Model Q&A: Freya Gallows

Freya Gallows | VIP Member | Verified Credits (39)

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: Shaun Tia Photography

Where are you from? Where are you based now and do you travel for shoots?

I’m not really based anywhere and haven’t been for nearly a decade, though I hail from California.

I’m always modeling and always traveling, but the proportions flip-flop: some of my trips are specifically focused on booking shoots, whereas others may have a different primary focus, leaving me with some local availability. 
Case in point: I’m answering these questions from southern China, having recently wrapped up my first modeling trip to Singapore. Before that I had a shoot in Cambodia, I was traveling in Vietnam, I was in Thailand training full-time in Muay Thai (I had my first fight, and nearly wound up starring in an indie movie), and before that, I had several shoots in Hong Kong.

Who or what inspired you to become a model?

It was a series of small catalysts. The idea was first planted in my head when I was scouted by a shoe brand and invited to pageants when I was twelve(ish), but my parents didn’t allow me to participate—which, in retrospect, I think was the right choice. Like most preteens, I was extraordinarily self-conscious, and modeling at that age, especially competitively, could’ve messed with my head pretty hard. It might’ve reinforced the toxic, and already pervasive, idea that my value comes primarily from my appearance and from competing with other girls.

Anyway, at seventeen I was babysitting my cousins on a cruise ship to Alaska when a handsome young NatGeo photographer approached me to ask about my jeans (which I’d drawn pictures all over) since he wanted to get a similar pair for a shoot. We got to talking and he told me about Model Mayhem.

When I signed up upon my return home the initial messages were far from promising. Most of them were pretty creepy and fixated on the fact that I was “still seventeen” like it made me some kind of prize. So, for a little while, I forgot all about it.

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: Theresa Manchester

How and when did you start modeling?

At nineteen, I was a STEM-field aspirant interning at NASA when I finally got a decent message on MM. It was professional, courteous, and sent by a photographer whose work looked nice and reflected attention to detail.

He mostly shot nudes, and I’d never posed nude, and while I had nothing against nudity and also knew that being naked on the Internet is a forever kind of decision that could affect my future prospects, so I wanted to give it serious thought. I basically asked him if we could agree to a clothed-to-lingerie shoot and then, if I decided that I felt comfortable, I’d disrobe on my own, but he wasn’t allowed to ask me to do so.

He agreed, so I spent a week or two on getting reference checks, then looking up his name and his studio and made sure a few people nearby knew exactly where I was and how long I’d be there. The shoot was going well, and he kept his word about not trying to influence me to get naked, so after the first couple hours I just stripped down and the rest is history.

What type of modeling do you enjoy the most?

I gravitate towards well-executed conceptual portraiture. I love weird experiments. Any shoot that involves doing something I’ve never done before is a fun—and these days, rare—treat.

That said, most of my shoots are figure nudes or outdoor nudes for good reason: I’m well-suited to them. I like tromping around nude outdoors, I’m durable and not squeamish, and I know my own physical limitations.

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: Bob Freund

What do you look for when deciding to work with a photographer?

Optimally, good references from models I trust. Other than that, respectful, clear correspondence. I enjoy chatting and banter at shoots, but in my emails, I’m pretty no-nonsense. If someone claims interest, then, as soon as possible, I want to lock down the concrete details.

If someone is pressing me to divulge creative ideas, or wants to unload sob stories onto me, or makes vague monetary allusions or demands unnecessarily fast response times as if I should be chasing a job with them like it’s a carrot on a stick, or insists upon speaking on the phone before they’re actually in my calendar…then, from ten years of experience, I can say they’re almost certainly a time-waster—at best, and manipulative or even predatory at worst!

Which models or other artists currently inspire you?

I’ll stick to traveling freelance models because otherwise, this answer would be too long.

Can’t lie, I’m a bit out of the loop—I’m not active enough on social media to pay attention to which models are up-and-coming, and many of my model inspirations from my first few years are now semi-or-all-the-way retired (Kat Love, Nettie Harris, Katlyn Lacoste).

