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I fell into modelling for costume shoots entirely by accident. I recently finished a Master's degree in forensic psychology and was not quite ready to get back into hospital work straight after.
I had been acting for short films and music videos for 4 years prior, and once I found myself out of university I wanted to give acting a bit more time, since I had always prioritised my studies up until then. Instead of booking more short films I found myself being booked for commercial shoots for a time until I was asked to do a trial shoot for PhotoArt Society - a group of photographers based in the East Midlands in the UK. I had never considered modelling before but I soon discovered that this was something else - this was art, this was theatre, this was fashion. This was everything I loved about acting, only now in a different format.
John Knight, a founding member of the society and a wonderful photographer, owns an enormous collection of vintage dresses and costumes from the 1800s until present day and they seem to have become an inspiration for the society to create vintage- and fantasy-themed shoots and portraits.
Modelling quickly became a passion and a creative outlet for me and I enjoyed every bit of the process, including all the background research into the respective era or technique. I found a new sense of confidence and an artistic view of modelling and what I could convey with my face, my body, the setting I was in and the costumes I was wearing.
Through my years of acting and my newfound hobby of modelling, I've become skilled in:
*Acting for short films, music videos and commercial material
Our readers would love to get to know you more Polina. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
Something I've noticed when I walk onto a new set is that it's always a surprise when I mention that I model as a hobby first and a job second. Also, no one expects their model to be a forensic psychologist in training.
Polina, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Model?
I have two passions in life: forensic psychology and acting/modelling. I've learned that few things go exactly as planned and that life without a creative outlet is not for me. I want to take my two passions and find just how far I can take them. I'm making the most of any opportunities I get, building my skills and looking ahead.
Who is your inspiration in life Polina? How do you keep inspired?
I am inspired by people who are inspired. Inspiration, like kindness, can be contagious. I enjoy working with people who have a vision and I enjoy trying my best to fulfil that vision and find my place within it.
We all make mistakes Polina, we wish we could take back. Please tell us about a time being a Model , you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I have not made many mistakes so far, thankfully, but something I always find myself regretting is how I reacted to one situation out in the Peak District on an outdoor shoot in the UK. We were trying to set up despite the cold and the billowing wind, and John, one of the photographers who was participating (and also the owner of the costume collection I mentioned earlier), brought out a drone. He called it his "baby" and I laughed at him, thinking there was no way we would be able to use it in that wind. He seemed genuinely offended and I instantly regretted it. I respect John enormously and he's someone who never stops learning and trying to master new techniques, and he actually managed to get the drone flying and take some fantastic shots. I regret doubting him.
Polina ,when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Model, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
I try to look at the overall vision of a shoot and make sure I have my "character" posing or acting appropriately. I'm not in a stage in my work where I have to make choices about which shoot to take and which one not to take but I imagine that if I had to, I'd try to make the kind of choice that can be a medium between the kind of model I want to be and the kind of opportunity presenting itself.
Please tell us Polina, about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities as a Model?
I recently had a streak of days where I was about to have 4 very different shoots packed into a couple of days. I had to plan things I never thought I would have to plan, such as packing extra skincare since I was doing my own makeup and would need to take it off and redo it, plan how to style my hair in a way so that the remnants of the style for one shoot could be used for the next.
I even planned when I'd have tea that day so that I don't feel tired when the time came for the next shoot. Since the shoots were character shoots, I made sure to get into the vibe of the next shoot by revisiting the reference photos I was given and doing some extra reading around the concepts. It was more difficult than I was used to but I handled it and it felt very rewarding at the end, especially since at the end everyone walked away happy.
Polina, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Sometimes I hesitate to make suggestions since the model is rarely the one directing, but if it's a concept I know well I may feel confident enough to suggest a different angle, or bring more emotion into the image through my expression or my body language.
Recently at a shoot where it was supposed to be a free-flow series of photographs, I convinced the photographer to run with a theme of melancholy instead of random shots. I convinced him to create a character for me and think about what that character may be thinking and feeling, and that really helped to create real grittiness and realism in the images.
Polina please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Model. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share to everyone. What is it and why?
I haven't been a model for very long but my proudest moment so far was when I was told a photo from one of my first shoots with PhotoArt Society taken by Carol McNiven Young had won a competition and was selected among some 140 images.
The shoot was a learning curve with the technique of capturing motion blur and I felt so excited that something we had worked on and learned from together was appreciated and honoured in such a way.
Polina, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Costume shoots can be very specific but sometimes the details aren't all determined and I can get really creative with my hair or my pose and it's little things like this that can turn an image into a story.
The photo I mentioned that won a competition did not have a specific movement in mind for me to make, but because I knew it was motion blur, I wanted to emulate a ballet dancer. I trained in gymnastics when I was younger and I knew some jumps I thought would look good, so I practised them for a couple of days until I made it look effortless. When the cameras started, I did that. That led to a costume change from a flowy dress to a leotard and ballet skirt, and I like to think that the end result was more reminiscent of ballet thanks to that. It was a bit of a challenge to work on my flexibility and revisit moves I hadn't done in years but I had never stopped loving gymnastics, so the thought of combining that with my new modelling passion more than made up for that.
What advice would you give to the people who wants to be successful as a Model?
We all start with a lot of time-for-prints, so use that opportunity to get a taste for different kinds of modelling. Don't be too specific with your expectations of the kind of jobs you'll get, take it as an opportunity to learn and build up skills in more than one area. It comes in handy more often than you'd think. Also learn to do your makeup well. A lot of the time there may not be a makeup artist on set and poorly done makeup can make your work unusable. Don't rely on Photoshop - there's a trend to move away from that.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I'm a point where I'm open to everything. I would love to expand the work I do and try more conventional types of modelling but I'm grateful for any opportunity.
Now for the best part Polina! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
John Knight - http://photoartsociety.co.uk/contact;
Carol McNiven Young - firstname.lastname@example.org;
Nick Archer - @coalescentfilms