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A mix of conflicting emotions come over me whenever I think about my journey into the strange world of modeling.  On one hand, there's the adventure, the travel opportunities, the spectacular images, the admiration, the joy of success, and the chance to meet so many amazing artists...then there's the disappointments, the failures, the repetition, the detachment that sometimes occurs, the constant time away from home, the jerks/creeps, the sleep deprivation, the stress, and the nagging feelings of doubt always present in the back of my mind...the dark moments where I occasionally question my own sanity.

It gets harder and harder to top what I've already done, and to live up to my own expectations.  I tell myself I should be proud of what I've already accomplished, which is more than I could have ever hoped, especially considering my age and stats.  I *am* proud of how far I've come, but somehow it's never quite enough.  As long as I'm modeling, I can't help but try to surpass the work I've already done, and as it gets harder, the pressure seems suffocating at times.  I can't just enjoy it--I agonize over everything, I tear apart every image, I lie awake at night thinking of what I can do next, and I worry that I might be a disappointment to the next photographer I shoot with.  My life is completely unbalanced, and modeling has become an obsession....I really hate that I love it so much.

The truth is that I'm rather addicted to the adventure, and the uncertainty of it all--the emotional rollercoaster that is modeling.  The idea that I could end up climbing the staircase of an abandoned building, shivering in the freezing cold water of a beautiful lake, or dangling off the edge of a rocky cliff, and all for the sake of art.  The fact that I can be completely overwhelmed with happiness on one day, and then crying by myself in a hotel room far away from home on the next....I never know what the outcome of a shoot will be; but the unknown is what excites me, and causes me to simultaneously fear and crave the next experience.  

What if I've already peaked?  What if my best work is behind me?  How much longer can I possibly keep doing this? My modeling days are indeed numbered, and soon it may be time to return to a more normal life.....but not now....not quite yet.
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:iconkimjonet:
KimJonet Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
I completely agree.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  It's nice to know I'm not alone. :)
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Professional Artist
You're most welcome, I'm glad other models can relate.
BTW, you're lovely!  Continued luck with your modeling!  :)
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:iconskarndebrax:
Skarndebrax Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013
Ok, it's maybe strange, but, try to read (if you found the time ) this book -> The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom a Toltec Wisdom Book

It's a strange book, but after the first chapter, you can find, maybe, something for help you.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for the tip, I'll check it out. :)
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:iconglady8er2:
Glady8er2 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Professional Photographer
I suspect that you take yourself much too seriously. You don't seem to smile much or laugh.  You seem to be about ready to cry. You do not have passion, just a series of nonhuman poses, one after another. Until you walk past yourself and get over yourself, your body of work will always look like a pretty zombie on a rock. You are such a Sad Sack with one foot in the grave. If you could magically switch places with  a department store mannequin, no one would notice the difference. Not to hurt your feelings...just to point out the truth.  I couldn't photograph a model so self absorbed and so miserable. Try laughter.  Try smiling.  Good luck.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013  Professional Artist
Errr, I'm about one of the goofiest people you'll ever meet.  Anyone that actually *knows* me will tell you that.  I have to work very hard at actually being serious.   I'm critical of myself, that doesn't mean I'm a serious person, or not fun to work with.  I have tons of fun on almost all my shoots, and many of the photographers I've worked with are now close friends.  Perhaps you shouldn't make assumptions about people you don't know? 

FYI- even the happiest people on earth have moments of sadness.  I thought everyone was aware of that fact, but I guess not.  
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:iconhushphoto:
hushphoto Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013
as you feel about modeling is how I feel about photography... as I'm sure some others do...

My limitation is the environment I'm in in the sense that most around are simpleminded and conservative ...

Models & Photographers of our breed are a constant love & hate relationship to ourselves and those close to us... we expect so much and strive to do so much more at what ever expense necessary... Constantly justifying to oneself that it's a need that we strive to fulfill. 

