This is what I do…

There have been a few things said to me and that I’ve read from other artists that sparked this post. It might be a bit long, but I finally have the pieces I needed to tie this bundle of thoughts together.

This is also a free form type of post, so please excuse any little mis-types. I’m sure I’ll get back to edit it soon!

I’m a creative. I create content mostly in the form of self portraits (photos of my myself) and posing for other photographers. This is my job but it spans a lot more than photoshoots. It means sharing some of those images on social media and interacting with my fan base, it means answering a lot of messages (more about that in a moment), it means maintaining a pretty consistent social media presence, keeping up with my Patreon, networking, and so on in addition to actually taking the photos, styling them, improving my craft, etc.

I’m not just trying to be popular on Instagram or Facebook, though that is important for what I do. This is my job and I treat it as such, even though I enjoy most of it too.

My Job Is A Little Different

But my job is different than yours may be. I don’t work for an hourly wage or a salary. I don’t know how much I’ll make next month and nothing is promised beyond the pledges I’ve already made on Patreon this month. However, even then, most of the things I create are created months before I’m ever “paid” for them or, more accurately, before I earn any income from them.

How I Get Paid

Patreon isn’t the only way I get paid, although it is a wonderful way that allows me to breathe a little easier and to also share special rewards easily and consistently.

I also get “paid” through wishlist purchases, most often things I can use for future shoots to hopefully earn future income from. Sometimes, pretty rarely if I’m being honest, someone will just send me funds with no preference attached. When that happens, I usually pour it back into my creativity or I might pay part of a bill. But again, that’s rare.

The other day someone said to me “Oh, it must be nice to get all this free stuff without having to work for it” and it really threw me back. That is NOT true. Yes, I do have people who sponsor sets of lingerie and similar items, but there is an agreement that they get photos (which is totally fine, of course and I’m happy to do that) or that they want to see them in future content. Beyond that, these are people who are seeing how much I put into my work and they want to support it. I know this because they tell me. But they’re not just showering me with free stuff. If they were, I wouldn’t be accepting it.

I Work A Lot, All Day, Every Day

I spend hours a day, most of the day, working at what I do. I answer most messages pretty quickly even though 90% of them never lead to a penny of income. I do my best to support others too, to help them if they have questions, and so on. I sometimes wish there was a way to get paid for that too given how much time I spend on it, but at this point I just hope they’ll leave a tip when they can and that the information I have to offer helps them.

I also mentioned that maintaining a social media presence is important and here’s why: it’s kind of like advertising. But it’s kind of also a grey area for me because while there is that business aspect, I also love meeting all the people and spreading my thoughts and positivity.

Two Sides to What I Do

Back to the advertising aspect… my hope is that when I post a photo or video that people will want to see more, that maybe they’ll want to support me, and they’ll hopefully pledge to my Patreon.

But then the other side is that I hope my posts provide a smile, a welcome distraction, or something else positive for people. I hope my videos help people to relax or find a little escape from the stress of the day.

And in that way I’ve merged my business side and my personal side. That can be a bit misunderstood sometimes, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

I Love It!

So yes, I love what I do, but it’s also my job.

If you’d like to support me there are a few ways you can do that:

Share my posts on social media with a tag back to me:
https://www.instagram.com/dekilah
https://www.twitter.com/dekilahdivine
https://www.facebook.com/dekilah

Pledge to or share my Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/dekilah

Send me a PayPal or “Buy Me A Coffee” tip via the buttons further down on this page.

Bonus Tip: You can use most of these tips to support other creatives too ^_~ I do it all the time!

Letting Go of Feeling Judged

Some time over the last year or so, I was finally able to cut the strings of feeling judged for deciding I didn’t want to pursue a paid modeling career, at least in the usual sense, any more.

Letting Go of Feeling Judged

My Realization of the Problem

For years, I’d been struggling to find paid photoshoots in the Metro Detroit area. I felt like if I tried hard enough, I could find shoots. I felt like other people were booking shoots in the area or at least they were talking about it. I also remembered being told that if you try hard enough, you’ll find the paid work.

Slowly, I began to realize it just wasn’t going to happen for me. When I first came to that realization, I thought it was just me. I started picking myself apart trying to rationalize why I wasn’t booking the paid work I felt I should have been. I was being told I was great to work with, I had people from all over the world asking me to come to them to shoot, and I’d done very well before in a different area.

This was incredibly hard on my self esteem as a model and a person.

Not Wanting to Let Go

Modeling was the one thing I felt I was good at and that I could earn an income doing. My health and anxiety issues have always made a standard job a poor fit so as soon as modeling started to become a source of income for me, I had been thrilled. But I had moved, for personal reasons, from a market where I was very popular and hired often to one in a bigger city where there really wasn’t much work for me.

