My excitement about the return of college football is somewhat tempered by a sense of melancholy as two of my regular models who I’ve shot with announced they were retiring from modeling. Like football, the people in the modeling game go into it knowing their time is limited by their physical capacity to perform at a high level. As one of my long-time models confided to me this week, “I don’t think the world needs more photos of me, and I don’t want to be in a bikini next to younger girls, being referred to as ‘the old one‘.”
Ouch. I can understand that, even as I affirm that her toned body still looks AMAZING in a bikini. She’s one of those women who will have boys half her age trying to get with her in about a decade if they aren’t already.
I’ve certainly captured my share of images of her in the 15+ years we’ve enjoyed a professional relationship. In that time, we’ve evolved into friends. I wonder in those cases if the friendship will last now that the only thing we have in common is a shared history. I know she will continue to Like my photos on Facebook and Instagram, but I don’t know if I’ll get invitations to her awesome parties and get to hang out with her stunning and hip inner circle.
Part of what attracts me to photography is finding myself in fun circumstances like that or something as subtle as eating sushi with someone after a shoot and getting to know more about them as human beings. I have no aspirations of “getting with” them, but being friends with beautiful, popular people is pretty awesome, especially if they have a good heart.
It is sad realizing you’ve become someone that a person you really like “used to know” or “used to work with”. My portfolio of their likeness becomes a time capsule, a scrapbook.
I’ve always preferred to shoot with the same faces over and over once I find a model I click with. The photo shoots are always better once the business of introductions and getting a feel for how this other person works are done. I rely on certain ones when I need someone reliable for a paid shoot. Relationships are so important in what I do — connections to people who can help make awesome locations and fantastic shoots come together. Once I find people I like working with, I try to be loyal and not burn bridges.
I guess these things happen in cycles, and I just happen to be upon a transitional period of long-time models dropping out of the game to make babies and so forth. I need to find fresh, younger faces to work with. It’s a bit more challenging in your forties than when you easily related to them in my twenties. Hell, it’s the difference between being one of them and being someone their dad might have graduated with.
The faces of modeling are young because so much of the commercial imagery in demand wants to capture that market segment. When a client asks me to choose the models, I can’t be in a position to draw a mental blank because I haven’t done the research and the work to put down roots with new people I trust.
So here is my challenge: I need to scout new faces to shoot with or else become a landscape photographer.
If you are a model or aspire to be one and you’re reading this and want to develop your skills/portfolio with a professional photographer, I am currently testing with new faces. My perfect muse has a strong sense of style, is fun to shoot with, understands the concepts and knows how to execute a plan. Bonus points if she is a bit fearless and comfortable with her body. I love shooting with dancers and actors in particular. It’s all about the pursuit of THE shot when we do a shoot.
I don’t expect us to necessarily become great friends, but this business of photography is ALL about collaborative relationships. Let’s connect!