From what I've seen of your posted images... you are way to hard on yourself... They are all amazing in many different contexts, from the focal points of you ...to the surroundings that you are in... All amazing ! For me I'm a sucker for eyes, and is usually the focal of my images, this you have surpassed ;)

Keep doing what you love .. be safe about it... have fun with it ;) For me, it's the stories/adventures behind the images that will forever be imprinted and are almost more valuable than the image itself... But having an awesome image to get compliments on and look back on to relive the memory is a pleasant bonus of what we do. Do it for you... and you shall keep producing amazing captures !!!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Professional Artist
Sorry for my late reply.  I read your response quite some time ago, and found it encouraging.  Thank you so much for taking the time, and continued luck with your photography.  :)
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:icontheextremepiercing:
theextremepiercing Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013
Seriously, thanks for writing this. With the ubiquity of imagery on the site, it is sometimes possible to forget that the models are flesh and blood individuals with perspectives and agency and ambitions and etc etc.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Professional Artist
Forgive my late response.  Thank you so much for reading this, and taking the time to reply. :)
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:icondrksnt:
drksnt Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
As a photographer I sometimes feel the same way...how much more I can do...non repeating poses...same locations...I ask myself "what next, can I do anything better?" I always talk about giving up photography, but then someone asks if I can shoot them (camera...not guns...in case you're a wise guy). I start thinking about it, then I do research on location and times of year, then something new sparks in me and I'm ready to be creative again. I do have long breaks because I'm more of a hobbyist and not a full time photographer and I think that helps. Maybe you should rest, take a break, and study poses...not that your poses are bad, I think your portfolio is great. Anyway, when you feel ready to get back into modeling, I'm sure there will be plenty of photographers who will need your expertise.
I hope that helps a little....

...take care!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Professional Artist
John, please forgive my late response.  Thank you for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.  It's comforting to know that others can relate. 

Continued luck with your photography.  :)

Cheers,
Melissa

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:iconartguyblackandwhite:
artguyblackandwhite Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013
One of the many things I've learned is that you don't have to suffer to create great things. Have you ever seen "Black Swan?" She goes nuts because she wants to create a perfect work of art. It absolutely does not have to be like that. I used to worry about topping myself as well, then I realized that it's not about that at all but about new ideas.

Have you ever put aside an image for a while and then looked at it again with new eyes and said: "Wow, that looks great!?" That's how the audience will always see them because they didn't work to create them. All they see is the final reslut. That final reslut does not need to claim your comfort or sanity.

Don't worry about what is ahead, like Einstein said: "I never worry about the future, it comes soon enough."
The important thing is not to strain yourself. Take your time, think about things, and come up with not only new ideas, but DIFFERENT ideas. You can do it!!!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Professional Artist
Wise words, thank you. :)
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:icondougbphoto:
DougBPhoto Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2013
*nods* in agreement.

However, I won't agree that your best work is behind you.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Professional Artist
Sometimes I'm pretty sure it is, but I guess we'll see. ;)
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:iconmetoikos:
metoikos Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2013
Speaking as a fellow explorer. You only have now - live it as best you can (revel in every raw emotion: the good and the bad).

Everything else is subjective; including whether your best work is yet to come or already past.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you, and continued luck with your adventuring. :)
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:iconrossim:
rossim Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013
It's struck me on various occasions that we are always told that art is a series of "revolutions"- impressionism, post-impressionism, cubism, and so forth. While these are certainly changes in ways of seeing, I think the true revolution is vulnerability, or intimacy. It doesn't matter so much if one is one one side or the other of the camera or the easel, without that vulnerability and trust ultimately what is there? So if we are honest with our work we are always trying to find strength in a sort of fragility. There is much strength there, too. this makes me think of Rembrandt's great portrait of his son Titus sitting at a drawing table. Titus looks about 6 or so. One can analyze the painting in terms of Dutch art of the 17th century, oil painting techniques, chiaroscuro, whatever, but the miracle that holds the painting together and radiates, keeps it forever young, is the obvious limitless love that the painter felt for his son.
As you know I'm a great fan of your work. I find in it a balance between an exterior dynamism, physical experimentation and joie de vivre, and a nuance and interior poetry that is very subtle. Even with the limitations of seeing the pictures on a computer monitor one gets the impression of your presence and vitality filling the image, like a great dancer who, when they make a gesture, seems to flow out beyond the limits of their body and fill the stage or space with a life force. The greater the gift like this the more demands it will make on you, always a two edged sword. But I hope you are aware of how unique and inspiring your work is.

