Photography by Sky LaFlame @shotsbyskylaflame
"I started modeling at 9 years old. I saw an Old Navy commercial and decided 'I could do that!' I asked my Mom to sign me up for modeling classes and I was trained at John Casablancas. Eventually, it became too expensive, and I had to quit, which broke my tiny heart. As time went on, I discovered that I really loved photography and enjoyed modeling for myself. In college, I joined the African Student Union who hosted a fashion show, and I auditioned. That's when I realized I was in love with the runway! Being on stage, the energy, the lights, the fashion all give me a different level of confidence, and since I've even started coaching & teaching runway."
"Early on, my biggest challenge was my size. I didn't consider myself big at all, but the industry considers having any kind of curves, plus size in a lot of circuits. It definitely took a toll on my body image. When I started modeling for myself and encouraging all shapes in our shows at school, it definitely helped me love my body more and care less about what agencies were telling me."
"I hit that milestone this year actually! I went to this awesome networking event at Sonne Studios and saw two other models with short blonde hair posing together. I whispered into the room that I should model with them since I had the same cut, and everyone got super excited and pulled me into the room! The shots were gorgeous, and I met a lot of really cool, creative people that day. One of the photographers from that session submitted our photo to LED Baltimore, and we were featured on a huge billboard in Baltimore City. I featured my own work there a few years ago as a photographer, but seeing my own face up there was surreal!"
"A project that was very close to my heart was shooting with Poppy & Stella. They are a small, woman-owned boutique store in Baltimore City, and it was my first advertising campaign! Sometimes in the Black Creative community, things are only seen as art if they push an envelope or you're posing off the side of a waterfall (which I have done before), but this campaign challenged me to be in a more simple and feminine space with my posing. I didn't have to be sexy or edgy or domineering in any way. I could smile and wear cute dresses all day! I got to work with women models of other races who were wonderful human beings, and I got the chance to create and feel good about myself in a non-Black space. It really opened me up to the possibilities of what I could do with modeling and making space for who I am in any shoot I'm in."
Cover Girl by 5th Photos
Evolving Style and Image
"I don't think my style per se has changed much, but having a platinum blonde, near bald haircut as a Black woman has challenged my modeling tremendously! Hair easily becomes a prop when it comes to modeling. It blows in the wind, you can frame your face with it, you can throw it around and it adds to the shot, right? Not having any hair means that I'm fully dependent on my eyes, my face, and the shapes I can make with my body. I'm either perceived as masculine or really confident, but I definitely stand out. My style naturally leans more into my feminine side, but if I put on a leather jacket and some boots, I'm a whole different woman."
Jane Wick by 5th Photos
"This year I met one of my local inspirations, Sky LaFlame @shotsbyskylaflame. He was shooting a fashion show, and I immediately recognized him from Instagram. I had been following him for maybe 8 years since he shot with a childhood friend of mine. His work always struck me as dark but emotional. I admire the way he thinks through his art and how expressive he is. Shooting with him has pushed me to think outside of my comfort zone and have more confidence in my ability to express myself in front of the camera, instead of behind it, which I'm used to. I upcycled a thrifted kimono, and the only person I wanted to shoot with was him. His edits blew me away, and I'm super proud of that shoot! He's so encouraging, safe, and fun, and our collaboration has grown me so much as a model and as a fellow shooter!"
"Right before the pandemic, I had 3 runway shows lined up for the year since I had just graduated college, and in one fell swoop, they were all gone! That rocked me because it was so far out of my control that by the time things started to open back up, I felt like I was too old to keep modeling. I'm not even 30 but still! The uncertainty of the industry forced me to create a lane that just brought me joy, and that was creating content! I could play dress up in my room or make something relatable and funny, and it gave me the confidence to turn down an NY agency when I wasn't feeling 100% confident with them. It's how I ended up collaborating with a company on my perfume brand Be Soft, and it's opening more lanes for me as we speak! I model for designer friends, photographer friends, and event planning friends who value my input and creativity because I made my own lane!"
"In the near future with my modeling, I want to start shooting and practicing being both in front and behind the camera by myself more often. I want to create more content in my softer, feminine, old money and modern luxury aesthetics. I want to do more and bigger runway shows too, but I also want to coordinate them and build up newer models. I'm so excited for next year, and I'm happy to be in a place where I can say that."
Angel in Disguise by Sky LaFlame @shotsbyskylaflame
For more insights and updates, connect with Kim Jenkins @kimmie_kim23 and @jinxphotography__ for bookings.