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Friday, May 11, 2012

Favoritism in Modeling...Don't Take It Personal

It's hard to separate personal feelings from business in modeling sometimes. Regardless of experience level, being neglected or looked over in favor of another model never feels good. But it is important to understand that this will happen in your career and to accept it as another part of the territory that comes with being involved in the modeling industry.

Cliques are prevalent in modeling. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Even in the biggest markets, people run in small social circles. It isn't uncommon for certain photographers, models and even clients to form cliques and only use each other in their projects. This can make it difficult for a model to break the ice and get invited into the group but if they happen to make the cut, it can be a wonderful social circle to be a part of.

However, there is a downside to favoritism--it feels good if you are the favorite but it sucks if you're one of the odd ones out. I've experienced this a number of times. I once did a shoot with another female model and it went off without a hitch but I could tell that the photographer liked working with her more. I don't think it was necessarily because she was a "better" model than me, but she had an in demand look and apparently it was one that the photographer just really loved. He took more pictures of her than me but I didn't think too much about it at the time because I was focused on the shoot and was in my "model mode."

A few weeks later, I wanted to see how the photos turned out so I visited the photographer's Facebook page and saw he had posted an album of the shoot. Out of all the images that he posted online, there were only 2-3 photos of me...the rest were all her. That stung--especially when he posted on his FB Wall a picture he took of a large poster he had printed out of one of her shots. I thought to myself, "Were my photos not good enough to print out as a poster?" And the thing is--it was a poster for his own home, not for selling to people. If that doesn't scream "favoritism," I don't know what does.

He went on to do a whole series of shoots with this particular model and he was posting all these amazing shots just about every week--shots that I knew I could totally pull off and would have been great for both our portfolios. He never once contacted me to say thanks for doing the shoot, didn't reply back to my messages and didn't take time to give me copies of the pictures. I ended up downloading copies of the ones he posted on his Facebook...there weren't that many anyway. I took the hint and never contacted him again.

BUT I got over my hurt feelings and moved on. It's human nature to feel bad or like you're not good enough when a photographer or client isn't very shy about showing which models he/she enjoys working with more. However, there is a time frame for feeling sorry for yourself. Having a pity party last too long because you feel you didn't get a fair amount of attention from a client only prevents you from getting back on track and distracts you from focusing on snagging that next opportunity.

The favoritism bug shows up not just in shoots but fashion shows as well--I can't tell you how many times I've gone to castings for fashion shows and automatically knew who was in the "clique." I wasn't the least bit surprised when I didn't make the cut but all the "favorites" that knew the production crew and/or show director did. It is what it is.

Anytime I start to remember how sucky it felt to be "left out" or if I'm experiencing a bad case of favoritism, I automatically reflect on the countless photographers and clients that treated me like their favorite and remind myself that I am very well liked/loved by those I've worked with in the industry. They know they can count on me to deliver, which is why they always come back and hire me for additional projects. So instead of pouting because I wasn't the favorite, I instead remind myself how lucky I've been to be the favorite for other people.

There's nothing wrong with being a "favorite" of someone BUT it is wrong to act on it and make other models you're working with feel inferior. I've never done that and I frown upon those that do. If I happen to be on a shoot or in a show and I'm one of the more favored or more used models during the project, I'll enjoy the attention for the moment but always make an effort to engage the model(s) that end up being the odd ones out. During the downtime I'll talk to them, get them to laugh, be more comfortable and eventually try to distract them from thinking about why they aren't the favorite.

It's okay to shine in the spotlight but never let it consume you. Shine that light on others in the process and it'll minimize the sting. They'll be thankful for your consideration.

1 comment:

kendro said...

Thank you for writing this. I see this all the time and I think it's so unfair and dead wrong, but at the end of the day it is someone else's shoot or show, not mine. It's up to them how they want it to go and look. I also have to realize that everyone doesn't think like me. Idk I always felt like giving people a chance regardless if they don't have the "look". There are plenty of talented people out here who don't have "the look" and some are even better than the models who do (not to make this about competition). I think we also have to understand that modeling can be/is very superficial. It seems to be more about who you know, how you look, and/or what you are willing to do for people in these industries than talent.