Personally I don't think your age is a factor at all in your work. I can really sense your energy, and you have such a beautiful, fluid line~ truly beautiful! And those eyes, which sometimes fill the image just by themselves! As a painter (and not a photographer) I could without hesitation envision doing a book of drawings of you, no text, like a mysterious sketchbook living in silence beyond words. Not work I would be interested in doing with many people, yet we have never met in person and I feel just through the work of yours I've seen online that you would bring endless inspiration to a project like this. What is most important is that you be Melissa. The rest is significant but secondary. We all have a concept of beauty, how we all see it, but I don't think it is height or weight or hair color that is the key, it is you and the radiance you bring to all your work. When you are 100 you'll have that same radiance, I'd put money on it. Let the doubts be the key to finding greater nuance. And thank you for your work!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for the encouragement, and for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)
Hope you are well.
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:icondogbytes:
Dogbytes Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
Familiar sounding feelings!

I have worked in an industry (movies) which works long hours and often away from home for. Twenty-odd years. Uncertainty, impossible deadlines that always, somehow, get achieved, constant pressure to improve on the last one. Not to mention the personalities! But there's a flip side to all that and the highs have always more than made up for it.

I'm, at last, making serious moves to get out of it but I'm 55 in a week or so and I've had one or two health issues which mean I can't really do all I used to.

I don't have the pleasure of knowing you but, I would venture to suggest, you are in a different position. I think that you have many years of modelling left in you, should, you choose to do it. On the other hand you could do less of it or you could give it a break and see how you feel after six months. You don't look like a one trick pony and I think you can do, pretty much, whatever you want. :)
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for the reassurance, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Please stay healthy and take care of yourself.
...and best of luck with the next chapter in your life.
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:icondogbytes:
Dogbytes Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013
No problem. Thanks:)
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:iconvwolff:
vwolff Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
You seem to be going through the angst that all artists feel, including me. LEt me add my 2 cents.

You create beautiful, sensual images. Are some better than others? of course, but that doesn't diminish the overall GREAT quality to your work. You are one of the best fine art models I've seen, with a body that could easily do glamour. you are expressive, your poses are phenomenal, and you communicate so well to the viewer with your eyes and expressions.

Some of that fear is what helps to produce the best work. I always look forward to seeing new pics from you, and I hope to for a long time to come!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for the encouragement Vincent, it means a lot.
Hope you are well. :)
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:iconvwolff:
vwolff Featured By Owner May 29, 2013
:) I hope it helps
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:iconsamarai:
Samarai Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
You should knock heads with >>> [link]
I'm betting you two have a lot in common.
At the very least, she could have posted this on her page and you could just as easily have posted a couple of hers on yours.

On a different note - most of us wish we had these kinds of problems. I can't say I hate my job, but is a rare day, indeed, that I actually WANT to come to work.

Hang in there..?
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Professional Artist
Oh, yes, I already know of Christine, she's a fabulous model. She's also on Model Mayhem, and I interact with her on the forums every now and again. She's a full-time model, and although her long-term goals are different than mine, I'm sure she can relate to some of this.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, and for all the support you've given me. :)
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:iconsamarai:
Samarai Featured By Owner May 30, 2013
So.. as usual, I was correct in my assessment. Give me a moment, while I pat myself on the back a few times....

There. That felt good. :D

Anyway..
I try to do my best to offer whatever support I can, even if it sometimes takes the form of cracks from the peanut gallery. You are, to be sure, one of my favorite models on here [as is Christine, oddly enough], so it seems to be in my best interest to give you as much encouragement as I can. Cause, when all else is said and done, I would miss you, should you decide you were tired of the whole affair and left us.
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:iconratravarman:
ratravarman Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Knowing some figure models who are in their 60s, I'd say go for it until it is no longer magical for you, however long that is. You have done amazing work and can continue to do so if you, as Willy Wonka sang, "truly believe."
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for the encouragement! :)
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:iconratravarman:
ratravarman Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I showed your stuff to :skycladarts: and he considers it awesome. The fellow does his own self-portraits and is unabashed.
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:iconkannagara:
kannagara Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
no, that sounds to me like some kind of balance, not 'completely unbalanced'. that would be me. :P
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Professional Artist
It's definitely unbalanced...but worth it *most* of the time. Perfect balance is something that was just never in the cards for me. I become obsessed with anything I love, and then become restless if I know I can love it more, do it better, squeeze another drop out. I'm learning to just roll with it, because all my attempts at being "balanced" have left me quite miserable.

