutely incredible to witness up close. Now, whenever I shoot I always think in the back of my mind; “I have to make these images even better than the tarantula set.” It’s become my new standard to beat.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Makeup Artist: Nicki Marie – https://www.facebook.com/NickMarieMUA/ – IG: @nickimariemua
Until next time,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
This is the page where I normally write helpful articles on tips, secrets, and how-to’s for photographers and models alike. However, today is going to be something a little different. Today will be the first installment in a confession of sorts, as I will tell you ten odd, humorous, and amusing situations I have found myself in during the pursuit of the perfect shot. Everything will be kept anonymous, no names or specific places mentioned. Are you ready? The list begins now.
- Going to New Heights
On numerous occasions I have balanced on ledges three or five stories high – all on my own accord. I’ve even gone so far to do a little gymnastics and yoga to make things more interesting. What can I say? There were amazing sunsets in the background and those poses looked good with the golden backlight. But one time I was asked to physically climb a tree, and that didn’t come quite as naturally to me…
“So we’ll put you up there,” the photographer said while motioning to the tree. Right…
While I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, I’m not the most skilled tree-climber. I was wearing a floor-length dress at the time, which made things even more difficult. I remember how terrified and imbalanced I was as I tried to pose gracefully on that limb. The photographer was such a trooper for helping me up – and down – and I gave the task my best. He seemed satisfied with the results, but I have yet to see the images. I imagine they weren’t quite up to par to make the editing cut.
- Giving the Run-Around…Literally
It was early sunrise, I had driven two hours to shoot with a new photographer on the beach. He is now one of my favorite photographers to pose for and a very close friend, but at the time I barely knew him. We had done nothing more than exchange messages and texts to plan the shoot. Even so, I had no idea what I was about to have asked of me.
We began with a few icebreaker shots. Simple smiles, poses that weren’t very complex, just feeling each other out. After the first wardrobe change, he had an idea…
“Alright, I want you to run out into the waves in that direction. Okay?”
“Okay.” Again, I’m wearing a floor-length dress. It doesn’t matter though, I pick up the skirt, turn around, and get my cue to begin running out into the ocean. I ran out until the water was up to my thighs and I could run no more.
“Now turn around and run back,” he shouts over the commotion of the waves.
Okay. I turned around and ran back as I was told, laughing and smiling to myself at how amusing it must have appeared to any onlookers. I got back on the sand and he looked through his camera…
“Hmmm… Yes, let’s do that again,” he said. I ended up running up and down the beach for a good thirty minutes after that.
- “Make me hurt!!”
This day I was shooting studio portraits with someone new. He was an excellent director, and guided me well to achieve the looks he wanted. It isn’t uncommon for a photographer to ask a model to give them their “angry face,” but this photographer asked for something a little different.
“I want you to feel pain. Let me see it in your eyes.” The camera clicked… “Yes, very good. Make me sad, make me feel it too.” It clicked again… “F*** yes, make me hurt!!” It kept right on clicking. Every time somebody sees that picture, they never believe it is me. The expression is so different from how I normally appear. It was very odd though, I have never been in the position where someone is shouting at me to make them hurt.
- Getting A Leg Up
Levitation images are tricky. You must photograph a series of images with and without the model in-frame. Then the images are combined in post-production to create the illusion that the model is floating in mid-air. This photographer and I were attempting a levitation image at a public historic garden…
We were going to create an image where I was floating upright, with my legs tethered by a trail of moss holding me to the ground. I remember standing on the bench and wrapping the moss around my legs before attempting to strike a “floating” pose. After this, it was time to photograph the scene without the bench…it wouldn’t budge. It was far too heavy for two young women. The photographer had a clever idea.
“Let me just get a close up of your legs actually in the air and I’ll try to combine that with the top of your body to make you float.”
We were grasping at straws here, because it never actually worked in the final image. The backgrounds in the scenes simply didn’t match up, and the two halves of my body didn’t look natural when pasted together. But it was funny to try at the time! We were dying laughing together as I lay there on the bench with my moss-tied legs extended up in the air. All the other guests in the garden who saw were quite perplexed.
- The (Really) Little Mermaid
We had just completed shooting a series of images for a nail salon ad campaign. The photographer and I found ourselves at the beach for the final series of images. The photographer was gazing intently at the back of her camera as she scrolled through the final images and said with a smile; “That’s a wrap,” but then she looked up with a twinkle in her eye. “You know, I might have my tails in the trunk.” Let me explain…
This photographer has a deep love for mermaids. She talks so passionately about them, she creates them in the form of clay figurines, and she photographs them. Her private supply of props includes various sizes of mermaid tails, seashell tops, nautical belts, and more.
“How about it, do you want to be a mermaid Ashley?” How was that even a question? Yes, I did.
Surely enough, there were two tails in her trunk, but only one had a possibility of fitting me. I’ve been told I am notoriously tiny (which I find hard to believe in comparison to other models), so we tried our luck with a small tail that wouldn’t appear over-sized. I was not aware of precisely how hard it would be getting into this outfit.
