Model Q&A: Cecelia Shaw

Cecelia Shaw | VIP Member | Verified Credits (62)

Model: Cecelia Shaw; Photographer: Mikey McMichaels

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

I was born and raised in Minneapolis but I spent most of my adult life in Chicago. I’ve been traveling for the past five years and spent some time living in Maui, Melbourne, Australia, and most recently, India. I’m currently back in Minneapolis living at home while I transition from traveling to graduate school. I plan to move to Seattle if I get accepted to the school in the fall.

I do travel to model. I usually tour every two to three weeks all over the United States. However, since the pandemic began, I’ve transitioned to making art from home. Now I run virtual figure modeling sessions and take self-portraits (sign-up for updates on virtual drawing sessions). I release content daily on my Instagram account.

Who or what inspired you to become a model?

I am a university-trained dancer, choreographer, and experimental performance artist. I danced for local dance companies and I directed and choreographed for my own dance company, We Stand Sideways, for nine years. I began figure modeling for life drawing classes in college and eventually started posing for photographers.

Model: Cecelia Shaw; Photographer: Matthew Gregory Hollis

How and when did you start modeling?

I did this casually until I moved to Melbourne, Australia, and met an established art nude model name, Cheyanne. She mentored me and eventually became my agent in Australia. This is when my career as a model took off. I built up my portfolio modeling part-time while I managed a bar. When I moved back home, I decided to try to model full-time and now it is my main source of income. I love modeling as it’s a great way to create art while traveling as I no longer make dances with an ensemble.

What type of modeling do you enjoy the most?

I prefer art nudes. I like experimenting with body shapes and playing with shadows and other lighting concepts. I particularly enjoy conceptual art nudes. I have a unique, movement-based posing style that produces dynamic, emotive images.

Model: Cecelia Shaw; Photographer: ALT Photography

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

I will work with all levels of photographers, from beginners shooting on their phones to professionals. I’ll work with anyone willing to pay my rates who has a good reputation and/or conducts themselves professionally in their correspondence with me. I’m not usually interested in shooting mainstream, conventionally “sexy” concepts. So, if that is a photographer’s typical shooting style, as long as they are happy to let me be creative and push them out of their comfort zone, I’m happy to work with them!

Which models or other artists currently inspire you?

I’m a huge fan of Tiffany Helms and The Most Ghost, as well as Lior Allay. I love models who do self-portraits and are photographers themselves. I enjoy photographers who shoot all bodies and think outside the box. I get a lot of photographers that don’t shoot tattooed models and I find that very disappointing. There are so many different bodies out there and model photography is about capturing the subject’s essence as they are, and not about holding up archaic, patriarchal beauty standards about what a model “should” look like.

Model: Cecelia Shaw; Photographer: Md11hud

What would be your dream shoot?

My dream shoot includes working with a female or non-binary photographer. The dream begins at first contact. The photographer admires my work and is inspired to collaborate on a unique project. They come prepared with a mood board so that their ideas and intentions are clear to me right from the beginning. They are respectful of my rates and policies and I don’t have to argue or negotiate with them about fees or deposits. They set a time and place and they show up on time and ready to work. They appreciate my skills, talent, and credentials and treat me with respect from start to finish. The shoot is inspiring and we bounce ideas off one another. Egos are set aside and we are free to create art!

How important is social media in your success?

I find most of my collaborators through Instagram. It is the easiest place for me to post content daily, search for photographers in the areas that I’m touring and keep track of correspondence. I rely on Instagram for most of my advertising and reference checking. Aside from censorship, I think it is a great platform for artists.

What else do you like to do outside of modeling?