...So I will continue with the adventures that make my life unbalanced, and will continue to get better at yanking myself out of the inevitable lows that come with leading such a lifestyle.

Thanks for commenting. I Hope you are well, and that you soon find whatever "balance" makes you happy. :)
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:iconkannagara:
kannagara Featured By Owner May 31, 2013
at this point i don't see 'balanced' as a continuous positive, feel good state. more how the good and the bad all fit together. and that seems to be a moving target.
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:iconrhazzazor:
Rhazzazor Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
Thank you for sharing those thoughts. Hm, to tell the truth, I can comprehend those thoughts to a point. It's quite simitar to what I feel when I'm wirting, but on the other hand, that never took on such an extensive dimention.

Your negative feelings only show how important modelling, no creating art, is for you. I',m not sure if any advice can be helpful, but try to keep it easy, see it as a fascinating hobby, a chance in life you have embraced and one you shout enjoy as long as it gives you joy.

And I think each new image is a peak of it's own and why try to top it? Those awesome images will remain awesome, regardless if you can create something you think is better or not. And I'm sure I will still enjoy your images even after you returned to a "more normal life" XD

The fact that your modelling days are limited can be seen as a curse or a blessing: Your life may seem unbalanced, but you konw that this is only a period, besides, you reflect over your work a lot more than most models, this adds a lot more depth to each image you create.

Loved the last sentence, do this as long as the joy of doing it outweights the frustration!

I hope my thoughts make any sense, I'm not a native English speaker...
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank *you* for sharing your thoughts, and for the words of encouragement. You are right, of course. ;)
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:iconrhazzazor:
Rhazzazor Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
Just trying to help, don't know if I'm good at it, but still...
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:iconcharliedu4:
charliedu4 Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Photographer
alot of long-winded photographers on here... i'm one myself! but i'll keep this short as it's all been said before me.

whenever i get to those fears that maybe i've already done my best work and maybe my work will get too stale for me or others, i tell myself, "maybe this is the year that i start to work with clay!"

my nugget to you is that given your talent and obvious intelligence, no matter what you choose to do, you'll give it your all and you will do that well.

that said, you have a long way to go before you have to end your long-running streak of strong work. as long as your sense of form and natural beauty continues to be paired with talented artistic photographers, you will create noteworthy art for long time to come. someday i really hope we get to work together. i appreciate that you like my work as well.

now get back to work! ;)
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
Very encouraging, thank you. :)
Wishing you continued success with your photography.
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:iconfracturedsensuality:
FracturedSensuality Featured By Owner May 27, 2013   Photographer
Your rather erudite reflections echo to a large extent what many photographers feel, the doubts, uncertainty, giddy highs and aching lows.

I marvel that we achieve what we do, and how we are compelled to continue on this journey. I know I am driven - sometimes quietly, sometimes with an astonishingly strong compulsion - to produce something of beauty. Lasting beauty. Something of which I can be proud.

And maybe that's all it is: a rebellion against the ugly facets of our world, our humanity, that we can remind ourseleves that there is indeed beauty, and that we, personally, can see it, add to it, enhance it. Perhaps this is how we make a little more sense out of life.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
" A rebellion against the ugly facets of our world, our humanity, that we can remind ourselves that there is indeed beauty, and that we, personally, can see it, add to it, enhance it."

Well worded, I think you're right. We're all driven for different reasons, but the one you've stated is certainly true for me.

Thanks for your insight. :)
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:iconbribesdemoi:
bribesdemoi Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
This is a very deep and interesting piece of thought. I haven't read all the replies you got but judging by the number and nature of them, you should first feel comforted that your work is truly appreciated by many. It seems that you love this life and, as you said, you are addicted to it. So unless it prevents you from doing other important things, I don't think you should even think about "is it the end of it already ?" but rather about what's coming next.

