Every time one of my friends from school or work eventually follows me on social media, it takes about .2 seconds of them scrolling through my feed before they begin to notice my modeling photos. And what I’ve noticed through modeling with local photographers, is that everyone who doesn’t regularly collaborate and create content for the web is instantly confused by it. It doesn’t make sense to them that two people, who rarely know each other, would meet up on the weekends and take pictures. Friends and family ask me all the time, “How come they don’t pay you?” “Why would you take photos with a stranger?” “Isn’t it awkward?” “Why do you do it?” “What could you possibly be getting from that experience?” “Why? Why? Why?”
So I finally decided to write down a list of reasons for anyone who is perplexed. To anyone who thinks it’s strange for the models, photographers, videographers, and other content creators in the area to meet up and collaborate. At the end of the day, it’s just two people that are passionate about photography coming together and creating something they’re proud of. In a way, it’s similar to how you might network with people on LinkedIn and meet up to have coffee and pick each other’s brains… only you’re meeting up to network and make art!
Here are ten reasons why I love to work with local photographers in hopes that it will eliminate some of the fears, negative energy, or confusion around “collaborating with strangers.”
1) It gets me out of my comfort zone
Collaborating with photographers was originally something that I started doing to get out of my comfort zone. Having to be incredibly photogenic and continue to pose and act un-phased while crowds of people stare at you sounded like a nightmare. But I did it anyway because I knew that if I did something that made me nervous and scared, it would help me to grow and not be so worried about trying new things in the future. After doing it a few times, I can say that without a doubt, it makes you much more self-confident in all aspects of your life. After posing front of hundreds of people in a very public place, suddenly the things that seemed scary before don’t seem so intimidating.
2) It helps me meet people
When I started collaborating with photographers, I had just moved to Saint Augustine and I knew absolutely no one. I’m also an introvert, so it’s usually a challenge for me to meet new people and strike up conversation anyways. I knew that it would take a while to get to know people in the area, but I wanted to start meeting people and feel like a local. So I started reaching out to photographers that had a great portfolio who might be interested in shooting. Just by reaching out on social media and asking people to collaborate I met dozens of people and made friends all over the area that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s expanded my network far beyond friends from school and my family.
3) The pictures, obviously!
Before I started modeling I hardly had interesting content to post. I remember looking at photos of all the “Instagram Models” who had amazing pictures to post of themselves every week. The only photos that I had were crappy selfies or something that I had to practically force a family member to take. Let’s face it, everyone likes having nice pictures of themselves that aren’t mirror-selfies…
4) It’s fun!
The first thing that I tell people when I’m met with aggressive questions about why I like to collaborate on my weekends, I tell them that it’s fun. I like to do it! Modeling on the weekend is much more fun than spending your day off eating Cheez-Its and binge-watching The Office on Netflix or going out to a bar. Since I started modeling I’ve shot at a Nasa rocket launch, the Saint Augustine Castillo de San Marco, created mock engagement photos, filmed cinema-graphs and YouTube videos on the beach, shot at a Jacksonville car show, and filmed for the Food Network. I’m so glad I got out of my little bubble and spent my free days doing that instead of laying around and being lazy.
5) It boosts my confidence
There was a time when I was terrified to model. I thought that it was something that only “prettier” girls or celebrities or rich people could do. I felt like it was something that was only meant for a certain kind of person, and I didn’t meet the criteria. But now, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and actually did it. I’m now doing something that I once thought was impossible for me because I was holding myself back. When I remember that I got over those fears and insecurities and I now model all the time, it makes me feel proud and confident of how far I’ve come.
6) It’s a form of self-expression
I’m not a professional model. Nobody does my hair and makeup or plans out an outfit for me to wear or tells me how to pose. I don’t starve myself to be a size two and I don’t do any shoots that don’t want to and I’m not comfortable with. I’m not someone that models for work or fame. I collaborate with certain photographers and create images because I want to. I plan my own outfits and makeup, I come up with my own poses and concepts, and I scout locations. I use it to express myself in the same way that someone uses their hair or clothing to express themselves. Once the shoot has been finished and the photos are edited and ready to post, there’s such a sense of pride. Together, the photographer and I were able to capture a gorgeous moment that will never be replicated. And we do it simply because we want to express ourselves.
7) The photographers are inspiring
Every photographer that I shoot with is completely different. They all have their own unique style of shooting and editing and have an eye that’s unlike everyone else. Some people prefer to take their time and set up specific poses, others shoot very quickly and try to catch movement and candid moments. Some prefer lots of colors while others shoot black and white. Each person that I collaborate with has their own eye and unique aesthetic, and each one of them an inspiration. Being able to be a part of such a supportive community of local creatives helped me learn from them, gain a deeper appreciation for art, and stimulate my own creativity and curiosity. I don’t believe I’d be the same person I am today without each one of them being in my life.
8) It’s an adventure
Every photo shoot is completely unique and I never know exactly what we’ll end up doing. Sometimes we have a plan, but once we start taking photos our creativity pulls us in a completely different direction. There are also times when we encounter problems throughout shooting such as lighting, or our location being closed, too many people in the background, etc. There end up being a lot of problem-solving throughout each shoot to overcome the obstacles and create a gorgeous something stunning. At the end of the shoot, no matter what, we always end up creating something that we love. Most of the time, the photos that we didn’t mean to capture end up being the best ones.
Do you like to collaborate with other creatives? What are your thoughts? Comment below!
Photo by: Allen Fajardo @alewafeni