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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