Saturday, September 27, 2014

Congratulations! You're a Slut!

"You will never have valuable relationships with men if you keep this up."
"You're basically doing porn."
"What would your grandfather think of you doing this?"
"What is your future husband going to say when he finds out?"
"What are your children going to think? What if they tell their friends? You're going to be the mom all the dad's are going to want to fuck!"
"You are closing so many doors to your life."
"You're a slut."
"You're a porn star."
"You don't have the body for this."
"Don't be so pitiful."
"You are so selfish. Go be useful to the world and stop focusing on yourself."
"You're cheap. Maybe this suits you."
"You don't have conventional features to really make it far."
"You'll drop this endeavor just like you've dropped everything else."
"You need to lose weight and get a boob job."
"You're only doing this because you're rebelling against your parents. It's a phase."
"I can't have you around my family if you're doing this." <= (It's my family, too)

That's a pretty decent list, don't you think? Truth be told, it could be longer, but that wraps up most of the unfavorable responses I have had concerning my adventures as a nude model.

If you ever wanted to wonder how other models have dealt with family members being non-supportive, I'm definitely one who can related and understand. So, lets answer a few frequently asked questions:

  • How did your parents find out?
    • I told my dad. I figured he could respect my decisions as an adult. That turned into an immense stressor for him in which I must promise to never do such things again or I would be kicked out.
    • My mom and her new husband (not my father) are very nosey and happen to be a little crafty with computers. They found my Model Mayhem profile and another girl I went to high school with.
  • How did they take the news?
    • My dad initially went to his room and cried, came back and scolded me, but eventually calmed down, though he did NOT like ANY of this. He is very concerned for my welfare and my safety and didn't want me to be hurt by anyone I didn't know. Fair enough. He even offered to get me in touch with a friend of his who needed extras. 
    • My mom blew up my phone. When she blows up my phone, she calls 12 times in a row and sends 20-30 texts in the course of a couple of hours. Needless to say, not very positive.
  • But they eventually got over it, right?
    • Nope. Nope, nope, nope! 
  • How have you handled it?
    • For quite a while, I was heartbroken. Both of my brothers were still minors at the time and the thought of losing them due to my choices killed me. I later realized I would never lose them. Even though we don't talk much these current days due to leading our own lives, our loyalty to each other is far more deep than to our parents due to the hell of the divorce. I knew then and now that the threat of preventing me from seeing my brothers is pretty shitty - especially the calling of cops.
    • That list you saw above? 90% of those were told to me by my parents and grandmother.
    • I kept quiet about it. I didn't offer any information and simply did me.
  • Did other family find out?
    • Oh, yes! I got a call from my aunt. Concerned, she tells me the following: "Hey, I just got off the phone with your mother. She was sobbing and angry and saying something about you stripping for money or getting naked for photographers and how it's not moral and something else. What's going on?" I explained to her what I was doing. "Oh, okay! She made it seem like you were prostituting yourself or something! I have a couple questions for you. Are you having sex with people that you're working with?" Nope. "Are you making any money doing this?" Yes, ma'am! "Is your boyfriend supporting you?" You betcha! "Are you having fun?" Oh, hell yes! "Alright! Great! I love you! Have fun! Bring me along to a shoot one day, okay? I wanna see!" Awesome! Love you too! 
    • My grandfather was disgusted that his daughter and her husband were sending him pictures to look at. He hasn't seen anything nor wants to. We still have a great relationship.
    • I no longer speak to my grandmother.
  • How do you feel about it now?
    • It doesn't bother me. It's not up for debate. Should my youngest brother be prevented from seeing me, it would not be in favor for any party. He and I will be fine.
  • Do your brothers know?
    • Yes, they do. I made a point to tell them both when my parents went on a tirade so that they wouldn't be fed lies and horror stories and had a chance to hear it from me first. The older one has even seen pictures. I showed him. I wanted to tell them both what the fuss was about, what I was doing, why I was doing it, and my way of seeing things. Coming from a very conservative home, it's natural that nudity be a taboo. Oddly enough, they were both very alright with the situation. They both asked me the same questions. Are you doing porn? Are you having sex with photographers? No and no. Is it fun? I enjoy it.
  • You SHOWED your brother your pictures? Wasn't that uncomfortable?
    • It was for a couple seconds, then I didn't care. I wasn't doing anything sexual in my pictures.
  • And that was it, right? No more?
    • Oh, contrare. At one point, my mother started to harass other photographers, claiming I was underage, that they were immoral beings, how dare they do such things to me, etc. She went as far as to call a photographer in the middle of the night.
    • At another point in time, she tried to get me kicked out of my house at the time by calling my landlord (who happens to be my boyfriend's mother) and railing her up one side and down the other. She needed to kick me out so that I could "crawl back to my dad so that he can put my life back together." 
  • You have a lot of drama in your life. Are you okay?
    • Hahaha, I love this phrase and question. Yes, I'm fine. I used these experiences to mold myself into a better person. Recognizing opportunities to verify your reasons for doing what you're doing is invaluable. I did quite a bit of growing through all of this and continue to do so.
  • Is modeling really worth putting your family at risk for never associating with you again?
    • Yes. Here's why: No one can live their lives at the  whims of others. They cannot reach for a star if someone tells them no. If he or see reaches for a star and discovers that this star is not for him or her, he will have learned something along the way, at the end, then redirect his course. Consider the words of others, the values, the pros and cons. Seek guidance and be very conscious of yourself and your reasons for any action that you choose. That's why I have been able to stick with modeling for over three years. I didn't start this out of rebellion, though it was a little highlight. 