She led me back to the water’s edge where I sat on the ground and began to slip into the tail. The fabric was very thick and tight with minimal stretching. The photographer has severe back and joint pain and could not offer any help…I was on my own. So there I was, writhing around in the sand pulling up this mermaid tail, meticulously pulling out every wrinkle to the best of my ability. Yes, there were people watching. Yes, they were laughing (as was I).
After scooting and rolling myself into the water we resumed shooting…until we saw a fisherman with a large net. Naturally we stopped him and asked to borrow it, and I soon found myself being entangled in a net by this stranger. He was such a good sport about it and made all the adjustments the photographer asked. I made it home that night very salty and sandy with a new fisherman admirer. Something I wasn’t expecting at all from a typical salon ad.
These are some of the more lighthearted memories I have from my years of experience. What did you think? Next week I have five more moments I can’t wait to share with you… Some of which still give me goosebumps to this day.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
The Agency Submission Photo Formula
Recently I’ve received many messages from models asking me how to get signed and graduate from “amateur” to “agency.” This question often leaves many girls — and young men — scratching their heads as they work to achieve this next step in their career. I want to address an aspect of the matter that is pertinent to photographers as well, so today’s article will be exclusively on submission photos. At the end of this page you should have a nice little blueprint of all details – what to wear, how to pose, where to take the photos, etc. Photographers, take notes so you know how to direct your models that are seeking submission photos. Models, let’s get you signed!
Know the Agency Preferences
Every agency will have a certain market their brands cater to. Try to gear your submissions towards the agencies and brands that seem the best fits for your own features. Does one agency provide talent for mainly swimwear, activewear, and sports ads? This will be an excellent fit if you are athletic and fit. Does another agency typically provide bookings for editorial work? They will probably be on the hunt for defined features, slim figures, and faces that can pull off out-of-the-box concepts. Know what markets you serve best, select the proper agencies to submit to, and try to subtly showcase the features they seek in your submission photos.
Natural Is Best
Companies want to know what they are hiring. Stay away from images that appear heavily-edited and refrain from caking on the glamour makeup. I once read on an agency submission page; “When in doubt think passport photo, not photoshoot.” This Is quite the perfect description because most agencies I have researched request photos with very minimal makeup and hair pulled neatly away from the face. This allows the agency to see your features clearly and gives the highly-attractive impression you have nothing to hide. It’s alright to submit a couple images that are more high-fashion or styled to show off your versatility, but make sure to not neglect the core basic photos.
Yes, it is perfectly permissible to wear makeup and have your photos edited… The key is doing so in the right way. I advise wearing a light BB cream to even the skin tone and add a luminous glow. Make sure to apply lotion to your body as well. Keep everything else to a strict minimum, sticking with neutrals, earth-tones, and hues that do not stray too far from your natural skin tone.
Setting Up the Shot
It’s crucial to understand the goals of final images before the shoot begins. This will allow you to plan accordingly and set everything up for success. As previously mentioned, a good submission photo enhances a model’s natural features and beauty. Now let’s cover a few specifics that make an exceptional final photo before the camera even clicks.
Background is always important. The model should be in an environment that is not visually distracting – he/she should be the most notable thing in the photo. When in doubt, stick with a classic and plain white wall. This will reflect every bit of light and automatically make the photos subconsciously appeal to the agency. If an indoor studio space is unobtainable, outdoor photos can be acceptable as well. Just remember the goal of simplicity and search for something visually uniform. A brick wall would be an option to consider here.
Bathe your model in the appropriate light. You want the images to exude a bright and clean feeling as opposed to dark and mysterious. Again, this appeals to the overall perception of honest representation. Opt for a soft, flattering light that works well with the model’s skin tone. Avoid lights that leave the model appearing too overexposed with indistinguishable features. If you are shooting indoors and have the option to manipulate the light, work with your model to capture the desired angles with strategically placed highlights and shadows. Always ensure the model’s face is towards the light, and do everything possible to minimize shadows in the eyes. The eyes are often what give that automatic connection. Light them up.
Capture a variety of headshots and full-body for final selection. I’m sure that my previous remark about “passport photos” vs. “photoshoot” left some people scratching their heads, but this is where the advice becomes helpful… Make sure you capture the model from straight-on as well as both profiles. The poses should be simplistic, with good posture and structure the main focus.
Wardrobe should often be simplistic, neutral, and clean. Much like the background, we want to avoid distracting the viewer from the model’s features with loud colors or patterns. It is best to choose things that are fitted and provide an accurate representation of the model’s physical frame. Often, an agency will suggest submissions with a simple white tank top and jeans. Sometimes there are also requests for shots in swimwear, but do these tastefully at your own discretion. Many self-proclaimed agencies have questionable legitimacy, so be careful who you entrust with what images. Once again, choose solid neutral colors, black, white, and/or earth-tones that appear flattering with the model’s skin tone. If he/she has warm undertones, gravitate to warmer choices. If they have cooler tones, adjust accordingly.
The purpose of post-production editing should be done with a similar goal in mind. Photographers need to remember the goal of “honestly enhancing” the model’s features. It’s okay to make alterations on temporary flaws such as blemishes, misplaced shadows, and enlarged pores. It also is a good idea to subtly dodge and burn to enhance your model’s healthy glow. However, refrain from doing anything that changes any permanent features. If the agency gives your model a call-back, there should be no shock or confusion because of anatomical shapeshifting in postproduction.
