Summer Reflections and Fall Notes
It's officially fall! With the cold weather upon Chicago, I saw some bloggers discussing their summers, what they accomplished and what their goals are for the next season. With the leaves changing, this set showcases the bright fall colors while reminiscing the lush/green summer days.
Summer Reflections: This summer was crazy busy for me. The biggest thing that happened this summer was my trip to Vietnam for two weeks. There was a lot of work this summer, so while it may look like I wasn't active on social media, I was working more than ever behind the scenes.
In the realm of modeling, I booked more paid gigs then ever before. My two biggest areas of growth was visiting photographers (photographers from international locations visiting Chicago and paying for portraits/fashion/editorial work) and e-commerce. By focusing on e-commerce this summer, I felt I was able to grow stronger relationships with my clients and business connections while growing as a model. My specific new clients were a jewelry company, high-end small boutique and bridal company.
On a personal note, this summer I had surgery on my nose and mouth, which put me out of modeling for a month. This was a summer of a lot of emotional changes.
Fall Notes: Notes, in this context, are things I want to accomplish over the course of the season. Summer was a lot of behind the scenes, but here are some things I'd like to do in fall.
Images by 606 Photo
Why I Started a Blog and How It Enhances My Modeling
While shooting recently, I was asked the question about why I started my blog. Since starting "Lauren's Not Borin'" (I know, cleaver name right?!), a lot of new clients/people have assumed and asked if I'm just a blogger. For those of you who've been following along for awhile, the answer is a resounding no. But I realized this would be a good opportunity to break down why I started a blog, what it is in the context of my brand/business and how it adds to what I do as a model.
Why start a blog?: I've had a website since a couple of years into modeling since I found it was a good way for people to view your book. When Instagram became the best way to quickly glance at a models page (yes I've been modeling for that long), I found myself wanting to share almost all the images from a shoot, but didn't want to post too many to the Instagram feed itself. A blog was a great way to show off all the images, without harassing people's feeds (and thus making them sick of me). When I first started, I wasn't very dedicated, occasionally posting when I felt like it or there were images I was dying to share. Slowly I got back into it again, but I was only posting images, nothing more. THEN I got a job working for The Hub. I got my job working as a blog writer, which was a job I'd done before for other companies but it was related more to my personal life than professional (and I did not want to share those articles on a professional platform). The job was a perfect way for me to create business content (while being paid). From there, since people could not find my articles, I would post them to my blog with corresponding images so people who were fans of my photos and writing could find them in one place. Ultimately, I wanted a place to showcase my talents and what I love doing (a.k.a. writing and modeling).
What does it add: By curating this blog, I found my engagement on social media posts went up, engagement went up and clicks to my website went up (making my website climb on the Google search pages). The blog is a great way to showcase the fact I am constantly working and growing as a person. The writing is meant to add a portfolio for other writing jobs and give people who view my content a way to think about my brand. Is it thought provoking? Does it help you in your business and understanding of modeling? Lauren's Not Borin' adds a voice to the otherwise speechless images while giving you content you'll always want to come back to week after week (since there will always be new articles, not just images).
How do you make money from your blog?: To me, the engagement speaks to itself. When you have more engagement, more people will find you when searching. Through this, they'll book you. I've also had photographers book me just to have a place on my blog, which is pretty cool, and obviously you can charge for that. I also make money from sponsored content. This primarily includes clothing companies paying me to take photos in their clothes and blog about them.
Enhancing my modeling/IT'S MORE THAN JUST A BLOG!!!: Through having a blog I've met so many more people because they've happen to see a link that was shared or through a quick Google search. Having a blog isn't just about making money or having a collective of where you can view more fun work (rather than just view my basic portfolio). Blogging takes a lot of time and energy to work on. It's a tool to help me interact with people and photographers along with tell stories and give advise.
At the end of the day, I like to think of myself more like a model that uses stories and articles to enhance her images and help my modeling. While I understand people think of it more as a blog, and thus me as a blogger, I like to think of myself as a model who uses her blog to reach more people and connect with others in a meaningful way.
Images by Emily Mulder
Photos by the incredible Jack Soltysik
A little preface to this shoot: I had three shoots, my day job, an office outing and closing on a new house ALL THE DAY THESE IMAGES WERE TAKEN. I was about ready to pass out when I got to the shoot. I showed up late, makeup melting but thankful I was able to shoot with one of the sweetest people I know, Jack!