There you go. If you think you've got it bad, I hope I have you beat. I wouldn't wish my experiences upon anyone, but I do know that I learned much from these past few years. It has been ultimately worth it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I'd Like Some Ribs & a Cup, Please!

While this may not seem like a big issue, to some people, it is. What cup size you fit into is sometimes a really big deal - especially if you're working with custom made clothing. It's kinda silly, perhaps, but think of it from a tailor's perspective:

  1. THIS is my end goal!
  2. These are the materials I am using. (Cotton, Spandex, Polyester, etc.)
  3. These are the decorations (Tassels, lace, bells, etc.)
  4. I want the folds to fall like this...
  5. The rib cage can only be this big...
  6. So what do I do about the boobs?
  7. What type of figure am I making this for? (Hourglass, athletic, plus, or super extra small?)
  8. I have this much money to put into my outfit. Better go with a smaller boob size to adjust to my budget.
  9. Should she wear a bra with this? Should I make one? Should it be padded? If so, how much?
I've made clothes before. I've had clothes made FOR me. While my chest is not particularly large, my rib cage is. I had a tailor assume that my cup size was a C. Awesome! I am a C. Close to a D. For Victoria Secret. In the rest of the world, I'm a B, bordering on an A. For another brand, I was informed that I was a DD. This was so many years ago, I couldn't remember the brand if I wanted to. Yes, Cup sizes are subjective. When listing your stats, know what your actual numbers are. Keep them in a notepad or in the back of your mind. If you gain or lose weight, your breasts may ebb and flow with the change. Remeasure if this happens. When booking a job that requires you to wear any piece of clothing, keep in mind your boobs and rib cage in mind. Another note to consider: mind your hips. If you are have a significant hour glass figure like I do, that extra small will be bunched around your waist in no time - leading to a not-so-professional fitting.

Claiming a cup size that another may not agree with is no ethical conundrum to get hot and bothered by. This is why you heave measurements in numbers, not just letters.

Best of Wishes,

Friday, May 9, 2014

Apply Here! - Casting Call Responses

I have recently taught a couple of live classes concerning modeling and the industry; safety, ethics, and business management. One of the most frequently asked questions was concerning what to even say - especially in a response to a casting call. Below, I have given a few rules to live by as you pursue jobs and communications with people. Ultimately, remember to treat everyone with respect, even if they have not treated you with such. Word of mouth can be a breath of fresh air and equally a poison. As you conjure up a response to a casting call, keep mind that you are likely one among dozens or more of applicants.

