My Modeling Portfolio + My Thoughts on the Industry

I created a website with my most recent modeling work. This is something I should’ve done a while ago. I have an online portfolio website for my school projects (I am a fashion design major), as well as my fashion styling work. So, it just made sense to have one for modeling as well.

I recently quit the agency I was a part of because they weren’t doing anything for me. When I first moved to Cincinnati that was one of the things I immediately wanted to do was sign with an agency. I made the mistake of going with the first one I interviewed with, instead of thoroughly doing my research and asking around. They convinced me to pay for a portfolio through their website, which is why I never had my own. Meanwhile, I went out and got my own work, which was often unpaid, but at least I was building my portfolio. The agency called me a total of two times with a possible gig, but neither one of them worked out. I think for one of them I wasn’t old enough yet, I didn’t meet the 18-year-old requirement for that particular job.

zsxehupxi1p55epolh7ws9dkglkxpyp1rvfiiwkneqwenrruqksajvrcp7bddoeg4bpuu9s8yk4mfnwxi_879gFast forward 3 years and I haven’t had a problem at all getting modeling jobs myself. I called up the agency and basically said, “How do I end my contract with you?” and when they asked why I said “You haven’t done anything for me. I have not had one single job through you.”

So although I was signed with an agency for 3 years, I’ve really been a freelance model.

For the longest my mom told me I should stop modeling for free. But when a new gig came up, someone wanted me to be in their fashion show, or a really amazing photographer wanted to do a photoshoot together, I was all for it! What I loved and continue to love about modeling is that each job is different than the last. And, you’re continuously working with new people. Plus, I loved the result of seeing new versions of me that I could publish to social media and add as my new profile pic. To me that was enough.

I am at a point now, where I don’t want to do that anymore. I realize that my time is valuable. I am valuable. As my mom says “You’re a hot commodity. Everybody wants you, but you don’t have to accept every opportunity that comes up.” 10513506_812523808760172_1961639358788967605_nfashion_spring14_page_7It hasn’t been easy to say no. As a fashion design student, a lot of upperclassmen need models to display their designs on for school assignments. My program is fairly small, so a lot of people know of me, or have seen their classmates use me as a model. It’s incredibly flattering when people ask me to be their fit model, but it’s also exhausting. I remember last year, I was a fit model for 6 designers AT ONE TIME. The thing about it is the designers needed me to come in at various stages of their designs to make sure things were working out the way they wanted. So, in a given week I would meet with a designer maybe twice, but multiply that by six designers. For a couple of months I was scheduling in when I could meet with them, while trying to balance my own schoolwork and not being paid.

After that experience, that’s when it really hit home that I didn’t want to keep saying yes, just because somebody thought I was pretty. At the beginning of this school year I told myself I wouldn’t do any modeling. I wanted to take a break. Welp… I’ve been a part of at least 5 different opportunities. I was paid for one in cash, the other in jewelry. Sooo that’s a start I guess, but I know I can do better. I have an awesome job coming up the first week of the New Year though. When I got the call about it, my first reaction was to roll my eyes and I thought “Here we go again..” But this time I told the lady “This sounds like a great experience, but can we work out some sort of compensation?” I was surprised when she said of course! And broke down what they were thinking of paying me, which was a number I wasn’t expecting at all! So I am very excited about that, and I believe this is the start of something new.

img_0207I realize that not everyone will be able to compensate me. It is Cincinnati after all, not New York. I am okay with people saying, “Sorry, but that’s not in our budget” and I am prepared for that. My goal is to start speaking up for myself more and asking. You can’t get what you want if you don’t ask.

It seems like everybody wants to be a model these days. I’ve had a lot of my friends ask me to help them get started in the industry. Modeling can be fun, but just like with anything else appearance isn’t everything. What you think it’s like.. “the GLAM, the Instagram LIKES, the COOL CLOTHES” isn’t always what it seems. It’s very time consuming. An average photoshoot lasts about an 8 hour day, but depending on the client it could be a two day or three day project. If you’re not the only model, you may have to wait in line to get your hair and makeup done. And each person takes about an hour, so it’s always good to bring a book or something to do. Modeling is not so much POSE, POSE, POSE, but more so, WAIT and wait and wait. And all of those hours spent not doing anything add up. No fun, if this is you’re 50th unpaid photoshoot or fashion show.

img_3586_printversedit_printv-3593837205-oModeling isn’t only time consuming, but it can also damage your self esteem. People are constantly looking at you. Every part of you. And the people on set may not realize what they’re saying among themselves can be heard by the model, or they might not care. “Hmmm. Let’s not put her in this dress, her hips are a little wider than the other girl. It just won’t work.” A model is essentially a live mannequin to put clothes on. Sometimes the creative people who put the shoot together forget you have feelings and you’re an actual human being. I personally, haven’t experienced this type of negativity too much, but it’s definitely real and something to be aware of.

This post is a little different from what I usually write about. I initially just wanted to share my new portfolio website with you all, but then I kept typing and thought let me go into depth about my personal experiences with modeling. The bottom line is that I love fashion. I’ve been blessed to tap into many different areas within the industry, and I don’t plan on leaving it any time soon. With that being said, as a college student, I could really use some money, LOL. And modeling is something I’ve been doing for a while, I am good at it, I am passionate about it, and people seem to want to work with me. And they can.. as long as they’re paying me 😉

3 thoughts on “My Modeling Portfolio + My Thoughts on the Industry

  1. Niyah, I absolutely enjoyed your article. I learned some things about you that I hadn’t realized before. Of course I knew you were absolutely the stunning beauty, but I didn’t know that you were quite the Fashion writer also. I am very, very, very proud of you granddaughter. PeePaw

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