Fashion modeling or posing for a portrait started way back in 1800’s. Charles Fredrick Worth who is considered “Father of haute couture” was the first designer to use live models for his designs.
Now modeling in 2000’s has come a long way and is constantly evolving. Photo shoots or walking on the runway, is serious business.
Fashion Collection is taking a peek into this glamorous profession through Abeera Karamat’s portfolio. An upcoming charming and confident model Abeera tells us hows and whats of modeling.
FC: Describe yourself in 3 words.
AT: I’d say I’m anxious, chirpy and ambitious. Very uncanny combination there….haha.
FC: What made you choose to be a model? And what is it really like to be a model?
AT: Well, being a model was never part of the plan. Being a full time model is still not part of the plan. I was actually offered a few times before I agreed to model. I agreed because I decided I’d collect money for post grad. My first shoot took place in the summer of 2017 and after that I’d decided modelling just wasn’t my cup of tea. So I didn’t model for a year after that. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it because it is an objectifying job, we’re all selling some part of ourselves to the public and in the case of modelling it’s, of course, all about your appearance and your body. You can still express your ideals and beliefs through modelling abroad because there is some sort of inclusivity and creativity to a large extent there. In Pakistan you’d see a few brands allowing creative freedom, the rest just follow the same pattern. The editorials here are beautifully executed no doubt; I just feel brands would bring something different to the table commercially. You see very few dark models (and most of your population consists of dark skinned people). I was also suggested to wear lenses to make my eyes appear a few shades lighter and it struck me how we’re so bent upon following the colonial standard of beauty; blonde hair, blue eyes, white skin. Not that we don’t have people who are fair, blonde and have blue-green eyes but it’s just the pressure of having to look a certain way, to not look like the typical ‘desi’ that gets to me. I love to look desi, I love representing my culture and people, I think we should embrace that more often. Honestly being a model hasn’t changed much for me apart from the fact that people in university come up to me and mention they saw me in some brand’s campaign. Also I absolutely adore the fact that I get to meet some amazing personalities on set who not only guide, support and encourage me but also give the best life advice. It’s a privilege to work with wonderful people. Other than being recognized and working with different people life’s still the same for me at this point.
FC: For how long you’ve been modeling and how far you see yourself in this profession.
AT: It’s been a year and two months since I started modelling. I’m not a full time model, it’s just something I do on the side. Well to be very honest I’m not sure how far I’d go in the industry because life is pretty unpredictable. A year ago I didn’t even want to model and here we are. I’m just going with the flow, whatever great opportunity that comes my way I’m grateful for. I’d actually love to gain some work experience related to my degree; I’m a liberal arts student and I’d definitely need some experience and knowledge in the field before I pursue my masters.
FC: Have you ever been a part of a fashion show? How does one feel while walking on the ramp?
AT: I’ve never been a part of any fashion show. Walking in heels on ramp with a hundred eyes following and observing your every move does not seem like a breeze for sure. Props to all the models who strut the runway with such confidence and sass.
FC: Photo shoots must be exhausting. Take us through one of your photo shoots from Ato Z.
AT: Photoshoots are exhausting, that’s true yes. But I’d say I’m privileged enough to be compensated almost equally for the effort I put in. Sometimes you’ve back to back shoots so if you get free late from one shoot you’d obviously be sleeping late and waking up early for the next (depending on the call time). Many times you’re so exhausted you have no idea of time or place, when you get home you just hit the sack, sometimes with your makeup on (which is horrible, will never recommend doing that, don’t be me guys).
So normally, let’s say, for a campaign shoot if I’ve a call time of 6 am I’d reach the location where makeup is done, get my makeup done and if there’s some other location for the actual shoot the team is transported there. You sometimes have to wait there as well for the lights to be set and the actual set to be fully prepared. If I’ve 10 dresses to shoot in I’d do five before lunch and five after. Often you have hair changes and makeup changes. The pace of work depends on how fast the models and photographers are, how quick set changes are made along with hair and makeup changes as well. Personally I’m quick with my poses and I try to vibe with the photographer in order to understand the mood and feel of the shoot, when you understand what the client wants from you it’s relatively easier after that. After I’m done shooting the only thing I look forward to is getting into bed, even if I get free early. I just need to recharge my introvert batteries so I need some time to myself, it’s crucial for me or else I’ll go nuts. For reals.
FC: Being a model you are known figure, how do you control your image publicly?
AT: I haven’t reached a point where I’ve been a noticeable figure or a very influential one. Though I do know that I have the power to use my platform and express my ideals. I’ve never really been concerned about my image, I’m literally still the way I was years ago. I guess as you gain more recognition you start to become more private, that’s what I’ve learnt in my case. I’ve started posting less of my life on social media and more of my thoughts about social issues and things that matter. I don’t even post a lot of my work to be honest, partly because I don’t want my Instagram to look too commercial and also because I’m my biggest critic so if I find something that I don’t like about a shoot I don’t share it. I’m very hard on myself, I’ve been told haha.
FC: As you are studying right now. How do you balance between your studies and modeling.?
