Let’s talk about modelling
Stories from in front of the lens
Modelling has long been an integral part of photography and videography. Adding a person to an image or video can highlight a product, show off fashion garments or just create a more diverse and interesting frame. Now more than ever the profession has grown and adapted as social media has become more prominent and necessary for brands to promote their work. Audiences want to see products (whatever that may be) interacted with and used as they may do, instantly making what we’re shooting personable and socially engaging.
We’ve worked with many models on a hundred different shoots, from skincare to slip proof socks; as a result we’re very experienced in directing people to get the best out of them and the subject of the shoot. There’s a certain skill set required when working with models to get the best results. Not only do we need to be able to direct and communicate to those we’re working with what exactly it is we need, but we also need to make sure the primary focus of the shoot isn’t lost amongst the human element. Unless of course the focus of the shoot is the model we’re working with!
Our go-to platform for model sourcing is a website called Starnow which is an online directory of not only models, but actors, performers, musicians, photographers and more. As a production company we can list a casting and receive hundreds of replies in a matter of hours, but we can also respond to others who are looking for a photographer or videographer.
So it’s a great way for us to find talent and to be found. From sourcing this way many times we’ve built our own directory of models we’ve worked with time and time again, so that when a job comes in we can contact someone directly who we think will be perfect for the role.
We’ve reached out to a few of the people we work with regularly to ask them about their modelling stories as we wanted to know more about how they got in to the profession and what it was like for them starting out. Asking them about how they got in to modelling surprised us because for some they got in to it “completely by accident,” as noted by Eleanor Rosser-Smyth (Singer/Actor/Model) who went on to say that, “I had done a few projects as a young teen that came up as I was involved in the performing arts but had never pursued it seriously”.
Performing and modelling seem to go hand-in-hand as the others we spoke to pretty much all had acting or musical backgrounds. Natasha Powell (Actor/Model) told us how “originally [she] started in performing arts, and [has] been lucky enough to dance and perform all around the globe,” before getting into modelling.
Modelling, for most who we spoke to, has become more of a side hustle that runs alongside their main source of income. Jade Coles (Actor/Yoga Teacher/Model) explained, “I qualified as a yoga teacher in India in 2017 and have built my own brand/business ‘Yoganaflow’,” with acting primarily being her other career path.
For others it wasn’t until it was pointed out by others that they thought about getting in to it. Marcus Ramtohul (Actor/Bass Guitarist/Model) told us how when he was in a band they “worked with their fair share of photographers and entertainment industry professionals who always said it was something [he] should look into.” The same went for Birgit Lechner (Actor/Model) who moved to London 3 years ago and was “about to leave the shopping centre in Canary Wharf when somebody stopped me with a ‘Hey, have you done modelling before?'”
Whether it was something they wanted to get into, or got into by accident, starting out wasn’t an easy step to take. Marcus explained to us, “I didn’t know where to start and even asking industry contacts for advice became frustrating as more often than not the advice I received was to simply ‘just get out there’.”
A lot of hard work and perseverance goes into beginning a modelling career.
It can be a scary place when you start out as Natasha told us, “How intimidating this industry can be but equally how incredibly fulfilling when you complete a goal.” Self-motivation is key to keep yourself going when rejection is expected, especially at the beginning. Marcus explained how, “I spent a few weeks going all over London as well as making online submissions to agencies and got rejected everywhere I went for being either too old (I was 25 years old which is a late start for a professional model), or too short (I’m 5’10” and high fashion male models are at least 6’ tall),” before he was eventually signed to his first agency.
Creativity is paramount to developing your own modelling style. Apart from being directed and styled by others, you need to possess your own look that attracts those seeking talent. Birgit told us how, “I started to experiment with different outfits, styles, realised makeup can be used in many ways – supporting you in a natural way or in any direction you want to change.” Those coming from a performing background used their training to inform their modelling style. As Eleanor explained, “it’s so great to do something supposedly completely different to my classical singing and yet there are a surprising number of crossovers: posture, facial expression, breathing, etc.” The skills required to model are very specific and take a lot of time and experience to master.
