Thursday, February 18, 2016

Exit 2015, Enter 2016: What's new?..Zoolander 2, and revisiting 'Why I still model - Isn't it time to retire?!'

Its been a while!  This blog post is more of a personal, ‘house-keeping’ one, so you’ve been warned!

2015 wrapped up with San Diego’s Four EL men’s magazine going on indefinite hiatus, (where I was the fitness contributor), as well as Greens Plus+ Energy bars, without warning, cutting their marketing staff, and as a result, all of us ‘ambassadors’ losing our sponsorship.  So no more Greens Plus for myself after 15 years using their products.  I can’t be expected to go back to buying it at this point.  I’m still working an ambassadorship with Core Energy Fitness resistance bands and suspension straps (my backyard & traveling fitness arsenal), and BioFreeze has been contacting me recently for sponsorship, but I have failed to get back to them in time most likely, which is lame of me, cause their products are ones I was already using, as well as my wife for her massage practice.

I’m still modeling professionally, booking paid jobs about twice monthly.  (If it’s not paid, it’s not professional.)  Bookings have slowed down a lot, by choice.  For one thing, working my main career as a Captain for JetBlue, with two kids & a working spouse, leaves very little time left over for modeling, writing & Personal Training.  Also, at age 46, I have realized the ideal ‘fitness-model’ in the traditional sense, is a young-man’s game, so I have switched to mostly apparel clients, which means catalogs instead of magazines & infomercials.  Less exposure & infomercial fame, but the irony is, apparel pays about 4 times as much, and the shoots are much less intense.  In fact the idea with apparel most times is to look as natural as possible, not even noticing the photographer, (unless it is BORING studio!), and there are some instances where you don’t even know when the photographer has gotten ‘the shot’.  He just suddenly out of nowhere says, “Got this, what’s next?”  Some of the performance/sports-apparel shoots are still quite demanding physically to be sure, but even then, the intensity level is nowhere near that of a standard fitness industry booking, and, typically I’m wearing physique-covering clothing much of the time, so the enormous challenge of pre-shoot dieting and dialing (tanning, shaving, carbo-loading), is all but eliminated.

Going into 2016 my main apparel client is still the relatively new men’s performance brand known as QOR (pronounced “core”- see my earlier blog posts.)  They just hit the 1.5 year mark since their official launch and are gaining traction.  They are mostly for the urban, corporate-yet-very-active man.  Think San Francisco-based CEO or Doctor who commutes to work by bicycle and goes for a jog during lunch.  This QOR-man is also eco-minded and a foodie.  I just shot for their summer catalog on the North Shore of Oahu.  It certainly felt very validating to book a location shoot of that caliber again.  A little backstory - the creators of QOR were also the creators of a women’s brand called Athleta, now owned by GapSince I have been a model for every QOR shoot since their genesis, sometimes I feel like I’m truly a part of their team.

This probably sounds like a good thing, but one of the golden rules of a professional model, (according to Max), is to never forget just that – your place - that you are being paid for your skills as a model, and nothing more.  If your opinion is ever desired, the client will ask you for it, but most times, the client does not want to know your opinion.  The client is paying you top dollar to show up and look amazing, and make their product look even more amazing, and none of that necessarily requires speaking or offering your advice.  It also means you shouldn’t upstage the product or apparel your wearing.  So yeah, while at this point in my career, modeling seems second nature to me – my craft – I guess it will always be challenging for that reason:  Look good, but never outshine the product.  Stand out during the casting & audition, but know when to be subtle while on set.  Once something no longer becomes challenging, not only does opportunity for personal growth stop, but so does the fun.

I think as a model there are times that call for being a charismatic ‘rock star’, but at other times you need to be a discrete chameleon – and always a gentleman.  Knowing when to be which, is instinctive, but two hints are: read the photographer’s every move & mood, and never lose the big picture of the vibe of the set or location.  Have your finger on the pulse of the production.  Never forget that of everybody on set, as the model – or ‘talent’ – you are usually the lowest ranking, I don’t care what your day-rate is or what your agent told you.  No matter what the dynamic, the photographer always outranks you, and is your Guru.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this blog post at this point.  I think I must be channeling Derek Zoolander or something, being that Zoolander 2 is coming out next month.  Perhaps watching Zoolander 1 again, has got me pondering about what it means to be a “ridiculously, good-looking male model”, and the pressures and expectations that come with that.  Or maybe with aging, along with family responsibilities growing, I feel I’m at a crossroads on this journey.  This post started off as just a very bland & belated update to the closing out of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 and is now wandering aimlessly.  You were warned in the opening paragraph.

At age 46 with the wrinkles and wear-n-tear accumulating, (a rite of passage), every day I question if and when I should retire from this modeling/fitness hobby.  After more than 15 years this is more than a hobby obviously.  Although modeling has never been about the money, it is a significant source of income, but more importantly, it is good for my character & well-being.  Modeling gets me out of my complacent routine and often moves me out of my comfort zone, into self-fulfilling adventures that I can feel productive about.  I love dad-life, but there are times when I completely lose myself into the world of my kids.  Leisure trips & vacations typically leave me feeling guilty in some way, not to mention that means loss of income!  Modeling & writing are a creative outlet and booking jobs provides fitness-accountability.  It is not that I desire to avoid new experiences or traveling, it’s that I already am gone so much with the airline business, that I hate leaving my family and kids any more than I have to, especially when by default, I am eldest daughter’s primary ‘coach’ and sports manager, which takes up quite a bit of my free time in a good way.  I wouldn’t trade that.  What’s more, is when I look at some of my early portfolio from 10+ years ago - of course I am not as fit or youthful looking - but this mostly affects booking the physique and fitness-type shoots.  In many ways you get better with age and all that cumulative experience in front of the camera.

I mean at this point I’ve probably worked with 75 photographers for over 100K shutter flashes.  That experience will always translate into the image, unless you lose confidence.  Every time I get to work with a photographer who I believe in, and who mutually believes in me, I know we’re going to get something worthy.  Get a shot that is believable and the client will invite you back.  At the surface it may seem like an act of pure vanity or trivial art, but for me it’s also a personal test that provides some inner validation and grounding.  You can’t fake a good shot.  The camera lens will reveal it.  The client will know it.  The consumer will know it.  You have to look into the lens with truth & sincerity.  You have to be comfortable in your own skin.  While some shots are more light-hearted, in my mind during shoots, I always envision a salt-of-the-Earth vibe.  If you can’t be yourself, then the client booked the wrong model, and you need to meet with your agent, or maybe update your comp-card and portfolio.

So back to goals for 2016 and to close this belated New Year’s update.  I don’t really do the resolution thing and never have.  Goals are good, but goal-setting should be part of one’s everyday lifestyle and personal growth master plan.  So should accountability, whether it comes from a boss, spouse, Trainer, race deadline, or competition – be sure to build some accountability and bench-markers into your lifestyle.  For me, my fitness goal is still to be fit as possible, but now it is more from a longevity and holistic-health perspective.  Range-of-motion, mobility, and function have to come first for me.  Physique and aesthetics are secondary.  Actually I guess this has always described my philosophy.  This means less bodybuilder style workouts and more intense cardio, and playing the sports I love.  Also more therapy & recovery time and listening to what my body is telling me.  Awareness, to get the jump on a potential problem area, before it evolves into an injury.  And of course the ability to train with and around any injury.  I have to devote much of my own workout time, to train with my daughter, for her sports.  So often times I train with her.  Cheers.

Above: Click for quick training video
Coaching my daughter Bryce surfing...if you can call it that!