(For anyone wondering what it means to “dodge and burn,” that is simply the process of strategically emphasizing shadows and highlights in the photo. If you would like a tutorial on how to do this, leave a comment below and perhaps Hanna will post a future tutorial for you on his youtube channel www.youtube.com/c/hrimages.)
So there we have it! This completes my list of secrets to achieve the perfect submission photos. Models, have you been signed with an agency? If so, what were the photos that got you signed? Photographers, do you work in partnership with agencies? If so, what do they request and prefer in a final image? Leave all your comments below!
Here are my own photos and comp cards that got me my first agency contract. These images and comp card compilations are courtesy of photographer Red Scott. Find him at www.redscottphotography.com and on Instagram @redscottphoto.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Red Scott
Photographers (Top) Left-Right: Red Scott, John Carlton, and Rajibul Saikat
Photographers (Bottom) Left-Right: Stew Blaquiere, Yomaira Ruiz, and Michelle Hartman
Overall Comp Card Compilation: Red Scott
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/Read More
I’ve heard it so many times on set; “Sorry, I’m so bad at telling people what to do,” or “I’m still getting comfortable with posing people.” It seems many photographers struggle with posing their model in the beginning stages of portraiture. There can also be a learning curve when going from working with an experienced model to somebody with minimal or no camera experience. No need to go bending over backwards to get the shot – unless that’s the pose you’re looking for. Here are some tips, suggestions, and strategies for posing your model and getting the most of every shoot.
Direction Begins Before the Camera Starts Clicking
Make sure you begin communicating with your model before the day of the shoot. Be clear with the style, mood, and body language you wish to achieve. My personal favorite is when the photographer sends me an inspiration board on Pinterest with particular poses and looks they like. It may also be helpful to use as many adjectives as you can while describing the overall feeling you want – weightless, strong, fierce, soft, feminine, vulnerable, etc. Provide your model with a character and state of mind to enter before they arrive.
If you know your model is lacking experience, it may be a good idea to share some extra posing guides or suggestions. One video I studied at the beginning of my career was an immense help! It is the “Posing Tutorial” by CZ Models and can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTS5NP0FbXQ. Another helpful article entitled “Look Your Best In Photographs” by Jen Brook can be found on PetaPixel at https://petapixel.com/2013/05/24/dear-model-posing-tips-for-how-to-look-your-best-in-photographs/.
Be sure you are clear about what you will expect from your model! Especially if some of the shots you desire will require a little extra skin. There should be no surprises when the model steps in front of your camera. If something is out of their comfort zone be professional and never attempt to push them beyond that limit.
The bottom line – communication! While sometimes it is exciting to play luck-of-the-draw and just see what you can organically create, that type of shooting is a gamble. The more time you invest before the shoot, the easier things will flow as your camera clicks away.
Keep Track of the Time
Yes, this can be taken literally. You never want to run out of light or incur extra studio rental fees. However, there is also a wonderful strategy you can use by having your model “watch the time…”
Tell your model to imagine he/she is in the middle of a large clock. Have them begin by facing at three o’clock (your left and their right). Instruct them to give different angles, looks, and expressions before gradually turning back to two o’clock. Have them repeat with fresh poses and angles before they turn back to 1:00, and go through this process until they have “wound back” all the way to 9:00. This is sometimes a good opening exercise as you are learning and feeling each other out. It gives you the ability to study their angles from all sides and find how to best accentuate their features. Plus, it also allows a variety of effects and they turn into – and out of – the light.
Don’t Be Shy
I’ve had many a photographer confess they were nervous to give direction for a variety of reasons. They don’t want to say anything offensive, they don’t want to suggest the wrong thing, or they simply feel uncomfortable voicing what they want me to do. Do you want to hear a secret? Models want direction!! I can say from my own experience that the worst thing to hear as the camera clicks away is dead silence… I want to know if you like what you’re capturing, if there is something else you’d rather I be doing, or how I can perfect my pose to make it better.
Do you not like a certain pose? No need to worry about offending the model, simply redirect them into something else. Be mindful of positive vs. negative feedback. Negative feedback criticizes or discourages against a certain movement, expression, or position. While this is sometimes necessary, it can often push the model into a shell and make them uncomfortable or less adventurous in their body language. What often works best is positive feedback; encouraging them to move back into that angle you loved, smile the way that makes their eyes sparkle, or twist their torso to emphasize their slim waist. See the difference? It is all about how you communicate.
A Few Specifics…
Looking for some specific strategies to apply? Let’s make a list. These surely are not a one-size-fits-all array of rules, but they are worth trying out as you decipher what works best for your model.
- Emphasize the jawline — Have your model thrust their chin forward and down. This can provide a sharper line and help with definition.
- Lips – There is such a variety of moods you can achieve with a simple change in the lips. Ask your model to give a soft smile with no teeth showing, say something funny and get them to produce a genuine laugh, ask them to smile with one corner of their mouth upturned like they are hiding a secret, or have them take a deep breath and slowly exhale with their lips slightly parted. I once read that to achieve a sultry look, the model can softly purse their lips and imagine they are saying the word; “poor.” Believe it or not, it works.
