Fitness Model Photography Shoot & Interview with Zahra
Had an amazing professional fitness model porfolio photography session in the studio recently.
As well as that we had a great discussion about the modelling industry in general and Zahra also gave some really useful advice (from a models perspective) on what to look for when searching for a photographer you can trust to work with.
What inspired you to get into modelling?
“I remember my parents always being told I would make an excellent child model and as I grew older (into my teens) I started to hear it directly from friends, family and even strangers. I never really took any notice of everyone’s compliments and encouragements until a school friend/ budding photographer asked to photograph me as she could see real modelling potential. After reviewing the final images, she insisted that I apply to several of London’s most reputable modelling agencies, and only then did I start to seriously consider this as a potential career path. At age 15 I signed to my first agency and I’ve been shooting editorials, featuring in commercials and walking the catwalk ever since.
So Coco, to this day, I thank you!”
What is unique about you and would like everyone to know about?
“I’m the only model I know that has a passion for pretty much anything automotive and also enjoy looking after toddlers and young children in my spare time.”
What have you been up to in the last 6 months?
“It has been a busy period of balancing my self-employed duties (updating my diary, searching for casting opportunities, updating my website, recording earnings and expenses) and actually securing new contracts, attending castings, recording self-tapes, and getting to my booked jobs.”
What’s been your favourite modelling job to date?
“Since starting my career I have worked on editorials, commercials, catwalk shows, music videos – and more recently, TV and film – with brands from many different sectors, so choosing a favourite job is no easy task! Whilst I have had some truly amazing experiences in my home city of London it is always exciting to enjoy a change of pace. I have only flown out to 2 places for work (Dublin, Ireland and Rhodes, Greece) and enjoyed working in these locations for multiple days before returning home. Coincidentally, they were both catwalk shows for global hair salons!”
What are you currently working on or towards – What’s next for you – The Future?
“I believe that no person truly stops growing and learning so I will carry on testing with photographers, makeup artists (MUAs) and other creatives to build up my portfolio, network with others in the industry (and beyond), remain present on social media and continue to build a brand for myself that I can confidently promote. The next milestone for me would be e-commerce, i.e. women’s high street or boutique fashion brands.”
What’s your top advice to someone who would like to get into modelling and working with photographers?
“Research, research and RESEARCH again, but also to believe in yourself…
…otherwise, how can you expect casting directors, model scouts etc. To believe in you too.
There are a lot of rogue agencies out there, as well as nasty individuals that pose as, usually, photographers or their assistants. This is normally in an attempt to get you to part with large sums of money for a substandard portfolio with the promise of a fruitful modelling career that will never actually come to light. On the contrary, it could be to lure you to share your information and images under the guise of professionalism (e.g. a male on social media posing as a female photographer requesting pictures of you in your underwear for her upcoming lingerie shoot so she can “see your body shape and size for the lingerie samples”).
Some common red flags are:
- Not having any links to their work online whether that be a website or social media account with a good following and quality images
- Only sending you individual images as examples (which could have been pulled from anyone’s website but their own)
- Fresh profiles set up within the last few days with minimal information about them and their work
- Very vague details about the shoot (e.g. No specific date, location or time)
- Offering extremely large sums of money (possibly in different currency) for the work involved e.g. 8hr/ full day portfolio building shoot with compensation of $5000
- Claiming they are scouting on behalf of a well-known brand but are using inappropriate channels (such as Facebook groups) to source models rather than reputable casting agencies
- Stating a specific job in their public casting brief but offering something completely different when you enquire by email or message
- Casting by video only (often Skype or similar) where you can be seen and heard but you can’t see or hear the caller due to “system errors”
- Refusing to provide – or simply not having any – references from other models and creatives that have worked with them
- Not offering the option to bring a parent/ guardian or chaperone to the job or responding negatively when you mention you’d like to bring a trusted person with you
- Becoming defensive, ignoring messages or blocking you when you begin to ask more probing questions rather providing contact details and their requested images straight away
Finally, you will hear a lot of “No”s in this industry, but it’s essential that you dust off that rejection and show yourself that there’s is a reason to chase that ‘Yes’!”
Who’s been some of the mentors/key people who are instrumental to your success/starting/Inspiration?
“Is this where I get to give a huge shout out to myself?
In all seriousness, my friends, family and agents definitely have a large part to play in my journey so far. However so do the agencies, casting directors, photographers, MUAs and even fellow models that have been… not so positive or encouraging over the years. Being treated so unfavourably has just meant that I’ve pushed even harder to strive for success as a model, which is ultimately a job that I thoroughly enjoy.”
What did you learn from working at StudioGB Photography?
“Firstly that searching for a local, professional and amicable photographer wasn’t so difficult!
With a straightforward introduction and booking process, I was able to look forward to my shoot in no time at all. However there are two main things I took away from my session, one being the different ways in which we could “create space” in the image despite having limited studio space to work with – I am a tall lady!
Additionally, I grasped a better idea of how tiny changes really affect the mood of an image e.g. the way I fold my arms, rest my fingers or hold my head – not all photographers point this out and I won’t always realise until the images are done.
Thank you! So overall how was I to work with?
“What stood out to me initially was Graham’s professional and straightforward way of communicating via messages. We were able to come to a mutual agreement about our shoot fairly quickly. These traits also showed in person as Graham felt instantly approachable when I arrived. He was very attentive throughout the shoot and offered regular breaks, water and so on.
Graham offered guidance and pointers whilst shooting and incorporated his own ideas. I appreciated the honest feedback which helped to learn a few things along the way. At the same time, his open-minded approach allowed me to feel comfortable experimenting with a few of my own ideas also and it was great to be able to freestyle a little. That being said, Graham seemed to have a good idea about when to call it a day. As such, the shoot didn’t drag on and our time felt very productive. I also got a good chance to shoot in multiple outfits so I think there was a great balance there.
Last but not least, the high-quality images I received completely met my expectations and I am very pleased with the final results! I am looking forward to sharing these with my agencies and social platforms with the hope of securing more work in a new genre for me.
In summary, I think StudioGB Photography provides a harmonious combination of a business-like approach, being professionally informal/ relaxed and showcasing great skill.
Thank you Graham!!”
How are you going to use your new images?
“I’m looking forward to sharing them across my social media platforms and website. I will also be sharing them with my various agencies as part of my 2020 portfolio refresh. In turn they will be sent to sports/ fitness clients when being put forward for relevant castings in this genre.”
Any final thoughts about the modelling industry you would like to share?
“As a final note for aspiring or indeed experienced models: Having a much-coveted profession in an industry with so many twists and turns makes it fairly easy to be led astray or down an undesirable path, all in the name of making it big. It is important to stay true to yourself, your morals/ beliefs and happiness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article?
It’s been more than just a client case study, Zahra has given an excellent insight to her experiences as a professional model as well as offered some fantastic advice for new models and what to look for when looking to work with photographers.
You can find out more about Zahra below;
Casting Artist Agencies