With every shoot what you're seeing is the final product. You're not seeing what happens leading up to the shoot or how a person is truly feeling. You're seeing the images the model and photographer (and the whole team in general) choose to show to the world. Every model is different, but here are some of my #modelproblems:
Finding Peace in the Chaos
Trying to balance your life is tough, finding the peace in that chaos is the hardest challenge. Not only do I model, write and , but I also have a desk job that's a bit more than a 9 to 5. When I would work as a full time model (throughout my teens and early twenties) there was a struggle to find happiness in what I do, and not just looking at every gig as a job or even a way to propel me further into the industry. Now that I'm a bit more removed, I was able to find a happy medium between the industry, my career and my happiness.
I've actually been a fan of Katharine's work for a long time. We both followed each other on Instagram and I was waiting for the day we would work together. Finally that opportunity came for an e-commerce job she recommended me for. From the second we met, I knew we would click! She's so sweet and funny and kind. Happy Place was doing their pop-up in Chicago and I wanted to go, since I was seeing everyone's fun shots. When I asked Katharine I was stoked she said yes and hence this shoot was born!
All of my friends are in the industry, in one way or another. Separating yourself from rough environments and drama is the healthiest thing to do, but when you're completely wound up in the lifestyle it can be difficult. An important thing for me to do was step away from all the issues. I had moved, but when I moved I also emotionally separated myself from the "friends" that were causing the most drama.
No matter what your career is, taking time away and for yourself is key. Whether it's going on vacation (cause hi! first week back from Asia again) or turning off your phone for even as little as an hour, self-care is crucial to making yourself, your relationships and career happy.
Photographer: Katharine Hannah Klema
I will be in Vietnam for the next two weeks and will not be posting anything on the blog. I may post a little on my Facebook and Instagram, so if you'd like to view more content please follow those forms of social media.
I will be responding to emails/business inquiries for bookings when I'm back.
Thank you all for being so understanding and waiting for another blog post!
*Pictures are from China and Thailand last year.
This past summer, my good friend Taylor La Rue asked me to model for a series for his book about feminism. I LOVE working with him, as every time has been a success!
While I'm not able to make it to the gallery, I was able to participate in the shoot and will be in the coffee table book La Rue will be making/releasing very soon!
Congratulations to the whole team!
Photography: Taylor Larue
Styling: Emily McClaren
Makeup: Celena Juan
With Love & Creativity: The Art of Collaboration
As a model, it's a very rare opportunity when I'm able to experiment with shoots. I'm usually booked for commercial/e-commerce work, but going back to my roots of experimental/conceptual is always fun.
With this set, Madison can into Chicago to shoot with props in hand. In under an hour, we came out with amazing images.
Collaboration can often be hard but here are a few tips to make collaborating a smooth and seamless process:
Sample images are a good start-- Copying a shoot/concept is never good, but taking inspiration from other creatives and the world around you is! By providing sample images of the style you're looking for, you can easily determine if this shoot is right for you. Does the look fit what you need/want in your book? Is this a look something you can achieve or unrealistic?
Communication is key!-- I think I've said this a million times on my blog and in articles I've written, but I can't stress it enough: USE YOUR WORDS! If you want something, both as the person asking to collaborate and the person receiving the invitation to collaborate, you need to communicate what you want and need to make this shoot a success. Don't go silent the night before. Don't ignore emails that are asking vital questions for your shoot. Take the time and lay everything out for all parties.
On set attitude-- On non-paying sets you still have to bring the same amount of enthusiasm as with paid bookings. Why? Because these shoots can lead to paid bookings. The attitude you bring onto the set will also change how the images come out. When everyone has a great and positive attitude on set, your images will naturally turn out better. Collaboration means everyone is involved in one way or another. Your attitude can bring down the whole crew, so if you have a bad attitude, what's the point? Enjoy the process, meeting new people and gaining experience.
Images by Madison Oren
I've been a member at SoHo for about a year now. Recently, in the Chicago branch they started a fashion club (pretty cool right?!). I always find at clubs it can sometimes be challenging to authentically meet people who are interested in the same things as you, but I thought this was my perfect opportunity. The club had a lot of members who attended, but no other models. I was pretty shocked, but excited to show off my modeling skills.
The lookbook was broken down by location. I went with Rogers Park/Edgewater (since that's where I've lived for the past 5 years). Our team captain, Karl, is essentially did all the organizing and making sure everything was great. Rebecca, who did the styling, couldn't have done a better/cooler job. And Nick was so kind and an INCREDIBLE assistant! It was honestly the first time, in a very long time, collaborating with people and not having to do most of the work (I honestly just showed up to set which was INCREDIBLE).
