Models… Behind the Scenes

My first modeling job in Paris, the photographer said, ‘Tue es belle,’ which means, ‘you are pretty,’ and I thought he said, ‘Tu es poubelle,’ which means, ‘you are the trash can.’ I burst into tears. He was not happy about that.
Rachel Nichols


It is a sunny day on the beach.  Tonight I will go to the Unbelievable Fashion Party where I’m going to meet all celebrities. I have my huge paycheck and I don’t know how to spend it.

If you’re going to be a model only because of the reasons above – I’m not sure it’s a good idea. The reality of modeling is, of course, a little different.

First off all – you have to be ready for long hours and a lot of work.

But if you’re still reading this article – it means that you would like to be a model anyway. So that’s a good sign – you’ll definitely reach the stars.

I’m not planning to give you any advice – I just want to share my experience with you. And you may pick the right decision that is right just for you.

My good friend, a publicist and a Fashion Editor of Fashion Industry Magazine, Crissy Leatham, invited me to participate in an editorial photo shoot for a great project – The Models against Bullying Campaign. I already wrote about this Campaign last year – but now MAB Models also got ready to pay tribute to the Boston Marathon.

The first time I came to the MAB shoot as a journalist and photographer (of course! That is what I do for almost all my life) – so this time the photo shoot was promising to be the polar opposite of what I was used to.

I had several wardrobe stylists, a hair and make-up team (they were so amazing!) – I came to the photo shoot as a model not a journalist. It was so interesting to feel how it is to be a model. I never did modeling before.

So for me the photo shoot was definitely a prodigious experience. Being a journalist, I wrote a lot of articles about fashion models but now it was my turn to be at the other side of the lens, and I was so worried how to make everything right.

What is it like to be a model? – I asked that question to professional models who helped me a lot during MAB project. I just can’t stop admiring them!

Olea Nickitina, a model, Miss Vermont US International 2014:

“Being a model is like constantly being on adventure. I never know what look/role/character I’m going to play at a shoot/fashion show, so it’s always exciting to explore new styles and meet incredibly talented and creative people.”

Emma King, a model: 

“It’s a very fun job! Getting to meet such creative people on a regular basis and creating something beautiful together is a great feeling. I also enjoy how this industry allows you to really be able to connect and express your creativity.”

Annie McKelvey, a model: 

“I very much enjoy being a model. I love to meet new people in the industry and express myself creatively. Being a model is a lot of work and dedication and is not easy contrary to popular belief. It really takes a strong person to model due to all the rejections you will receive based on your appearance.”

I got some really helpful advice:

Anthony Mancini, a model:

“To anyone looking to model, I’d say 1) don’t walk into a shoot thinking you know exactly what’s going to happen, because you’ll always be wrong. 2) just have fun with it. There’s no need to be stressing about every little thing. That’s the person in charge’s job. And 3) don’t let anyone drag you. My coworkers harassed me nonstop when they found out I was doing a photo shoot. But I didn’t let it get to me and I ended up having an incredible time.

And as far as looking great in every photo, let the emotion show through your more than anything. The eyes are the gateway into a person’s inner most thoughts, you can tell everything about a person through them. So take whatever emotion you’re trying to project, find a memory of that emotion, and let it fill you up. Your body will naturally take care of the rest for you.”

Emma King:

“I would say an important tip would be to only shoot what you feel comfortable with. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your values. If a concept or someone you’re working with is making you feel uneasy or is pushing you to do something you don’t want to do, it’s always okay to say no and even remove yourself from the situation.”

Model Secrets: How to look great in every photo? “This may sound a little goofy…but I always, always, always jut out my chin and stick my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I know it sounds weird, but this trick actually helps to accentuate your jaw line and lengthen your neck.”

Olea Nickitina:

“To all the girls looking to get into the modeling industry I would like to say don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Try to work with versatile designers, stylists, & remember there’s always room for growth. The road to a super model status could be long and winding, but definitely thrilling.”

Model Secrets: How to look great in every photo? “Looking great in every photo would be amazing, but I don’t think that’s how it works. Realistically photographers tend to take a bunch of photos and then select the most excellent ones for further editing. The best shots are usually taken when a model feels confident and is radiating great energy. Learning great poses comes with experience, but after all the eyes are really the mirrors of the soul and true beauty comes from inside.”

Annie McKelvey:

“Please don’t try to be like anyone else! Be yourself and embrace your unique look. If you have a feature that is thought of as a flaw embrace that and use it to your benefit as your signature. Also lots of hard work and dedication. And be prepared for many rejections but keep on pursuing your dream.”

Model Secrets: How to look great in every photo?  “Know your angles and practice in the mirror. Negative space is your friend so keep limbs away from the body.  Also remember whatever is closer to the camera will appear larger!”

It is also really important not to come late:

Crissy Leatham, a Publicist and a Fashion Editor of Fashion Industry Magazine:

My advice to any model starting out in the industry is to always be on time, communicate with your agency on a consistent basis and always look to set yourself apart in your own way. The last thing I would say is be sure to drink water and eat healthy.”

Kristy Downer, a freelance Wardrobe Stylist, Personal Shopper:

“This isn’t really my expertise, but something that really stands out for me when working with models is a sense of humor and punctuality.”

And just be yourself:

Crissy Kantor, a Stylist & Founder of Chill Spa, Manchester, NH:

“Let go, don’t worry about what other people think, be yourself, have fun and get in character. Embrace the moment and your confidence will shine though.”

Sometimes we’re not sure what profession we need to choose. But for a lot of fashion professionals it wasn’t a question:

Crissy Leatham:

“I was very young, I started out by attending modeling school at the age of 15. However, my mother was in Fashion as well.”

Kristy Downer:

At an early age I played dress up in my mother’s closet. 80’s hammer pants and cowboy boots. The interest never went away.”

Crissy Kantor: 

“When I was a very young girl, around 11 years old, I would go visit my Aunti Henni in NJ and I would help her in her shoe store. I loved being surrounded by all of the beautiful shoes and accessories.”

What I really liked in my short modeling experience was the great feeling that you’re like a princess – a lot of people would like you to be the most beautiful girl in the world – Creative Directors: Christi Enwright Guthrie and Crissy Leatham, Sedurre North End boutique and its beautiful wardrobe, top designers like Jacqueline Ortega, top photographers:  Sergei Pyuro,, and Irina Danilova, Idealcapture, top wardrobe stylist Kristy Downer and top Hair and Make-Up team: Crissy Kantor, Coco Lever, Sawyer Phaneuf, top models: Annie McKelvey, Olea Nickitina, Anthony Mancini, Emma King, Anna Thomas. Just to name a few tremendous individuals who were part of the editorial photo shoot.

“You know, everyone says, ‘Modeling and acting are so similar’… they say, ‘It’s so natural for models to become actresses because they use the camera.’ I don’t think of it in that way”, – Gisele Bundchen said. But it works in an opposite way. As a person who didn’t have any modeling experience before this photo shoot – my little acting experience helped me a lot.

Of course, my experience was so positive because I worked with friends, with a great team of high professionals – the best designers, stylists, photographers in the industry.

Modeling is a competitive field, but if you don’t try it – how would you know it?

PS Useful resources for models:

The International Modeling and Talent Association:

Supermodels Unlimited magazine:

Helps models to find model agencies, model’s memorable moments and interviews:

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