But still with all this work and effort almost all we spoke to still continue with their other forms of income. Natasha explained, “I started receiving work for art projects, brands, fashion and photographers all the while having a ‘muggle’ job, which I still have at a yoga and fitness studio.” The work balance these guys have to maintain is extremely taxing but worth it for all they get out of it. They all find modelling to be very rewarding and felt more than happy to share with us what they liked most about it or what some of their favourite jobs were:
“I’m often asked about my favourite shoot and the truth is being a model is such a cool job that every job is special. But if I had to pick one it’s got to be hair modelling for Mazella & Partners – the stylists are SO talented and creative and are incredible trainers. I first shot with them for their Fitz Collection in 2012 and have maintained a regular working relationship with them over the years, modelling at hair shows or for in salon demos. We often go abroad for hair shows and the buzz is amazing!” – Marcus Ramtohul
“So, I am the face of Superdrug’s opticians, which was just insane! This is the most high end job that I have done. I had my own stylist, hair and make-up and coordinator. I remember vividly standing on set with these hair and make-up stylists surrounding me, fluffing up my hair and re-applying lipstick with the lighting team and the set designers doing their final touches, the sense of accomplishment that travelled through me in this moment was entirely euphoric!” – Natasha Powell
“My favourite project has to be a hair campaign that I did with L’Oréal – I have a whole lot of hair and it was amazing to have professionals take such great care of it for a day. The other girls were lovely and I also found my new hairdresser from the project!” – Eleanor Rosser-Smyth
“My favourite shoot was for Move GB with 1fitlife. I was the model who did all the exercising to show what MOVE GB had to offer. It was almost Bridget Jones style as at the end I was dancing in a Zumba class loving life in crazy print clothing yet earlier in the day I was doing yoga and rock climbing!” – Jade Coles
“[What I like most about modelling is] you always have to work on yourself – body and mind. You will see the result on your pictures – only the ones which tell a story will finally work. And I experienced it on my own: These stories are the key for opening you a lot of other doors in life.” – Birgit Lechner
Of course no job or journey is complete without a few embarrassing moments along the way! We know we’ve had our fair share at Pocket. So when we asked everyone if they had any, a few of them reluctantly let us know. Birgit told us about when she first got in to modelling and got a shoot done where the make-up artist used the absolute wrong shade of foundation. “When I finally saw these pictures I looked LIKE A LOBSTER on every picture!”
“I have had a few but one that springs to mind. I did one of my first self-tapes and forgot to edit out the end of the tape and left in a phone call of me and my best friend Liv on the phone doing our funny voices!” – Jade Coles
“So I receive a job call to be in a music video! I’m thinking, ‘Oh yeah! This is cool! I’m gonna be in music video, yaaaaasss!’ Next stage I get to meet the director as he goes through set and costume. Again I’m thinking ‘Yaaasss I get a costume and I’m gonna be in a music video!’ I tell every living person I know (and don’t know) I’m going to be doing this amazing music video in London. Anyway, so I’m at the head office and I get given the full treatment. Then the presentation starts, slides detailing what will happen on the shoot day and I begin to read…..giant hot dog gets rugby tackled….. I read on……the giant ice cream takes them into the diner…silently screaming inside I read on……. the dancing toilets come out and dance with the lead. I then find out… I am that giant dancing toilet!!” – Natasha Powell
“My most embarrassing moment is probably when I did quite an ‘experimental’ shoot in Hackney – it involved some amazing but outlandish face make up. I’d completely forgotten to bring any make up remover with me so I then had to keep the full face on all the way home. All the trains were delayed and I was stood on the platform like that for a good hour….I got some interesting looks!” – Eleanor Rosser-Smyth
From speaking to those we did, we feel like we have a whole new outlook on the modelling profession. The excitement, the struggles, and the never ending hard work – it all sounds like a very exhausting rollercoaster of emotions and activity!
We’re very grateful to work with the people we do and that so many continue to start out and succeed at the job. It’s always enjoyable working with models and meeting so many people this way. Please go check out the guys we chatted to and follow their continued journeys. They’re all very talented which is why we love to working with them!
Bryony Porter-Collard, Producer
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“Lovely company to work for! Friendly, professional and very knowledgeable! Such awesome ideas with a creative flare! Highly recommend.”
Natasha Powell, Model
“Loved working with Steven on set. His direction was great and easy to follow, he had loads of creative ideas and the final pictures are AMAZING. The shoot flew by I can’t wait to work with you again! Thanks Pocket Creatives!”
Jade Coles, Model
“My shooting with Steven was a top experience at every point. I highly recommend a photo shooting with Pocket Creatives if you want pictures with a perfect composition.”
Birgit Lechner, Model