If you rewind to the days of MySpace, that’s really where I found I liked modeling. I would get dressed up with my friends and wander around our neighborhoods and playgrounds to take photos, and even create makeshift studios from the white walls in our bedrooms. I took several photography classes in high school where I learned the basics of developing film and photoshopping digital art. It’s always been there as a hobby of mine, but once I started working and going to college, I totally forgot about it.
Fast forward to my first semester at Berkeley, a schoolmate, Dusty Knapp, messaged me on Instagram to ask to take photos of me, and everything snowballed from there. I noticed how much I loved planning for shoots– picking out wardrobe, finding concepts, and figuring out the execution. I would practice my facial expressions and poses in the mirror and watch videos of people posing. The first time I planned my own concept, a body paint shoot, I remember laying in the grass with the photographer pouring green blue and yellow paint all over me and then running around the beach feeling like a mermaid that had just grown legs. That’s what made me fall in love with modeling; the freedom and liberation of getting weird and dirty and funky for no other reason but to create something beautiful.
Concepts for shooting can come from anywhere from a song I hear to a dream I have. I am certainly inspired by fellow creators and will use their photos as reference as well. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a shadow I see on the sidewalk or the color of my shoes. Although I do share mood boards with photographers, not all of my concepts have explicit planning. Some of the best shoots I’ve done we only have a prop (like honey, or a stick, or a flower) or a location to play around with and we all learn as we go. I think my favorite concepts, though, are the ones that are centered around going on adventures. Skinny dipping in the ocean at sunrise, sneaking to the rooftops of buildings, chasing the fog at Point Reyes, climbing trees and skipping through meadows at sunset. For me, it’s more about exploring both my emotions and the world around me and articulating that to a single frozen moment.
Moving forward, I hope to empower people to step out of their comfort zones and break the barriers of social and personal expectations. There used to be so many reasons I hated my body. My boobs are small, I hated how my face was shaped from the side, my crooked teeth, my cellulite, my stomach not being as flat as I’d like. But, modeling has made me face all of these things– in intense detail. I’ll never forget the day a photographer commented on how much he loved my face from the side. Or when another commented how the rolls on my stomach made the picture more beautiful. I still have insecurities like these, but instead of bashing on myself for them I try to look at them as something that makes my photos appear more raw, as something real. I want to show people it’s okay to try weird things and learn to embrace the parts of you that are embarrassing or a little strange. If I’ve learned anything in this it’s that we’re all super strange, but when you give that part of you power instead of hiding it, you might just find it’s actually totally spectacular.
View Elizabeth’s Hub profile.