Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Arabella, a talented model based in Derbyshire.
Hi Arabella, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. We should probably start at the beginning...when and how did you come about getting into the world of modelling?
"I can never quite remember exactly when it was I transitioned from Photographer to model but I think it was around 5-6 years ago. I was doing a Fine Art Photography degree at Derby University and needed a model for a project, I found a local model Fleur and began working with her. We became pretty good friends in the end and one day she just said, have you ever thought about modelling as well it would be easier for you as you know so much about photography. So I gave it a little bit of thought and jumped straight onto Model Mayhem which was ‘the thing’ back then… And in a couple of days of having a portfolio I was booked for a paid shoot and it went from there! It was a quick transition and I think I’ve been really lucky that things just fell into place with it becoming my full time job."
Most things, especially online, tend to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views something to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?
"This has always been a massive bug bare because art is so subjective in general, during my degree it was an ongoing struggle to prove that your work reflected a certain style or idea, and the problem was to the individual who was producing the work it did, but not always to the tutor so if they didn’t agree then you were wrong! Very frustrating…. I have no idea what style of work I produce!... I think that your style of work is unique because it’s you in the picture whether you are a model or a photographer. I shoot a lot of portraiture,… But I guess I would say I produce work that fits into an emotive niche, I’ve always had a very expressive face and that’s what I tend to get booked for. I like images that have a narrative, emotion or show some sort of movement. So I guess that!... Whatever that is! On the other hand I’ve been told that my niche is because I’m ‘plus size’ I hate that term completely! Yes I’m not the same shape, size as most models but why can my skill not just be noticed as a model. Also to me I have shape, I’ve had this conversation many times with Lucifera, who of course is a gorgeous model here on Purpleport and we don’t agree that plus size is a positive label, to me plus means something large, bulky etc… My shape is not that because I have shape! So I don’t like to say that my niche is ‘plus size’ but if people have to say it I prefer the term ‘hourglass’… Maybe that should be a new niche!?"
Photography, modelling and their related skills, as with most things, can have their share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of modelling particularly challenging?
"Oh god yes! I suffer with really bad self confidence in general anyway it doesn’t come across in shoots because that’s where I feel at home, I get into a zone and become a floaty dancer person!... But it does affect me when it comes to approaching photographers/creatives, there are so many amazing photographers I want to contact to work with but most of the time I would rather not because I assume they wouldn’t be interested in me when there are far better models around. It took me about a full year to contact an amazing photographer on Purpleport, who is now a good friend, but before that I thought I didn’t have a hope in hell! So yes I guess I’m always underestimating myself!"
In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?
"As a model and a photographer I have one massively inspirational photographer Tim Walker… I love his productions and creative concepts… His images are always so story driven and his use of props and environments add this real emotion and feel to the images…
I take a lot of inspiration from art in general; ballet, sculpture, colours, patterns…. And of course Purpleport has some pretty awesome stuff that gets you going, creatively speaking!"
Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?
"There are a couple of very sentimental images that I love…. One image I have up in my guest room/dressing room is of my Auntie in full ballet dress during a rehearsal, she was an amazingly skilled dancer and was offered placement at London Royal Ballet…Sadly she didn’t take up the place and now suffers from a condition that causes are spine to crumble. But I always look at this image and find it inspiring in so many ways…. From an art point of view I find ballet very inspiring, I took it up when I was younger and it taught me so much about the movement of my body and the way it can be positioned, which I think in turn has massively helped with my modelling.. But also in life I find my auntie very inspiring the way she lives her life to the fullest whilst still living with so much pain that even morphine injections aren’t working anymore…. It reminds me to grab life, live it to the fullest and do it in the most graceful way possible!"
Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in on a shoot?
"Thankfully I’ve never had anything scary happen on a shoot apart from having to stand on some pretty high things like roofs which did actually happen during a portfolio builder day, I’m afraid of heights, but nothing more than that!.... And funniest I do remember one that was a little embarrassing and tickled me… I used to live in a flat by the river and had floor to ceiling windows overlooking it and over the other side of the river were abandoned industry units, or so I thought… I was doing an art nude shoot which went well. Towards the end we noticed a couple of workmen over the other side, I thought they were dropping off rubbish, turns out they were working over there and had been for a fair while, it wasn’t empty and there were a lot of workmen who saw me, causing a couple of them to stand and wave at me the next day!"
We've talked about your start, we've talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year, more of the same? any special projects? And in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?
"Well I’m hoping I might pluck up some more courage and work with some of these amazing photographers I’m so scared to message!...
I am really getting into video work so would love to do some more creative work like that, I’ve done a few narrative films. Movement and gracefulness is a thing that I like and sometimes I can feel a tiny bit stilted by stills photography. (Anyone reading this that shoots video, probably no one, get in touch!)
And really I hope to just carry on improving and branching into different genres…. I personally don’t think you ever stop learning in art and as a person so I just want to continue to grow personally and professionally.
I do have a long term plan which doesn’t solely involve modelling, I’d like to own my own studio in one of our local mills and set it up as a base for offering national diplomas to the public in photography… But that’s a fair way off at the moment… fingers crossed!"
When I speak to photographers I ask about their gear, it's only fair you get to geek out too...do you have any go to items you can't live without?
"Oh god this sort of thing is really hard for me!... I don’t really have anything specific that relates to modelling… other than things like oh this make-up product etc!....
But in general I can’t live without my bose portable speaker and my beats headphones, music is such an uplift for me that I pretty much have it on every day! I’m so fussy with the balance of sound and bass notes so it took me forever researching brands… so I guess that’s where I get a little geeky…"
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?
"Mainly just Purpleport to be honest!... I’m in the process of rejigging my blog around, I guess I can still link to that right?
I'd like to thank Arabella again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all of the links for more of her work.
Other creatives involved in creating images, in order of appearance: Image 01 - Photographer: Latitude, Image 02 - Photographer: Simes Himself Post Processing: Thales Studio: Loft House Studio, Image 03 - Photographer: Imaginary Revolutionary, Image 04 - Photographer: Jon Downs, Image 05 - , Image 06: Photographer: Jon Downs.