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.

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A Little Photographer Appreciation

photographerappreciation

You know how people and memes and stuff tell you not to let little things that people say bother you? Well, I’m horrible at that. Sometimes people say things to me and I mull over them for months, sometimes longer. I am trying to work on it, but that’s not really the point of this post, the point of this post is something someone said to me. One time I made a post about models looking out for one another and someone said to me something like “You seem so anti-photographer.” My first instinct was “What the heck?” and how could someone think that about me. I still think that, but I also think that if that one person feels that I somehow don’t like photographers (again, how someone arrives to that conclusion I do not know), then maybe others do too. And, more importantly, I think it’s just good to show appreciation for people.

I do feel that sometimes photographers as a whole get a bad reputation from a couple bad apples, just as models get a reputation based on a few diva and flakey types. And if you stop reading this post right now, just know this: the vast majority of photographers I’ve ever worked with have been good people who were kind and respectful, patient, and very easy to work with.

I also feel that we as people tend to focus a lot on negative or bad things that happen to us, especially when we make posts or tell people about things. I don’t want to go into that a lot, but I think we do this because A) We feel like we’re bragging if we talk about positive experiences and B) We want validation that our feelings on the negative experiences are “right.” I’m not saying this is wrong, I do it, you probably do it, too. But it is something that I think we should be mindful of.

So with all of that said, let’s talk about some positive things. You all know that modeling has done good things for me, at least if you follow me for long you should. It’s given me contentment with my own body, it’s given me a way to contribute to the artistic community, and it’s, perhaps not quite so directly, improved my life so much. And while it has been a lot of hard work and dedication on my part, it has also been all of the wonderful people I’ve worked with. Let’s talk a walk through the swirly purple time tunnel of Dekilah’s positive experiences with photographers…

The first photographer I ever worked with on a real shoot happened to be very talented and very patient. He really guided me through our first shoot and he is a big part of why I took the step into nudes. Instead of pressuring me or even encouraging me more than just agreeing I could if I wanted to, he showed me a few of his photos and told me that if I ever wanted to shoot them, he’d be happy to shoot with me and he would let me review them all right after the shoot on his computer and we would delete anything I didn’t like. He also took some pretty amazing photos of my butt during that first shoot that started that whole saga ^_~

Many of the first photographers I worked with really helped me with my posing. I told them I needed help and instead of declining to work with me, they guided me through it. They taught me about finding and using pose inspiration (along with people in the MM forums).

One of them caught me mid motion with my head turned to profile one day and wiped out this ridiculous notion someone put in my head about my jaw being manly. Now I love my profile and perhaps favor it a bit too much (I’ve been working on that).

And even outside of modeling, probably half of the photographers I’ve shot with have ended up being friends. They come help at events, they listen to my rants in PM and give me advice when I ask, they give me support when I need it. When I got evicted years ago (long story), I called a photographer friend to ask for advice/help. When I went through a horrible break up and was having issues living back at home a photographer offered me a rental home to stay in free of charge (I ended up not needing it, but the offer was priceless to me at the time). And there were other more specific situations that I won’t mention here, but that I am still very grateful for.

So to say that I’m anti-photographer… no. Just no. And you know what else? I’ve actually stood up for photographers when I felt they were being wrongfully accused or a model was blowing something out of proportion. At times I’ve felt like I was being the model version of a “white knight” for photographers.

Oh, and because I know someone will bring it up… yes, I am also married to a photographer. And no, he didn’t hit on me and I eventually fell for it. We were friends on MM and FB for at least a couple years before we considered dating. He was actually the first photographer whose work I came across on MM that was in a style I really wanted to shoot. It took a couple years, but it happened ^_~

So yeah, I’d say I’m pretty pro-photographer. Not pro the bad behavior and I absolutely know there are bad apples and yes I will speak up about and sometimes to those people, but I think that most photographers are good people and I’m happy to have so many as friends.

The Building and Rewards of a Positive Reputation

A Positive Reputation

Today I’ve found quite a few posts from models and photographers that left me shaking my head. In some cases, I was frustrated that these various behaviors are being supported instead of kindly corrected.

I am living proof that being nice and acting professionally can get you pretty far.

I started out shy, crummy at posing, confused, and with only my common sense to guide me.

A couple wonderful models on ModelMayhem shared some advice with me. I also met photographers who were patient with me and let me know when I was going against accepted practices. I didn’t butt heads with them and say “well, this is how I’m going to do it!” I examined their point, sometimes I asked around about it, and then I adapted.

Most of all, I was honest.

