I got into Alt Modelling via my love for vintage fashion and pinup icons - as my wardrobe grew with vintage-inspired clothing; a friend who also happened to be a photographer invited me to shoot with her - and I ended up with my first portfolio shoot. I met Paula Delley (Melbourne, Australia), an awesome pinup photographer at a Kustom Kulture Weekender, who advised me to put my images up on Model Mayhem to see where it would take me, and the rest is history! (Many thanks to Michelle Pearce - Photographer and Paula Delley - Motivator)
I have been an Alt Model since March 2009; which proves that if you're passionate and dedicated to your art form, it won't take long for it to take off!
Q. Is the industry like you thought it would be ? What surprised you about it?
Its WAY more exciting than I thought it would be, its a very close knit society and its imperitive to be open, honest and trustworthy. It's NOT in your best interest to rip everyone you've working with, apart...people talk, and word-of-mouth is powerful. Thankfully, I haven't had to learn this the hard way!
Q. Did you start off as full-time, or did you start modelling part-time?
I started VERY part-time, I work from 8.15am to 5pm every week day, but shooting is a wonderful way to spend an evening, or a weekend!
Q. Was it difficult to build a portfolio, and what did you learn about the process - meeting photographers, make up artists, wardrobe people, etc ...
Its not difficult to build a portfolio, if you have a clear idea of what style you're trying to portray. I'd suggest finding your niche, and shoot that til you can't get ANY better, then move onto another genre or moreso another aspect of the same style. Know your limits, know your style, and do it WELL! Usually the process is:
2) If photographers like your style, and they'd like to use you for a shoot/concept - they will usually contact you
3) They describe the shoot, they offer dates and compensation - and you look at their work and decide if it will effectively benefit your portfolio (if the shoot is TFP - time for print)
4) You shoot!
Q. How was your first shoot ? Were you nervous? What advice would you give new models about how to prepare?
My first shoot was an absolute BLAST! I think it helped because I shot with one of my good friends, yet I was still nervous - it takes a while to feel confident with a camera in your face! Practice poses in the mirror, look at the way your body moves, and know how your face will look in each expression.
As for preparation, no fake tan (ick), all hair neat and tidy (or removed if necessary), well manicured nails, clean teeth, drink plenty of water, and did I mention drink plenty of water?! 72 hours before a shoot, you should be drinking move than 8 glasses per day!
No I haven't joined an agency - because this is a load of fun at the moment, and I don't feel I have the right 'look' for a generic agent!
Q. Is safety a high priority for you? What have you learned about how to keep yourself safe while working as an alt model ?
Of course, safety is paramount! If you're unsure about a photographer or other, always check references. Ask people they have worked with previously what they're like to work with- if the feedback is that they're not recommended for reasons that are important to you, don't shoot with them. Use your smarts, be cautious, don't be in denial about your feelings - usually if something smells fishy, its a dead fish left out of the freezer!
Ways I keep myself safe are:
1) Always tell someone where you're going i.e. the shoot address, who you're shooting with, what time the shoot starts, and what time they can anticipate you back from that shoot.
2) Always take your mobile phone to a shoot, put it on silent so you remain professional, but have it close at hand in case of an emergency, and have a trusted persons number on speed dial.
3) If ANYTHING feels/looks/sounds suspect while you're shooting - get the hell outta there!
Q. Have you found your own style within alt modlling, how did you decide on your 'look'?
I sure do have my own style; I went with what suited me best, I have a vintage face - more the 40s to early 50s era, and I am most competent at 40s hairstyles, so it was an easy decision to be a vintage/cheesecake/pinup model, because I was already engrossed in the style it wasn't too different from normal life!
All my friends, family any others are very supportive of my modelling - many of them couldn't believe I didn't do it sooner and they always comment positively on my images, and give me honest critiques too - which keep me grounded.
Q. Is the alt modelling life a glamourous one like a lot of people imagine? Do you keep your modelling life seperate from your private life or do they always mix?
Well I think its glamourous! I love sitting and being pampered when having my hair and makeup done! However, when it comes to shooting - if you're not tired at the end of it - you haven't worked hard enough!
Q. What advice would you give on how to find work as an alt model?
That's a hard one! In my experience, its your job to get your name out there, I've only ever seen one alt model agency in the whole of Australia. The fabulous thing about being freelance, is that you dictate your hours, rate of pay (if required) and you have an overall say in which shoots you accept, and how your image is portrayed.
I'd recommend getting onto Model Mayhem, load a profile and see where the road takes you!
Q. Is it a very competitive industry and have you worked with other models?
Q. What would you like to achieve in alt modelling in future?
I would like to make enough money from alt modelling to fund my endless vintage-inspired wardrobe; to have my own personal hair and make-up artist full-time! One can dream!
Q. If you had one piece of advice to give people who want to become an alt model, what would it be?
Be true to yourself, be clear in your style, and never let anyone tell you that you need permission to try something at least once!
xx Gemma Vendetta
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