What is a “Real Model”?

As some of you already know, or have deduced, model photography is my “passion” (I kind of hate that word, photographers use it way too often in my opinion…)   I get excited about shooting all forms of model photography, but my favorites are pinup, glamour, lingerie, and themed projects that I dream up, or some hybrid combinations.  Recently I even had the opportunity to shoot a couple of nude sessions.  One, a project that I dreamed up of a darkly illuminated, wispy smoke filled room, with a pedestal and a basket of apples, and a nude model with nothing on but a sheer white cloth loosely worn or held at the waist – sort of a live version of a Greek or Roman statue…   It turned out really well and it was a lot of fun to shoot!

Now… I know what some of you are thinking, “Well of course it was fun for you!! You’re a guy taking pictures of a naked lady!!!”  Yeah-yeah, I get why you would think that….  But to me, it’s not about that. It’s nothing devious or “dirty”, it’s all about creating something beautiful – it’s about the art…  The light that shimmers in the hair and sparkles in the eye, that caresses the cheek and falls softly on the skin; The shadow that sculpts and defines, that teases and hides what we are not supposed to see;  The pose, the angle of the head, the placement of the arms, legs, fingers, even the toes;  The expression that sets the mood, the passion (Ugh.. That word again….) and bringing it all together to create something that hopefully people enjoy looking at…  Some people paint with pigments and brush – I paint with light and shadow…

I had a conversation with a friend a while ago, about finding someone to pose for a risqué session who would allow me to show the photos afterwards, and this person said that I probably would have better luck using a “real model” for that??

Hmmm…  So what actually defines a “real model” anyway?  For most, it probably means someone who has chosen modeling as a career… Someone who is making money at it… But could it also be someone with just a desire to participate and act the part, and play the role?  What does “real model” actually mean? Are real models someone special, or are they just people we don’t know so we think of them as special?

If we see a beautiful photo of a woman we don’t know – we judge the picture; If however that exact same picture is of someone we happen to know – do we then judge the person?  “OMG!!  That’s Sally Jean!!  She’s showing an awful lot of leg in that photo!! I wonder what Tom and Martha think about their girl doing that?!?”  The only difference between the two – one model we don’t know, the other model we do.  One is a “real model”, the other is Tom and Martha’s Daughter, Sally Jean.

I’ve dealt with a few models on a modeling site, who by most peoples definitions are “real models”, and some of them (not all), can suck the fun right out of a project…  Some are either slow to get back to you, or don’t get back to you at all; Some even exaggerate on their profiles about what genres they are willing to pose for, etc… Basically it’s a crap shoot, and my very last resort to use when trying to find someone for my projects and why I always look first to people that I know – friends, or friends of friends. People who look at it as something exciting and fun to do, instead of just another page for their portfolio with no real desire…   So, despite how most people define a “real model” I tend to think that there is no such thing – that there are only those who want to model, and those that don’t.