In my last ditch effort, I reached out to some model mentors and explained my situation. They all told me pretty much the same thing: they were staying booked by traveling and it seemed like I was doing everything I could as a local model. Traveling has never been an option for me so I knew I needed to find another path.

This was all incredibly frustrating considering the rest of my life was going very well. I was enjoying (and still enjoy) living in Detroit, co-producing events, and, of course, having finally found a supportive and wonderful romantic relationship.

Struggling to Find a Solution

Still, I craved that personal fulfillment and satisfaction. I also really felt I needed to be earning more.

I’d started a Patreon a couple years back and it was doing okay. I wasn’t really making much with it, but it was something and I had fun with it. I had Zivity, too, and I was making a little through that, but it had gone the way of explicit content that I don’t do.

At some point, I had a few conversations with other models, my husband, and maybe a couple friends and I finally started to realize that with all the agony it was causing me, pursuing modeling for hire was sucking the joy out of things for me.

I started to examine what I really enjoyed about modeling. It certainly wasn’t chasing paid shoots or dealing with fifty messages to only have one ever really pan out. I enjoyed collaborating with people, I enjoyed promoting my work, I enjoyed sharing my work, I enjoyed playing dress up, and more and more I was enjoying shooting self portraits.

I gave myself a timeline. I told myself that I would give booking paid shoots one last full effort and then after that I would let them go and focus on my Patreon where I was happy. I did give it a good effort. I crafted posts for local groups, I over-hauled my ModelMayhem and my website, I adjusted my rates, and I made an effort to reach out to photographers.

I ended up with a fair number of responses, but I was quickly pulled into the “wishy washy” aspects again. Photographers would seem interested, but then they’d fuss about my rates or they wouldn’t have access to a location to shoot. They weren’t willing to book the incredibly affordable studio I’d arranged opportunities to shoot at. I was being strongly reminded as to why I needed to get out of the cycle.

The Real Issue

And at some point during all of this I realized what was holding me back: I was afraid I would be judged as a lesser model if I wasn’t doing shoots for hire. It wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t even about personal fulfillment as I had thought all along. It was about losing the respect I’d worked hard to gain over the years.

Prior to being a model and becoming involved in that community, I’d rarely felt respected in any community, especially by my peers. I was always “so tiny” and “so shy” that people seemed to either avoid me or treat me like I was a child. I didn’t always hate it. Sometimes it was nice having others take the reins. But I was growing as a person and I enjoyed finally having a place where people were coming to me for help and where I was actually able to help them.

Helping others is a cornerstone of my personality. I enjoy it. It gives me purpose.

So the thought of losing all of that scared me.

How I Finally Let Go

But once I sat down and really thought about it over time, I realized that I was doing what was best for me. I was being practical. And also, why was I thinking that my experiences or my advice were any less valid because I was choosing a path that was right for me? If anything, I was following my own advice and letting go of what was no longer working for me.

I think that’s the key point, too: I let go of what was no longer working for me. Modeling for hire is fantastic for a lot of models, just as traveling is. Patreon has been wonderful for me, but that’s not the case for everyone. The point isn’t what I did, it’s why I did it and what the overall outcome was.

In my case, the overall outcome is a dream coming true.

I’m still working on it, but I now enjoy every shoot I do. When I collaborate with others I feel like I can guide the shoot just as much as the photographer does. When I shoot self portraits, I can shoot whatever I want and know that my Patrons are supporting me. In fact, some of my odd little experiments have ended up being among the most popular among my Patrons. Instead of the emotional drain of dealing with wishy washy photographers, I get to seek out new Patrons and talk about all of the things I love about what I do. Of course there are times when things get a bit frustrating, but I still feel solid in what I’m doing and I’m no longer literally in tears about my creativity.

The Take-Away

My take-away from this experience was that there is no one path in modeling or any kind of creativity that is standard or the best. The best path isn’t the one I took, though I do believe it was the best for me. The best path is whatever works for you. It takes time to figure that out and that’s okay. The first step is acknowledging the problem, then you can start to work towards a solution to fix it.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please consider leaving a tip via the buttons near the bottom of the page or pledging to my Patreon. As always, you are welcome to share it and I encourage it!

My Creative Scale – Self Portraits vs. Posing for Photographers

For me, posing for others and shooting self portraits are at the ends of this sort of sliding scale.

At first, it was tilted much more, and completely for a few years, towards the posing for others end.

When I began shooting self portraits in January of 2012 it was meant to supplement my work with photographers. It was also a way for me to shoot content for Zivity which was a big source of income for me at the time.

I preferred shooting with photographers over self portraits then because I found doing everything to the degree I felt it needed to be done to be tedious. I struggled with lighting and resetting the camera after every shot was especially time consuming.

I enjoyed posing. That was really it. I was shooting self portraits so I could keep posing. It took some time for me to enjoy doing my own makeup, then styling, and finally, only within the last year or two, experimenting with lighting.

