I've been reflecting on how my years of experience as a model is relevant to what I'm doing now as a photographer. I did it for over a decade and that job took me to places like Milan, Tokyo, Greece, Mexico City, Australia, and it afforded me to live in New York City for 4 years. I modeled for well known designers and publications like Narciso Rodriguez, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Siriano, Flare, Joe Fresh, Barney's, Stella McCartney, amongst countless others.
But the most relevant thing to what I do now is that I've worked with hundreds of photographers. And I've seen it all - from the best to - shall I say, the less desirable traits. And the number one quality of the best photographers I worked with was that they really valued me as a human. I felt that they were interested in me and cared about me beyond "getting the shot." Whether I was meant to portray someone completely different (which, let's be honest was usually the case, my natural state is definitely not strutting down cobblestone streets in stilettos and the latest trends), or if they were capturing me as I am, those photographers were the ones who got the most beautiful images. They would let me move how I wanted to, without forced posing, creating a beautiful flow and ecstatic clients. Best of all is that I consider many of them friends, and think back on our time together fondly.
Yes, it's true, anyone can be a photographer, or at least give it a go. Sadly, I've had photographers put my safety at risk - one actually asked me to sit on broken glass while wearing a mini skirt! I've been in positions that felt uncomfortable and exploitative. Thankfully those instances were rare for me, but what was much more common were photographers who didn't seem to care to know me, or to see me as a person beyond the task at hand. And to be honest, the photos from those shoots were never anyone's favourites. It may have been subtle at times, but I had a guard up with them.
I think for many of us it takes some courage and vulnerability to be photographed, to try new things, myself included, And so I know, that when a person is being photographed, if they feel seen by the person holding the camera in a way that is not just visual, they will often experience a sense of comfort and ease that you really can't get any other way.
Those breathtakingly intimate photographs we see and fall in love with are created by being in relationship as humans. That's what I strive to do, and what other photographers that I look up to do. That connection is so much more valuable than what may be aesthetically pleasing on a mood board.
That's why we do a questionnaire and I get to know you before the shoot. You've already shown vulnerability and it allows for us both to show up with openness and pure excitement without having guards up. We may feel a little nervous, but that's totally OK.
At the end of the day, I was always a photographer. I photographed my friends. I just didn't do it professionally until a couple of years ago. I still photograph friends, and sometimes it's just the case that we meet in person for the first time as I take your portrait.