I have been one of those people who look at the photographs taken by someone else and recoil in horror, and I still am, sometimes. I can point out a million things I hate: my hair is sometimes flat, my forehead is greasy, I have nowhere to hide my chubby Asian cheeks.
By no stretch of the imagination could I become a model. A model is someone you gaze admiringly at in fashion magazines, on billboards, and in boutique windows. They always have beautiful bouncy hair, a flawless complexion, and perfectly airbrushed bums. However, not long after I moved to Paris, a city that places beauty and art above anything else, I started taking photographs for a number of talented photographers and have found the experience surprisingly pleasant and rewarding.
I was lucky. My photoshoot was smooth-sailing and easy. It was a kind and skilled French photographer Yann who reached out to me on Instagram. I arrived at his apartment/photo studio near Republique in my winter clothes and minimal makeup. We had a brief exchange on Whatsapp and found out that he has been working in the music industry and now as a professional photographer who looks for “models” to enrich his diverse portfolio.
I am not going to lie. I was beyond nervous but Yann made the entire process seem so simple. We took some portraits and had one change of outfits that I brought. During the session, his girlfriend Mathilde arrived home who turned out to be a Chinese graphic designer, which made it even easier for us to communicate and carry out a more pleasant shoot. The next week, we did another photoshoot at my studio in Le Marais which was slightly more “risque”. Yann and Mathilde never failed to provide great creative ideas and the shoot lasted nearly four hours. Here is Yann’s website. http://rithbanney.com. Feel free to check it out!
After the first shoot with a great photographer, it only gets easier and easier. I am fortunate because so far the photographers I have worked with are very kind and professional. Despite my broken French, I never encountered any communication problem or have managed to remain friends with the photographers.
I am a “modele debutante” but I do have some valuable tips for those who are interested in starting modeling on a freelance basis.
Be professional. Have clear communication before each shoot and show up prepared when you say you will. Stand your ground and do it with grace and professionalism. Always arrive on time, reply all email in a timely manner, and answer every phone call.
Set your limits but do not limit yourself. What are you willing to do or not do? Are you okay with nudes? Lingerie? Video? Fetish? Stick to what you have agreed to for the shoot and say no if you feel uncomfortable as most would understand. However, be open to new ideas. When you submit your portfolio to freelance gigs, do not limit yourself to one category; rather, expand your horizon and actively converse with photographers about new interesting ideas.
Build a portfolio. This one is not necessarily mandatory but if you’re more serious, a portfolio will help you reach out to more photographers and potentially build your own network. Having a website of your own would give you the best platform to list details of your experience & background and promote yourself to potential clients. Having your profile in social networks will boost your online credentials Also think about what genres and styles you prefer and perhaps state your preferences in your portfolio.
Stay optimistic. Your positive and fun attitude would be welcome by clients and photographers that choose to work with you. At the same time, be prepared for the worst. Stay cool even in a negative environment, never badmouth anyone, or do not exchange heated words with a client when things are getting out of control.