Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Melissa Tongue

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 Oxfordshire based photographic model, Melissa Tongue.

Photographer - Tony Ornstien

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning...when and how did you come about getting into the world of modelling?

'Well it was a bit of a surprise for me, I didn't really know I was going to model until I was in a car on my way to a casting! My mum had modelled for a few beauty companies when she was younger and knew I was always interested in seeing her old photos. I was 14 at the time when she saw an advert in our local news paper casting for a teenager for a uni project and exhibition. So with me fitting the requirements, My mum booked me in and whisked me off to meet this lady. Of course only telling me moments before I meet the photographer what was going on.

I got the job and worked with Pamela for 2 years on her project. The project was about teenage emotions and life. It was a fun project to work on and made me realise modelling was my life.

Unfortunately to go from there to where I am now I had to  spend some money. I got caught in one of those "free makeover and photoshoot" offers and ended up spending over 2 grand on a portfolio! Luckily for me that set me off online with a port and I built up from there.'

Photographer - Jake41

From what I've heard of those scams, you were lucky to get usable images. With the benefit of hindsight, was there any warning signs that any newer models reading this could look out for?

'I hear a lot of these companies use the terms such as "free photoshoot" or "free makeover and shoot". I think the best thing is to stay clear! But if you really want to go ahead then I think the only way to check out what you are actually getting for free is to ask. I was 16 so I wasn't even thinking about asking how I get the photos. The bit where they get you is when you view the photos and then a sales women offers you "discounted" prices for the photos if you buy that day. Of course the photos are nice and you want to buy them otherwise you come away with nothing. So you end up purchasing photos for stupid amounts of money.'

Photographer - Orson Carter

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?

'I kinda have a mixed style, I think nude is always seen differently to people. The first time I said to my mum I was going to do some nude modelling she asked 21 questions but as I explained to her it's more artistic and focusing on the body shapes and how the light falls on me. Luckily for me my direct family see this too and are fine. I know since I started nude work at 19 I have gone through more glamour and erotic nude and have seen there is such a fine line between those and adult. I always say as long as I feel comfortable at what I do then it doesn't matter if someone views my style differently to how I view it. I think I'd say I'm a fashion model who's gone a bit rebellious. I have the fashion figure but I can make great shapes too!'

Photographer - John Peri

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?

'I had no self confidence when I started. Due to bullying about my looks and how skinny I am I felt like my body was wrong. Taking a plunge into nude modelling was a challenge but luckily my first nude shoot was with a photographer I am now great friends with. He said to me to think about all my hangups and ask myself what's the worst these hangups can do to me. Of course it's all in the mind so nothing was the answer. We took a few photos and agreed if I was still unsure we would delete the photos and I wouldn't have to ever do nude again....but I loved them! I hadn't seen my body like this before with all the shapes. So my confidence just went up and up from that moment.

Portraits are hard to do though. I think because I was born with an offset jaw, portraits are always harder as I have to move my mouth across and of course trying to look relaxed when it's not a natural position is very hard to do. Oh and smiling! Models never smile'

Photographer - Sensual Art,  Other Model - Melissa's Partner

Since taking up modelling, have any of your bullies shown up with vastly altered opinions? Plus/or do you find yourself having the urge to post pictures, tag them, and point out you get paid for it? I would, but that may say more about me!

'I have had a few of the male bullies tell me how hot I look now but I try to just ignore them. I don't want to know people like that. I do have a few on my social media and I don't hold back with posting.'

Photographer - Silverlight

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?

'I have always looked up to my Mum, She was amazing at modelling and so pretty. I also look up to the top models on these sites, You always learn from each other and I admire all of the models here as it's not an easy job at all. I don't really have famous people I use to look up to as I find I can relate more to us mortals'

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?

'I think all images I have created have some meaning to me as it's a story of my journey through modelling. It's hard to pick individual ones as they all have something about them. The first image I ever shot, my first photo abroad, my first photo modelling alongside my partner. Too hard to choose!'

Photographer - Sensual Art

Let's make it easier for you, does your partner have a favourite image of you?

'Ha easier for me but hard for him. We have spoken about this today over lunch and I have to say he was struggling too! There's just sooo many. So he came up with a photo from a photoshoot I did with a good friend of ours Rick Martin (Sensual Art on Purpleport), PJ (my partner) was the location scout and reflector holder (hence his fav photo lol). PJ took us to a bluebell woods and I have to say it was the most bluebells we have all seen in our lives! Rick was very happy to the point PJ received a big sloppy kiss and a hug from Rick'

Photographer - Sensual Art

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 think the funniest and most embarrassing time was actually at a life modelling session. I had been called in last min to my local life modelling class due to having a model pull out. I went in as usual, said hi then headed off to the loo's to get into my robe. It was a pretty busy night and when I got back into the room I noticed it was time to start. So I took my spot on a chair what was set up, thought yes sitting pose to start, perfect! So I dropped my robe and all I saw was blushing people all over the room and the lady who runs it starring at me in horror! I was there for a portrait class not a nude life class! I found the funny side and laughed it off. I now always check what class I am at before I get undressed.'

They invited you back then?

'Yes thank god! We now make it a joke at the beginning of every class'

Photographer - Penny Hardie

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?

'I actually wanted to retire in August last year. It was a decision I made after having a run of cancellations and looking at getting a mortgage. It was a hard decision as I have been doing this 12 years but stability is everything at my age. But since then I have had a flood of shoots come in so I am back to shooting when I can. Evening after work, Weekends and even a tour I have booked in with my annual holiday leave!

So here I am still going...Just need to remind myself not to over do it!'

Photographer - Starglider Photography

When I speak to photographers I ask about their gear, it's only fair you get to geek out you have any go to items you can't live without?

'Oooo tough one! I think my top three things are - My car! Travelling for shoots is a must and getting to those remote locations, Orson Carter cough cough it's a must. Chocolate! I'm not a tea or coffee drinker so I need something to get me going in the mornings. Phone! My diary, address book, internet of knowledge and of course camera to catch those amazing locations I travel to.'

Mr Carter has you going here, there, and everywhere?

'Orson Carter lives in Narnia and it's the only way to travel to him! You will find this awesome photographer in the heart of Somerset but public transport is a pain!'

Photographer - Simon Morton

Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?

'Purpleport -
Modelmayhem -
Instagram -  @meltonguemodel
Twitter - @meltonguemodel
Facebook page -'

Photographer - Mike Stone

Actually, just one more thing...and quite possibly the most important question of the whole interview, as you mentioned it in your must haves, what's your chocolate of choice?

'Another tough question!

Galaxy, Fruit and nut bar, creme eggs, although at this stage of post Easter not so much! Big fan of a Twix as I can say well it's not chocolate it's a biscuit so even though I've eaten 3 chocolate bars already, I'm allowed this as technically in my eyes it's a biscuit.'

I'd like to thank Melissa 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.


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