Hi Karen, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...when and how did you come about getting into the world of modelling?
'I began modelling from an early age - seriously. I should explain that you cannot really survive in my family without having a unique job. I come from quite a creative background. Most of the male members of my family work in Rugby League, where as the females... well my mother was a country singer and my sister is a magician (yes) so it made sense that I eventually had to follow suit and choose a slightly less than average job to your 9 to 5 lark!
I decided to "revisit" modelling after a spell running a larger ladies clothing store in the Trafford Centre, as well as a pub and several go's at living life in the magaluf club scene and a failed relationship with an ex Scottish first division footballer - I eventually thought I had to lead a fairly normal life and just go for it! So I came home and joined these modelling network sites...and Ive never looked back. Ive always been lucky and not so much encouraged, but its always been a thing in our family that you may as well have a go at doing something you love.'
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 is where the interview answers will no doubt become slightly different to the usual that you read about. You see I like to be different, and in all honesty I cant claim to have a certain style that I like to shoot. Nor do I draw inspiration from anywhere.
I would say that the genre of nude is my preferred style as I love the way you can create something beautiful using just your body. However I am totally happy shooting anything. It amazes me how I can go into a shoot with ideas in my mind and come out with images that are totally different, but have worked better. This used to happen quite a lot but now Ive learnt not to think about ideas too much.
I am also quite free with my movements and I am fairly relaxed about creating images where my lower regions are on show. That's not to say that I am happy shooting high levels, I have my set levels. I also have written on my profile that I am happy creating images where I am on show, as long as the image has merit. This is probably where most people would get confused when describing the style of a certain image and the debate of is it adult or isn't it starts...for me its more a matter of does the image look good?'
|Photographer - Graham Martin|
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?
'For me, I cannot think of a challenging issue that I have to face as a model. I honestly cant. I pride myself on being able to work with anyone whether they are newbies and face confidence issues, or whether they are professional full timers with abundance of ideas. I have heard of some models needing time on a shoot before working to nude, even this is something I haven't experienced. Even on a group shoot with 20 photographers staring at me didn't faze me. Modelling to me is the easiest job I have ever had to do and that's a fact. The only challenging aspect arises from the part leading up to a shoot. We have all heard about models going quiet and failing to make contact with the photographer - well let me tell you it isn't just a one way street. I have lost count of the amount of photographers who have disappeared the day before a planned shoot. But this doesn't bother me too much - it should but I'm lucky, I'm married and my husband works full time so Im not really dependant on the wage of that particular shoot. Of course I will moan about this - so anyone who has just read that and thinks im an easy touch let me tell you, I have a amazing memory. I will never forget.
The only other slightly annoying thing is when you know you're perfect for a shoot that a particular photographer is casting for, so you apply only to hear nothing. Ok this happens regularly and that isn't the issue here, it's then the fact that that same photographer has liked most of your images, added you to a list explaining that he would like to work with you, but then openly moans that not one model has applied to his casting. Yes those photographers really get my goat - Yes they are out there. But its part of the learning curve of the modelling world.'
|Photographer - Graham Martin|
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 previously mentioned, I don't really draw on anyone in particular for inspiration. Its probably wrong of me to say that, and I do admire many people's work, but I cannot say I have ever been really enthused with the need to create something in that style. I like experimenting. I like thinking outside of the box when on a shoot, however I don't intentionally arrive on a shoot with the need to create a particular style. There have been occasions when I have liked several images and have wanted to recreate them myself, always with a slightly different spin to it. Its true I am a complete blank canvas.
Another difficult part to modelling for me, which I could have mentioned in the above question but again its not a major issue, is when a photographer when planning a shoot will ask me whether I have any ideas I want to shoot. That's a little difficult for me as I don't usually get ideas until Ive seen and set the scene. I cant plan ahead I just have to do it! I enjoy participating in day shoots at mansions and abandoned places, most recently Standon Hall and Newsham Park. I was lucky enough to be joined by a photographer who thinks like me. The way we played it was that we went with no ideas whatsoever. Once there we had a 30 minute walk around and collected the ideas that way. You then get creative with whatever resources you have brought with you and it works for us. I find that planning in advance - naming what items you are going to bring and preparing a mood board just builds expectations and time. You are either frustrated that you haven't captured the idea you had the way you wanted to, or you've spent 3 hours getting 1 shot perfect where I have just created 30 equally as good images in that time. But that's just me.'
|Photographer - Dave.S|
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?