  •  Remember your manners when writing a response. Begin with a greeting! "Good Morning, Mr. X!" or "Salutations, AwesomePersonStudios!" are suitable responses. "Hey" does not count. You are your own business, and your response to a casting call is similar to the idea of a cover letter. Professionalism counts.
  • Introduce yourself. "My name is Aina, and I am a female model based out of the Inland Empire in Southern California." Keep it sweet and simple. I also may mention, "I have ten years of yoga experience, eight of dance, and have been singing for five and a half." Briefly mentioning any skills and assets you may possess will allow the reader to brainstorm what he/she can or cannot do with you. If you express that you are as bendy as a pretzel, but can't touch your toes in reality, the false advertisement will follow you. People talk. Even your fellow model may hear of this through the grapevine.
  • Express genuine interest and request more information if it hasn't already been provided. Do NOT say, "mor info plz." "I understand you are seeking a female model for (insert project here), and I believe I fit the qualifications. I wanted to know more about the project and discuss the possibilities of us working together." 
  • If you would like, feel free to offer a bit about yourself. Mention that you arrive on time, ready to shoot, need two minutes to retouch your hair after the drive and put on a dash of lipstick, etc. Don't be lengthy, but let them know that you are serious about your position. As you do this, you are taking away some seeds of doubt that you are a flake and may fall through.
  • Wrap up your short and concise letter with a cheerful note. "I look forward to speaking with you" is a great way to tie the bow. Here's a tip: Don't say that you "hope" for anything. Think about this for a moment. You "hoping" that I write you back may register in my brain as you don't think you're worthy, good enough, or are sure you want to work for me (and not just because you need to know m ore about the project). It's one word, but omitting that one word makes a difference in how you come across. With that said, it may not bother me at all. Play the side of caution and don't bother using the word. 
  • Don't use the smiley face more than once in a message every ten messages. Smiley faces after every sentence get annoying. :) I'm glad that you want to convey your joyfulness :) But I don't want to see smileys every other damn word :) And if you insist on using a smiley every other phrase :) don't forget to use punctuation :) Again. Professionalism. :)
  • Sign your name at the end and be done with it. If you would like to list other places that people can find your work, feel inclined to do so AFTER you have signed the letter to a close. Give them that option. Nothing is more annoying than five billion Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, Instagram, etc links in the middle of a message. After you have said your goodbye THEN you may post your links.
That's about it! Keep it simple, but longer than four sentences. Don't write a novel, and do NOT involve your mid life drama crisis unless it directly pertains to your work as a model, photographer, hairdresser, make up artist, etc. Get to the point. Be genuine. 

Happy Creating!

With Love,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Ten Commandments of Modelling

1.   Know who you are working with. 
Check references, even for major agencies. If freelancing, contact past collaborators and Google the person. If approaching an agency, check the validity of the agency by either contacting other models, if possible, and/or searching their name and reputation online.

2.   Communicate effectively, efficiently, and honestly. 
Ask questions concerning the shoot, location, hair, makeup, and props! Respond – even if you are saying no (it’s professional, respectful, and you will not be burning that bridge you may desire one day). NEVER take an assignment that you are not 100% comfortable with. NEVER breach your own boundaries unless you are 100% okay with it and have given it serious thought.

3.   Arrive ready and on time! 
Your first impression was made the initial moment you two made contact. There is a second sort-of first impression the moment they lay eyes on you. Don’t dampen your awesomeness and professional reputation arriving even five minutes late. Time is money, even if it is for TF. Your every word and move matter. They 
will be watched and remembered, consciously and otherwise.

4.   Take care of yourself. 
This extends from making sure you get enough sleep and drinking enough water to minimizing stressful people in your life. You are your canvas. Every decision you make will show on your body and demeanor one way or another. Take care of yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically. No amount of money can make a picture amazing if you are neglecting yourself.

