Knowing Your Limits (And Sticking to Them)
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.
Thank you, Ashley, for posting! I’ve started modeling at a very young age but, my parents rejected my opportunity to sign with an top reputable agency, internationally at the age of 16. I’ve never understood the method behind their “madness” but, grew to understand it in so many ways. I’m, of course, still in the industry and definitely experienced so many types of peer pressure but, conquered them all. Once again, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I can’t wait to repost your blog!
Thank you so much for sharing, Shante! It’s so crucial that we as models understand that WE are our own brand. For the vast majority of girls that don’t work under an agency or manager, we need to be aware of the image we portray. You definitely have withstood the test of time in your career and are in it for the long run. I so admire you for the work you continue to produce! Keep doing what you do.!