photolink interview – rebecca pearson
Rebecca Pearson is a model and writer from London. Earlier in the week we caught up with her to find out how she combines the two roles and how she faces the differing challenges on and off set.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with your work, how do you split your time?
Hello! I split my time between modelling, writing for publications such as The Telegraph, blogging and, throughout winter, hugging a hot water bottle whilst watching Downton Abbey.
What challenges do you face in the industries you work in?
OK, so journalism is a really challenging one. I find it really exciting and get a real high when I get commissioned to write something, and even more of a high when I see it in print. I had a whole page in a Telegraph supplement a couple of weeks ago, with a little picture of me and everything! However, I have no formal journalistic training and no clear career path in front of me – which is exciting, but also quite scary and at times frustrating. It’s all happening organically, but I’d love a bit more control: I know where I want to be, but I’m not always sure of how to get there!
Blogging is a real joy – my blog, modeltypeface.com, offers advice for models with a hefty dose of humour. In fact, Photolink featured in my latest article, in which I describe doing a shoot with a male model with whom, it transpired, I had dated many moons ago! I’m proud of my blog – it’s my baby and I really believe in it. However the challenge here is that onus is all on me: I put in hours of time and oodles of enthusiasm but of course I don’t get any money (yet!) and I really do just have to have blind faith that I can succeed.
And modelling – where do I start?! I’ve done it for 14 years now (I know, I’m ancient) and models actually have a tough time – tougher than they’re given credit for. For every job we do, we will have been rejected for at least 10 others. We face a very high level of rejection and scrutiny, as well as no job security, pension, sick pay or maternity leave. Obviously there are great things about modelling, but those are the very real challenges that we face.
Oh – and when we have to do outdoor bikini shoots in winter. That’s a challenge, too. Brrr!
How do you prepare for a modelling shoot?
I take modelling really seriously – my task is to show up clean, fresh, energetic and wearing flesh coloured underwear, which, if you think about it, isn’t really the trickiest set of criteria for a job! But you’d be surprised at some models who show up hungover, moody, hairy, unwashed and wearing a pair of lime green lacy Brazilian knickers.
I’d say that a model’s lifestyle is a constant preparation for a shoot, as we might get a job on any day. I like Reformer Pilates, barre Pilates, yoga and jogging to keep in shape. I drink loads of water and eat a lot of avocados & coconut oil to keep my skin and hair in good condition.
The night before, I like to get to sleep early after a light dinner (no booze). Now it’s winter, which can really stress out my complexion, I rely on the Burt’s Bees Clary Sage range skincare to keep my skin calm and hydrated.
What advice do you have for aspiring models?
I’d say to be fearless and ambitious, which are two things that I don’t think I always was! Have a clear idea of what you want out of your career, and remind yourself of that daily.
If I’m honest, I’d say that when I was a teenager, I wasn’t terribly ambitious– I was just happy to get modelling work fairly regularly, and if not, I’d become an RSPCA inspector. I’m far more focused now. For example, I didn’t push my agencies to send me abroad to work, as I was a bit scared and have always been a homebody. I should have traveled more.
I also didn’t always stand up for myself, for example when certain agencies (not my lovely current one) didn’t pay money owing to me. That’s why I started modeltypeface – to empower models, who are often very young and in a very adult industry, by educating them.
What’s the atmosphere like when you are on a shoot? Do you play music? Talk to the photographer?
I don’t just talk to the photographer – I talk to everyone from the assistants to the receptionist. I’d say that the best part of the job (apart from the free food) is meeting new people every single day.
The atmosphere really depends on the client. I remember shoots in Paris were really dreary – they took themselves very seriously and did not get my British sense of humour, which led to some awkward moments.
Most teams will work very hard to keep the energy up on a shoot, as they know that’s how to get the best from models. Believe it or not, a lot of models are quite moody and moan all the time – “I’m cold,” “I’m hungry,” “Why aren’t we shooting yet?” “Why are we still shooting?” “My feet hurt.” So clients always play upbeat music, make sure us models are fed and watered and photographers always give us constant encouragement while we’re shooting. Then they have a happy model and good pictures.
You spend time writing and I know that you are interested in raising your website’s profile. What inspires you and how do you find unique things to talk about that other people might find interesting?
It’s definitely tricky to talk about modelling in a way that hasn’t been done before. There is a plethora of information for models out there…But, to be frank with you, I find a lot of it incredibly dry and/or patronizing. I wanted my blog to be ‘big-sisterly’ and funny because my industry can be sublime, ridiculous, and very often both! If I write an article that really resonates with people, I see my profile across social media platforms grow. So I’m always aiming for that.
Firstly, I get my ideas from the questions models ask me. We can (wrongly) be a bit scared to ask our bookers questions when we’re younger, because we don’t want to annoy them I get lots of private Facebook messages about money worries and career decisions.
I can also get ideas from hearing gossip on a shoot (and that’s never in short supply!) to what I’m doing in the moment. For example, on a shoot recently, I found myself doing a couple of stock model poses that make no sense to me. That led to me doing a whole series of them, like ‘dog pooh on my shoe’ to ‘p*ssin’ on the street’. I know Dom Brophy and Paul Fawley from Photolink enjoyed them!
You regularly attend shoots in our studios, what makes Photolink an enjoyable place to come and work?
I love coming to Photolink! E-commerce jobs can be quite dull and often boring, but never here. It’s like visiting my Manchester family now – I’m really getting to know the team and we always have a laugh. Even though we sometimes have a very high shot count, I enjoy spending time with everyone so it doesn’t feel like hard work. I think that great atmosphere comes through in the pictures.