- Exaggerate their natural waist – Most models prefer this area to appear as slim as possible. If you are shooting the model straight-on, you can instruct them to place their hands on their waist. Make sure to have them move their hands to the front and further in – so that they are basically holding the front of their waist as opposed to the sides. Side angles are often incredibly slimming, especially if you have your model turn their body to one side…then have them turn their torso back to you. It may feel very unnatural, but often produces a beautiful result.
- Movement – Ask your model to do a spin, walk slowly towards you, jump, run, dance… Give them a suggestion and let them move however feels natural to them. The actual action may not be anything incredible – it may possibly look rather comical – but the magic you can capture of their organic movement in a still frame may surprise you.
- Playing with hands – The hands are an incredible tool to use during your captures. Have your model gently run her fingertips down the side of her face or neck. Ask her to softly tuck her hair behind her ear…have her softly run her hand along the side of her hip… You can also ask her to softly toy with a necklace, graze a finger across her lips, or rest her hands together in her lap. Avoid poses that leave the hands hidden, unless the capture is designed to be a close-up of the face. Let the hands tell a story and have a purpose in the photo.
- Multiple models – If you plan to be capturing a couple or simply multiple models in one image, the key is to have them interact. Even if they are both to look into the camera, you can achieve some breathtaking captures by having them touching each other, or connecting in some way. T If their focus is to be on each other, have them interact. I have often had to pose with models I meet for the first time on-set. You want the illusion that the models know each other well and could easily be romantic partners, family, or old friends. Have the male model tell the female a cute joke, ask him to gently move her hair away from her face on one side, have him spin her around or lead her around the set while looking back into her eyes. Again, give them suggestions but allow them to execute them in the way that feels natural to them. Remember to make their existence in the same photo make sense, and produce the untold connection.
This list is very basic and only grazes the surface of the vast depths of posing. My desire is to spark your own creativity and encourage you to chase new ideas with your captures. What posing strategies have you used? Is there anything you find helpful when posing your model? Models, what guidance do you look for from your photographers? Be sure to leave a comment below!
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Brook, Jen. “Dear Model: Posing Tips for How to Look Your Best in Photographs.” PetaPixel, PetaPixel, 24 May 2013, petapixel.com/2013/05/24/dear-model-posing-tips-for-how-to-look-your-best-in-photographs/. Accessed 7 Sept. 2017.
CzModelsAgentura. “Posing tutorial.” YouTube, CzModelsPrague, 28 May 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTS5NP0FbXQ. Accessed 7 Sept. 2017.Read More
As models, our job is to emote, portray, and embody precisely what the photographer wishes to capture. Every so often we may be given the luxury to have full creative control of a shoot – choosing everything from wardrobe to posing – but most of the time we are not in a director’s position. We are usually the object being guided, directed, and instructed as the photographer works to capture their vision. It’s very important we realize our own limits to what we will and will not do. We’ll be asked to do it all eventually and the sooner we have your answers decided for ourselves, the more prepared we’ll be on set.
According to The Model Alliance (2017) 93.3% of models begin working at age 20 or younger. The most common age range at 54.7% is between thirteen and sixteen. This reveals that a large percentage of careers start before age eighteen, and there are some more statistics that may surprise you…
Of the underage modeling population, 24% reported that their parents or guardians rarely accompanied them to their castings and shoots, 26.7% reported they had no parents or guardians to bring, and a whopping 28% denied ever bringing their parent or guardian to a casting or job. Just think about it… These young women are being captured in images that will last beyond their lifetime, and the majority are in this position without the presence or guidance of their parents. This is a chilling thought.
Let’s examine this further… 86.8% of the models surveyed had been asked to pose nude during a job or casting with no advanced warning or notice. Of this population 46.4% posed nude because they wanted to, 27.5% didn’t want to…but did because they felt pressured. We have to prepare ourselves for situations like these in our professional lives. We may be asked to do things without warning, and we need to know precisely where we stand on the matter before the requests arise – otherwise the pressure will overshadow our true feelings. At the end of the day, once the model release is signed, the photographer owns every image in their camera. We had better be able to sleep peacefully at night with that knowledge.
How does one decide what they will and will not do? There are a number of factors that play into this decision. The model must know what they wish to represent, how the images will affect their future career(s), be cautious when posing for a professional they don’t know well, and be prepared for any person in the world to lay eyes on the final photos.
Personally, I am incredibly cautious how much skin I show – and who I show it for. My standards are not the same for every photographer, certain outfits and looks require different levels of trust and proven professionalism. It’s also crucial to me that every picture I take is something I’d be comfortable to show my future daughters someday. I never want my body to be the star of a photo. I don’t pose nude. I don’t use overtly sensual body language. This isn’t me, I know it, and I stand behind it.
Very few photographers would work with me at the start of my career due to my personal limits and standards. The typical interactions would go something like this…
“I would love to shoot you, you have a beautiful face and body. Do you do nude or implied? No? How about bikini? Really? Oh… Well good luck in your career.”