5.   Go in with little, come out with little. 
Group shoots, conventions, any work conventions you go to may require you to take your ID and a small amount of cash ($10 or less). Do not bring any card other than your ID. Your physical safety is more important than your financial safety, but not by much. Better to be alive and poor, but easier to avoid any concern of cards being stolen, lost, or otherwise.

6.   Respect will get you a long way. 
You do not need to kiss the ass of every person you encounter and work with. In fact, please, don’t. However, you are an adult with the ability to mind your manners. Say “please” and “thank you”. Open the door for others. Clean up after yourself. Stay off your phone when speaking with someone – especially about work. Leave a shoot location in better condition than when you arrived. Seriously. Major brownie points.

7.   Practice, practice, and mess up. 
Congratulations! You are human! You will NOT be a total bad ass when you start out. In fact, it takes some serious time, dedication, effort, and commitment to get that flower to bloom. This means that you need to make the effort to practice doing your hair, makeup, and poses in your free time. You are a creative soul, so exploit yourself! Tutorials for hair and makeup are available by the thousands on YouTube alone. Go crazy! Spend a night or two a week doing your face and learning how to use the tools at hand. You don’t need hundred dollar tools to make yourself look amazing. You will improve, with time. You will mess up. Then, you’ll keep getting better.

8.   Daydream. 
Cultivate your own shoot ideas! If you decide that you have an idea that you want to capture, start laying out all the details. Location, makeup, poses, concepts, props, hair, and anything monetary that may factor in. Why do this? One, it is a chance to network. Two, you’re helping keep your creativity alive. Three, chances are that a photographer will NOT know what to do. Having a list of solidly planned ideas at the ready will go a very long way for coming across prepared, ready, and helpful.

9.   Confirm your work.
Two days before an assignment, email or call the person hosting you to confirm the time, date, and location of the shoot. It sucks to be ditched, and you want to alleviate your host/employer of any concern you may be a flake. To top it off, you may have inherently misunderstood a detail. This is a great way to cover everything previously discussed and remove room for error. Confirm the day of, and you are gambling money and time that you cannot replace.

10.  Leave the drama at the door. 
Keep your opinions to yourself unless it is of righteous virtue that you voice it. For example, if you discover a person stealing, say something. If you hear Suzie ranting about her boyfriend’s mother’s baby daddy drama, don’t bother. If you had a nightmare of a morning before coming to work, no one cares. You aren’t proving that you are resilient and a badass. It comes off as complaining and asking for pity 95% of the time. Chances are, you’ll never be that 5%. Pay sincere compliments where they may be due. Don’t be afraid to smile. Keep it clean, laugh, and enjoy the company you are with. The negative stuff? It will either be there when you walk back out the door, if it’s even worth picking back up to begin with.

Ultimately, enjoy your time as you explore the industry as a model. You will be rejected and you will be accepted. You will hit a wall. You can either climb it or walk around it. Grow as a person, love yourself, then reach out and create something worthy of being tied to your name – whether or not those of us around you are conscious of it. Maintain your health and well-being. You’re no good to the world dead or hurt. If you are hurting, reach out. Someone will always be there to help you. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be you. You have more potential than you may care to realize. If you can lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day and be confident that you have honored your soul and mind, you’re quite alright. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Homo Erectus

