I never would have imagined I would become a people person, and certainly not as comfortable in public situation as I am now. That’s not to say that I don’t still experience anxiety or that I’ve changed from being quiet and introverted in many situations. But as a model there is a big social aspect and quite a lot of dealing with people. I thought I’d share some thoughts on that today.
One of the most obvious aspects of modeling is working with photographers, MUAs, and other creatives that I come across during a shoot. Photographers can run the spectrum from confident to self conscious, personable to abrasive, very organized to scattered. As the model, part of my job is to work with them, no matter what their personality is, and to create the best photos possible. I’ve developed the ability to work with, and sometimes around, so many personalities since I started modeling. This wasn’t something I came to modeling with, it’s a skill I’ve developed because of it.
The vast majority of photographers I’ve worked with have been pretty easy to work with and quite pleasant. I consider many of them friends and I think it’s fun getting to know them in the time we spend shooting. But there have been those who have been difficult. I had one photographer, early on, before I started posing nude, who told me I was lumpy, who got mad at me for not catching his equipment when it fell (I was on a table a few feet away), and who was just generally unpleasant. I had another photographer who got frustrated with me because his lighting wasn’t working the way he wanted. Thankfully nothing too bad, but it can be challenging to get good photos when someone is throwing a really negative vibe at you.
And that’s why I’m thankful for the connection I’ve been able to find with almost everyone I’ve worked with. Having that connection really helps with photos. Part of it is much like being good at small talk and the other part, for me, is being somewhat intuitive. That part is extra fun because it’s seems a lot like reading their minds and it’s a valuable skill when you’re working with someone who isn’t able to convey exactly what they are thinking.
Another aspect to the people skills for modeling has been networking. As a freelance model I’m my own manager/booker and promoter as well as doing the other things you probably associate with modeling like posing, makeup, etc. Part of being a good manager/booker for myself means I have learn to recognize red flags, to communicate with a variety of people (including those not good with text communication or those for whom English is a secondary language), and to express myself clearly. And yes, it also means dealing with pervy messages, rude photographers, and those who don’t like what I say (when I decline a shoot, for example).
Promoting myself is another interesting facet to modeling. I prefer to promote myself as myself. I don’t really alter my personality for my social presence, but the challenge is to convey what I want to say in text format where I don’t have body language or tone to qualify what I’m saying. That means my little sarcasms or things that would normally have hand motions (and anyone who has seen my videos knows I talk with my hands a lot). This is something that we all have to deal with in social media, but as a model it’s part of my “brand” so it’s part of how I make my money. I love the challenge, though. Writing is something I really enjoy, so that part of it is really fun, even when it’s challenging. I don’t mind people not following me because they don’t like something I meant to say, but I try to avoid them not following me because of a misunderstanding, if that makes sense. The same goes for photographers. I’m not going to click with every photographer, no matter how much I might try to, and sometimes it’s better for me to decline a shoot than to work with someone who clashes badly with me.
So somehow, I went from a painfully shy, quiet person, to one who somehow has found confidence and enjoyment in a very people-related job. I think that’s what sort of prepared me for what I do in art events coordination/production, too. But what is sort of amusing is that if I’m not modeling, and I’m not in charge of the event, I tend to still be more quiet. Thankfully I also enjoy people watching ^_~