Featured Image – Copyright – Photographer – Matt Kubitza
How did you first get into modelling?
I first got into modelling 3 years ago, when I met a photographer through an outside group of people. He randomly sent me a message one day asking if I would like to fill in for a model who had cancelled last minute. He said that I had the perfect resting bitch face for the shoot, lol. They were doing a shoot entitled “Despair Raising” awareness for teenage suicide. When I arrived, I met a couple of photographers. I was the only model with all these photographers around me, shooting different angles and poses. I guess I was hooked! Before leaving for the day, we were already booking my second shoot, and I still shoot with many of these same photographers today, and I am happy to say they have become more like family to me. They have been a vital part of my healing process, both mentally helping me regain confidence as well as physically after I had a stroke last year.
What is the hardest part of being a model, and what is the easiest?
The hardest part about being a model is confidence, especially after the stroke! I am very self-critical (as we all can be). It is especially hard being a model with disabilities. But besides that, I believe each shoot comes with its own set of challenges, whether it’s facing your own personal fears, braving weather-related issues or stepping in front of a new photographer without clothing! You just have to take a deep breath and say GO! I have often stood at the edge of a cliff braving my fear of heights, laid in freezing cold water, braving my fear of water and cold lol or walked onto a set and dropped my robe in front of a new photographer. In the end, the shot is always worth it because I can say I did it!
The easiest part has been becoming part of the community here in Calgary! This community welcomed me in with open arms when I was losing everyone else in my life; this community was there for me and became my friends, and showed me what true friendship was. They were there to check on me when I had the stroke, they helped me when I needed it, pulled me out when I was sinking into depression, got me out made me walk and exercise. I have watched as they lost one of their own and saw them come together to raise money for the family and charity. They work together, they help protect each other, and they build one another up. So by far, becoming part of a community of people that care is the easiest part of my journey as a model.
Since having a stroke, has it affected your modelling at all? Have you had to change anything?
While in the hospital, I felt sad and afraid that no one would want to work with me again as a model. I had lost complete use of my left arm and had weakness in my left leg still. The photographers never let me give up though they called to check on me in the hospital and let me know I was not alone. Honestly, I think I have done more since the stroke than before I have had to change how I do things; some, I can’t hold a pose as long and my balance is still off But every photographer I have worked with has been extremely accommodating; allowing me extra breaks if necessary and constantly asks if I am ok or if it is too hard, while still pushing me to be as strong as I am able to be.
What is the longest shoot you have been on? What was it for?
Most shoots take approximately 3 hours on average. however, It depends on if it is a collaboration with upwards of 20 people attending, or sometimes a photographer and myself will just set out for a day and drive and stop and random locations that look good. We will go until we get hungry, then stop for dinner and head back. if memory serves me, though, I think the longest shoot I have done solo is my second shoot It was a collab with other models shooting a different theme in an old burnt-out hotel. I was there, however, to shoot a story depicting emotional abuse. It was a very empowering shoot allowing me to express how it felt while having been in a highly emotionally abusive marriage.
I see you have a shot in a wide range of locations; what has been the best location for you and why?
I have shot in a wide range of locations, from in-studio to random outdoor shoots. Each comes with its set of challenges; as I have stated earlier, my preference is given to on-location places. Although you have to deal with mother nature, natural sunlight, and the occasional on-lookers, I find it exciting to work out the challenges and to see the expression on people’s faces as they see me in a wild costume [posing in a strange place like a cemetery or back alley or to manage to get the perfect nude shot without being seen by the general public milling about.
Have you ever thought about swapping roles and becoming a photographer?
Yes, I have thought about trying my hand at trading places with photographers, and I have even tried once or twice. I think it is helpful to know what the photographer sees from the other side of the lens. Sadly this does not seem to be my forte. What I truly love is being part of the creative. I am often a big part of picking the set, costumes, and accessories and doing my own make-up and planning with my photographers. I do best when I have a deeper understanding of the exact look we are trying to achieve.
Given the opportunity to model for your perfect shoot without any restrictions. Can you please describe it?
Does the perfect shoot really exist? This is the first thought that comes to mind when asked this question. I have had many opportunities to do amazing shoots with even more amazing photographers each has presented me with outstanding results! I’ve been lucky enough to have photographers that embrace my weirdness and give me full creative reign of my own costume and make-up, and we just go with it and have fun. These many opportunities have gotten me published multiple times in magazines around the world and even landed a cover once
If you could wish for three things to come true, what would they be and why?
3 things I wish for, hmmmmm… Sadly, I would have to say this is complicated for me to explain. I consider myself firstly a fantasy model and then a fine art nude model. So, I guess I wish when I am doing the fine art nudes that, people would open themselves up more to see the actual art of what is portrayed. Nudity does not necessarily equate to sexy or sexuality. So often, when showing my photos, especially men look at it as an opportunity to see boobs or a bum. I am so much more than that, and a lot of work goes into these shoots to create what they see. To follow up with this, my children and family are, for lack of better words, ashamed of the work I do, either fantasy or nudes. I just want to say what I do is art and not porn or disgusting. I am extremely proud of my body and my art. I am proud that as a single mom of 6 children and 1 stepdaughter, and 5 grandchildren and after a stroke, mental illness and drug addictions, I am alive and healthy enough and have the body that I do to be able to create such art.
Secondly, I wish to heal faster so I can continue to grow as a better model and hopefully empower others with disabilities to follow their dreams. Nothing is impossible! except maybe winning the lottery, lol
Lastly, I wish to become independent again. I want to be able to get to a point where I am financially stable enough to have my own home again and reconcile with my kids to be with the love of my life and be happy.
If one of your friends came to you and wanted to be a model, what three pieces of advice would you give them?
I have had the opportunity to bring friends on set with me, which has been amazing. I do this to connect with people in my world and help others boost their self-confidence. I tell them firstly, RELAX! Be yourself, get to know everyone and get comfortable. Next, I tell them to HAVE FUN! be silly make jokes make faces, and just be you. Some of the best shots I have gotten are candid shots of me being silly and randomly captured. Lastly, I say don’t worry, you can’t do it wrong; there are no mistakes, just listen to your photographer.
Do you have any goals that you want to achieve in the next 2 years?
Right now, I take one hour at a time, one day at a time. It is hard to know how I will feel one day to the next and deal with stroke fatigue. So my goals are to live today because today is my best day ever! I plan to continue working on myself mentally and physically and hopefully grow as a model. With the goal of one day being able to make a difference in someone else life as so many have done for me! The rest will come 🙂