I told photographers up front that I was crummy at posing and that I would need some guidance. Some of them turned me down and that’s okay. But I also started sketching out poses and bringing those sketches with me. Eventually, I developed a posing style, but that was at least a couple years in as I learn physical things very slowly.

When I started posing for hire…

I knew that my job was to get photos that fit what the photographer wanted. I liked many of them, but I kept my focus on what the photographer’s goal was most of all. I never demanded photos on top of being paid. Over the years many photographers who have paid me have also given me photos. I’m very grateful for that, but I never expect it. I certainly never demand it.

I worked with my limitations.

Let’s not forget that I’m all of 4’10”. I learned early that I would likely not be a fashion model. I needed to look for opportunities that were suitable for me and my look. I also learned that the market I was in (East TN) wasn’t really that diverse. Many of the things I wanted to do just weren’t possible there. But I found things that I did enjoy and people to work with who helped me grow, who explored concepts with me, and who introduced me to other people. It happened all over again when I moved to Detroit as well. I didn’t come barreling in expecting everyone to know me. I took the time to get to know people, to show them my portfolio, and to meet all of the wonderful people I now know here.

It takes time and dedication.

It takes time to build a positive reputation. It takes learning when to keep your mouth shut and when to speak up. But it’s worth it. My reputation is something I’ve put a lot of care, effort, and time into building. I’ve slipped up, especially in online discussions or my own posts, but I try to move on (and apologize if necessary). And now that I have found my place in this community, I try to use my voice to help others, to educate them, and to build our community into a more positive and productive place. I use my modeling skills not just as a “job” but also to create art and to help teach others too.

My positive reputation absolutely benefits me as well. I have been able to work with talented people who have flat out told me that my reputation and my positive presence online and in the community were strong factors in their working with me.

I am so glad I have put effort into creating and maintaining, a strong, positive reputation. I don’t think I’d be here like I am if I had chosen another path.

How Modeling Made Me A People Person

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 ^_~

How Modeling Made Me A People Person - by Dekilah

That Pressure We Models Face

A lot of people reached out to me yesterday when I published my post “No more nudes? Let’s talk about it…” and I am so… relieved that most people understood where I am coming from and are supportive. What I am not so relieved about was the number of models who let me know that they feel very pressured to do “more” than they do as well.

Here is that portion of my blog post to get you caught up in case you haven’t read it:

“…there is always this pressure to do “more” and this feeling that no matter how nude I am, it’s not enough. People are constantly wanting open leg, more erotic work, girl/girl, flat out porn, etc. There are plenty of models who do those things, so if someone is looking for that, they can easily find it. But I feel like people actually press for it because they know I won’t do it and if somehow they pressure me into it, that’s an enjoyable thing for them. Why can’t people just appreciate what I do? Why is what I do not good enough? I’ve felt that way about myself for my entire life and it’s not something I want to keep enabling.”

As a model, I came to terms early on that people would ask me to do things I don’t do sometimes. It happens. For example, before I started posing nude, people asked me to pose nude all the time. I didn’t get upset about that as long as they were polite about it. I just said “no thank you” and moved on. Those times were not a problem for me.

However, I have had some photographers (and occasionally fans) who actually pressure me to shoot more explicitly than I am comfortable with. Notice that I am using the word “pressure” because they are doing more than just asking if I do or will. They say things like “I could make you so much more money if you’d just do this” or “I bet your fans would like you  more if you showed your pussy.” I had someone once tell me that doing this for the art was stupid when I could be making tons more money.

And it’s taken me some time to be able to put into words why this is such a problem, but I’m going to do my best now. As a model, I feel that what I do has value. What I do is pose. I create lines and shapes, moods, and sometimes characters with my form. Sometimes those things may be sexy or erotic, sometimes they may be raw, but I do what I do as an art form and as a source of enjoyment. At times it has also been a source of income, though now that comes more with my self portraits and photo sets on Zivity than being hired by photographers. But the “thing” that has value is my skill, perhaps talent, my experience, and my knowledge in what I do. It is not my body that I am “selling,” though I am hesitant to use that phrase, I cannot think of one more clear at the moment. If it were, I’d just be standing there looking down with no creative lighting, no composition, just me standing there the same way in every single photo. My body is part of what I do, but it’s not the sole “thing” and, in fact, is actually quite a small part of it compared to the rest.

