Model Narrative w/ Nicole Fofonoff
Let’s take a look inside the world of modelling w/ Vancouver-based model Nicole Fofonoff. She tells us how she got her start, her best collaborations, and her view on the current state of the modelling industry.
SB (StarBeat): First Look: How did you get started in the modelling industry?
NF (Nicole Fofonoff): I grew up in a small town so there wasn’t much going on in terms of modelling. However, a woman I babysat for was a lifestyle photographer and she told me it would be wise to start a portfolio if modelling was something I thought about trying. I had mentioned I wanted to move to Vancouver one day. She got me started with some headshots. After that, a few friends that had cameras did the odd shoot with me over the next few years but nothing really came of it. One day, after I had been living in Vancouver for a year, I got an email from a woman who had seen the online portfolio I had and she wondered if I would model for a bridal shoot in Stanley Park. From there, the connections I made through the makeup artist, hair stylist, dress maker and so on allowed me to network and contact people myself that I wanted to work with. Vancouver is great for word-of-mouth, so people I met that liked working with me got me the majority of my work from then on.
SB: Look Book: Who in the industry is inspiring to you?
NF: Right now the people who inspire me the most in the industry are the people who use their platforms to tell stories and who are non-conformists. I find images in this industry can get very repetitive so when I see something that makes me look twice because I’ve never seen anything like it before – that’s who I look to for inspiration. People who aren’t conforming to gender stereotypes in fashion and in pose are to me the most interesting. Androgyny should be showcased more, and I think it is on the come-up in todays modelling scene. I try to be mindful of purpose and story behind photographs, so I like to watch for models, photographers and artists alike who have something important to share through their work.
SB: Quick Change: Is there one thing you’d change about the industry if you could?
NF: Certainly. I meet so many people who say they could never be a model because of their body type. I think this industry needs to start seeing past shape and size and simply focus on the message of the work being created. It sounds a little out there for an industry such as this, but if I could change the way the modelling industry operated I would encourage anyone who had an inspired idea to strike a pose and capture it.
I would shift the industry into more of a unique, subjective experience for all as opposed to a mannequin-maker. I see it as an art form – so it shouldn’t have such strict rules.
SB: Top Pick: What is your favourite part about the modelling industry? Do you have one favourite moment?
NF: My favourite part of my experience with modelling are the people that I have met throughout the years. These people are creative geniuses! I have met so many people from all over the world, young and old, man and woman, who are so inspired. I love learning their stories and discussing the details that they envision for the shoot. One of my favourite moments has to include going for ice-cream during a shoot with my agent and the photographer. I was all done up in a wedding gown and heels for the shoot but we had a really chill time together!
SB: Info: What is a piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out as a model?
NF: A piece of advice I’d offer anyone starting in the industry is to create what is genuine to you. If you have a vision for the art you want to create then pursue that and stick to it. Otherwise you may find yourself doing something you don’t agree with, something that feels wrong, or simply doing the same thing over and over again. Modelling is no longer about conformity. Be yourself and those who wish to collaborate with your unique look and talents will be drawn to you. You may not find work right away (it took me over 3 years!) but at least when you do create, it will be something you can be completely proud of.
SB: Off The Clock: What is your go to on a day off?
NF: I am actually a full-time student here in Vancouver, so a day off of modelling is a day usually filled with studying. Boring! When I really have some free time I love to try new restaurants in the city – I love the diversity of food here! I like to learn about things like how ramen is made, or why Mongolian food is cooked on a large metal disc. Pair that with a great white wine and maybe a New Girl episode and you have my favourite day off!
Nicole on Social: