The living model, the naked body of a woman, is the privileged seat of feeling, but also of questioning... The model must mark you, awaken in you an emotion which you seek in turn to express.
UPDATED February 2015: Much to my dismay, it seems that a surprisingly large percentage of photographers do not respect this work, or my work, or me, or my time, or any combination thereof. :-/ More than anything, this is sad to me. Professionalism within this community seems to be on the decline. Think about that, please. I am naked on your turf, bearing my soul. On so many levels, my work is so much more than just looking pretty. I work ALL the time. I work VERY hard; Often, far from home. To protect myself, I am being called to establish firmer boundaries and policies. Please note, among other things my booking policy has changed. I now require a $150 deposit for every shoot, if I am traveling to you. My rate is $125/hr with a two hour minimum. If you are coming to me in Asheville, NC my rate is $100/hr with no deposit. If you cancel our very first shoot together, then travel rates and policies apply to you too. I take PayPal and credit cards. Like anyone, it so important that I feel safe and respected.
----IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO ME THAT YOU READ MY BIO BEFORE HIRING ME----
WORKING WITH MEL -- MAXIMIZING THE EXPERIENCE:
I LOVE MY WORK!! Since 2003, I have been very fortunate to travel the country, and even parts of the world, working with artists from all walks, skill levels, and artistic drives. As one with an insatiable hunger for continual personal and professional growth, I find myself stretching my limits at every shoot (newbie or not) in an array of positive ways.
With EVERY shoot, my primary goals are positivity and productivity. Please contact anybody you find who has shot with me in the past, if you are seeking references. I do not filter them and encourage you to do your homework.
Perhaps, I am different than most models in the respect that I have little interest in myself in each image. To be frank, I'm kinda bored looking at pretty pictures of myself. While I certainly don't want to look bad, I'm more interested in selling your concept/style/mood! To do this, figuring out how to successfully collaborate is pertinent. Read on and maybe I can give you some insight on how to best collaborate with me:
In my experience, I have found that it helps to come to the shoot with some clear or even vague ideas about what you would like to accomplish. Maybe you're looking for deep shadows, something anonymous with a just got home after a long day of work feel. I've got it from there. In all honesty, I find that it's very difficult for me to produce my very best work if you are micromanaging my every pose. Like anyone who produces his or her best in any situation, it is important that I, too, am allowed to find my flow and get lost in the concept. Pose coaching is not a problem, but I work best if we can get into a rhythm. (!!) I have a vested interest in making your ideas come alive. If something is not working or does not look good, I am absolutely not offended when an artist communicates that. As far as I see it, it's not personal and I want to know.
What excites me during a shoot is the feeling that comes when the artist and I have successfully connected in a meaningful way around the art that we are working to create. As an artist and model, I live for those moments when we are actively feeding off one another's creative energy, striving to effectively capture something original and powerful. Ultimately, this means that I must adapt to your style of shooting. In most cases, I can do this easily; However, there are two styles I struggle with. Let me first say that if you can identify with either of these modes of shooting, this does not mean that I will not work with you or even get mad. My desire is to give you my very best work while also inspiring you to do yours--so consider this food for thought:
To those hyper, rapid-fire shooters out there, I'm speaking to you first. If you're in the habit of shooting as fast as you possibly can (i.e. literally on 'Continuous' mode or close to it), then you are missing so many great opportunities! Not only are you forgoing the opportunity to become the best photographer that you can be, but you'll be hard pressed to experience that which differentiates me from others in this industry. I understand the various rationals behind wanting a large quantity of pictures; But, realize that when you are shooting your camera like a machine gun, all that I am able to focus on is keeping up. Quite frankly, this is exhausting for me and I would never put authentic emotion out there to be overrun like that. If, instead, you shot at a steady pace, you will find you have more time to compose the shot and I will have time to really feel and, then, hone my pose. We will go back and forth at this, our creative synapses firing as we try to make each shot our best, and maybe we'll start to become synchronized in our respective roles. As it flows, I surrender my thinking mind and just embody the goal. Hopefully, you'll get lost in the experience and do the same. Creativity flows best at this point when we are ever-present in the task at hand but still, somehow, lost in it. We'll continue back and forth and then 'Boom!', it will be done! You'll be out of memory, battery, or I'll realize that my muscles are tired, that I need a drink of water--But, alas, this is the way of it. It's circumstances like this where I have come to realize how sincerely and respectfully relating to one another through the camera yields something far beyond either of our talents.
Now, let me turn to those shooters who like to look at each picture after each shot or who talk between each shot. I can understand doing this at the beginning of the shoot or even often throughout the shoot... Honestly, I can be talkative too and I like to check the LCD screen to see how a change in lighting and/or set looks. But, again, focus must be transcended to a point of effortless concentration. So long as Art is our goal, we need to bring our attention to the present moment and the task at hand. If you are shooting digital, please, do not stop and look at each shot, every time. I LOVE working with the learning photographer/artist! But, if you have your lights set and we're ready to get the shot, this choppy style of shooting not only impedes my ability to get into my grove, but it also inhibits your ability to really witness and get know your subject, to identify what it is that speaks to you, and capture it! Overthinking will not get you anywhere. Trust me, I know.
