Jessica Wilcock Model - Gothic Styled Shoot

At the start of 2024, I decided I needed to explore the prospect that in order to create really compelling work that would get the kind of attention I need for me to move forward, I'd need to hire some professional models. But, how does one go about that, when they are not in that line of work day to day?

Well, that took me some time to figure out. Simply looking up models on Instagram (as is commonly recommended) is not, I have learned, the way to do it. No matter how genuine and authentic you might be, you just come across as "yet another photographer" - you have no trust with the person you are messaging, and depending on your existing portfolio, you might not even have creative credibility or any "social proof".

I had the latter aspect of this to some extent because I had photographed a fair number of people such as weddings, clients, pets etc - enough at least to demonstrate I knew what I was doing and I had a bit of social proof. But, aside from that, I did not know any models to work with.

Then back in March I went to the Photography Show at the NEC primarily to meet many of the industry leaders in the world of analogue photography who I have known virtually for many years but never met - as I say, I had already concluded that social media presence was just not enough - we all have to know each other, face to face, and have worked with each other, to get referrals and in order for your name to come up in conversation. Doing stuff like this is hard for those of us who are bit introverted. But it is just a necessary thing. Anyway, while I was there at the NEC show, to my surprise, there were models there too. One model whose look caught my attention was Jessica, who was dressed as a Pixie (I think, or perhaps a fairy) on a Creative Stage set.

I am certainly not the kind of person to wander up to someone like that to chat; it feels too weird to me. But following the event I looked her up on Instagram, said I'd seen her at the NEC and explained my very authentic intentions to create some epic work, not expecting a reply, because, as I said earlier, it is hard to come across as genuine. But to my surprise, she did reply.

So then I asked her about rates and so on, and whether she would be interested in working with me. Again, she replied in the positive! So we arranged a shoot at The Boardroom for early May, she turned up, and we made a set of photographs that were the best and most creative photographs I've ever made! I had the best day!

Further still, following our shoot, I promised her I'd send her the photographs and she would be free to do with them whatever she liked. And I sent them to her, and kind of didn't really expect to hear back from her at all, or if I did, only to say thanks. But, what happened blew my mind.

The next day I see a message from her where she says the images were incredible. Now, that might not seem like a big deal to many of you, but when you've been a photographer for years with a bit of self-doubt and self-critique problem, and you photograph one of the UK's leading and most striking models, and said model replies back with a note like that, the feeling of validation and elation is indescribable. Finally, I felt like I was actually pretty decent after all! And I was on Cloud 9 for days after.

Over the next few days she also shared the photos, credited me, and uploaded reels of our shoot. She helped me attract some more online followers and best of all, she used some of my photos for all of her online avatars, cover images, and so on. What better validation can there be that someone, especially a professional model, appreciated your work?

Overall, I found her to be the nicest person to work with, and she has single handed done more for me, photographically, than I think anyone has ever done. It gave me such a lift and really helped with my traction and helping other models see what I could do for them after literally years of of feeling invisible. Such a kind human who I hope to be able to think of as a friend of sorts despite our short spell of time shooting. I really hope to work with her again.

If you need a model with her kind of looks and style for your work, I highly recommend her. You can find her on Instagram and PurplePort, but I'll provide her IG account below.

I titled the collection "Veiled Threats" - I think it worked really well, due to the deathly stares, the black veil, and the air of mystery and intrigue. If you like this kind of gothic styled shoot, and especially if you are a model wishing for this kind of work for your portfolio, do reach out to me. I think I might have a bit of a niche specialism developing, though to be fair, much of the credit for these images goes to Jessicas creative flare. (there's lots more - but these are just some of my favourites)