On the other side, I’ve felt for a few years now that many local photographers undervalue me. The paid market in my area hasn’t been supportive of my style, my look, or my limits in general. That was very upsetting to me for a while and I literally cried about it many, many times. I felt like I had a lot to offer, but no one could see that.

Then, I found Patreon and with it a way to build a community of supporters who do value my creativity, both in the form of things I shoot myself and with others. It was slow growing at first and I still hit those plateaus for growth, but I feel driven again! Patreon also gave me that extra little push when I started shooting what have become my Sensual Selfies on a whim. I posted a few of them and found that people really enjoyed that style, so it has become a whole new avenue of creative exploration for me.

A photo in one of the wardrobe additions funded by my Patreon. Self Portrait.

As I’ve progressed along enjoying more and more of the individual aspects of shooting self portraits I’ve also developed something of a style. I’ve also found a creation process and tools that work for me.

Simultaneously, shooting with photographers has become more difficult. I don’t have as much time to shoot and my car anxiety means I prefer to shoot very close to home. There are friends and a relative few others who I enjoy collaborating with, of course, but trying to get people in this market to hire me was creating this dark cloud for me. So I changed up my strategy.

The scale has now started to tip strongly towards self portraits for me.

I know a lot of people may think I focus on self portraits too much. What they probably don’t understand is that self portraits have saved my creativity. They’ve also boosted my confidence, my self worth, and my income. My urge to create isn’t financially driven, but I have bills to pay too! The income allows me to continue growing in my creativity, too. I can finally afford wardrobe, set pieces, equipment upgrades, etc. I still have to budget carefully and save for those things, but they’re within reach now. That is a form of growth and motivation for me that really fuels my creativity.

I am quite honestly proud of myself for making a path. It reminds me of being a kid and playing in these dense brush areas on my family’s property. My siblings and I would move vines over, cut away what we needed to, use what we couldn’t move, and create spaces to play. We took what we had and made it work. I’ve done the same with my modeling and my creativity. It might not be the easiest path, or one everyone understands, but it suits me.

Sensual Selfie from February 2018
Sensual Selfie from February 2018

I do still hope to collaborate with photographers, but only those who I enjoy creating with. I no longer need to chase paid work, to endure immense anxiety for extended drives in the car, or to try to convince people of my worth. And no, I don’t foresee ever giving up posing for other photographers altogether, but I want those shoots to be of good value to me and with the least amount of stress possible.

I hope I continue to explore, to build more of this path, and, most of all, to create both completely of myself and through collaborations with others.

Would you like to support me on my path? Consider pledging even just $1 a month to my Patreon. Every pledge helps and is greatly appreciated! Or if you prefer a one time option, please use the buttons near the bottom of the page.

My Top 5 Favorite Self Care Rituals

I think self care and positivity go hand in hand. The more we take care of ourselves, the better we tend to feel. However, I think that self care can be a difficult practice to get into so I wanted to share 5 of my favorite self care rituals with you along with a few tips for developing your own.

My Top 5 Favorite Self Care Rituals

Before we jump in, I wanted to make a little side note to the guys reading this: Self care isn’t just for women! You guys should be practicing it as well.

#1 – Skin Care

My favorite form of self care is hands down skin care. I really love sheet masks, but I have a whole cabinet (okay, actually two) full of skin care products. If I feel I’m having a rough day or I know my skin needs a little TLC, I’ll use a sheet mask while I relax in the tub. And my personal rule is no stressful stuff on my phone while I relax. I usually play a game (Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is my favorite) or scroll through posts on Instagram.

The benefits of this particular self care routine are that it makes me slow down and just relax for a bit. Plus, it’s great for my skin and my face always feels better the next morning.

Guys, you can use sheets masks too! Don’t be afraid to take care of your skin. Good skin is a universally nice thing.

#2 – Watch ASMR Videos

I’m pretty open about my enjoyment of ASMR which I suggest Googling if you’ve never heard of it. I use it as a relaxation and pain management technique.

Watching ASMR videos is another really good form of self care for me for two reasons:

It distracts my brain so I can start to let go of anxious, stressful, or otherwise negative thoughs.

It helps me relax physically.

If you’ve never explored ASMR videos on YouTube I definitely recommend it! There are quite a lot of types of videos out there and even if you don’t experience the tingles, most people still find the right triggers to be relaxing. I think ASMR is one powerful self care tool.

Here is my ASMR channel if you’d like to check it out: Dekilah ASMR. And while you’re at it, you might find some of my stockings videos and such on my main channel to be relaxing too.

#3 – Drinking Hot Tea

There is something about preparing a cup of hot tea that I find incredibly relaxing. Even if I’m really on edge or even upset I still stop and take my time. It’s just something I do automatically.

Yes, I’m one of the ones that heat a cup of water up in my microwave. I like to use cute vintage tea cups, but you can use whatever you have.