With that said and as I am an artist who offers skill, talent, experience, and knowledge, I have limits and that is no different than anything else in life. We all have limits and we do not like them to be pushed or to be pressured past them. Sometimes, maybe, I might want to walk the line of a limit of mine. If I choose to do that I will likely reach out to someone to help me in that or, in my case, simply photograph it myself. But that is my choice. I decide when that will happen. That is exactly how I came to nude modeling. It wasn’t because I got so many offers I had to do it. It wasn’t because money was thrown at me. It was because I saw art nudes photos and I enjoyed them, and I wanted to be in them. I contacted a photographer who had let me know that if I ever wanted to shoot nudes, he would shoot them with me. It was a casual statement he made without any air of pressure or trying to convince me. And when I was ready, I did it.

When someone pressures me to go beyond my limits, especially when they try to use to guilt or flattery to do so, I feel immensely disrespected. I don’t feel disrespected because I think more explicit modeling is “bad,” and I don’t think it is bad, I just think it’s not within what I want to do. I feel disrespected because I am being treated as if my body is all there is and my limits, my skills, and so on are not any part of what I do.

If you enjoy my work, enjoy my work. Appreciate it for what it is, not for what you hope I might do. If you are a photographer and want to work with me, than do so because you want to work with me, limits, skills, talent, experience, and all. If you want something that I do not do, than find someone who does that willingly. They are out there and they will probably be happy to have your support as a fan or to work with you as a photographer… as long as you respect them.

I think this issue is one of the most common reasons why so many models, both new and very experienced, eventually leave the modeling world. We already feel we are putting so much out there that when we are asked for even more than we are comfortable giving, we feel unappreciated and begin to wonder why we even do what we do or begin to think that maybe we are simply doing the wrong thing for ourselves in being a model. I can only hope that most of the people who pressure us like this don’t have any idea of how much of an effect this can have on us, either immediately or over time. Part of the reason I am writing this is to try to increase the understanding of this problem and to encourage other models to realize that this is an issue outside of us. We are doing nothing wrong by having limits and modeling isn’t about posing in the most explicit way possible. It’s about creating images we are comfortable creating whatever our limits are.

I will finish by saying a very sincere thank you to the wonderful majority of people who I am honored to have worked with (and who I will work with), who take on the title as a fan of my work, and especially those who have sent me such wonderful supportive messages over the past few days. You inspire me and your support fuels my creative fire. You are awesome!

And as always, you are more than welcome to share this article on social media, to link to it, etc. I want these thoughts to ripple. I welcome you to write your own blogs on this subject, too, and I’d love to read them.

If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to support my creativity, consider becoming a Patron on Patreon or purchasing a print or digital set from my shop.

That Pressure We Models Face - Dekilah

How to Support Your Favorite Models

How to Support Your Favorite Models

People seem to “get” how to support creators of other sorts of art and other things they are fans of (anime, movies, actors, musicians, etc), but when it comes to models I kind of notice a gap. I’m not sure if this gap is because people assume models make a lot of money already or if they feel we should be offering our “product” (as in photos and such) for free, or if it’s something else altogether. So I wanted to share some behind the scenes information as well as some ways you can support your favorite models whether you can do so financially or not.

Why Do Models Want/Need Your Support?

Obviously, all models are different, but for those of us who really devote the time and effort into out modeling and who invest ourselves and sometimes quite a bit of our resources into it, this is at minimum how we earn part of our income. For some of us it’s the sole source of our income. Chances are if you’re following us and you’re a fan, we’re also somewhat of an “internet model” meaning that we do our best to maintain a fanbase, to have new content (photos and such) for you to see, and to interact with you. These are not normal model things that every model does. Not all models do this and those that do are actually using time that could be spent working or doing other things to maintain their social media, website, Zivity, Patreon, etc. You may not realize it, but some of us spend hours on these things. We also may shoot more of what we know you like or take on what are called trade shoots in which we don’t get paid, but we trade time with the photographer to shoot photos for Zivity sets, Patreon content, or just to share on social media.

And I’ll tell you this too: models don’t make that much money. Even the successful full time freelance models aren’t rolling in cash. I’m sure there are a few very, very rare exceptions, but for the most part models are living pay check to pay check (or shooting trip to shooting trip). And all of that pretty lingerie, gorgeous latex, and other wardrobe is not cheap. Some models may be lucky enough to have sponsors or to be able to borrow wardrobe, but most of us are expected to supply our own wardrobe for shoots. And on top of that, we can really only shoot in something once or twice before photographers and fans get tired of it. We usually learn to mix things up so we can reuse them, but we still spend a lot of money on wardrobe and that sexy skimpy stuff isn’t as cheap as you’d think.

