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!

Photographer Advice Blog Post

How To Avoid Model Flakes

I think almost all photographers are concerned with model flakes and how to avoid them. I hope this article will help you identify some of the red flags you may encounter.

First, I want to define what I consider flaking. Model flakes are models who do not show up to the shoot or who cancel at the last possible second (as in day of the shoot) without a legitimate excuse.

How to Avoid Model Flakes

I think in order to cut down on your “flake rate”, you need to examine your situation. Sometimes there are no warning signs. However, if you check references or at least ask around, look at how they communicate, and read their profile, than you can catch some red flags common to many model flakes. Models should not flake, but it does happen and if you can do things to avoid it, I think you should. These tips are from my own experiences working with other models, from discussions, and from photographers I’ve talked to over the years.

Some Things to Look For

Here are a few things that are signs of professionalism. Models who do these things are usually less likely to flake. Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. A model who doesn’t fit one or even two of these guidelines may still be okay, but the fewer of these things you see, the higher the chance of a model flake in most cases.

  1. If you are booking via a modeling site, look for a well-written profile that shows some degree of dedication to modeling.
  2. Look at messages you receive from the model. Does the model seem engaged in the shoot? Do they seem to understand the concept or ask question about things? Do they confirm the location and date or just say “That sounds good”? Not saying that some of us don’t respond with short replies some times, but there should be some degree of real interest at some point.Note: this one may vary from model to model and situation to situation. Many traveling models or very busy models may not have as much time to communicate.
  3. Make sure you send the time, date, location (address) and your number in one message once all is confirmed. Include anything the model is expected to bring or do (such as hair or make-up) and a quick note of the concept. This is really helpful for referring back to and some models even do this confirmation themselves to avoid any confusion. If the model confirms the date and time back to you, that’s a good sign.
  4. Ask around about the model. Get references if you can, but also ask around in your circles. Keep in mind that you may now be getting second or third hand info, but a lot of good responses is usually pretty promising. One or two negative responses from a large pool can mean personal issues or lack of a creative click, but not necessarily an issue for you.  I suggest using it to get an overall feel for the model’s personality and work ethic, but you do have to follow your own instincts as well.
  5. Be cautious when booking a model you have not worked with previously for a shoot that you are pouring a lot of resources into. For example, booking a new-to-you model for a shoot that you are investing a lot of money into or scheduling hair, wardrobe, etc. may be risky unless they have glowing references.

Potential Reasons for Model Flakes

The second thing you really need to consider is who models are and why they flake.

A lot of models are young people. People between the ages of 18 and 25 can be going through a lot of life changes and some of them are not used to being held responsible and accountable. Some of them party, some are not good at keeping schedules, some have demanding significant others who they are very attached to and trying to keep happy (whether you think they should or not), etc. This is pretty normal for this age group. The ones who are super responsible are the exceptions. The model may also be in college trying to study and cram for classes. They may not have reliable transportation. Most models who are serious about modeling will be responsible and will find ways to cut down on the chances that they will not be able to show up, but there are a lot of models who are not quite as serious.

What NOT to Do

So many times I see discussions about model flakes and I see generally poor advice being thrown around.

A common “solution” that always seems to come up is charging models some sort of booking fee. This is quite ineffective if you’re looking for quality, somewhat experienced models. It makes us feel un-trusted, it makes you seem pushy, and most of us simply don’t have the extra cash to give you. On top of that, we feel like we’re being punished for the few bad eggs.

Don’t take to social media or your profile with rants about a model flake or shove it in the face of your potential models that you won’t tolerate flakes. Any model with any sort of real interest knows that flaking is horrible and a lot of us are even scared to call if we get sick or injured for fear we’ll be labeled a flake.

How To Handle a Pattern of Model Flakes

If you have a lot of flakes, it might be time to examine what the cause might be. It might just be a string of “bad luck” and may have nothing to do with you. It might be that you are choosing the wrong models. Try looking outside of your usual range (age, look, area, etc) and see if that helps. It might help to ask good models you have worked with if they have suggestions of reliable models for you to work with as well. Similarly, try finding local groups on FB to see what models people seem to work with regularly.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. If you did, please consider donating to this blog via the buttons near the bottom of the page.

How to Avoid Model Flakes