One of my titles in life: college student. I often find it pleasant to find a spot to embrace my thoughts or simply be and observe: A gentle breeze keeps dark green foliage in a constant rustle while it slips through hair and the clothing people have. It's warm, but the dancing wisps of wind keep us from feeling the strength of it. I can hear the chatter of a couple women in their twenties fifty head behind me and to my left discuss their Anatomy and Physiology expectations and nerves while marveling about all of the glowing words of their professor. 
I know the professor. He's a kind, Asian man who has this brain full of knowledge, wisdom, and off-kilter humor. If thieves were in the business of selling knowledge, I would recommend using him as a starting point - granted he didn't need it anymore. However, he does have an audience of leeches, and I can proudly claim that I was one of the greedy little students, hoping to gain some of his insight of the world in terms of homo erectus and the interactions around it.
Speaking of interactions, there are three young boys standing at the top of the very long flight of stairs I've settled near. One appears to be eighteen or nineteen, while the other two are roughly twenty-three. All three come from different parts of the globe, and all three keep shifting their weight while they discuss something I can't comprehend. It's funny though; the longer they talk, they more they shift their weight and feet (especially while they laugh). In the four minutes they have been standing there, they have meandered nearly eight feet to the left, edging away from the stairs and towards a handicap only elevator. They have no purpose for the elevator; they merely keep shifting that direction.
My vantage point extends down over about a quarter of the campus as the staircase lends gateway into the lower half of the college. Our new library is reflecting the unhindered sunlight the most, making the eye glance in it's general direction at first. Our little theater? It reluctantly whispers its age standing next to the brand new, prized library. Both are glorious in their own rights. One holds an plethora of brain munchies, glass walls, and researching resources. The other holds graduations, plays, and concerts alike. Both valuable. Both priceless in their own right. Both bring a particular source of communion amongst spirits of all ages pursuing all walks of life. 
The path that each person chooses is a private matter resulting from inner toil, larger callings, and the pursuit of happiness. The means by which these roads are traveled vary vastly. Perhaps some forget to realize that one does not need to be directly on a visible trail in order to cover some distance. The last time you were at a park or, say, a beach, there was a chance that you saw someone not walking on a walkway or road. Instead, they walked in the sand, on the grass, or in the dirt. What's the significance of this? They were following the path, but had a purpose for their choice. Just like the person making contact with the pavement.

What you likely also remember is that some people may never have touched the ground in getting there.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inventing Eventful Event Experiences

        My very first experience at a group shoot was incredibly fun and equally irritating. How could that be, you´re likely wondering? I had been shooting with a handful of other women throughout the day during a group shoot, and the *one-on-one's had started. Two shoots in, I came to learn that my things had been rumaged through and discovered missing money I had stashed deep in my bags from a shoot. The annoyance that shot through my face and brain was one I can still remember. Truth be told, however, it lasted only for a couple hours and, half the time, I was mulling over my luck with thieves. All of the other girls had left full purses in an open, empty room nearly ten models visited throughout the day. How did I end up being the only one missing well hidden money? My unfortunate experience aside, I decided on a few changes that I hold true to and recommend for group shoots - no matter who you shoot with and where the creativity is going down:

  1. Walk in with little, leave with just as much. Come to find out, I wasn't the only model who has experienced theft in their modeling career. While I have never had any belief that "x" "just won't happen to me", it made grateful to have lost only cash as opposed to a credit card, atm card, and $250 lingerie piece. I did not bring in a purse with me to the shoot - especially with the knowledge that the house is community property, so to speak. Keep this in mind wherever you go. Group shoot, private shoot, any shoot requires your ID, your phone, your keys, and not much else past styling items and clothing. Theft happens anywhere and everywhere. 
  2. Valuables should not leave your side. Ever. I have seen brand new iPads be left without supervision in open areas. Fat wallets have been peeking out of very full purses. Brand new phones buzz just under a shirt you tossed onto your suitcase. Anything of value, including your car keys, need to go with you. Why? If I were a thief and your car is parked out of the sight of 95% of the people shooting, my chances of getting into your business are pretty good. I may not take your car, but you may have other goodies in there.  Did you bring your credit card with you? Stick it in a small purse and take it with you. ID? Gift card? Square swiper? Business cards? Phone? It also goes with you. Less is best.
  3. Be comfortable with the idea that your hundred plus dollar lingerie or jewelry piece might disappear without your consent. Carrying your suitcase around with you is completely impractical and unprofessional. It isn't something I recommend. However, please, do yourself the favor of not leaving blatantly expensive pieces in broad daylight. Yes, your corset may be the most stunning thing I have yet to see, and thank you for showing me! But, don't play temptress and leave it strewn about like you could care less. Everything we purchase as models is replacable; let's be honest. That doesn't mean that we should have to replace it if we can help it. We work hard for our goodies! Let's keep them!
  4. Shut. Up. Stop. Bragging. "I just bought this ADORB french lace bra! It makes my boobs look absolutely flawless, and the color looks amazing on me." Attention will get you nowhere - except for maybe a lighter bag when you leave. We all love that feeling of sheer adoration for our finer posessions - especially if we worked for it and earned it. Making people lust after you, your emotions about the piece, and desire that same feeling isn't putting any points in your corner. For all you know, too, jelousy or "putting you in your place" type of thoughts may come up. Keep the spirit light and put good intentions out into the world you're working in. Forcing your insanely expensive bra down my throat will make people avoid you - or go the extra mile to make the bragging rights their own.