All in all, there was an event to unveil everyone's images. Sadly I wasn't able to go due to a booking. While I love the images, the best part of this shoot was meeting the incredible people that I did. Meeting and working with such incredible people is the reason I love modeling so much (and the reason I keep shooting). Thank you to everyone, Karl, Rebecca and Nick for all your hard work on these images. I'm so thankful to have been able to work with you and get to know you. See ya'll around the House!
If you're a member at SoHo, the lookbook is available to pick up and view, but if you're not a member, here are the images from our GORGEOUS Rogers Park shoot.
What My Ethnicity Means to Me
When I conducted my poll on Instagram you guys said you wanted to hear a personal story that was deep and meaningful, so rather than doing an explicit expose on someone, I thought I'd talk a bit about my background and how it shaped me to who I am today. I get a lot of questions that ask what ethnicity I am. To put this question to rest: I'm Polish, Northern Irish, Austrian and German. I primarily identify as mostly Polish and Irish. As to why, here's a spark-notes version of what my ethnicity means to me:
I feel an extremely close connection to my roots, through food and direct connections/stories of the places we're from. Through stories and mysteries about how we came to be who we are, my family's background has always been of interest to me. While my mom's family does not talk about their history, my dad's family is an open book. Both through memorabilia and records, my dad's family can trace back all of our family members.
I was raised with a very close connection to my Dad's family. My grandma and great-grandma lived less than 30 mins away from where my parents were at and would spend a lot of time with my siblings and I as kids (and they still spend a lot of time with us as adults, both on the phone and in person). My great-grandma is (yes she's still alive at 101 years old) from Poland and my great-grandpa was from Austria. Every holiday, we'd eat Polish food, since it was my great-grandma preparing all the meals, and DAMN were they good! Any holiday was essentially an excuse to celebrate who we are and our history.
All in all, as time has gone on, I've become more and more proud of who I am and who my family is. Being Polish and Irish means embracing all the foods, culture, festivities and every unique aspect and tradition in my family. It's a strong part of my identity and who I am as a person, and I couldn't be more proud.
Photography: Ben Kasun
How I've Made Significant $$$ Writing
I've worked as a writer for various online publications writing anything from educational pieces to satire and mocking stories about my own life. But one thing that hasn't changed, from start to finish, is you should be paid for your writing. From a full time writing job to freelance writing and everything in between here are some tips, and how, I make significant money through writing about my experiences, life and day-to-day endeavors.
How to Start: I've always been very into reading and writing, so taking the leap and trying to write for publications was something I was motivated to do. There's a lot of writers, but only one of you, so it's important to take your experiences and specific voice and find what point of view you can share with the world. There were thousands of drafts of articles and ideas trying to find my voice and who I am as a writer. Once I wrote all these pieces, I narrowed down the ones I felt were the most unique and had the most potential. Then, I would edit until I had a draft that was strong enough and began to research publications that would best fit the article. Researching websites is pretty easy since all it takes is Google and digging through articles and their comments. Building your online (and searchable) resume for your writing is key, since it'll be used later to negotiate any potential future contracts.
Getting Paid: Most online magazines pay $50/article, but limit your submissions to 3-4/month. If you're consistent with submitting to one particular publication, and write articles that fit their M.O. frequently enough, this could lead to a contract deal (most are non-exclusive and allow you to write for other publications while releasing consistent content for them). While every contract is different, making sure your previous work is easily searchable and you display a wide variety of work, can help get you higher paid contracts or even have companies reaching out to you to pay you for your writing.
Staying Consistent: When you're under contract, with strict deadlines and a lot of articles that are due, it's important you make time (a consistent amount of time for each article). It's crucial to keep your work consistent and on brand. Brainstorming and asking friends for ideas can help keep you inspired. Getting into a routine is also a great way to stay consistent, even if it's as simple as going to a coffee shop a few times a week for an hour to edit.
The Future of Writing (for me at least): Writing is AWESOME! It's a great way to express yourself and get your name out there while gaining a steady income. So I'll keep it short and simple, everything is online and I love writing for various publications. I don't plan on slowing down anytime soon. Most likely, I'll take more of a backseat to in-depth articles on my own blog and focus on writing for magazines again. So stay tuned!
Other Writing Tips:
As a model for almost ten years, I find myself learning new things everyday. This blog is a way to share my stories, images that may not be on my main board, and interesting things abut modeling and my life.