While I was at work today, one of my coworkers came over to me to show me the latest images from her photo shoots. With the biggest smiles on her face, she scrolled through on her phone of the different looks and outfits that she styled for herself. And she looked really pretty, her hair was flowing, her makeup was cute, she looked like an Urban Model. In fact that’s exactly how she describes herself—an up and coming model. She talked about the photographer, and she critiqued her shots. It brought me back to when I began shooting….
I will admit, that when I started out in front of the camera, I wanted to be as sexy as possible. The shorter or tighter the outfit the better. I would have the sexiest look on my face, hair tussled, with that come hither glare in my eyes. Because I thought that was how a model was supposed to look. So my first few sets of photo’s that’s exactly what I was: Sexy. But then I took a break. I stopped shooting for about a year because I had to regroup. I realized that I was trying to be sexy because that was what I thought was expected when you do photoshoots. And I didn’t always feel comfortable with sexy. I remember thinking in the back of my head “I can never let my parents see this….what is my grandmother going to think?” There was maybe three shots that I really liked. But only one that I was really proud of. It wasn’t until I did a shoot for my 31st birthday that I really truly fell in love with doing photoshoots. That day, I did it for fun.
I remember I has on my favorite red birthday dress, and my hair was perfectly curly. I’d always gotten compliments on that dress and I felt good in it. I felt pretty, and confident. My makeup was flawless, my shoes were on point, and I had a cake with the number 31 on top. I told my photographer, James Williams, that I wanted to do a shoot with the cake so that I could post it up as my profile picture on my birthday. We did a few shots with the cake and we decided to do a couple shots outside. I remember while I was shooting on the street, a few guys walked by and complimented me, calling me America’s Next Top Model. A car even drove by, and the driver shouted “You look beautiful!” That’s when James, got one of my favorite shots of all time. You could see it in my face, I was having totally in the moment, in my element and the result was amazing. He sent them to me on my actual birthday, and I have never looked at myself in a picture quite the same. I looked amazing because I FELT amazing. It takes a true photographer to see that in the model and capture that, thank god for James, because that day totally changed the way I do shoots. That feeling came through in that image and he caught that moment. I’d saw what the “Confident Reesie” looked like. Ever since then, I decided, if I can’t feel good in it, and have fun doing it, I’m not going to shoot it. The images from my shoots have never looked better since that shoot. But that’s the decision I have made for myself.
One reason that I don’t really like to tell guys that I do photoshoots is because they always expect the photos to be naked shots or bikini shots. Why? Well, when you think Urban Model you think of things like King Magazine, XXL, Hype magazine etc. where the centerfolds are some of the sexiest woman you will ever lay eyes on. With hair down their backs and curves that are so dangerous they need yellow tape around them, men are lined up around the block the first day those magazines are on the stands. Bikini’s, lingerie, or completely nude, these women are what definition of a Man’s Fantasy. And they look great. I really admire women who can be that sexy with seemingly no effort. But that’s just not me. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do those photos, I think it is the attention that comes with it that I do NOT want. The comments under the photos on social media can be crazy. Now, while some people might love the “WooHoo’s” and the “Damn you sexy” or my personal favorite “You got talent girl, look at that body, DAYUM,” (Like having a nice body is a certified talent or something) I would rather hear things like “That’s an amazing shot,” “I love that concept” or “Wow…that’s beautiful.”
I can say that there is one particular gentleman that had a major effect on this decision. Prior to seeing this shoot, he saw me with respect. Never crossed the line with the comments, compliments were genuine and sincere. I did a shoot in a cat suit, which I absolutely love. To this day I feel like I truly nailed that shot. It showed that I can be versatile, I can be sexy, be a woman and be a little feisty and still have class while I do it. It was breathtaking and it is definitely, without a doubt one of my pride and joy’s. But after he saw that picture of me, it seems like everything he has said to me since then has been disrespectful and just…creepy. Now everything he says has a sexual undertone, comments are dirty and I nearly throw up every time I see him look in my direction. Now, needless to say, I’m very careful about who sees what photos or where they are posted. While that shoot is one of my absolute favorites, it will never be on FB where my family members can see because of that one man’s sudden change in attitude. It made me see how quickly a person’s opinion of you can change once they see you a certain why, and how you can almost never get them to change that perception back. In the end, I finally had to lie and tell him that I quit doing photoshoots altogether, along with defriending him on Facebook and getting a whole new URL for my online portfolio. It got weird. And although I know that not every guy will take it to that extreme and make you feel uncomfortable, it still made me think about what images I allow other people see of me.
While there are model’s and celebrities that get a bad rep for posing nude, I feel like if they feel confident when doing their shoots, more power to them! Sometimes it can be pretty amazing. The Boudoir Shoots that I have seen have been a true celebration of Women, and one that I might consider, for my personal collection. But I don’t think that should be the only thing you shoot. While you can be beautiful and sexy wearing a bra and garter belt, don’t let that be the ONLY identity you have. Don’t let that be the only talent you have. You want to be taken seriously when you step in the studio, and not just be seen as another chick who likes to get naked for the attention that Social Media brings. Anyone can be an Instagram Celebrity, but if you take your portfolio full of bikini and nude shots to a credible agency, that is exactly how they will see you. So while you’re doing those shoots, make sure you also do some shots fully clothed as well. Let that agent know they can put you on the cover of Playboy and King as well as the cover of Time, Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Don’t limit yourself and most of all, make SURE you have FUN!