When I was young, I did not look like those cute little girls with curly hair and blue eyes. I had a boyish style, and I didn’t look great. Some adults and kids actually told me that I was ugly. I was a little taller than my classmates (unfortunately now I fall into the “petite” model category). That didn’t matter so much to me then. Unfortunately, adolescence caught up with me and I started to lose self-confidence because of the way I looked…
I had the feeling that every time I crossed the school playground, people were staring at me and judging me. I thought they were thinking, “Wow, look at how ugly she is!”. Yes, it’s totally stupid, but sometimes it is hard to get into the head of a teenager.
In high school, I wasn’t comfortable with my body. I was in the school swimming club and even though I loved swimming, walking from the locker room to the pool was always a painful experience.
And as time passed, I became a woman. The boys were beginning to show interest in me. I found it weird … and surely that was not enough to reassure me about my image.
At 17, I moved to Paris alone to study computer sciences.
I wanted to make some pocket money but my schedule at school varied from one week to the other.
One day, however, I discovered a new job: managing the entrances and stands at trade shows. The job was ideal because it was part-time. The shifts were spread over 1 to 3 days over variable slots.
For this job, you needed a “good presence”. In other words, you needed to be good-looking besides other criteria like speaking other languages and having the ability to remain polite in front of unpleasant customers. A classmate had warned me that this job was very selective and that it was not given that I’d get it.
But I went for it and contacted some agencies. I got measured all over and photographed. Finally, “I passed” and managed to get jobs here and there. One thing leading to another one, I got asked to build a portfolio with better pictures for potential customers.
So I asked another friend at school if she knew a photographer that could take a couple of shots of me. That’s when I actually learned that apparently, I was “photogenic”. But back then, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant…
Then, little by little, I was encouraged, to do more and more photos, to go to castings and beauty pageants (although the latter are completely useless in my opinion) … until a model agency called me up for a meeting. And that was it, I had become an agency model. It was kind of an accident in a way.
Three years went by between my first photo shoot and my first modeling contract with an agency. Yes, three years is quite a waste of time, especially if you are seriously planning on growing a modeling career.
There are good reasons why it took me so much time. I got it all wrong for a while and I really started from scratch: zero contact and zero experience.
So, I spent three years looking for serious websites and castings, working for free to build my portfolio, spending hours on finding photographers I could collaborate with… And it took me even longer to work on my insecurities.
To complicate matters, my first shots were disastrous because let’s be honest, neither I nor the photographers I worked with had any real experience. I did not know how to pose, not to mention that I didn’t know anything about my angles, light, colorimetry, and retouching. Let alone the decor, makeup, and style – I am still ashamed of it. To put it simply, I was a novice.
By finding the right people, learning by accumulating hours of shootings that are poorly paid or even unpaid, my eye for photography finally got sharper and sharper.
I also understood that working for free for jobs that should be paid wasn’t helpful to my peers… It is not fair and puts pressures on prices and devalues the profession. I also understood that in order to get exactly what one wants or to save time, one must invest either time or money in one’s career. Two or three times during my career, I paid for a photoshoot because I needed new photos as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it is still a problem to get the photos from free collaborations after the shoot … The agencies need recent pictures, and too often I have waited more than four to five months to get the pictures after the photo-shoot … While some photographers may have good reasons not to deliver the pictures, it’s quite problematic for a professional model to have a portfolio that is not up-to-date …
I also learned to detect phony ads, avoid suspicious casting posts. Eventually, I started to feel at ease in front of the camera, to know what to do, to be preselected and booked by nice brands and projects whose names and remunerations left me dreamy every time …
Today, I see those same photographers I worked with at first, evolve and progress.
It’s simple, investment in experience = added value.
Experience is the time spent honing one’s talents and pursuing one’s career with passion.
It’s also the moment when the passion for photography becomes lucrative.
Today, I have achieved almost all my personal goals in modeling: magazine covers, cosmetic ads, billboard displays, etc.
The last remaining objective I have is to build a project to help other models achieve their personal goals. It’s ongoing!
Indeed, in this industry, you always want more and always want to go further. It is therefore important to set up concrete objectives in order to reach the first level of satisfaction!
And you, what are your career goals?
My story is the one of a young girl who took too much time to understand the industry and to identify her strengths and weaknesses as well as her ideal market. I would have loved to have had someone to guide and help me speed up the process. I have not had the chance to come across an agent or agency who invested enough time in growing my career. It’s totally my fault and I probably did not put enough heart in it either. I did not understand the industry well enough. But I could have entered the agency 3 years earlier if I had known, and I could have made a better living, even as a student …
So I decided to launch Elytiz.
The concept is to create a close-knit community and a set of tools and resources to make professional models and photographers’ lives easier.
I want this blog to be about you and for you. I want to hear your opinion and your own story.
So please, if you are interested in the industry and want to support the initiative in one way or another, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!