This is one of the first images I shot and I come back to it every few months to reminisce. At the time I was fifteen (or sixteen?) and had started to enjoy photographing dolls as subjects. I had never photographed a person, but when I transferred into public high school I used taking pictures of fellow students as a gateway to meeting people and making friends. I began by primarily photographing one or two different girls as my muses regularly and sharing the images online for fun. A fashion photographer in New York came across my work and asked if I would like to miss school one day and go watch him shoot. My mother drove me into New York where I then watched the shoot from the corner for most of the day. One of the two models was a girl named Beata, who was with a top modeling agency in New York. She was curious about me since I was so young and didn’t seem to be interacting with anyone much. She helped me feel comfortable and then as I explained to her how I ended up at the shoot, I followed by showing her some of my photos on the studio’s computer. She was extremely impressed and said she would love to shoot with me one afternoon. I couldn’t believe it. A professional model wanted to shoot with me? When my mother came to pick me up, I introduced them and they exchanged information. I kept in touch with Beata and a few weeks later my mother brought me into New York again so we could shoot together. She dropped me off at Beata’s apartment, which I believe was in Soho, but honestly I don’t think I will ever remember. I was too excited on the drive there to pay any attention to the surrounding area. Beata introduced me to her roommate, a wonderful photographer named Thomas. He spent quite a bit of time explaining bits and bobs of what being a fashion photographer is like, what terms such as “testing” mean, and etc. He was kind enough to lend me his camera for the afternoon and show me how it worked. After showing me the ropes, I spent hours with Beata experimenting and taking as many pictures as I could.
Following the shoot, Beata introduced me to her modeling agency, which gave me another girl to do my first proper “test shoot” with. The model ended up expressing to me on set how unhappy she was to be shooting with a child, and from there went back to her agency expressing all sorts of made up scenarios that never happened at the shoot. The agent asked me to come into New York for a meeting. I had no idea what it was in regards to, so I put the images we shot on a CD and took the train into New York to meet with him. As a young kid with no references or clients whatsoever, I was scolded by the model agent and my side of the story was not listened to. They then threw the CD with the images in a trash bin in front of me. A week later, my images were in the model’s portfolio and on the agency’s website. The reason I was most disappointed was because Beata had put her name on the line to refer me to her agent for shooting their other models. I was so discouraged. I couldn’t help but feel like I had blown my only chance to become a photographer. A few months later, an intern from Ford Models found my work online and sent my website out to all of the modeling divisions at the agency. From there I began testing their freshest faces while one of my parents plus a modeling agent would be on set. I progressed with my work over time and went on to shooting every day and moving into New York to pursue this full time.
For the past year and a half Beata’s old agency has been e-mailing, calling, and leaving me voicemails regularly trying to get me to work with their models… and I continue to politely decline. The model who trashed me with made up stories is now an unrepresented model who no longer books any jobs and has decided to be an aspiring freelance rapper. Anyway, I constantly come back to this image to remember where I started. I was so inspired and grateful to photograph a professional model in New York. I will never forget the day an I owe so much thanks to you, Beata.