In order for us to keep doing what we do, we have to be able to support ourselves and the things we need (wardrobe, makeup, etc). Some of us have day jobs or second and third jobs because modeling isn’t always a consistent income. This is why we can’t always just shoot whenever we want. Some of us may have another source for our living expenses income, but in order to keep modeling we need to make some income from it.

How You Can Support Your Favorite Models

Now with that explained, let’s talk about ways you can support us.

If you can afford it, most of us sell prints or photosets and a lot of us are on sites like Zivity and Patreon where you can spend a small amount ($5 or even less) to support us. I have over 3,000 likes on my fan page and if every one of those people pledged $1 a month, I’d be able to do so much! So even if $1 is all you can do, I promise it adds up. Most us offer special goodies that you can’t get otherwise for those who support us on Patreon and Zivity (and other sites). For example, I send out thank you cards that sometimes include mini prints and I also shoot lots of selfies that only my Zivity Backers and Patreon Patrons get to see. I also send out special goodies to those who vote on my Zivity sets since I get royalties from those votes.

Back to the prints for a moment: these are a great way to support a model (or photographer) you appreciate. It’s a one time purchase, unless you want to buy again, so it’s good for those who don’t like the idea of a subscription.

Okay, so what about for those of you who can’t do the financial support thing?

Share our work on Facebook, reblog us on Tumblr, tweet about us on Twitter. Basically, tell people about us. But please don’t download our photos and re-upload them without giving us credit. It’s much better for us if you share or reblog something we’ve posted so it’s easy for people to find us and we really want new fans to find us because even though you might not be able to financially support us, you might share us with someone who can. Likes and (positive, thoughtful) comments and things like that help too.

And I’m not saying that you have to share or reblog every thing we post, but if you see something you like, pass it on to others and help us out.

We love what we do and we want to be able to keep doing it, so do us a favor and show us a little (or a lot of) support, pretty please!

If you’d like to check out Zivity, here’s the link for that. And here is the Patreon link.

My Personal Modeling Code

My Personal Modeling Code - Dekilah's Blog

Back when I first started modeling, and especially when I got into posing nude I made myself a promise that I would do my best to stick to my code of ethics and that I would never sell myself out for the sake of making money/more money. Mostly it’s been an easy promise to keep because I am so driven by my personal code that I’m not often even tempted.

However, I’ve certainly had it suggested to me by multiple people that I should make alterations to parts of my code in order to become more successful, especially financially and as an “internet model” with a fan base. Here are a few examples:

  • People have suggested I be more flirty because fans like models who are flirty.
  • I’ve had multiple people suggest I pose more explicitly.
  • I’ve even been told I should start drama with other models so I can rally my fans.

That’s just a short list, but I think you get the idea. And here’s where I’m about to do that whole getting really honest thing I’ve been doing lately… But before I do I want to make it very clear that what I’m about to say pertains only to me and my ideals, my code, and how I choose to live my life. I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong and I’m not saying that people who do things that I don’t do are wrong or anything else. I’m saying that for me personally, I’d feel like I wasn’t being true to myself if I did the things I don’t do that I’m about to elaborate on. Okay, with that said…

I’m not flirty (or at least it’s not something I try to be). I might be friendly and sometimes playful or sarcastic, but the idea of purposely, knowingly flirting with people to get things is just not something I do. I am nice, I am open and honest, and I do enjoy getting to know lots of people. If someone is going to support me, I want them to do so because they like what I create, not because I’m leading them on. Also, I’m really horrible at flirting.

Moving on to the posing explicitly thing… I’ve thought about it. But every time I do I remember what happened the one time I posed just outside of my limits and how that’s sort of haunted me ever since. I’m not ashamed, but I’m not proud of the photos either and they really just remind me to stick to my guns. I’m a pretty good art nude model and a decent glamour model. I have a style that works for me. If people don’t like that, that’s okay. And sure, I know I’d probably have more fans and sell more sets and all that if I posed more explicitly but I’d also feel really weird and awkward. I doubt I’ll ever change my mind, but if I do it will be because I’ve decided it’s something I want to do for me and my creativity, not something I’m doing for more fans or more money.

Now let’s talk about that fun drama-starting bit. Why in the world would I want to spend my energy initiating a fight with another model? I spend time trying to cultivate at least somewhat of a friendship with most models I meet. It’s bad enough that we’re always getting compared to each other. And I get it, people like drama. But I think that’s one of those things that dies down and then you’re left with nothing. I’d rather my fans “rally” because they love my work and what I do.

