I’ve worked with over 100 models. That makes me experienced enough to say that I’ve seen the good and bad in the model profession. There have been horror stories, no shows, indifference, lack of self awareness, diva-like behaviour, lies, drugs and most scarily – self harm. On the other side of the weighing scales I’ve seen diligence, attention to detail, professionalism, athletic ability, artistic integrity and confident self worth. If you work with someone new, you never know what what you’re going to get.
Some photographers will only work with the same few models. There is a reliability there, a seasoned chemistry and the guarantee of good shots. I eschew that philosophy. That’s playing it safe. You’re not willing to walk on the tightrope without a net. I like that tightrope. I like that I can be thrown into situations that force me to to create new solutions. It gets the adrenaline pumping and my creativity flowing.
The very best models are in possession of the same set of skills:
- Good communication before a shoot.
- Clear skin.
- Can maintain focus over a long shoot,
- Take direction.
- Can see the artistic intent and embellish it.
- Model all the way out to their fingertips.
- & be nice to everyone on set.
Lots of models have all of the aforementioned skills and abilities. Their poses can be dialled in at will. But you see the same poses from them in every single shoot with every single photographer. They’re great poses. But alas, always the same. For me, one model stands out amongst the best models I’ve worked with – Fawnya Frolic.
Fawnya can play freestyle modelling jazz in every key. She can improvise, solo and play with the band. She isn’t really a model – but an artist in her own right. She’s the John Coltrane of models. She creates new poses within genres and there is no genre she can’t do. The new breed of Facebook models that are springing up, whether they model nude or not, should study her body control and balance. From classical to avant garde, her facial expressions and hand use never look forced. Her understanding of light placement means that you get a huge number of ‘keeper’ images. There are models with bigger names and reputations – but I haven’t seen any that work as fluidly and as relaxed as Fawnya does. It comes naturally to her and it shows. You know what you’re going to get will be great – but you don’t know the key it’s going to be in. That’s the thrill of improvising with her.
I’ll keep working with the experienced professionals and the newbies alike. The pros give me great portfolio shots and the amateurs allow me to experiment with light and new equipment. The tightrope is always a thrill. A new face to frame and new set of challenges to be overcome.