You have done a lot of very serious modelling. Great shots. (I am particularly fond of those by Shoot Bare but many others are excellent as well). There is, I am sure, plenty of opportunities to push the boundaries further: glamour shots, street life shots (i.e. you the model among a crowd of unknown people), fetish shots, surreal shots, you name it. Since you've done a lot of great stuff, you could put yourself at risk and try something different, who knows ? I don't think you have much to loose.

As for the age... I am sure this is not such an issue. Of course, people who are only interested in stunning bodies might stop following you along the years, but I believe that art is way beyond that, that it is all about emotions you create in the viewer, and that you, with your talent, will still be able to achieve that in 5, 10 and 20 years. The poses might be different. The exposure might be different. The themes might be different. But the emotions will remain.
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
I am very comforted by all the encouragement and positive thoughts, including yours.
Being a traveling model involves a lot of sacrifices, but it's still worth it for now, so I will continue until it's not, or until I don't actually enjoy it anymore.
Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. :)
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:iconbribesdemoi:
bribesdemoi Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
You are welcome, and right. Don't question il too much while you are enjoying it.
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:iconalembic-lynx:
Alembic-Lynx Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Photographer
As one evolves down a path of creative endeavor, with the youth and still post adolescent beauty, the element of quantity seems to take play in the beginning. The sheer notion of the coming of age in front of a camera is in high demand. Such as it is in many fashion model carers where teen magazine models , advance to runway models , advance to endorsing a product line, and as the career continues and age lines begin to appear less need less quantity...and more quality images begin ...Take Charlize Theron for example a dash of this a dash of that not to mention a damn fine actress ...But even in the motion picture world...where it has become increasingly common for there to be full nude scenes ..take the opening scene of FLIGHT for example...its the young actresses Hollywierd wants to show all the booty to get the audience response ..and less and less as the actor actresses age

However in the avenue of artistic nude modeling , age can be an advantage was well...the experience and wisdom that the model can convey..becomes somewhat a co-communion with the artist ( painter ) or photographer etc that unity further evolving the work.It takes team work...it takes pushing the envelope...creativity is the genius and has no boundaries ...addictive obsession may in fact really be a spiritual quest an inner mantra to achieve...and the more you activate that mantra the more the dimension of form becoming formlessness becomes the divine..and with that the beauty empowers captivates ..all that were / are part of the creative processs..and all the viewers that gasp for breath at the infinite beauty that becomes the media output of such creative union

Keep up the fine work...you are gifted and blessed ...ultimately nothing ends ..it just changes and evolves ...many have come and gone...and yes perhaps their is some unknown time limit to how long a person is supposed to create such artistic nudity...possibly a percentage of an audience that thinks such work is only done in ones younger years ...and others who think that that beauty just begins many years later ...It is your inner passion that is that light that makes the image....truly sparkle...on the technical end...sure the camera lighting ( studio,natural, w or w/o reflectors and softboxes can accentuate the form ) but the true light is YOU !!!
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
All very true, and very comforting.
Thanks for the wisdom, the kind words, and the continued support. :)
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:iconalembic-lynx:
Alembic-Lynx Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Photographer
very welcome ...took a few days to sift through my thoughts and make a flowing statement...Yes i love your work...dont go hiding on us now...love what you do...past and present and can only imagine continued beauty and eros in the future !!!
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:iconafeinnude:
aFeinNude Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Professional Photographer
I've worried if I'm ever going to make another winning shot...and then you realize sometimes it doesnt matter what other people think...we do the art for ourselves. If other people enjoy it, then all the better, but I know I didnt start taking photographs with (where I am now) in mind. Added bonus. Keep doing it because you love it and dont worry.

On a side note...if you ever need a place to crash in Hawaii...

aF
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:iconmelannc:
melannc Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Artist
It really *shouldn't* matter what other people think, but sometimes it just does. You really have the right attitude though, and I find it very encouraging. I still enjoy modeling on many levels, so I believe I'll continue until I don't enjoy it, or until the negatives begin to outweigh the positives.

Thank you for the kind offer, I'd love to make it back to Hawaii one of these days. I've only been there once, and I wasn't modeling at the time....so many beautiful places to shoot. :)
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