        I found myself advising a new model in a recent shoot to keep her valuables with her for generic safety and good keeping. My general rule is to be able to fit 95% of your valuables in one hand, preferably something clutch size. Not the loop to a bag. Not over your shoulder. ONE hand. Uno. There are a few reasons for this: One, it's easy to keep a comb or lipgloss in there for a super fast touch up. Two, it's not hard to carry around as you change sets (don't forget it!). Three, it's easy to tuck contact cards in there. Four, you don't have to wonder if any of your valuables are safe!

        Best of wishes as you continue your journeys as artists! Be conscious of your surroundings, and never believe that you're exempt from others' will. Enjoy your shoots worry free, and it will definitely come through in your pictures. 

With Love,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nothing is Still Something

        No matter where you are in life, the moment you choose to begin a new experience, you're change your life forever even if, yes, you do nothing. Deciding you will start running every morning or five times a week? Congrats! You have altered your mindset forever. Decided to travel the world? Great! You have altered your mindset forever. Have you elected a new friendship? Fantastic! You have altered your mindset forever. How you have chosen to alter yourself, however, is up to you. You have two options: The first is to fully pursue this new endeavor. Consequently, you may meet new people, experience new sights, and gain life experience points. The second is to do nothing, which may result in "would-a, should-a, could-a" mentality or a self-esteem lowering. Regardless of what you choose, your decision, period, will change you. 
        Modeling is my thing. Networking makes me happy. Using my body to create pictures that are worthy of hanging in a gallery or a wall at home makes me happy. Being true to myself makes me happy. I was tossing around the idea about starting my journey as a model for about a week. "To hell with it!" I told myself. "I would rather try it, than never know and wonder." I did it. I continue to do it, and it has been one of the most rewarding things I have chosen to do.
        I had the opportunity to do a semester abroad in Spain. I wanted to go. I decided to go. The idea of borrowing someone else's money, however, to support my adventure was dishonorable. I had the support, both monetarily and emotionally, but asking for help in funds made me uncomfortable. Truth be told, it still does. I had the option to work my butt off and obtain at least a good portion of that money myself - if not all. But, I opted not to. I ended up talking myself down and thinking I couldn't do it, despite how much I wanted to. There's more history to that story, but the point remains: My decision to do go on this trip changed me as it was one more Domino that fell and shriveled in it's lifelessnes. I was acting out a helpless story, which was how I felt, in many ways, at the time. This decision fed that story and fire.
        If you decide to do something, I want to encourage you to follow through and do it with a realistic mindset. There is nothing wrong with putting a pause on a plan to re-evaluate what you believe you will be doing and how you will be doing it. As you go through the decision making process, be aware as to why you're doing what you're doing as well. Having ill intentions for yourself or others may not hurt you now, but what come's around goes around. Be selfish and make a decision for yourself. Plan. Work for it. Read motivational blogs or books. Immerse yourself. Just do it. (Insert Nike Logo Here)

With <3,

            Photographer: MSlygh