While the water is heating, I like to choose the right tea from my fairly vast collection. Sometimes I have no idea what I want and I just try something. Other times I go for a favorite which is usually some form of chai tea.

Next I slow dip the tea bag into the water until it finally gets full soaked. I press it down with a spoon. Sometimes I like to press the tea bag with the spoon and watch as the water changes color.

Once it’s done, I lift the tea bag out and use the spoon to press it out. I usually give it a few minutes to cool down, so I’ll sometimes go do a quick chore. And then I take my cup and I sit down on the couch to enjoy it. The warmth in my hands and the action of sipping tea is wonderful!

If you happen to not like tea, you could always try some hot chocolate, too.

#4 – Meditation

I used to kind of raise my eyebrows at the idea of meditation. I didn’t think I’d be able to shut my mind off anyway. But finally, this past year I decided to stop shutting down something I’d never tried.

I downloaded the Headspace app for some guided meditations. I learned some invaluable techniques in just the first few sessions from the free version of the app. That has been the single best thing I’ve done to help learn to better cope with stress and anxiety.

I sit in my chair cross legged with the lights off when I meditate. I’ve found that’s a very cozy, calming place for me. You could try sitting on your bed, in the middle of your couch, or where every you like. Just choose a place that you feel comfortable.

If you aren’t already meditating, I’d say give it a chance. It doesn’t have to take a long time. The Headspace sessions are 3 minutes to start off and you can tailor them from there on. And no, I’m not sponsored by Headspace. I just really like the app.

If you guys have suggestions for other similar apps, please share them in the comments.

#5 – Put on Something I Love

I know I’m not the only one who has certain items of clothing that I love. I think just about everyone has that shirt or sweater or socks they just love.

For me it’s been this oversized, blanket-like cardigan. In fact, I’ve done a few selfie session and videos with it. I don’t care that I look like I’m wearing a blanket. In fact, I actually think that’s why I like it. It’s all the warmth and snuggle of a blanket, but it doesn’t fall off.

This self care technique is a little less obvious in terms of results, but I think it’s still something that can be soothing. Also, it doesn’t even have to be an article of clothing. It could be jewelry, makeup, or perfume/cologne.

Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite self care rituals with me in the comments.

If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to share it everywhere and maybe leave me a little tip on Ko-Fi or PayPal via the buttons at the bottom of the page. I’d really appreciate it!

And if you’d like more little bits of positiity, make sure to follow me on Instagram.

If you’re interesting in practicing more self care and you’d like a little help on setting that goal, check out my blog post on setting effective goals. ^_^

Improving Social Media Presence for Photographers

The more time I spend looking at trends on social media and how they translate into my community, the more I notice the differences between how most models and model photographers use social media in general. Many models seem to gravitate naturally toward the social aspects of social media. Model photographers, on the other hand, seem to struggle a bit more with putting themselves out there on social media. I’m writing this article to help model photographers who are struggling to get started on improving their social media presence.

Improving Social Media for Model Photographers

Get Out of the Negative Mindset

First things first. You have to stop letting comparisons to others (models specifically) stop you from moving forward with your social media plan. If you stay hung up on that, you’re not going to be able to move forward.

If this isn’t a problem for you, that’s great! I’m only bringing it up here because it’s a common problem I’ve seen and I feel it needs to be addressed.

Social media growth is all about growing your fanbase, your followers, and hopefully your customers (and possibly collaborators). This means what you need to focus on how your numbers increase with the things you do. I only want you to look to others for inspirations and ideas, not for negative comparisons.

So from this point on stay focused on developing your plan and you will start seeing results.

How to Be Social

Here’s the part you need to remember: in order to be successful on social media you need to be willing to share more than just your photos. The reason many models seem to flow well with social media is because they’re willing to share things like:

  • insights into their creativity & inspiration
  • behind the scenes stories
  • their personal stories
  • more about their process

This is called adding value to posts and it’s an important part of social media. I’m going to share more about how you can do that in just a moment.

Before we do though, let’s take a moment to talk about platforms.

What Platforms to Use

As a photographer there are two platforms you’ll probably find most useful: Instagram and Facebook. Facebook has become more and more difficult to use, but Instagram is a thriving, growing place that is perfect for photographers. I suggest using both a Facebook fan page and an Instagram account.

There will be differences in how you use them, but you can still use much of the same content. Having a Facebook page will also allow you to create ads on both Facebook and Instagram which you may find useful later. It also allows you to view your stats on Instagram if you choose to switch to a business account there.

Now that we’ve established where you should be (at minimum), we can move on to the added value I mentioned earlier.

Creating “Added Value” Posts

Let’s talk about some simple ways you can add value to your posts within the text of the post. These tips should also help you plan what to post as well.