I am sure many models face this same initial response. But I want to encourage you not to do this type of work if it isn’t what you wish to represent! Keep your end goals in mind, remember the brands you hope to someday represent. Would they ask you to pose in this way? Would they be alright with the face of their company being shown this way? If not, don’t do it.
We should also be mindful of what should happen if our end goals don’t come to fruition. Only a very small percentage of models make this industry their career – and even then most are forced to retire in their twenties. Do you wish to climb the corporate ladder? Do you wish to be in a position of authority? Do you have dreams of being a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or obtaining a political position? Then you must be extra careful how you allow yourself to be portrayed.
In conclusion, the final fact remains… No matter what we do, we’ll always be asked for more. Know where your limits are, have courage to stand firm with them, and proceed with caution always. Yes, your limits may change… But remember that in this case it’s far better to give less, than more. Never allow yourself to be forced into a position you may later regret.
Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t want to? Have you ever felt pressured or forced to pose a certain way? I would love to hear your stories and opinions below!
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Ralph Demilio
“Reports.” The Model Alliance, The Model Alliance, 2017, modelalliance.org/industry-analysis. Accessed 30 Aug. 2017.Read More
Since the launch of Model Focus, I’ve received requests to cover the topic of model safety. Due to past personal experiences, this subject is very dear to my heart. Most people do not know that I was assaulted on a shoot in the Fall of 2016. My desire for this discussion is to raise awareness, start conversations, help fellow models protect themselves, and give perspective to photographers everywhere. So without further ado, I will share some personal stories along with general practices a model can employ to ensure a safe, successful shoot.
In the Fall of 2016 I received messages from a new photographer wanting to shoot. This person had reached out to me before, but due to an unhealthy relationship I was unable to shoot with any male photographers at that time (this story will be saved for a future post). However, I was at this time currently single and shooting with male and female professionals.
I poured through this person’s portfolio… The work was beautiful. The editing was clean, the lighting strategic, and he obviously knew what he was doing. “Oh, look!” I thought to myself, “Here he has photos he took of my good friend’s wedding! Okay, he must be the real deal.” I was excited to work with somebody new of this caliber.
We scheduled a shoot in his area, which happened to be two hours from me (commuting is a common requirement for the model). We decided on style and location. I packed my options the day of the shoot, told some close friends where I was going, and away I went…
We met in a public place and took many shots in different locations within walking distance – always in visible view of the street. Things were going well. We were getting amazing captures in the camera. We decided to move locations… “Why not take one car for convenience and to save gas?” he suggested. Okay. Big mistake…
We drove to different places, stopping to take photos. I texted a few friends to let them know I was okay. Then things started to get a little weird… He told me I’m cute, I brushed it off as a comment meant to boost my ego for his camera.
A public waterfront was our venue for the final sunset images. Many cars were parked in the lot, families and couples also watching the beautiful sight as I posed and he clicked. I wasn’t wearing anything sexy or doing anything provocative. I was looking at the sunset…back to the camera…smiling…laughing…then switching to a moody stare. The sun was nearly gone, and we had gotten what we needed
As I opened the car door I felt him come up behind me. I turned around and soon found him kissing me, pushing me into the corner of the opened door. I pulled away and froze up…I had no words. He came forward again and I soon found myself in the passenger’s seat repeatedly pushing him off, and his hands away from my zippers and buttons. The words “no” and “stop” had come out multiple times.
Thank God this story doesn’t end in rape! I will never forget… He finally stopped, looked at me, and laughed.
“Why do you look so afraid right now?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I lost it, demanded to go back to my car, and stayed on the phone the entire ride back. Yes, I called the police. Yes, I made a statement. Yes, I identified photos. And oh yes, I made many terrible mistakes that day. This story is a hard one to share, but I pray it helps other models realize the importance of protecting themselves. I was incredibly lucky in the ending of my story, and I don’t intend to rely on luck again.
General Safety 101
This is one of the most important things you can do as a model. The way you interact with your photographer insinuates how you expect to be treated in return. If you conduct yourself professionally, it sets a standard for the interactions you have. Here are a few things I personally do to remain professional in my working relationships.
Most often I precede my photographers’ names with “Mr.” or “Miss” until I have shot with them multiple times. I have been told many times this is unnecessary, but I feel it’s a blatant sign of respect and distinctly outlines the boundaries of the initial relationship. It greatly minimizes the risk if perceived flirting on the model’s part.
Minimize after-hours contact. I will confess, I am a full-time registered nurse, and often I must communicate before leaving for my shifts in the morning (I work from 6:30a.m.-7:30p.m.). But it is important to mindfully refrain from unnecessary messages and phone calls during the middle of the night. This is a wise practice and a common courtesy to your photographers.
Absolutely no flirting! This is a dangerous invitation for unwanted behavior before, during, or after the shoot. I realize this can be a gray area for some, as I myself am a very warm and friendly person. Being warm and friendly is perfectly okay – and even encouraged to ensure comfort on set – but be mindful of the signals you are sending and the way your interactions are being perceived. Just as flirtatious behavior should not be present on your part, DO NOT accept it from the photographer. I have cancelled many shoots because of “harmless” comments and remarks. This is not a way I do business.
