Back in December I announced that I was taking a break from modeling, and while I said I planned on coming back, at the earliest, sometime in March, I’m still a bit undecided to some degree. When I announced my break, I got a lot of people questioning my reasons for the break from modeling, and I am still getting asked about it (especially with my new look and shoot with Laura Ann of Fleur de Lis Photography).
So, I’ve decided to expand on things a little bit. Not necessarily to explain myself or share my reasoning (because, frankly, I shouldn’t have to), but because it might give some of you an insight into a hobbyist’s mind when it comes to hobby modeling, setting priorities, and life in general.
With modeling being a hobby, I model when I have time to. Because I enjoy modeling, I often make the time to model, and that means missing out on time spent with the family (even if that’s just my husband and our dog) and skipping events I might otherwise be interested in attending. I’ve even missed family events, since, once I’ve scheduled a shoot, I opt not to cancel unless the situation is dire enough to warrant it, and that’s rare.
When I shoot, I try to book at least 4 hour blocks of time, if not more. When you count the travel time, on average, I’ve invested about 6 hours (figure an hour there and back, since I live far away from pretty much anything) of my day into a 4 hour shoot. Add hours onto the shoot and/or travel time, and suddenly I’m out for longer than I am during the average work day.
The time spent at a shoot isn’t the only time I spend on modeling though. I spend hours saving wardrobe, lighting and pose ideas I find, and then spend hours going through saved ideas for specific shoots (and sometimes seek out more ideas when I don’t have something that fits my vision). I also regularly practice posing and expressions, and spend a fair amount of time networking, searching and answering castings, and otherwise involving myself in the (internet) modeling world. And then there’s the modeling-related writing I do too, of course, since I do a fair amount of that (though much of it is still in draft form).
Another thing that I had to consider was the return on investment. Not only does modeling take up a decent amount of my time, but I generally model at a loss. Purchasing wardrobe, shoes and accessories for a shoot adds up. I try to buy items I can wear regularly, or at least again for a shoot, but it can be tough. Yea yea, I know photographers spend a lot of money on gear, lenses and all that crap, and that we make choices to spend the money on our hobbies. Buying clothes, shoes and accessories I might not be able to wear normally has been a choice I’ve made, and I’m ok with that to some degree. The more I do it though, the less ok I am with it.
The amount of photographers willing to hire me prior to my taking a break was slim. I’m not sure if it was the economy, the fact that I don’t do nudes, the fact that some photographers don’t see a value in hiring a reliable, good model who knows how to pose and emote, some other reason I’m not thinking of, or a combination of the 4, but bottom line is, I have been getting fewer paying jobs than most people think. That alone makes it hard, because this means that, like I said, I’m modeling at a loss.
And sure, there’s working trade, but there’s problems with that too. The problem is, I trade up, which means, I only trade with photographers whose work is better than what I have in my portfolio. If a photographer cannot give me images that are as high of quality as I currently have in my book, then it’s not an even trade. I’m already modeling at a loss when it comes to spending time on coming up with ideas and money on wardrobe… why would I shoot and get nothing usable for it? I wouldn’t.
And then there are the photographers I work trade with who don’t give images back to me. Essentially, it means I’ve worked uncompensated. This has increasingly become a problem. So much so, in fact, that I’ve virtually stopped attending TF* group events, and have rarely worked trade with anyone outside a select group of photographers I know are reliable when it comes to returning images in a timely fashion. But that limits me and the work I get back.
Not that it really matters, in the long run, all this stuff.
Portfolio building, and all that just doesn’t matter… why? I can’t quit my job and sign with a modeling agency because, largely, my stats aren’t those that modeling agencies are looking for. I can’t even go sign with a talent agency, because while my work might be flexible enough, I’m a salaried employee with full benefits currently, and can’t risk losing that or my benefits changing. My husband runs his own company and I’m the primary breadwinner and sole benefit recipient for the both of us, health insurance included. If we lose my income and my benefits, it would be very bad.
Life & Choices
Anyway, my circumstances had become such that I had to make choice: take time out of my life for the hobby that continually drains my wallet and provides little ROI, or have time and money to take care of other (more important) things. And while I really do love modeling, the choice wasn’t a tough one. I simply need to shift my focus and priority, and sacrifices need to be made. Whether or not it’s a temporary one (as I’m currently planning it to be) or a permanent change, depends on how I feel after everything that needs to get done, is done.
Please, if you’re going to comment here, comment on the content of the blog, and not the fact that I’m taking a break from modeling. Leave those comments for my Facebook page, please.