AT: I’m currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree of Liberal arts and social sciences. Education is my top priority and I’m highly privileged to say this because there are models who have no choice but to prioritize work over studies because bills don’t just pay themselves. In my case since I’d be pursuing what I’m studying in university after graduation it’s mandatory that I attend all classes. I don’t pay all my bills myself so the only thing I have to worry about are grades, my family and friends and my mental health…a lot of other things but predominantly these four. Still not as many problems as other people have though so I keep telling myself I have to be grateful.
As far as balancing work and studies, I only work on the weekends (if I’m free and assignments aren’t sucking the soul out of me) and on weekdays when I’m available and I don’t have classes. If a brand contacts me and I can’t work around their schedule I don’t go on with the shoot. I’d say it is a tad bit testing working and studying at the same time and I’m a horrible multitasker.
FC: Your favourite designer to work with.
AT: I have a favourite brand that I like to work with and it’s Sapphire. The team is wonderful and the shoots I work on with them always have a different element compared to what you see normally on your screens.
FC: First thing you do when you come back after a photo shoot.
AT: The first thing I do when I come back from shoots is remove my makeup because I’ve struggled a lot with acne, its improved with my current skincare routine and because I take off my makeup the minute I reach home (I also cry a little because a lot of makeup artists do such a wonderful job and you feel like keeping it on for longer but it sucks because I can’t). After taking off my makeup I take a shower, a lot of people don’t realize it but removing the products from your hair is as important as removing them from your face. I use coconut oil to break down the product in my hair so it washes off easily.
FC: You must have beauty products.
AT: Personally I don’t put makeup on regular days, only on special occasions or when I want to feel fancy and the reason is that I’ve so much makeup applied on me for shoots that I just dread having to apply it by myself.
I’d break down the beauty products into two categories – cosmetics and skin care. So my must have cosmetics consist of mascara (Maybelline babyroll mascara), blush (Clinique chubby stick) and any lipstick of your choice (my go to is from the kate moss line of rimmel shade 107).
For skincare my must haves include Sunscreen, aloe vera gel straight from the plant, sea buckthorn oil, rose face gel, a gentle exfoliator (steer away from physical scrubs please, they cause micro facial tearing) and petroleum jelly, LOTS of it.
FC: If you weren’t modeling what would you be?
AT: I honestly would be doing some sort of internship related to my field. I don’t see myself doing anything other than that. I also have a knack for acting, so I’d love to explore that side as well. Just need to polish on my acting skills because I haven’t done theatre since a levels.
FC: Do we have any proper schools for training to become a model?
AT: In my knowledge I don’t think we do. For people that want to pursue it as a proper full time profession I think there should be training schools. As long as they’re free from toxicity and shaming but then again what profession isn’t.
FC: Any tips for people who want to enter into this world.
AT: The number one tip I have for anyone to pursue modelling is to be very VERY careful. Like any other field, this field even has people that can take advantage of you, make you believe that they trustworthy when in reality they’re definitely aren’t. The whole industry isn’t like that, in fact there are very lovely people who keep you safe but one should always be on their toes.
Another tip is that you have to know people will try to bargain with you. Initially you would be working for less because you aren’t established as a model in the industry. But as you keep working, you’ve spent some time and you get acquainted with how the industry works, you gain experience and recognition and that’s when you should know not to work for less. For newer models it is difficult to not work for less because they think that if they refuse to not work on a low budget they’d miss out on an opportunity as a brand would probably be inclined to hire someone who would. It’s relatively easier for established models to reject offers that have a low budget. I’d say as you keep working and you’ve spent some time in the industry (like a year) that’s when you put your foot down, that’s what I did.
An important tip I have for those who choose to enter this world is that they should make sure there is a team behind a shoot, that it is legit, that the person you are working with is trustworthy or if you have no idea about them or cannot do background checks you take someone you trust along with you. No one in the industry can force something you do not want to do. If you want to take your friend or even your own mother, GO FOR IT. If it makes you feel safer, go for it! Nothing is more important than your safety and wellbeing. I’ve taken my own sister along to a few shoots and I think it was the best decision I’d made.
Furthermore, you and your client or anyone hiring you should be clear on what you or they are okay and not okay with. For example, if you are not okay with modelling in super revealing clothes you should inform them and they should also reach out to you about it. If you do not work with male models they should let you know that there are going to be male models on set, often you do not even know the concepts of the shoot, who you’re shooting with, what sort of outfits you’re shooting in, what environment would it be, what the location is…these things should be clarified, at least in my opinion. And as models you should be asking these questions because you will be the ones working in this environment.
FC: Give 3 tips for anyone to look good in photos.
AT: First tip: You should definitely know your angles. Practice in front of the mirror, the self-timer option on your phone should be your best friend.
Second tip: Always make shapes with your arms and legs. Never put your arms too close to your sides because that doesn’t look flattering, extend parts of your body, try different poses, experiment.
Third tip: Honestly don’t think too much. When I think too much about whether I’m doing it right or not I do a terrible job. When I don’t give two shots about what others think and believe I’m doing great the photos actually end up great. I’ve noticed when I’m having fun while my shots are taken that translates into the photos. Just have great time with it.