I have so many hobbies, it’s almost exhausting. I used to bartend but I’ve moved away from that thankfully and make most of my money creating art. I’m a dance maker, so I do short films and sometimes create works with ensembles. I’m always involved in professional development and I take dance classes, workshops, and practice yoga daily. I’m also a certified yoga teacher and I lead movement workshops for professional and non-professional movers. I’m currently applying to graduate school to get my master’s in clinical mental health counseling and dance movement therapy. I read a lot of books and I love rotating fiction and non-fiction works. I’m also a photographer myself. I shoot portraits of friends and self-portraits as well. I love to camp and hike and forage for mushrooms! Also, I’m constantly seeing live music! I follow a band called Phish around the country with my friends.

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

Modeling is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It is the only way I’ve ever been able to sustain myself with my art. It is fulfilling creatively. However, it can be exhausting. It’s a lot of travel and administration and, as a woman working with mostly men, you have to deal with a lot of mistreatment and disrespect. My best advice is to stand your ground and maintain integrity in your work. Do the work that you believe in and promote your ideals through your art. My personal mission is to desexualize the female form and promote body love. I believe that all bodies are beautiful bodies and photography is an excellent way to achieve that!

Model: Cecelia Shaw; Photographer: BTSphotography

Check out Cecelia Shaw’s Model Mayhem portfolio to see more of her work. You can also follow Cecelia on Instagram. You can sign-up for virtual drawing session updates here.

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7 Responses to “Model Q&A: Cecelia Shaw”

  1. May 04, 2020 at 4:52 am, Ron said:

    I love the way you think, and the way you design your shots. I have told people hundreds of times that when I pick my camera up I go into my zone. I don’t care what you have on or off, I am so focused on what I am doing and trying to create the best and most focused photo that I can that everything around me is tuned out. I treat my models with the same respect and kindness I would my sister. So far it has worked great. Thank you for sharing.


    • May 04, 2020 at 11:43 am, Cecelia Shaw said:

      Thank you for your thoughtful response Ron! I hope to connect and collaborate with you in the future!


  2. May 03, 2020 at 4:08 am, Jon said:

    I really enjoyed working with Cecelia when she came to Perth, Western Australia. Very creative and her style of modeling complimented my style of shooting.


    • May 04, 2020 at 11:41 am, Cecelia Shaw said:

      Thanks for the kind words, Jon! I hope you’re well. We have to shoot again when you come back to the states!


  3. May 02, 2020 at 5:08 pm, james dickens said:

    thanks so much for using what i think might be your actual name. i will never work with a “model” who represents themselves with a fake name.


    • May 04, 2020 at 11:40 am, Cecelia Shaw said:

      Hi there!

      I’m sorry to hear that you have decided to put a limitation on who you’ll work with depending on whether or not they use a fake name. I encourage you to step outside yourself and rethink that decision that I believe comes from a privileged place. Models often use an alias out of concern for safety. As a man, you probably don’t have to think about that very much. Cecelia Shaw actually isn’t my real name. It’s derived from the character Sissy Hankshaw from the book by Tom Robbins called “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”. In the book, Sissy is born with large thumbs and has to hitchhike or her thumbs become sore. She has romantic relationships with many different men and sometimes women but no one can seem to pin her down. I picked that name because, as an independent and eccentric traveler who doesnt obey the rules, this character resonated with me. Tom Robbins’ books often center around strong female characters. I’ve chosen to use an alias because I’m about to step into a profession that might have me working with children and other sensitive populations within the mental health field, namely women abuse survivors. I don’t want my nude photos to proceed me on the internet or put the population I work with in danger. Additionally, if I ever wanted to be detached from my photos, I’d have to pay back all of the photographers I’ve worked with to take them down. Not to mention the creepy messages I recieve from men on a daily basis. I sense disdain and resentment towards women and their choices in your comment and I urge you to look at it from a different perspective. Push yourself to think a bit harder about the judgements you place on others 🙂


    • May 04, 2020 at 12:42 pm, Cecelia Shaw said:

      I meant to say that I don’t want my photos to *precede me on the internet. While I’m not ashamed of what I do, there is a stigma around having nude photos on the internet and I wouldn’t want someone to make up their mind about me before they have a chance to meet me or fully understand my motivations.


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