“Can I model?” by Miami Photographer John Fisher

“… Can I model? …” Continued…

The Politics of Fashion Photography Part 12 will not be written by me.  Instead, it is a short essay written in response to my Part 11 of this series by Miami Fashion  Photographer John Fisher.

I found it worthy of being posted, as it sheds a very personal note to my rather curt rant in Part 11…

Photo by John Fisher © 2010

I’ve seen them come, and I’ve seen them go (but God, in her infinite wisdom, makes more!)

I actually get asked that question frequently, in fact I invite it. The people I invite to ask the question for the most part could model. The real question (for these people) is rarely “can I model?”, but rather, “will you model?”

Will you go to a place where you don’t know anybody, set up camp, be responsible for yourself (at an age where most American girls are hoping to get invited on their first date), and commit yourself to the life?

Will you go to ten castings in a row where you stand in line with 20 or 30 other girls who look a lot like you (and you have never in your life seen anyone else who was your age, 5’10, thin, and actually pretty)……. And not get picked? And then go to the eleventh casting with the same sense of excitement and joy that you went to the first casting?

Will you give the industry your undivided attention for the two years it will take to get you fully developed? Will the industry be your boyfriend/girlfriend? Will you not go home except for Christmas, and book round trip because you know you have to be back on the 2nd of January? And actually come back, on the 2nd? Will you on your own change planes in Abu Dhabi on your way to Shanghai? Live with 5 other girls you don’t know in a model’s apartment in Milan with one bedroom and one bathroom?

Will everything about fashion be endlessly fascinating to you? Will you learn a basic walk in high heels and do it over and over and over, until that’s the way you walk? Do you accept that every guy want’s to date a model, they just don’t want the girl to actually model? That no boyfriend is “supportive”? That your friends back in Lake Wobegone will say you are stuck up, think you are better than they are, that you’ve “changed”, and ignore them?

Will you watch your diet, accept the fact that your body is going to play a dirty trick on you as you get older? You used to be able to eat anything and everything, and unless you learn not to, you will fight a losing battle after seventeen or eighteen. Can you accept that you must stay out of the nice car, even when it’s raining and the car appears warm and dry? You have a chance to have your own car, not now, but soon. That nice car that you get to ride in? It belongs to someone else, and there will be another girl in the nice house, driving the nice car, and wearing the nice clothes in six months, a year, or if your lucky, two years. And you will have lost your opportunity to be a model, to have your own car, house and clothes. You can not buy back the time you lose in the beginning.

I can tell if you can be a model. I can not tell if you will be a model. I can see your face and body, I can not measure your heart. You will not try this business, the business will try you, and most will be found wanting.

Strangely, models have it easy. They do have access to managers and agents (in fact they must have them). And it happens quickly for them (two years? Humph, I can do that standing on my head!). But everything I’ve said can be said of those who want to be fashion photographers, and it’s harder, much harder, and takes longer.

That it is hard is what makes it great, if it was easy, everyone would do it! (And no one would pay to watch.)

John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
(305) 534-9322

Model: Therese Tabbert

Part 13

About Benjamin Kanarek

Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Don

    WOW! What a wake up call of an article. I shoot portraits, but get asked the question too, or it is suggested by moms.

    If it’s OK, I would like to post the link to this article on one of the forums I belong to. I did not know the commitment needed to model myself.

  • I am that girl in this article’s picture. I am one of the girls that chose not to choose the route John Fisher encouraged me to take. You missed many other reasons why I passed up that opportunity. This article only explains a piece of the story.

    • Well Theres, why don’t you e-mail us and tell us your part of the story please.

  • @: As all of the model’s I work with come from highly credible Model Agencies 99.9 percent of all of my shoots are a pleasure and I rarely if ever get grief from a model. For that to happen, I would most likely have to provoke her in to being “Bitchy”. So no, no problem what so ever. Most of the Lodel’s are very pleased to be doing a creative editorial for the likes of VOGUE, Harper’s BAZAAR or some other trendy press magazine.

  • Dear Benjamin,

    Can we please have an article, if possible on this…

    Whats with models + bad attitude? is it part of the job description to give grief to the photographer??? behaving like a juvenile delinquent is NOT cool on the sets. That said, there are those who are an absolute joy to work with + angels. Wish I get more of those + less of the former. tra la.

    Thank you 🙂

  • SRL

    just the truth.
    Too few people do not know what it hides behind this profession.


    It intelligently and very readable

  • become a fashion photographer they say. travel the world they say. meet glamourous pretty girls they say. your life will be one long party they say…ha ha ha ha 🙂

    thank you. absolutely wonderful. models still have a shelf life. fashion photographers keep hoping that they’ll be discovered soon…their mad genius…just one break…too many. years turn into decades…hope turns to bitterness. its not what you know, but who you know.

    thank you.

  • From the video it looks they could have been this :

    Some parts of asia have this tradition, to do this, they write wishes on the “hot air ballon” and let them fly into the sky.

    • (need to scroll down on the page by the way : )

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