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.