Exposing the tears and tantrums of modelling
Last Wednesday 1.2 million peopled tuned into Channel 4’s latest fly on the wall series The Model Agency. It featured the tears and tantrums of bookers at London’s Premier Model Management. It flashed images of catwalk shows from London to New York. And it portrayed a world unrecognisable to people working in the modelling industry here in Suffolk.
Although many girls across the country are chasing this dream, their role models are more Katie Price than Kate Moss, photographer Peter Dive said. The owner of the state of art Suffolk Photo Studio in Sudbury has with dozens of accomplished posers and wannabes on shoots and portfolios.
These models are not aiming for the cover of Vogue or the next Chanel campaign. “girls come in and the first thing they do is get their kit off in pictures”
“i’ve told them its not always the best way to start their career, but their ambition is to be published in magazines and to be in Nuts, Zoo and FHM is the quickest way.”
Unlike the much publicised world of high fashion, these models earn a crust through promotional campaigns and glamour work. They are not represented by agents and attend casting calls competing with hundreds of girls desperate to make their mark in “lads mags” or posting at shows.
Working independently can often make them targets for exploitation. At Suffolk Photo Studio there is always another female member of staff if a model is doing glamour shots.
But Peter said many girls work with him after having bad experiences with other photographers promising them Jordan sized stardom.
“i’ve had girls younger than 16 tell me they’ve been asked to pose topless” he said “ and models who have done glamour shots and then seen them posted by the photographers on facebook”
Bury Model Rebecca Howes learned about the seedy side of the industry the hard way when she was 18 years old.
The glamour model said “ i went to an open audition and people there took lots of pictures and told me i could go really far. I paid them more than £100 and never heard from them again”
Following this, Rebecca attended the Kerri Parker Model Academy in Norwich and got through to the final of model of the year 2008.
The 27 year old has since modelled for magazines such as nuts, carpology, golf plus and VW performance and is regularly featured on the babe station.
As the nature of the industry in Suffolk is different to that in London. Casting agents have different requirements to those of the bookers on channel 4’s programme.
Aspiring models in the first episode of The Model Agency were unsuccessful because they were too short or “big boned”
But Peter said height is not such an issue when modelling in the county. When he is helping a client cast a model to show off a product, he said he tends to use “small, pretty girls”
He added “they are in proportion and take good pictures.”
However, this does not mean the models are above scrutiny, as Rebecca can testify. The 27year old had her breasts enlarged to a 34c two weeks ago at a clinic in Cambridge after being told repeatedly by casting directors her natural size 34a was too small.
She said “ The lades’ mags don’t want small breasted girls. I’m hoping this could lead to bigger things and more work”
Rebecca also admitted she has been told she “shouldn’t eat so much” she has had several injections in her lips to make them plumper and has acrylic nails applied every two weeks. In addition, her £500 hair extensions are regularly renewed.
Unlike Rebecca, new model Shanna is just starting out. The 19 year old has been working on her portfolio with Peter for the past couple of month and doesn’t intend to do glamour shots because she “not that confident”
The Sudbury native said “My first couple of castings were quite scary, but people were nice to me and i wasn’t uncomfortable.”
She added: “my dream is to be on the front cover of a big magazine or have my face on a billboard”
Both Rebecca and Shanna have strong ambitions and with a photographer like Peter willing to work with them, they may achieve them without too much compromise.
But one thing is certain – the modelling industry in Suffolk bears no resemblance to the glamour- filled jet setting version captured by channel 3 in the Model Agency. The Model Agency is on channel 3 at 10pm on Wednesdays.