I do work hard at what I do and sometimes I do wish it was more profitable so I could do more and buy more pretty stuff to wear and all that, but I do okay. I can look at what I do and feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve never been a traveling model, I’m super short, I have health issues, I don’t drive, and all this other stuff, but I’ve done pretty good. I’ve built a solid reputation, I’ve made friends, I’ve made art, and I’ve made people happy. The fact that I make any money at all is kind of another layer to a cake that’s already pretty good.

All of that being said, I have had to take a look at what I do and remind myself that what I do is worth something and it’s okay ask that people pay for some of it. I still offer videos and lots of photos for those who enjoy my work but can’t afford to buy anything. However, since Patreon has come about I’m really enjoying offering exclusive stuff to those who have become generous supporters of what I do. It’s very satisfying to me to know that there are people out there who feel like what I do is worth their financial support. I also love sending out prints purchased from my Etsy shop.

I love what I do and I greatly appreciate those that support me via Patreon, purchasing prints, voting on Zivity sets, sharing my work, commenting on my posts on social media, and sending me kind messages. Other models may debate me on this, but I’ve got the best group of fan friends around ^_~

My Thoughts on “Real” Models

One “trending” topic I see over and over in online discussions about modeling is the idea that only some of us are “real.” People say things like:

“Real models are published.”

“Real models don’t pose nude.”

“Real models always get paid.”

“Real models don’t do this.”

“Real models always do this.”

“Real models don’t shoot this genre.”

And I see this for photographers too. People want to assign being “real” to those who shoot certain styles, who use certain equipment, who have certain training or goals, etc.

I think it’s all foolishness. Why in the world do people think it’s upon them to decide who is “real” and who isn’t? Modeling and photography are both creative. They are subjective (meaning each person sees each creation differently). There are certain techniques and technical aspects that may be generally accepted as “good” such as types of lighting and having images in focus, but in the end we all have personal tastes. And even if we can all agree that a photo is “good” that doesn’t make that model or that photographer more “real” than those who created an image that fewer people like.

Similarly, I can completely agree that some models are more skilled at posing than others. Some have a more versatile or sought after look. Some may behave more professionally or take things more seriously. But they are all real. Good or bad, skilled or not does not equal real or not real.

What I think it really boils down to is that some people feel threatened by others, some people need to be able to say they are better than others to supposedly increase their perceived value, and some people are just focused on the money (or rather, how they feel someone else is “taking” money from them). And by the way, I really dislike the idea that people think that other people take money from them. If you want to earn money, you have to offer something that people in your market want to pay for. You can be absolutely fantastic and if your market isn’t able to pay or isn’t interested in paying for whatever you offer, you have to understand that and either change what you offer or move yourself to another market. And if someone else is getting the work you want, then you find a way to compete by making yourself a better option, not by tearing the other person down. Moving on…

I’m not saying I don’t understand how some people feel discouraged or slighted. I’d be lying if I said I never felt jealous of another model or if I said hadn’t come across a model who made me question how they were so popular, but I can’t remember thinking “They’re not a real model.”

Being a model is something you do. You can do it well or you can do it poorly. Sometimes skill and experience are factors in a model’s success and sometimes it’s more about look or even just who you know. You’re still a model. You’re still modeling. You’re real. Focus less on being real, because you already are real, and focus more on improving, on enjoying what you do, and on your creativity.

I think models and photographers need to stop feeling so threatened by each other and stop trying to tear each other down to make themselves look good (and that actually doesn’t work so well). We also need to stop supporting people who do this, stop agreeing with them, stop pandering to them. I’m not saying you have to like or work with everyone or anyone. I’m just saying we should respect each other and be okay agreeing to disagree or just look the other way if we see a style that we don’t care for. Let’s not feed those who troll for comments on these things. If we must respond, let’s show them kindly that we don’t agree with their generalizations and negativity.

Just a bit of a final note: I’m not saying everyone who wants to be a successful model can be. Obviously that takes hard work, networking and, for models, it does mean you’ll need a look that works for your market and the genres you want to shoot. What I am saying is that anyone can model if they can find photographers (or artists) who are willing to work with them.

I do realize that my opinion is just that, my own opinion on this topic. I also realize that I may not have a popular opinion on this. Maybe once upon a time I had a different opinion (I honestly don’t remember that ever being the case, but I don’t remember everything), but this is how I feel now and I feel strongly about this. I know not all areas are like this or it’s not as big an issue in some areas, but in my area it runs rampant and it’s going to take a lot of us to put a stop to it.

My Thoughts on "Real" Models - Dekilah