  • Share details about how you got the shot, especially if it’s something different or interesting. Just remember to keep them easy to understand. Assume your followers are non-technical. You can always elaborate later if asked.
  • If there was a funny or interesting story behind the shot, share it.  It could be about how you met the model, something that happened during the shoot, etc.
  • You can also share a couple sentences about your concept and what inspired it.

What you’re doing is adding something extra to your post. Keep your followers reading and interested in the story that your art creates. Don’t get hung up on the idea that your art should speak for itself. Maybe it does, but it doesn’t hurt to offer something extra. That’s what keeps people coming back because people are curious to know what’s below the surface of what they see.

Take a few minutes now to look at some past posts (or planned posts) and brainstorm some added value text to add to them. You might even find that you can repost those things with your new text and get more interaction.

Now that we’ve started you off with a good foundation to start moving forward, let’s talk about how you can keep learning.

Continuing Education

I’m going to let you in on something else you need to do: keep learning about how to use social media! There are tons of free and affordable courses out there that you can learn from.

Here are a few free resources you can start with:

7 Days to More Impact on Social Media from Udemy

Growing Followers with Interaction from Dekilah

10 Instagram Tips for Photographers from PetaPixel

Increase Instagram Following With These 10 Tips For Photographers from SLR Lounge

Three Easy Ways To Drive New Followers To Your Instagram For Free by Fstoppers

Your Official Instagram Hashtag Guide for Photographers by Fstoppers

If you found this blog post helpful, please considering donating a little bit to my blog via the donation buttons near the bottom of the page. You’re also more than welcome to share this post and I encourage it if you found it helpful. ^_^

And if you find you’re still struggling and would like some one on one help in coming up with how to add value to your own posts, get in touch with me to discuss an affordable mini consultation session. I’d be happy to help guide you through a few examples using your photos.

My Craziest Modeling Experiences – Part 2

Here we go with Part 2 of my craziest modeling stories!

I suggest you read My Craziest Modeling Experiences – Part 1 before jumping into this one if you haven’t already.

My Craziest Modeling Experiences - Part 2

Fast forward from my last story about a month, I think. That would have been within my first month or two of modeling. I wasn’t doing nudes yet, but I’d had some successful shoots and finally got my first paid offer. It was $10 an hour to do a lighting test. The photographer suggested I bring some of my goth outfits. Goth modeling was one of the styles I really wanted to get into, so I was excited.

Issues with Ish

The photographer who I’m going to call Ish (which is actually part of the name he was using at the time) first complained that the clothes I brought had too much black in them. Apparently his camera did not shoot black (or red) well. If that sounds fishy to you considering he asked to shoot goth, you’re not alone.

Next, he asked me to help him move a very heavy solid wood table so I could pose on it. After that, he proceeded to tell me that my body was lumpy. He asked me to smile more at one point. When I did he said something like “Well, don’t do THAT again!”. I guess he thought I did not have a good smile. He also scolded me because I didn’t know how to pose myself well, a fact that I had informed him of before we booked.

The “best” part happened at one point when I was posing on the table. Something happened, I think he might have tripped on a cord, and his light and tripod both went falling. He seemed upset with me because I didn’t leap off the table and try to save them. Even if I had tried, I wouldn’t have been able to because they were too far away.

I think he did pay me and I told myself there was no way I was ever doing that again. It wasn’t worth the money, no matter how badly I needed it (which was pretty badly at the time).

The Marlboro Man

Now we get to move on to one that wasn’t so much the photographer’s fault as it was just odd… I think this was nearing my second year shooting and one of my dreams was to do a nude shoot with a horse.

I should mention a side note here: I had been working with horses since I was about ten volunteering at a riding school for the disabled. I’d had a lot of experience handling horses, but could never afford to take lessons. So this wasn’t totally a whim, no experience thing in regards to being around horses.

I’d never shot with this photographer before, but I think we’d talked a bit and shooting with horses was on my shoot wish list. He had found a farm willing to let us shoot. It also supposedly had a private space to shoot.

The handler had two horses. One of them was definitely prettier, but also pretty skittish. The other was a bit shaggier looking, but definitely more laid back. I chose him.

Being responsible as a model, I’d only worn a tank top dress that I could slip off. The handler suggested I ride the horse to the shooting spot to get used to him.

A few minutes later, he started leading the horse onto a path into a bunch of trees. This is when he began telling me about how he could have been the Marlboro man. No, I’m not joking. If he was, he never let on. Apparently he’d auditioned for a commercial or something years before.

As we went on, the path was getting narrower and my legs and feet were getting scratched to bits by the branches. The horse tried to stop a couple times, but he kept urging him on. By the time we got to the clearing, I had little cuts all over and there were little streaks of blood all over my legs and feet.

We tried shooting with me on the horse, but he wouldn’t stand still. He wasn’t trying to run off either. He just didn’t seem to care for the idea of being still. Eventually we gave up on that and I got off to take a few portraits standing next to him.

It ended up being a wash. I was so incredibly disappointed.