Yes, it is ALWAYS a good idea to bring somebody with you when shooting with somebody new. While not entirely foolproof, this practice erases the misunderstanding of a shoot being a pretentious date. The trouble arises when a shoot is strictly time for print (unpaid), and the model is unable to financially compensate this person for their time and energy. This has been an immense personal struggle of mine, and I have often lost money by adding this compensation to my list of other expenses for TFP shoots. It’s hard not to feel guilty about asking for free help, and I’ve taken some definite unnecessary risks… I do not advise doing this.
Something to keep in mind… I have heard from countless photographers the aversion to this bodyguard being the model’s significant other. Photographers often feel uncomfortable positioning the model or asking for certain expressions with the watchful eyes of a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife on set. This is understandable, so ensure it is okay with your photographer if your safety escort is a significant other. I know this problem may put strain on a relationship, but that is a whole other discussion I will gladly cover in the future. For now I will simply say it is crucial to communicate with your photographer and loved one thoroughly on this aspect.
If a safety buddy is unobtainable, there are numerous things you can do… You can ask to reschedule to a date someone is able to accompany you. You can also make sure somebody knows where you will be and who you will be with. If this is the best you can do, ensure that you set a text or call schedule to this person checking in regularly to let them know you are okay. Make sure they know to call the authorities if they don’t hear from you within a certain time. You can also ask to set up the shoot in an open, public place. Just continue to use caution and be aware of your surroundings. If anything feels questionable at any time, never hesitate to leave.
Do Your Research
It never hurts to contact past models about their shooting experience with a particular photographer. Trust me, photographers discuss about models too behind closed doors. It is nothing personal and is simply a smart thing to do before meeting up with a new person.
Look at the person’s portfolio. How extensive is it? How is the overall quality, does it seem consistently professional? Does it all appear to be artistically congruent? Or does it appear as if it’s disjointed and possibly completed by different people? This is by no means a surefire way to gauge the safety of a situation, but if a person has been in the industry for a while, has a good following, and produces consistently exceptional work, they have more of a reputation to protect with their professional interactions. As previously stated this should not cause you to throw caution to the wind, but it’s helpful when gauging the situation.
Search wherever you can to ensure this person is who they say they are. Any inconsistencies – no matter how small – indicate a lack of honesty. It is never wise to collaborate or conduct business with a dishonest person.
Be Mentally and Practically Prepared
Take a self-defense class, carry mace, work through in your mind how you would respond in a life-threatening situation. Always note the locations of exits and their accessibility. Never be afraid of making a scene if you feel your safety is being compromised. Keep your phone handy at all times. Prepare yourself mentally and physically if the situation calls for a “fight or flight” response. Treat all new opportunities with immense caution.
In conclusion, modeling is a dangerous industry. Reports are scattered across the news of human trafficking scams, kidnappings, and worse. Models, we must be aware of what we’re risking with every booking. For the sake of space, this list only skims the surface of safety strategies. Be sure to comment with your own below to cover areas I have missed. I urge every model to highly value their own safety in every situation. If at any moment you don’t feel safe, never lack the courage to leave.
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/
Photo credit to the amazingly wonderful Robert Vanelli – a true professional and one of the kindest souls I know. Follow him on Instagram @robertvanelli for more of his work.
Here comes another weekend! The end of many nine to five work weeks and the beginning of two days with creative possibilities. Last week we discussed modeling from an emotional perspective in “The Basics of Emoting,” but today we’ll examine more of the practical side. Today I am going to go over ways a model can prepare for his/her next big shoot and make the final images a success. That’s right, today I will be going over my Model To-Do List.
Most people imagine modeling in the elite sense – a girl wakes up, eats a breakfast of fruit and granola, and grabs some coffee to-go on her way to a shoot where she is greeted by a team of professionals. Professionals who transform her into airbrushed perfection before she steps in front of the camera. All she needs to do is look pretty and pose well, right? Wrong.
For many up-and-coming models a shoot consists of a longer list of preparation and a smaller (sometimes nonexistent) team of professionals assisting with the pre-shoot transformation. Many models are placed in the position where they must be their own hair artist, makeup artist, wardrobe supplier, and posing director. If you find yourself in this predicament it’s a huge responsibility and crucial to realize the importance of your role in the success of the shoot. You will need to be mindful of everything from clothing fabric and color choice, to packing the correct supplies. Here I will go over what I have learned to do before my shoots in my three years of modeling experience. And believe me, the list grows with every shoot…
1. Prepare The Canvas
YOU will be the painting on display. As we all know, every masterpiece begins with a clean slate. A clear canvas. This begins with good skin care all the time. On the days before a shoot I am careful not to wear too much makeup to avoid clogging my pores or causing irritation. Yes, I often go the more natural route on days off and it pays to have fresh and well-rested skin for “shoot days.”
It is also important to shave everything meticulously the day of the shoot. Careful! No razor bumps! You never know if the photographer will ask you to wear something unplanned, or if creativity will strike and you wear something a different way than how it was intended. Also be sure to bring lotion on-set and give your skin a quick nourishing rub before the camera clicks. All of this will help ensure luminous, smooth skin in the shots (with minimal photoshop from the photographer). The same goes for facial hair removal. Do your best to pluck and remove all dark, course hairs.
