Joceline Brooke-Hamilton - Actress and Model


June 1, 2011


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Picture courtesy of Paul Ottey

Picture courtesy of Scott Nichol

Lordy, I know I never post here; its mainly because I’m too busy with the business of actual modelling to have time to talk about it, but also because I don’t want to post anything ill thought out. Alas, I suspect I’m about to do just that, but hopefully I’ll have the courage to click on ‘Publish’ because I hope it’ll be of some comfort to some people.

Lately, I’ve noticed such a lot of cynicism on the various modelling/photography forums I use for work. It’s probably always been there, and maybe I’m just feeling particularly sensitive at the moment. But it’s bothered me enough to come out of blog-hibernation and post my feelings.

I try not to read forum posts much, because they tend to make me angry and I’m unwilling to enter into debate online. But from time to time, I do notice the sort of things some photographers say about models. (I’m particularly irritated by any threads trying to tell models how much they should charge for example.)

What’s upset me more lately is how much criticism is being levelled at amateur photographers. If I WAS an amateur photographer, I’d find it upsetting and unnerving to read this sort of wholesale criticism, so I’m going to tell you why I work with amateurs, in the hope of providing some comfort to those of you who take pictures for fun.

I DON’T believe that there’s a clear distinction between amateur and professional in the photography field. There are good photographers and bad ones. There are ones with a professional attitude who choose to make a living from something else. And there are professional photographers who could learn a lot from them. There are photographers who ARE professional, but shoot models for fun. Baltske more . There are amateur photographers who don’t have much skill, but are splendid people who enjoy photography (just as a terrible golfer might enjoy the occasional lesson with their club professional, or an unfit person might book a professional personal trainer). There are photographers whose ideas aren’t terribly original, but since I’m their model rather than their grand patron, I don’t really think it’s my place to judge whether their ideas are hip enough or not.

Some of my favourite photographers are, strictly speaking, amateur, in that they make a living from something other than photographing models. This doesn’t make them terrible, cliche-persuing, masturbating, potential date-rapists who’ll never be satisfied until they manage to get sneaky shots of their model with her legs open. It’s an abysmal stereotype, and not one I’ve had the misfortune to have to deal with in my 8 years as a full-time model. Indeed, sometimes I’ve based trips across the Atlantic upon my desire to work with an amateur photographer whose work is particularly lovely.

That’s not to say people aren’t sometimes tactless, over-familiar or a bit awkward to get on with. I expect the same could be and has been, said of me from time to time. Certainly I’ve had photographers suggest shots I didn’t want to do. I’ve had people make comments about my body that perhaps weren’t terribly intelligent, I’ve seen bad pictures of myself and I’ve not enjoyed the company of every photographer who’s ever booked me. But for heaven’s sake, I’m a professional business woman. I can cope with difficult people. I’m capable of saying no to things I don’t want to do. And I’m more than able to deal with a bit of tactlessness. I’m sure I’m not the only professional model who has these skills.

Deriding amateurs is a miserably unkind thing to do. After all, they may not be professional photographers, but they’re likely to be professional in another field. It’s not as though they’re some sort of alien creature who has no idea how to behave in someone else’s workplace.

Most models who work in the fields of photography found on internet sites are only professional BECAUSE of the cash injection amateur photographers provide to the industry. Thanks to the people who make their living in property, banking, carpentry, taxi-driving, medicine and the like, I (and models like me) have profited from amazing shoots; week-long location trips in beautiful countries; tours round Asia, full-day art-nude shoots with no pressure to produce work for an absent client, bookings which include a lunch break and lovely chat with the photographer’s wife at their kitchen table. Flights on private planes! Safari shoots in Africa! The list goes on and on. I’ve had brilliant professional shoots too, indeed I have. But the luxury of having made a living for almost a decade by doing EXACTLY what I love doing is due, in large part, to amateur photographers.

So, rather than ranting on and on about things other people have said, I’ll finish by saying thank you.

Thanks to each and every one of you, who has parted with hard-earned cash for a shoot with me.

Thank you to the photographers who’ve booked me multiple times, while never making me feel as though we were making some kind of clandestine sexual transaction.

Thank you for having model-photography as a hobby. As someone whose hobbies (baking, dressmaking) are very cheap, it’s amazing to me that anyone would spend so much on doing something just for fun. But I’m grateful that so many of you do, even if you do go on and on about Canon 5D Mark 2’s (if that’s a real thing) and prime lenses sometimes 🙂

Thank you to the friends I’ve made, both professional and amateur. Thanks for letting me stay in your houses, giving me lifts to stations, advising me on romance, lending me your jackets when my own clothes have turned out to be uselessly inadequate. Thanks for giving me lovely portfolio shots, unprompted and sometimes with extraordinary generosity. Thanks for letting me into your lives. And thank you for giving me a career that feels like a hobby, while still enabling me to make enough money to buy a house and have decent insurance. I know I wouldn’t be here without you.