The Car Shoot

When I first started modeling, I wanted to get into pin up with rat rods and classic cars. My boyfriend at the time was into those things. He knew some one who owned a garage as well as a few car owners.

I thought doing classical art nude poses with the cars and in a garage would be a really amazing concept. I set up a shoot day with a few photographers and I lined up a few cars.

A couple days before the shoot the one car I’d really wanted to pose with became unavailable. The owner told me that he was concerned about a nude model posing on his car because… (wait for it)… all nude models get sexually aroused when they pose nude. He was afraid the resulting “fluids” would erode the clear coat on his car. I’m pretty sure that was an elaborate story that roughly translated to “my girlfriend found out and she’s not okay with in.”

I was disappointed, but not worried at that point because we still had the garage and a few other cars lined up. No big deal other than it having been the car I’d actually sketched out specific poses for.

Next, he day before the shoot the garage owner said he might be a bit late because he was out of town. That developed into some complicated story about his hunting club and not being able to get away. Of course he kept stringing me along. He never flat out canceled. It wasn’t until the morning of the shoot that I made the call that he wasn’t going to show and ended up having to contact the photographers and tell them it was canceled.

I was crying the whole time, devastated. This was the first time I’d tried to plan something and it failed so miserably. It wasn’t my fault beyond perhaps choosing to set things up with someone who clearly didn’t care. However, I still felt like the whole thing made me look unprofessional and that was (and still is) one of my fears as a model.

More Lessons Learned

These experiences taught me a lot about planning more thoroughly in advance. I also learned that I can’t just trust people to do what I feel they’re supposed to do, even if it’s common sense. The first one also inspired me to be more assertive and to value my own time.

These stories are also pretty amusing for me to look back on. Thankfully they’re all just bad stories, no serious damage was done. I gained some important experience from them and I feel that I’ve come so far that I can look back and just shake my head. Life is definitely entertaining!

I hope you guys found these two posts about some of my experiences fun and entertaining to read. I’m pretty good at avoiding issues now and this was a big step for me because people could really judge me based on these. However, I wanted to share anyway.

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3 Tips for Setting Goals for Real Life

It’s a New Year (yay, 2018!) and a popular time to start setting new goals. Setting goals is an important part of improving your life and pursuing positivity. However, I think how you set goals is really important. It’s easy to get pulled into setting grand goals, but we all know we usually don’t stick to those. So I’m going to share some of my tips on how I effectively set goals.

Setting Goals for Real Life

First, you should decide what your goal really is and try to determine what the smaller parts of it are.

Break Those Goals Down

Most goals we set are actually made up of two more smaller goals. It’s important to recognize those if we want to set effective goals.

  • For example, a lot of people want to work on losing weight. That goal is really at least two things: eating better and working out. It might also mean setting that appointment to speak to you health care professional, too. In fact, I recommend it!
  • Models and photographers might resolve to shoot more. That includes things like more promoting and networking as well as actually booking more shoots.
  • Those of us with businesses often want to increase our social media presence. This would mean things like increasing followers, getting more interaction, and conversion of followers to customers.

So as you jump into setting goals, make sure you’ve broken those bigger goals into at least two smaller goals. I’ve found that writing them out, even if it’s just in a quick note on your phone, can be quite useful too.

So now that you know the parts, you can further clarify those goals and how you’ll achieve them.

Set Up Small Steps

Choosing small steps in a reasonable amount of time is the next part of how I like to set up my goals.

For our first example above we might be tempted to say “I’m only going to eat healthy things, I’m going to cut out all sweets, and I’m only going to drink water!”. Sure, all of those things would be great, but they’re going to be difficult to stick to or track.

Try choosing a more specific, reasonable goal. Something like “I’m going to focus on cooking a healthy meal for dinner at least 3 times a week” or “I’m not going to drink pop for two weeks.” Also, I might suggest just choosing one of those things to do at a time. Try setting your goal for two to four weeks. Then add on as you feel the first goal has become a solid habit.

For those who want to work on their social media presence, you might go with goals like “I’m going to post everyday on Instagram for a month” or “I’m going to try to comment on 10 posts in relevant groups every day for two weeks.”

Keep it to something you can do in 10 to 15 minutes or less. You can add to it as you go, but you’re more likely to stick to it if you start small.

So remember, break those big goals down and set up small steps with set time goals, too.

Bonus Tip: You might also find it helpful to use a checklist app or a physical planner to keep track of your goals.

Finally, let’s talk about rewarding yourself.

Related Rewards

I’m sure some of you think rewards are just for kids. However, they’re still a big part of adult life, even if we don’t recognize them as such.

Working toward goals might be enough motivation for you, but I’ve found that allowing myself a little reward when I reach my goal gives me something extra to work towards.

Let’s talk examples. Maybe your goal is to work out more and you decide to work out for 30 minutes 3 days a week for a month. Once you reach that goal you could buy yourself a new set of weights or invest in an online training program.