2. Plan Accordingly
Pre-shoot planning is so important! A model should never expect to simply show up, pose, and receive impeccable images as a result. To begin my preparation, I ask the photographer to provide me with a list of adjectives they want people to associate the final images with – power, strength, vulnerability, weightlessness, sadness? I also study the location of the shoot as best I can. This information is crucial when choosing outfits. If the images are meant to be powerful and strong, opt for fabrics and pieces with mores structure. If the photographer desires to create something more carefree, be mindful to choose lighter fabrics that can be thrown and flicked to capture motion and communicate a weightless feeling. Choose colors that will compliment your surroundings without blending entirely in. It may be helpful to do a little research on complementing colors and use this knowledge while making your choices.
Also, ask the photographer to send a few pictures that are inspiring them for this set. Take note of the poses and expressions the models are using, and be sure to practice them in the mirror before the shoot. You do not have to replicate these precisely, rather seek to put your own twist on them to make the final poses your own.
3. Hair & Makeup
If multiple looks will be executed, arrive with a good base of foundation, contouring and highlight (if desired by the photographer), and a neutral eye/lip. As the outfits change, add more makeup to provide a good variety of looks for the final selection. It is good to plan similarly for hair, beginning with one style that can easily be transformed into another. What I personally like to do is begin with my hair down – either curled or straight. As the humidity begins to make the curls fall or ruin the sleekness of my strands, I get to work teasing and tousling it further for another look. For further variety, I will then put it up in a bun or ponytail. At the end of my shoots I have also been known to attempt an unforgettable finish by committing irreversible “damage” for a final set of photos. This entails things like getting completely soaked in a lake, intentionally smearing dirt or mud over my body and face, or streaking makeup across my exposed skin to mimic tribal paint. This may not be a creative goal for the current photoshoot, but the mindset is to begin with the most natural ideas first, and finish with the most-styled ideas last.
4. Pack Like A Fashion Boy Scout
The boy scouts may not concern themselves with color-matching and wardrobe planning, but they are certainly prepared! Keep in this mindset. You want to arrive with a perfect bag of tricks that will allow you to perform well no matter what complications arise. Be sure to bring…
- Bobby pins & hair ties
- Bug spray if shooting outdoors (nothing is worse than holding a pose while being eaten alive by mosquitos)
- Your makeup supplies & brushes
- Hairspray, comb, & hairbrush
- Nude or white undergarments
- Breast petals (nipple covers)
- Scissors (for stray strands on clothing)
- Backup fake nails (if you are wearing them) or a bottle of matching nail polish for quick touch-ups
- Small, nutritious snacks & water (some of my shoots have lasted up to 13 hours)
- Inspiration photos saved to your phone for a quick refocus before stepping in front of the camera
- Pepper spray (trust me, I intend to do a future post on model safety)
- Confidence!! Or at the very least, enthusiasm!!
I hope this list of tips and secrets gives some insight and helps make your future shoots a success! If there are any tips you would like to share from your own experience, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you. Now I dare everyone to go create a new set of inspiring, exciting, superior images.
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/Read More
With the end of another week around the corner comes another time for me to share a model’s point of view. I’ve given many invitations for topic requests, and received numerous suggestions. Today we will be covering a suggestion by model Shante Armstrong – emoting for the lens.
While this post may be considered primarily for new models, it is truly for all models and photographers alike. I feel it is crucial for the photographer to understand what we must mentally go through to deliver an emotive image on set. So without further ado, here are some of my strategies, stories, and personal experiences with showing emotion for the camera.
Back when I first began modeling I had only two expressions. I would toggle between a bright, radiant smile and casting a shy gaze downward. That was it. Yes, there was more that I wanted to do. More that I wanted to say with my expressions and body language… But I was not confident enough to release myself to do so for fear that it would look silly or the photographer would laugh at my choices. I soon learned that the worst thing a model can do is cripple him/herself with hesitation and fear.
The first important step is CONFIDENCE. Not necessarily a self-assurance that what you are doing will look amazing, but maintaining the courage to try. Part of communication between photographer and model includes the photographer sensing what you are trying to do and giving you tips on how to fine-tune your poses to make it work. If they give suggestions or constructive criticism it is not intended personally. It may be a simple matter of the photographer’s taste, the overall mood of the particular shoot, or taking your instinct and tailoring it to the photographer’s vision. Never be afraid of the photographer not liking what you are doing. Modeling is a vulnerable profession; you open yourself to constructive criticism every time you step in front of the camera. Refrain from receiving feedback as an attack. Instead, take it as the photographer saying; “This is how we can make our images more incredible.” What model doesn’t want suggestions like that?
The next thing I want to stress is the importance of taking yourself on a mental journey. When I am in front of a camera I often give myself a character I am trying to portray. If not an entire character, I will focus on a clear mood with each pose. There are many useful tips for conveying moods through body language and facial expressions I have found. Anything meant to convey power, confidence, or strength requires tension and structure. Limbs should be more rigid, more triangles should be formed through stance and arm placement. Eyes should be boring into whatever target you choose to gaze at.