'Modelling wise, the image that stands out to me in my portfolio is the one I use as a cover on purpleport. The flour throwing shoot. It gets commented on quite a lot. I know now that flour shoots have been ever as so popular and are forever popping up, because its a great idea and creation no matter how you shoot it, but this one will always remind me that it was February and felt like -2 (which is probably was) and we created it outside in pitch darkness. I also have some images that are not necessarily the best shot in some people's eyes, however I keep them on my portfolio to remind me of what a great shoot and day it was. In fact I tend to only use images that I truly love on my portfolio. I don't upload great masses of images at once. I tend just to upload one at a time - just to always keep my portfolio fresh and updated.'
|Studio - Hampson St Studio|
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?
'I have had a lot of strange scenarios on shoots - I will write a best selling book one day! From photographers dying on me (not literally on me) but the day after our shoot to a photographer falling off a cliff during a photoshoot - honestly! He made a complete recovery too!
A personal funny one that we all laugh about happened to take place after a Friday 13th Horror themed shoot. I was in costume, complete with fake blood, plastic knives you name it... I declined a shower at the studio after the shoot had finished as I lived only 15 minutes away. But the worst happened... yep I broke down on the way home and had to ring the RAC out. The RAC man's face was a picture especially when he opened the boot to find my spare wheel and the knives still covered in blood fell out.
In the beginning when I carried a portfolio around with me, I once caught the gas man who had come to fix the boiler having a good nosey through my album. Lesson learnt was not to leave it on the kitchen table near to where he was working, and not to leave it open on the page showing my nude work. That was a red faced moment.'
|Photographer - Graham Martin|
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? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?
'As this year seems to be flying by already Im glad I haven't really had any set plans that I have aimed to complete as I wouldn't have done them. Its not that I don't have any ambitions, I just don't have many expectations. I like to plod along and that way I get a steady stream of income and I enjoy doing what im doing constantly. It would be great to tour more, however responsibilities at home prevent that but that's nothing to dwell on.
I do have many things outside of modelling in my spare time (when I get some). I like to keep busy else I lapse into a weird mood. I am a rugby writer which is actually a job however it takes less than half a day to do. Plus my commercial tv work keeps me busy. Someone once said my CV is bigger than the bible! Talking of bibles I am also a Sunday School Teacher - yep seriously. Glamour model and church leader really go hand in hand! But as for ambitions and moving forward within a creative journey... I haven't really got one. I already love being creative and doing what I am doing so long may it continue.'
|Photographer - Martin Fryatt|
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?
'The gear I cannot live without...well that would be telling. I have a strange makeup item that got given to me years ago and its amazing and its my secret to apparently looking a hell of a lot younger that what I really am. So I cant tell you else I would have to kill you. Although im not really sure what it is anymore as the label fell off years ago. so once it runs out (and its getting pretty close) then I may just sag and bag.'
|Studio - Zan Studio|
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?
'You'd be pleased to note I'm not too much of a shameless plugger! I can be found on http://www.purpleport.com/portfolio/karenr every other modelling network site, Facebook, Flickr - KarenR and even Twitter although I am not a model who has lots of followers or tweets all the time. Same for publication work, I am not one for being plastered everywhere - I just like to keep busy. But hopefully you will like the images I create as that's what its all about. If I create a fabulous image with a great photographer then I love to show it off. Apart from that then im quite a private person.
I also have several youtube videos knocking around http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI2CWS9HJfE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bVxTlrr09I - shameless plug over... so much for not showing off.'
I'd like to thank Karen again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of her work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.