Perhaps you want to start cooking at home more and when you reach your goal for that you might try a meal delivery kit service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Alternatively, you could choose a related reward like new silverware (something I did recently) or a new kitchen gadget you’ve been wishing for.

You might also choose something unrelated that just happens to be something you like. It could be something like a nice meal, a movie, or a new video game.

You know yourself best so you can choose a reward that works for you and your budget.

Now that you know how to break your goals down, create small steps, and reward yourself you should be ready to go.

Now go get on those goals! I’d love to know what your goals are so please share them in the comments! 

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My Craziest Modeling Experiences – Part 1

After 8 years of modeling, I definitely have my fair share of funny, horrible, and odd stories so I thought I’d compile some of the craziest ones into a couple blog posts for you. These are in chronological order and I’ve left the names out for some of them. This is part one and I’ll have part two out for you soon.

My Craziest Modeling Experiences Part 1

Let’s jump in…

Big Fat Liar

When I wasn’t really modeling yet, but trying to get into it, I met a man on MySpace who I’m just going to call BFL. My current self would have seen this guy coming and shut him down before he even had a chance to meet me. However, back in late 2008/early 2009 when this happened, I had no idea of what was out there. BFL had lots of pretty photos in his MySpace photos of different models that looked good. He also seemed to know what he was talking about.

We set up a shoot in a graveyard to do a goth witch pin up calendar. Yep, I fell for the older calendar scam.

Before the shoot he contacted me and told me to pick up a disposable camera because he’d left his camera in another model’s trunk. He told me disposable cameras were what all the fashion pros used anyway. That sounded a little weird to me so I brought my family’s point and shoot too.

BFL asked us (my boyfriend was driving) to pick him up at his house because he had night blindness and couldn’t drive. Again, that sounded weird as we were going to be shooting around dusk, but he had all those nice photos and talked a good game.

The shoot itself actually wasn’t bad. He took the disposable and claimed he’d get the photos developed. I took the point and shoot since he didn’t want those photos anyway. Of course the photos never got developed, but the story continues…

One night he asked us to pick him up again so he could come hang out and we could talk about photos, maybe do another shoot. This was during the brief 9 months that I was living in an apartment. I felt I really needed more photos if I wanted to continue modeling, so we agreed.

The moment he got in the car I regretted it. First, he wanted to stop and buy a bunch of beer. I didn’t want that in my apartment (I have never been a drinker and my boyfriend wasn’t either), but let him do it anyway. Then we got home and stayed up for a while.

I think this was when I showed him some of the art nudes I’d been seeing and that I really liked those. He told me I should never get into nudes.

He also didn’t want me to take my socks off and walk around barefoot like I normally did because feet grossed him out. Finally, we went to bed and he stayed up. He drank all of that beer (4 or 5 of the large cans) and he ate all of our food! At that time I was barely paying for things and that was a huge deal. After that, I insisted we take him home which we did.

Eventually, I broke contact.

Oh, and as for his camera, apparently that didn’t exist. I found out later that he had a couple other more experienced models on the line as well. He’d been telling all of us that he’d left his camera in one of the others’ cars. I also found out that he hadn’t shot a single photo on his MySpace. They were just photos of models he knew.

Thank goodness right after him I met a much more professional photographer named John Wilson who would end up doing both my first real shoot and my first nude shoot. He was the one who really got me started in modeling.

First Creeper Guy

Shortly after I started modeling for actual photographers (or at least those with a camera), I was contacted by a photographer I’ll call FCG. He wanted to shoot some outfits/costumes and I think it was paid work. I explained to him right away that a lot of adult one size costumes wouldn’t fit me because I’m so tiny. I also told him that maybe I had some stuff we could shoot in. He wanted to meet at his shoot space to talk and see what outfits I had. He was very firm in that where I was going was his shoot space and not his home, which was kind of odd even to me at the time.

We (again, my boyfriend was driving) arrived at his shoot space. It was a motel type building that had been converted into apartments. As soon as I walked in, he was sitting on his couch watching TV. I noticed that he’d shoved everything in cabinets and such to make the place look like he didn’t live there. He got up and walked me through to a bedroom with a completely stripped bare, stained mattress that had a couple cheap sexy school girl type outfits on it. I told him right away that they were too big and suggested I show him what I brought.

We went back into the living room where my suitcase was. He proceeded to sit down on the couch and go back to watching dog agility trials on the TV. I don’t think he ever even looked at anything I pulled out and tried to show him. Finally, I told him we needed to go and left.

After that, on the way home, I started wondering if I was ever going to be able to make this modeling thing work.

What I Learned…

Both of these stories tell you that I’m a “people pleaser”. At that time I was also really, really shy. I’ve learned to be more assertive, particularly in regards to my modeling.

