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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's About Sexy, Not Sex

If you want to have the respect of your models, give them the respect they deserve—and leave the rose at home



Its About Sexy, Not Sex“Are you gay?” The question came from an 18-year-old model wrapped in a partially see-through blouse. “No. Why do you ask?” I responded. She explained that in spite of my being very young, backstage at a fashion show and surrounded by stunning half-naked women, I was acting surprisingly professional. I was 19 and on the first fashion assignment of my career. In one of those fabulously honest moments that can only come from naivete, I told her straight up that I was nervous as hell about my exposures and I didn't stop to notice all the skin prancing around in front of me. She smiled, told me I was going to do fine and walked away.

The Rose

Fashion models have an effect on people as I've never seen before. Even if the girls are dressed down and looking a little dowdy, people seem to pick up on the fact that they're not like everyone else. Men will trip over their words and sometimes their own feet, other women will sneer and make a comment about the models' eating habits or intelligence—whatever the reaction, there is always a reaction.

And so it was with me when I was given my first opportunity to work with a real model. I was 19 years old. Her name was Jenny Mourning, and as I walked through the agency toward the booking room, my thoughts were completely lost in the details of the shoot. Then I saw her. She was so beautiful; it was bizarre—for a second I lost my balance. There's something profoundly different about seeing a model in a magazine and seeing one toe to toe. Somehow I managed to string together a few syllables that translated into a time and place for the shoot. The following day, I brought my camera and a rose.

“Oh, puh-lease.” Michael, the powerful agent who gave me my break and was steering my career had his face in his hands. “A rose?” He looked up at me. “Of all the...” His face was back in his hands and he was sighing or laughing; I wasn't quite sure.

He went on to inform me of the disaster of getting a reputation as a photographer who's a photographer for the purpose of getting dates. “Look at them, shoot them, but please, please, don't try to date them or your career will be over before you actually learn how to take a decent picture.” He dramatically walked away and left me to think about what he had said.

Taking his words as gospel, I only fell in love three more times over the next few months. But to spare the fashion world from fabulous me and to avoid getting my ass kicked by Michael, I kept my amorous feelings to myself and just befriended everyone. And so it was—I had lots of really stunning friends.



 

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