Photographer, Eric McKinney of 6:12 Photography had the opportunity to chat with up-and-coming model, Summer Salmon as she prepares to head to off to Miami, Florida with Deco Models. 6:12 was interested in finding out the story of this model's journey and a glimpse of what she's learned along the way.
6:12 Photography : Summer, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I guess the best place to begin is by asking you when this whole modeling dream first started for you.
Summer Salmon : Well, I've been in front of the camera my whole life, even as far back as elementary school and my childhood. I was always striking poses, being dramatic and having my hands up in the air when a camera was around. But I guess my modeling career officially started with Gage Talent when I was 16.
6:12 : Did the agency approach you?
SS : No, I went to a seminar, and they said that they liked me. I had always wanted to model, but I didn't realize how much it would cost to get signed with Gage. I spent all of my savings that I had. I went to the modeling classes, started doing promo jobs, photo shoots and runway, and I just fell in love with it.
6:12 : Starting out, what was it like to be in front of the camera? What were the things you had
SS : I was very shy, and I didn’t know the angles of my face. I wasn’t really sure what to do.
6:12 : What helped you improve?
SS : I started looking at more magazines, trying to capture the concept that magic happens when you just relax and let it.
6:12 : From having the opportunity to work with you, I can tell that you've learned a lot about yourself in front of the camera. From the first time I worked with you, I thought to myself, this girl is a model, because you knew how to work your angles and bring such a confidence in front of the camera. Tell me about that experience and what you've learned.
SS : Awww, thank you for that. As far as my experience, I've just learned that whatever the photographer asks for, I picture myself as that person and go there in my head. If they want me to be soft, I think about being at the beach and real relaxed. If they ask me to be hard or intense, I think of real life experiences that will make me angry or upset. It’s always real for me now; back then I was just posing, but now I've learned it has to be real. The wardrobe, the makeup, everything that they are putting into it, I try to make it as real as possible so that it can show through on the camera.
6:12 : As a model starting out, one of the most important things is building your portfolio. Tell me a little about what that was like for you.
SS : The biggest thing that stands out to me is how expensive building a portfolio can be. It takes a lot of money to get photos done, and that wasn't something that I had. So a lot of my portfolio has come from doing trade shoots and taking any opportunity I had to work with a bunch of different photographers.
6:12 : That portfolio is something that agencies look at very closely to determine if they want you or not. Obviously, you know that since you've recently signed with a major agency. Do you have any advice for other models about how to build a strong portfolio?
SS : You have to build a portfolio that has everything from soft to hardcore and intense, because you have to show them that you can be versatile as a model. You want to show them every angle, every face and every expression that you can do.
6:12 : What have you learned about yourself from the time you first stepped in front of the camera to where you are now as a model? When do you gain that confidence that I see in you?
SS : Well, I started out very uncomfortable in my own skin. I used to play basketball and volleyball, and I was more of an athlete than a model. I didn't have a lot of confidence, even though people were always trying to tell me that I should give modeling a try. I was always watching America's Next Top Model, wanting to be one of those models but never thinking I could do it.
6:12 : So what changed?
SS : With all the compliments and people telling me I should try modeling, one day I just realized, "Ok, if they see something, then I can do it."
SS : Everyone has always liked my runway walk, they saw it as confident and strong. I started out wearing heels on the treadmill to perfect my walk. It taught me to keep my legs straight and master my balance. And even now, I’m constantly practicing it, in the food aisles or in parking lots. I like to say that runway is my strongest point as a model.
6:12 : What inspires you as a model? What motivates you to keep doing shoots and seeking out agencies?
SS : Honestly, I do it because I love it. Not because I have to, but because I love it. How many girls go to bed at night and always have at least three dreams of doing a runway show? I’ll have those dreams every night. I’m basically obsessed with it. I literally eat, live and breath modeling.
6:12 : Sounds like that passion for modeling has paid off. Tell me about the agency that you've just signed with and what the future has in store for you as a model, Summer.
SS : Well, my photos were submitted to Deco Models down in Miami. It came down to me and one other girl doing a Skype interview, and although they definitely gave me some things to work on and improve, ultimately they loved my smile and my personality and so they chose me.
6:12 : Congratulations. So what will you be doing down in Miami?
SS : For me, it's like a dream come true. I finally get to experience the life of a model. I'll be living in a 5-star hotel with other models, and I'll have access to my own salon and a personal driver. I'll be working four nights a week for a couple hours each night starting out, and I'll also be booking more jobs when I get down there hopefully.
6:12 : Do you have anything else in the works?
SS : I also have an opportunity to do Charleston Fashion Week in February, so that’s another thing that I have coming up. It consisted of two interviews, sending a lot of measurements and meeting a ton of requirements. So it wasn’t easy, but I’m in.
SS : Absolutely, I am always working toward that day when I make it big time, and I know it sounds crazy to say maybe, but I just know that day is going to happen.
6:12 : Any special plans for what you'll do when you do become famous and make a name for yourself in the modeling industry?
SS : Well, first of all, writing poetry has always been a hobby of mine, so I would love to one day publish my poetry and I think that making a name for myself as a model could make that opportunity happen. I also know that making it big time as a model means a lot of money and getting famous, but I really want to focus on making a difference. Not matter how much money I'm making, I won't be spending it on ridiculously expensive shoes; I want that money to go back into making a difference. It's not all about fame. Fame is nice, but I think it's more important to make a difference.
6:12 : Sounds like big things ahead for you, Summer. Last question, when you walk into a photo shoot, what is your focus or what is it that you want to accomplish at that shoot?
SS : Whenever I flip through magazines and see a model, I wonder to myself, what's her story? And I want people to see my photos and look at me like that. So my goal is to make photos that make people want to know my story.
6:12 : I think you've given 6:12 a great look inside the life of a model. Thank you, Summer and best of luck on your adventures in Miami.
Interested in booking a photo session with 6:12 Photography? Contact Eric McKinney at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a shoot.