Looking back on these stories, I am also reminded that everyone starts out without knowing all of the in and outs of this community. I had no idea what I was doing. Those memories are part of why I make such an effort to help others who are new. I wish there had been more of a community when and where I started. If there had been, I think I could have avoided some mistakes and progressed much faster.

More to come…

I have three more stories that I’ll be sharing with you at a later date.

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Why I Don’t Need Every Photo

I really don’t want every photo a photographer takes of me and I’m going to tell you why in this post.

There is this seemingly new trend where newer models want every photo shot of them unedited (aka raw files). I’m not saying it’s wrong. We’re all free to try to negotiate what we want, but I want to let you know why I don’t do that myself.

Let’s Jump In…

Photographed by Clever9Design

First of all, I have well into the thousands of photos of myself. It’s getting to the point where I’m having to buy more storage devices to back them up. I wouldn’t mind that if it was actually needed, but it’s really not.

In general, I think you really only need maybe 2 to 5 photos from a look if you’re using them for social media and especially for portfolio use. The rule of thumb tends to me one photo per look (outfit, set, etc) for portfolio. If you are publishing sets for monetization the number will go up, of course, but that is something that should be made clear when you schedule the shoot.

My Expectations

What I personally expect in terms of photos from a trade shoot are photos I can use. Sure, I do post galleries to Patreon so that’s 15 to 50 photos depending on how much you edit, how much we shot, the concept etc. I do have a few photographers who send a lot more, but I don’t expect that. I do prefer that the photos I get are all “usable.”

To me, “usable” means they are ready to go. I’d rather not have to sort through and dig out the blinks, unflattering poses, accidental motion blurs, etc. I can, but I think most photographers prefer to cull photos themselves anyway.

Now what about proofs? I don’t mind those and I can go through photos and choose a set or my favorites. However, I don’t demand it or expect it any more. Most of the photographers I work with are perfectly capable of doing that themselves. I was doing it more when I was shooting for Zivity because I had a better idea of what my fans liked. Now that Zivity has closed, that’s not a factor and I don’t mind the photographer making the choices at all.

Photographed by Kiran Bhat
Photographed by Kiran Bhat, MUA: Raquel Cohen

Sometimes a photographer does want to send me all the photos, unedited, so I can edit them myself. I can do that, but quite honestly, that’s not something I push for. It’s a huge amount of file space. Unless they’re just not comfortable editing them, I usually encourage them to edit as they see fit and send the edits.

What If?

Now, what if I don’t care for the edits or there is some pose I think is missing? I think this is the time to politely contact the photographer and express my concern. However, I haven’t had to do this nearly enough to warrant some kind of demanding policy. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I did it. I choose photographers to collaborate with based on their work so there are very rarely surprises in how they edit.

Summing It Up

So, in summary: I trust the photographers I work with to cull and edit photos, I don’t feel I need every raw file, and I don’t want to spend a fortune on unnecessary file storage. I’m sure these feelings partially come with my experience, both in modeling as a whole and in choosing who I work with. I also think they also just make sense when you think about it.

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5 Ways I Stay Inspired as a Model

5 Ways I Stay Inspired - Dekilah's Blog

Sometimes inspiration can be a struggle. Here are some of the things I do to stay inspired as a model and self portraitist.

Let myself be inspired by others

I follow many artists, models, and photographers whose work I find inspiring. I save, list, and bookmark a lot photos to refer back to when I’m feeling stagnant. Of course I don’t copy them, but I use them as a jumping off point for poses or ideas.

Look at classical art 

A lot of my early influences were classical art works. I’ve been fascinated by nudes in art since I was 12 or 13, if not earlier. I like looking at sculptures in particular, but there have been paintings that have inspired me as well. I find that this inspiration works very well for my more figure based work.

classical_curves
Inspired by classical art. Self portrait.

Put on a song and move to it

When I’m shooting self portraits and I’m feeling a little lost for mood or inspiration, I’ll put on some music. Then I just move through poses as I feel them. I’ve noticed different types of music have inspired different moods, though sometimes not quite what I expect.

Bring in different props or wardrobe for inspiration

A lot of what I do is centered around nudes and lingerie so it seldom includes props or fabric I can play with. Sometimes I just grab different things around the house if I’m shooting self portraits or I’ll ask if to incorporate a prop I see in a studio. I think it broadens the range of poses and also might help create a bit more of a story line. Fabric with some play can also add the ability to create different lines and shapes as well as motion.

Return to what I’m comfortable with

Sometimes I get caught up in trying to do “new” things and then end up frustrated because it’s not coming out the way I want. When that happens, I like to go back to something I know usually works well and try that for a bit. Often times it can flow into that more challenging idea, so it becomes twice as productive. Posing is often about confidence, so sometimes working through that can be just what I needed.

Those are the most common ways I stay inspired. Share some of the ways you stay inspired in the comments. ^_^

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