However, I’d mention two of my close friends who also happen to be immensely talented: NYMPH has twelve years of ballet experience so her proprioception and flexibility, among other things, are off the charts. She’s also inventive, intuitive, and kind. Theresa Manchester is impressive as both a model and photographer (she’s shot me a zillion times) and has an incredible amount of grit and perseverance.

Both of them are articulate and thoughtful, with well-rounded minds, to boot.

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: Theresa Manchester

What would be your dream shoot?

I’ve got several ideas I’ve been dreaming up, some for years—but in most cases, I’m the one behind the camera.

As either a model or a photographer, though, I definitely long to do more high-concept ideas with a full, qualified creative team, constructing an entire setting, incorporating different effects. But pulling off such shoots takes a ton of coordination and a ton of capital, so I’ve only ever been a participant in a few such shoots. I’d love to be able to art-direct such a shoot (either as the model or not) but I don’t see myself having the budget to produce what I’m envisioning in the foreseeable future.

Otherwise, remote tropical islands and catamarans! Horseback riding through fields/tundra/mountains (equestrianism is an old love of mine; my first job was as a stablehand and I learned to barrel race during breaks) Being out in the middle of nowhere with a crazy dress with a fifty-foot train being shot by a drone! More artistic video projects involving elaborate fashion and epic locations, etc., etc., etc.!

How important is social media in your success?

Honestly, I’ve done a horrible job adapting to how social media has changed the industry. I don’t use Facebook for work. I use Instagram only for work, and only very minimally, because “I have to.”

I preferred the old school way of directly communicating with photographers I want to work with  rather than worrying about things like “fan service” and “engagement” with “followers.” When I started out, “fans” and “followers” weren’t even a thing.

I like the real-time face-to-face interactions I have with people I’m working with. I don’t want to spend my life posting selfies of my butt or researching hashtags to reach more random boneheads on the Internet from amidst a boundless sea of hot-girl content, then having to check eight different platforms ill-suited to longform messages just to keep up on my professional correspondence.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it as a useful skill that requires acumen and diligence. Serious kudos to the models who are good at social media management. As for me, though, I still book almost entirely via MM.

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: AJ Moksha

What else do you like to do outside of modeling?

Oh boy. How much time have you got? I feel like my previous answers have already given a pretty clear message that I like to wear many hats—but here’s a short, by no means comprehensive, list anyway.

Martial arts (Muay Thai and Shaolin kung fu), writing (I freelance on the side), pyrotechnics, skiing, rock climbing, photography, foreign languages (currently focusing on Mandarin), reading (about to finish a 700-page tome on the Romanovs), singing, backpacking, kayaking/canoeing, eating weird things, bicycle touring (once did a four-month modeling tour by bike).

What’s the best career advice you can give to new models?

One word: Diversify. That’s made all the difference.

  • In a field with NO upward mobility, diversifying is a way to claim some for yourself (so is making wise investments, but some of my other modeling friends would be better people to ask about that than me). If and when you want/need/have to retire from modeling, you won’t be left with nothing else to show for that time (in terms of acquired skills, work experience, professional connections).
  • It makes you more salable AS a model. Pretty girls are a dime a dozen. There are very few models who can rely solely on their appearance or physical ability to have an edge in an increasingly competitive market. Having a well-nurtured personality and intellect, and other experiences, make you more interesting to clients who might be choosing between you and ten other similarly-attractive or similarly-experienced models. I’ve had people hire me in the past specifically because they wanted to talk about Burning Man installation art or bike touring or martial arts, or because they saw something I wrote.
  • A million other fringe benefits. I have a wider social network from different projects/jobs/hobbies, so I almost always have someone cool to crash with when I visit a new place. Also, having other stuff going on keeps you sane, and gives you more financial stability, when you inevitably hit dry-spells on tour—it gives you other enjoyable, productive, or lucrative ways to spend your time. I’ve seen other models waste days off by sitting on their laptops frantically trying to book a last-minute gig when they could be enjoying a new beautiful place they’ve got the privilege to visit. Lastly, having other income streams allows me to uphold my policies, limits, and boundaries more easily as a model since I’m no longer ever desperate for a shoot.

Model: Freya Gallows; Photographer: PJ Reptilehouse

Check out Freya Gallows Model Mayhem portfolio to see more of her work. You can also follow Freya on Instagram.

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