When communicating more demure and relaxed moods such as subtle flirting, timidity, sadness, etc. the body and face needs to be more fluid and relaxed. The lines your limbs create should be more subtle and gentle. The face should be more relaxed with little changes like the simple raise of an eyebrow, a coy smile, or a soft, mournful gaze. Think in your mind what you want to communicate, feel it deep inside, then decipher if the body language and expression is tense or relaxed. It also may be helpful to do some personal research on the science of body language. This will help everything be congruent in the final images.
My last suggestion is to never hold back. It is far better to give the photographer more than they asked for rather than less. Doing something unprompted may spark new ideas in their creative visions as well, and the most successful shot of the day may be a result of that spur of the moment pose. I love to do spontaneous things with my hands including but not limited to things like covering one eye, forming a telescope with my hands to peer through, or forming somewhat of a box around my face. I’ve been laughed at a couple times and redirected, but I have more so received the reaction of; “Oh my goodness!! Do that again!” That reaction is the most rewarding as a model. It means you’ve sparked an idea that was not previously in the photographer’s mind.
As a final touch I’d like to share with you some of my more emotional images and the stories behind them so you may see my suggestions put into practice. My first examples will be with photographer Abby Lynn Pierce of Ablynn Photo. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/AblynnPhoto/.
Our very first series was designed for Depression Awareness Month. We wanted to communicate the emptiness people with depression must mask and coexist with every day. We wanted to communicate a sadness that was so commonplace, I had no more tears left to cry. I shot the entire first portion without a dab of makeup. Every pose I struck was supposed to be vulnerable and sad without overt theatrics. I remember meeting Abby for the first time on set, I remember being nervous about how real and candid I was about to become…and I remember the chills we both felt as the camera continued to click.
This next set is again with Abby. This time we chose the concept of eating disorders. I had the challenge of playing two parts in this series, and I took it very seriously communicating the mental battle an eating disorder entails. Having had my own struggle with anorexia it was very important to me to do this concept justice.
Here is another set I completed with photographer Josie Brooks (the master behind the first image in this post). This set was completed after someone I know and love attempted to take their own life. I remember being in front of Josie’s camera, thinking about how my friend must have felt. I began to tailor my expressions and body language as such, and Josie told me to continue. This is what we ended up creating…
I could go through and show many more images, but I will save those for future discussions. But this week I want every model to leave this screen feeling encouraged to let themselves go in front of the camera. A truly captivating shot requires vulnerability. To make the viewer feel something you must first be unafraid to feel it yourself. Give yourself the permission to say whatever it is you want to say through your silent lips, your body language, and your candid gaze. And to all the photographers reading – I hope this has given you a useful glimpse inside the model’s mind.
Until next week,
By Ashley BeLoat
Hello everyone! Welcome to my section of The Art of Portrait Photography. My name is Ashley and I have never once taken a photo that gives me the right to call myself a photographer. My place is in front of the camera. I am the object photographers take pictures of, the “model” so to speak. I am the canvas for the wedding dress, the expression that communicates an emotion, and the body that must tell a story with its pose.
Nice to meet you.
My goal is to answer questions and start discussions that are pertinent to models and photographers alike. The Art of Portrait Photography requires participation from both parties to create a truly stunning image. My hope is that this section of our website will help other models develop their craft while offering perspective to photographers, confessing what it is like on the other side of the lens.
Modeling is truly an art form that – like photography – has the power to be a creative journey. We have the power to set the tone of the overall image with our body language, eyes, and persona. But with every journey comes a starting point. Everyone must begin somewhere, and sometimes those beginnings reveal many opportunities for improvement. I remember this stage for me…
I was incredibly spoiled. My first photographer ever was incredibly talented and to this day still captures some of my best images. But in the beginning? I was no model. Not even close. Want to know why? I will show you.
That was my first photoshoot ever. The fear is blatantly plastered all across my face. My soft smile is obviously forced and the eyes are dull. I was shaking so terribly, and my heart was beating faster with every click of the camera. What was I doing?
Then the photographer sent me the images. I was amazed at the way she viewed me through her camera. It was a perspective I had never once had of myself. It was then I decided I would learn to become better. I would conquer this place in front of the camera.
I soon learned the potential a model has to set the scene. The stories he/she can tell by interacting with or ignoring the camera. A pretty picture was no longer enough for me – I wanted to make people feel something with my photos.
I began researching strategies that would help me reach this goal. I began studying posing strategies, looking up makeup tutorials, quizzing other models who had “made it” with agencies and runways. It became a bit of an obsession for me, I must confess. But without all of this work to learn and improve, I could never have participated in pieces like these…
Three years later I now have hundreds of photos, have had the honor of posing for nearly 50 photographers, been the canvas of numerous talented hair/makeup artists, and been the proud display of several designers’ creations. Never would any of this have happened if I had not constantly pushed myself to imrpove. It’s an honor to now share this quest with other models around the world! Join me as we work to perfect the art of portraiture – from our side of the lens.
Until next week,
Ashley BeLoatRead More