Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mature models go home!

Photographer: Donato Cinicolo
I tend to stay away from threads on model/photographers sites. I do check out casting calls but I am not  that bothered with them at present, I am doing far too many things  and many of the casting calls on these sites are simply not right for me. I also have a profile on there as a photographer. I make it clear I am an amateur photographer still  learning the technique but interested in working with models. I do self portraits when I want to try things out. Initially I wanted to work mostly with male models and am still keen on working with them - I am after a particular look, the long haired "rock god", but am happy to shoot other interesting types too.  However, a few female models have been in touch and am getting a few shoots sorted.  It is, in particular, elegant models in their thirties and forties who have approached me to work with me, as they felt that many male photographers on these sites are not able and not willing to bring out the best in them.
It was one of the models I propose to work with who alerted me to a model bashing thread on Purestorm. She told me that  at some point the bashing was directed at mature models and it was a certain Irish photographer that was particularly virulent in his attack.
I wanted to post a reply on that thread but it turned into a blog post. And here it is.

Photographer: Alex Ingram

I regard myself as a semi-professional model and an amateur photographer.  So I would like to add my views first as a mature model and then as a photographer - a female photographer at that.
I will start "from the beginning". I have been modelling for many years now. I am an agency model. I am on the books of a few agencies but there is a particular one that gives me more work than others. I do commercial work and am represented as a classic model/character model. The volume of work varies. I do not model everyday but when I model on an agency booking I get paid well. I started my modelling career back in 2005 as a commercial agency model, on and off,  and then began to branch out, did the odd fashion show, a couple of  editorial shoots, a couple of lifestyle shoots directly commissioned by Getty. Then I discovered Purestorm and Model Mayhem and this coincided with me taking up art nude. I had modelled nude in my early twenties but only as an artist's model.
Before I move on to the 'mature' bit I would like to clarify a few matters regarding model's fees, which came up in that thread. Even though it is perfectly possible to make a living as an internet model and be involved in commercial work, the best and better paid commercial jobs still only come through agencies. Your agency will do things for you that is quite difficult to do yourself as your main task is modelling, such as negotiating multiple use, negotiating rights etc. Advertising campaigns are rarely dealt with directly by photographers who do the casting on internet model/photographers' sites. They are handled by agencies and they are the plum jobs of the industry. Agency commercial shoots are always highly professional affairs in which you the model don't have to provide a single item of clothing and should turn up wearing no make up whatsoever as you will be styled and made up to specification.
Getting on an agency's books is not that difficult, though it is competitive. Getting regular work from your agency is the important bit. It requires being pro-active, talking with the bookers, be willing to go to castings etc etc. These days agency models are also advised to get an Equity card.
What I am trying to say is that the bulk of work you can get through internet model sites does not yet match what you can get from an agency. This, realistically, affects your model fees. Agency models get a lot more money than internet models. Period.

Photographer: Charles Fennell Own postprocessing
Let's move on to the mature model bashing bit. Mature models will never try to pass themselves off as teenagers or twenty somethings. If I did that my agency would send me packing, I am there to represent a glamorous  'granny', a mature business woman, you name it. Consequently when I started doing photographic art nude modelling, I marketed myself as a mature model with a good figure and a toned body, easily verifiable from my pictures - I exercise and to an extent watch my diet but I am also blessed with a good figure through genes. The posture comes from my dancing and yoga but the long legs and high posterior are due to my genes, I have inherited those from my parents. My hair is thick and again that is due to genes. I wear it long and dont colour it, precisely because I am not trying to pass myself off as a twenty something. My skin is well moisturised and shows little lining, I have never used sun beds and dont smoke, though I have done in the past. Again I got the skin I have  through sheer good luck.
Do I look my age? I hope so. I hope to be able to show that older women are not necessarily old hags - I can turn myself into one through wearing special make up, as I did recently in the context of a horror movie! But in real life I am a confident, very attractive, even glamorous woman in my early fifties.
So this Irish photographer's invective against mature models is quite inappropriate and has clearly upset several beautiful mature models who are trying hard to extend the age parameters imposed by a handful of male photographers who dominate the art nude scene - art nude is of course not dealt with by agencies.

Photographer: Donato Cinicolo
Of course as a photographer I fully understand that one chooses models in accordance to one's aesthetic preferences and/or one's projects. I know of photographers that like collecting images of similar looking women for their own personal online galleries. Some photographers really like only young models  - a few told me that they would love to be able to shoot nude fifteen year olds, shame it cannot be done, they just love the angelic expressions. Or take my own preference. I like the "rock god" look and want to photograph men with very long hair, I am working on a particular personal project and am entitled to have a preference - and no they do not have to be young, I would love to take pictures of Robert Plant. But I do not tell male models with "boring" short hair that they should give up
modelling. Who knows, I might soon start a project about conventional looking men!
It has been said before and it is worth reiterating: there is room for everyone. As the lovely model whom I will be shooting soon said in her email: "The men on Purestorm demonstrate perfectly why women photographers are beginning to pip them to the post for all the top photography jobs as well as the modelling ones..."

Comments always welcome.

(All photos modelled by Alex B)


  1. Im not planning on "going home" anytime soon Alex!

  2. As a viewer, I love to see photos of mature models! Like you and our mutual friend "Unbearable Lightness," they usually have a presence, confidence, and expressive ability that younger models mostly just don't have. And you ladies can be very, very sexy!

    That photographer should just go home and stop inflicting his skewed worldview on us viewers and on the hapless models he photographs and who must suffer the most from the stereotypes he's feeding. And I'd love to see the stereotypes starved out!

    Bless you for hanging in there, Alex, and continuing to do your bit to blast preconceptions.

  3. I think we all know that there's a pretty good chance that the sort of people who post those derogatory comments on an internet forum:

    (a) have nothing better to do in the evening*;
    (b) only interact with women they look at through a lens;
    (c) haven't been inside an art gallery in years;
    (d) would find some other reason to get women young enough to be their daughters to take their clothes off if cameras vanished overnight (but it wouldn't be painting or drawing because that's a bit tricky).

    If the ONLY beauty you can see is a very young woman who isn't wearing many clothes, you probably need to get out a bit more.

    *Obviously that comment doesn't apply to people posting comments on blogs. We all have rich and varied social lives.......

  4. I agree with the comment above. The problem is with a lot of these model and photographer sites is the photographers are mainly amateur, and have little in the way of an art education. Had they come from an art bias background, they would be used to using models of all ages and all shapes and sizes, indeed they would positively rejoice in the variety of the human form and what it can express. Unfortunately that is not the case and many of them seem to use it as an excuse to get up close to lots of nubile young women, who naively believe that getting their kit off might lead to a career in modeling.

    1. Lovely to hear from you on here Bridget. You are completely right of course, thanks for adding your comment