I want so much to share with others the power of creation and collaboration that can be experienced in model photography. With presence. The key is with presence.
ON BOUNDARIES: Because tuning into and feeding off one another's creative energy is essential to producing powerful imagery, I tend to be kind, accommodating, open, and attentive. I put effort into developing a sincere yet professional rapport with each person I collaborate with. For this reason, I find that I most enjoy working with the same people again and again. Unfortunately, I have found that my friendly demeanor and comfort with my body can send mixed messages, so let me be clear: Whether I am shooting with you for the first time or the twentieth time, DO NOT EVER ask me to spread my legs! This is deeply offensive to me. (Read that sentence again.) Crass AND negative, I know, but experience screams that this must be addressed very directly. I work hard. Very hard. I absolutely love this work. I am not here hang out, to talk leisurely on the phone with you, or to entertain you (outside of the 'work'). I aim to create the conditions for successful powerful creative collaborations.
THE BOTTOM-LINE: I'm not picky AT ALL with whom I shoot, unless I think you're egomaniacal, dangerous, or focused primarily on tasteless sexual content. If you have a good attitude, are a reasonable human being who values mutual respect, and you're someone with a sincere desire to create powerful/interesting/crazy/cool imagery then I REALLY want to collaborate with you!
BOOKING A SHOOT: Only serious inquires will receive a response from me. Please include:
•A detailed description of the shoot
•Whether or not I’ll need to bring anything other than myself
COMPENSATION: This is currently my full time job and sole source of income. Though I sincerely understand the many reasons for tfp/cd arrangements, I simply DO NOT shoot on a trade basis. If for whatever reason you think we have a trade shoot booked, there, without a doubt, has been a misunderstanding. (!!!)
My RATES are as follows: If I am traveling to you, my rate is $125/hr with $150 deposit via paypal. I DO NOT offer reduced rates. I am very flexible with how we arrange this. You can invite other photographers, pay for my plane ticket or my hotel (at dollar for dollar trade and I stay at the safest cheapest hotels), etc. I do not, however, engage in any sort of arrangement where I receive a certain percentage of the proceeds from the sale of images.
CANCELLATIONS: Too often people book me and cancel last min (like 30%)! This is crippling, if you're in business for yourself. Add to that, traveling around with overhead and it quickly becomes a bad situation for me. If you cancel on me AND I am traveling to you AND we have never worked together, I will likely NEVER book with you again; UNLESS, you either paid the deposit OR provide $150 cancellation fee. My experience is that these people are "repeat offenders." I have more constructive ways expend my energy than hounding people who choose not honor their commitments or me. Life is amazing. This is me weeding out that which drags me down and hurts me. Self respect. Personal responsibility. I assume both.
POSING IN THE COLD: I simply and absolutely cannot do it anymore. Too many photographers have kept me in the freezing cold for hours, naked...without much body fat. It takes it's toll. I've had mild frostbite on my feet and much nerve damage. This condition has become quite serious for me. And is honestly pretty upsetting for me, because I like to do whatever it takes to get the shot. If I show up to a shoot and temps are not at least 55 degrees, you are responsible for the cancellation. I.E. I still expect my agreed upon fee.
AMATEURS: I work with professionals and amateurs alike. If you have never shot a model before, please don't hesitate to contact me. I mean it. I am happy to help you set your lights, make stylistic/wardrobe decisions, so as to allow you to simply focus on getting comfortable shooting models without the extra worries. I have been told time and again that I am good at putting first time shooters at ease while helping them to get shots they can feel good about--That makes me feel good.
NOTE TO OTHER MODELS: If you are new to the industry or are just having a hard time making this a worthwhile endeavor, please get in touch. It seems that we all learn the same lessons and if I can help you avoid some of the hard and potentially damaging ones, then I would love to help! Send me an email and I tell you all I know. I have helped many fellow models with various issues and I am happy to do what I can...but one general rule: NO DRAMA.
FETISH/ADULT CONTENT: I do not shoot any type of explicit or fetish content. Should you capture images that cross my boundaries I reserve the right to add an amendment to model release to ensure no such image makes it to the Web. Thereafter, I will photograph the model release and then I will have you read the amendment back to me on video so as to ensure that there has been no misunderstanding. Documentation is important for all of us.
MY BUSH: I maintain my bush to aid photographers in respecting my boundaries; therefore, I absolutely will NOT shave it! (Sorry, I had to make that one clear) Plus, I really like it. It's not going anywhere. Ever.
WAKING UP EARLY: I love shooting outdoors! And if that means waking up before sunrise, I'm still there!
SHOWING UP EARLY & STAYING LATE: I am VERY accommodating. I am more than happy to show up early or hang around after our shoot to address any additional needs, but you must let me know in advance. This is an investment of your time, money, and energy. My goal is that you walk away feeling better than good about our work together.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results."