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  1. Oh my god Joceline you’re a f**king legend you know that. I could just hear the backing track of proud english music rising triumphantly as I read to the end. Not only was I stupidly excited to see you’d updated – what a post! ‘Bloody hell!’ (said in Joceline-style tone) So true, it’s no wonder you have earnt so much respect with your awesome way of seeing things. I salute you!! Hope things are great!
    Holly xxx

    Comment by Ivory Flame — June 1, 2011 @ 11:39 pm
  2. Fabulous post Joceline. As ever, your erudite and reasoned exposition puts things entirely in perspective.

    As one of the “amateurs” that has has had the great pleasure of working with you and coincidentally with Holly too, I can only comment that having the opportunity to work with you both has been amongst the most fulfilling of my photographic life.

    With fewer than half a dozen or so shoots to my name, I am firmly in the beginner/amateur category. However, I’m aware of my limitations and constantly strive to improve. We all started somewhere and it is the kindness and willingness to gently guide “us” in the right direction that differentiates the great models from the merely average. You and Holly obviously both fall into the former category and deserve all of your considerable success.

    As the internet continues to evolve, the way we publish in the future, will mean that the lines will continue to blur between professional and amateur. Eventually, it will be only those with the most talent and astute business sense that survive. However, that need not concern the likes of me unduly since a career as a pro-photographer and all that that entails does not, at this stage in my life, interest me.

    My only desire is to constantly improve and create the best images I am capable of. With a full time career outside photography, the learning process is slow, but it will remain very much my passion.

    The likes of digital cameras and Photoshop etc are creating a fascinating challenge that makes this such a vibrant and interesting time to be a photographer.

    So, in the end, this is a plea for tolerance and understanding from a confirmed amateur who will continue to seek out and greatly appreciate working with fabulous models exemplified by you and Holly.

    Your post is well-timed, lucid and astute. Bravo Joceline.


    Comment by Paul — June 2, 2011 @ 12:11 pm
  3. I’m not sure where all this deriding of hobbyists is taking place. Personally, as someone who makes their living shooting models much like yourself, I’ve noticed (on forums) when some amount of deriding takes place, more often than not it has to do with those of them seeking out professional work but willing to give (what should be) paid work away for free or near-free. I don’t jump into their career fields and work for free or near free, potentially undermining their livelihoods, and I’d prefer they didn’t do so with mine. Just sayin.

    Comment by jimmyD — June 3, 2011 @ 8:24 pm
  4. jimmyD, I feel as though you you’re trying to use my blog post to make a point about something else. I’m talking about models’ attitudes to amateur photographers here.

    Comment by Joceline — June 4, 2011 @ 9:36 am
  5. Apologies. Didn’t intend to go off-topic with my comment. I agree 100% with your point-of-view in terms of models’ attitudes towards hobby photographers. They, amateur shooters, are huge and often very positive contributors to many models’ portfolios as well as their purses. As a photographer who also authors and sells ebooks on the subject of photography, they also contribute to my purse… well, my wallet. (I don’t carry a purse.)

    Comment by jimmyD — June 4, 2011 @ 9:57 pm
  6. I’m not a photographer or a model – just a more-than casual observer – but just wanted to say that’s a very enlightened point of view. Doesn’t matter what it says on someone’s business card, anyone who can fill the very tall order of making you look even more lovely is OK by me 🙂

    Comment by Matthew — June 5, 2011 @ 9:42 pm
  7. well said , hear, hear !!!

    best wishes


    Comment by simon — June 17, 2011 @ 11:13 am
  8. There are only two sorts of photographer, as there are with most professions and occupations. Good and bad. I aspire to the good. I am not, at the moment, paid for it. Thus I do it for love, or even pay for the privilege, that makes me an amateur. Having seen some of the cliched, or worse, images that get into, for example, the daily papers, taken by staffers, who are paid, and thus professional, which occasionally would disgrace a five-year-old with the digital equivalent of a Box Brownie, there are some pretty bad ones out there. It has to be said that it takes a rare negative skill to take a bad photo of you, Joceline, and I have a dear friend, who is in her early fifties, and not classically beautiful, of whom the same can be said. Perhaps the comments redound to the discredit of the commentator rather than the commented-upon. Do some of the models concerned never stop and think that “I’m the professional here, I do this all the time, Joe behind the camera is doing it for love and has paid good money to hire me, I must do my best for him”?

    Comment by Kenneth Bladon — July 23, 2011 @ 12:10 am
  9. I was a mere hobbyist when I got to work with Joceline. Working with her was a joy….and I am now a full professional photographer. I can just hope some day she passes this way again. 🙂

    Comment by Jon Simpson — August 8, 2011 @ 2:14 am

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