The time I judged a model before meeting her

So my Catfish story got a lot of attention. A LOT. So I wanted to share a story from my early years where I judged a model on their headshot and I shouldn’t have.

My beautiful friend Sarah: I’m so so sorry for my judgement.

A modelling agency and I were in talks about testing with some of their new models. I had picked a model to work with and they asked me, rather desperately, if I’d shoot with another model of theirs Sarah. She hadn’t done anything really before. They sent me her headshot they had done for her and a few other photos and I was NOT impressed. But I had to say yes basically.

I was not excited. (Sorry sorry sorry).

So my first model turned up, she wasn’t great if I’m honest. She didn’t look like her headshot really and didn’t take direction very well at all. She thought a lot of herself and was insistent on pouting, over posing and everything in between. It was hard work!

This girl walked up the driveway and I thought she might be one of my cousins friends (I was at their house shooting), so I went out to see if she was okay. Nope this was Sarah. This beautiful, jaw-dropping redhead goddess was my other model.

I was absolutely floored.

She was nervous, shy, quiet whilst I became extremely excited.

I couldn’t believe this was the same girl. I still can’t believe how badly she had been photographed before, she wasn’t hard to make look good either. Her ‘headshots’ and ‘portfolio’ photographs made her look like a dirty blonde ‘chavvy’ girl, sinewy and bad poses. But here she was, in her indie, nod-to-punk clothing, bright auburn hair, milky skin with a smattering of freckles.

Anyone who knows me as a photographer, knows, I love my redheads.

She hadn’t had much experience but she took direction so well, was polite and enthusiastic once the nerves passed.

The shoot went fantastically and I’ve ended up photographing Sarah on and off for nearly 8 years now. She took a back step with modelling, the agency never really got her much work (not surprising with those headshots) and she ended up just really modelling for me in the end. Through her own choice not because she didn’t have other opportunities, we had just created a good friendship through the whole process.

We ended up actually speaking about the agency and her headshots after the shoot had finished, she agreed rather strongly about her portfolio images and how they didn’t look like her at all. She wasn’t surprised she wasn’t getting work either. Hence why she took a back step with the agency in the end.

It made me re-think and re-evaluate how I see people’s headshots from then on. I no longer judge people on their headshots alone. I often ask for a selfie, check our their instagram (especially stories if they are in motion) and such because the experience I had with Sarah made me realise I shouldn’t trust a bad headshot. But my Catfish story more recently has definitely taught me that I should ask for a quick selfie too!

Sarah’s been on a few book covers too of course! She’s stunning and I’m so glad we ended up working together that fateful day as she is still someone I consider a friend.