What is it like to be A Freelance “Model” in Paris?

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!

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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.

Tips

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.

 

Shchukin Collection @ Fondation Louis Vuitton

Today was simply fabulous! First of all, I exchanged my A.P.C. wool backpack (aka my camera bag) for a brand-new one without a receipt! (who says Parisians are not nice?) and then spent the rest of my day at Fondation Louis Vuitton and took an enormous amount of photographs (Please click on images for a clearer view and captions).

Fondation Louis Vuitton is located in the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the 16eme arrondissement. Between now and February 20 2017, it showcases a large-scale private art collection of Sergei Shchukin (similar to Getty Museum in Los Angeles), which was made possible by the personal wealth of Bernard Arnault, Chief Executive Officer of LVMH.

The Building

The grandeur of this magnificent building just takes your breath away. The outlook of the foundation is supposed to be silver, designed by Frank Gehry, but was added colored mesh panels recently by Daniel Buren, creating a kaleidoscopic effect that changes throughout the day. The building shares similarities with Disney Concert Hall and Guggenheim as Gehry has been known for his mastery of combining contemporary art and architectural design.

 

The Shchukin Collection

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The Crowd Photo: Olivia Deng

There are 11 galleries which display the biggest private art collection I have ever seen. They are divided into 14 sections — portraits, landscapes, impressionism, fauvism, cubism, etc. Here are some of the categories that I have found particularly intriguing.

The Painters

The series of self-portraits and portraits by some of Shchukin’s  favorite painters, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Detrain is shown at the very beginning of the exhibition.

 

Decorative & Narrative Paintings

“These are some symbolist, romantic, and impressionist paintings of his collection — a mixture of genre scenes and allegories. They are quite conventional, emphasizing the decorative and narrative functions of paintings.”

 

Landscapes & Impressions (Claude Monet)

“Shchukin was particularly fond of landscape, which is distinctively shown in his galleries where the paintings unfolded a common horizon from one salon to another. Contemplating the Shchukin collection through these landscapes, we may better understand both the collector’s deep sensibility and the often romantic and melancholy cast of his choices. “

 

“The Great Iconostasis” (Paul Gauguin)

“This part of the collection reveal Shchukin’s attraction to primitivist, Orientalist, and African forms of artistic expression, qualities he also sought in the art of Rousseau, Matisse, and Picasso.”

 

Women

“Portraits of women constitute the second biggest set of paintings in the Shchukin collection after landscapes. The women seem a little mentally absent, abandoning the physical envelope in which they supposed to be embodied. They abstract themselves and by indifference deny both their role as women in reality and their function in painting as idealizations of femininity. “

 

Henri Matisse 

His paintings flourish in a plant-like splendor, revolutionizing the definition of applied art.  I remember doing an imitation of Matisse’s when I was little and it was so much fun! Because unlike other masters in the art world, instead of precision and “exactitude”, Matisse’s fauvist pieces are known for their vivid colors and abstract nature.

 

Pablo Picasso

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso. My art teacher once told me that many artists may develop great skills over the years but it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain the innocence and creativity of their works. However, Picasso was not only known as a bonafide genius for the immaculate accuracy in the early period portraits, but more importantly for his dominant influence on cubist and abstract art.

 

At almost sunset

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On the Terrance Photo: Olivia Deng

P.S.: I highly recommend getting tickets online early; otherwise, you will wait in line for at least an hour. Bisous, Olivia.

(Quoted texts belong to LVMH.)

Best Fictional Films for Style Inspiration – Kinks & Winks

Today I will continue to introduce some very stylish films. Some of them will be slightly kinkier than the ones in my Personal Favorites (okay, maybe not The Dreamers) but equally amazing.

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And God Created Woman (1956)

The 60s was not complete without Brigitte Bardot. She was so uninhibited, free, innocent yet insouciantly provocative all at the same time. She shook up the post-war conformist France with body-conscious garments — button-front shirtdresses, boatneck wiggle dresses and simple white polo necks paired with hip-hugging pencil skirts, exemplifying the sexy looks that left just enough to the imagination.

 

Belle de Jour (1967)

Yves Saint Laurent’s designs were the epitome of ‘classic modernity’. He successfully captured the haute bourgeois chic by designing some amazing pieces — tailored sheaths, a safari dress, a vinyl trench, and sumptuous rounded coats for the stunning Catherine Deneuve. Although Deneuve was never my favorite French actress, she was the embodiment of quintessential femininity and exquisite sophistication. Instead of showing the free spirit and romance of the archetypal French woman, she always played stern and controlled roles with an aura of mystery. Nonetheless, the film is a must-see for fashion addicts.

 

9 and 1/2 Weeks (1986)

This film is the 80s version of Fifty Shades of Grey but 10 times better. Basinger was the ultimate embodiment of 80s’ cosmopolitan fashion and minimalist simplicity. The tousled waves, red-stained lips, darkly lined and smudged eyes — or what I like to call, the morning-after look — is all the rage now. And she rocked the modern working girl ensembles as well as the slouch combo of a banker’s button-down with EG Smith Boot socks — alongside a devilishly attractive Mickey Rourke.

 

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Wong Kar-wai has made an abundance of highly stylized films (2046, My Blueberry Nights, etc.) and is one of the very few reasons why I still hold hope for Chinese filmmakers (artistically speaking, not commercially for obvious reasons). Regarded as a milestone in Chinese film history, this movie was a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema. In this melancholy tale of love and loneliness, Maggie Cheung impeccably showcased the grace and sensuality of qipao (also known as cheongsam) with her slender figure and fragile beauty, creating a nostalgic ambiance and an aesthetically pleasing viewing experience. The opalescent silks and floral prints subtly juxtapose the quiet passion embedded between the characters.

 

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

David Lynch is a bonafide genius because this was the film that changed the course of film history and the way I watch movies. Hell, the first thing I did after getting my Nissan was going to Mulholland Dr. I practically risked my life by driving on the meandering road and that was how much I loved this movie. The cinematography, the score, the underlying message, the evocative acting, and of course the costumes complemented one another immaculately, making it one of the cinematic masterpieces of the 21st century. Dark locks, crimson lips, white button-down, halter dresses, and Laura Harring’s cheekbones represented the true essence of Hollywood glamour.

 

A Single Man (2009)

Two words to sum up the film – Tom Ford. He translated his immaculate taste beautifully to cinema with fastidious attention to detail and filled the poignant moments with an exquisite style and elegance. We see throughout the film the white oxford shirts – the very image of quality and refinement, classic thick-framed glasses – hallmark of American hipsters, corduroy jackets – a nice boho touch of the 60s, and of course, Italian style custom-tailored suits. In short, the film is an aesthetic perfection.

 

Some of the films have been proven a bit too much for some. So brace yourselves. 😉

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