How did you start modeling? Was it something that came to you or did you go out there and make it happen?
It all came from me wanting to be a film actress. I decided to learn makeup to break into the business a little easier. I began working as a freelance makeup artist through a local production company. The more I developed as a MUA, the more photos I needed to show off my work, so I started networking with photographers in my area. One day, our model wasn’t able to make the shoot, and we were out in the middle of nowhere on location. The photographer suggested I get in front of the camera—and because of my experience with acting, it seemed natural to me. I understood the concept, what he was looking for, the type of body language, expression needed etc. I’ve been modeling ever since.
What do you enjoy most about modeling and what have you learned most from it?
I have always loved telling stories, and I fell in love with fashion editorials because they gave me a chance to step into another character.
I have found that being practiced in one aspect of shooting, has helped me with another. Modeling taught me how to coach my models now that I’m behind the camera.
What I love most about modeling? The shoes.
Was the industry exactly how you perceived it once you were invested into it?
(Laughs) Countless people told me that I would be devoured by the industry because I’m “too nice”… I might as well sprinkled myself with some salt and handed everyone a napkin. My defense is, just because I am nice, does not mean that I am naive. I have always proceeded with caution. I have had experiences that have helped me figure out who I can trust and who I should keep an eye on, and they’ve given me a much thicker skin. It’s a very cliquy industry, as most are. What I’ve learned most is that it has about 10% to do with talent, 70% of marketing, and 200% to do with who you know. As sickening as that is for me, it’s true and it’s just the way it is. As someone who came into the industry with no financial foundation it can be discouraging, but I like to keep a positive attitude. I’m hoping that one day, all my hard work and long hours (of mostly free work) will pay off. I may not have a ton of money, but I have hope!
What advice do you have for potential models who are looking to jump into the industry?
It’s all about balance and having good people around you for support.
1. Always be professional.
2. Be picky with who you work with.
3. Use your trust sparingly.
4. Always be grateful for a person’s time.
5. Always be respective of your own time.
6. Find a good agency. If they ask for a dime, leave.
7. Don’t be a wet blanket.
8. Don’t be a diva.
9. Eat healthy and take care of yourself.
10. Be realistic—you may not be the next Giselle, but you can still be successful.
How did you transition into photography, was there any influence involved?
It was after a photoshoot with one of my good friends Jennifer. We were just having fun, and she needed photos for her website. So I picked up her camera and took her photo. After she had seen what I shot, she told me that nobody had ever taken such a good picture of her, not even professionals she knew. She actually gave me my first camera, a Canon AE-1. It took me a while to warm up to the idea, but once I started taking photos I couldn’t stop. I’ve now been shooting for two years.
What do you enjoy most about photography and what keeps you inspired?
I love everything about photography—well maybe not the business aspect, but pretty much everything. Anything can inspire me. I’ll be walking down the street and see a leaf falling from a tree and it’s motion or shadow will spark some inspiration. Little things in life, tiny details are very inspiring to me. Other artists also inspire me. I’m CONSTANTLY researching other peoples work. I study color theory, compositional theory, aesthetics, classic artists and emerging artists. People in general inspire me. If I like someone’s face I am able to come up with an entire concept based on how they look. It’s all about opening up your senses and soul to whats around you. Beauty is everywhere.
Do you prefer one over the other, or do you intend to keep doing both?
I always get asked this question, and the answer I’ve come up with is, “I don’t know.” There are pros and cons to both. I couldn’t see me doing one without the other honestly. They keep me refreshed. Photography helps me with modeling just as much as modeling helps with photography. It’s all in the same circle, it’s a yin-yang thing.
However, I’m going to get too old to model. I’m well on my way, so yes eventually I’ll have to stop. I plan on letting photography take over and fill my other outlet with something else—maybe I’ll pick up underwater basket weaving.
What are your future plans and goals?
I never plan anymore. If you have noticed from my past of wanting to be an actress, I’m no longer on that track. My ADD will make me tired of just taking stills probably. I would like to look more into video, I like music, so maybe combining them and start working for musical artists. I also really like helping others achieve their dream, and I like finding new talent. Down the road, I might want to open up a talent agency. We’ll see…I could just say “screw this” and do more volunteer work and return back to the mountains to be a ski bum again. Time will tell.
If you had to start all over again, what would you change?
I like to have the hope that everything happens for a reason.
We thank Oriana for taking the time to share her story with us. To check out more of her work, click on these links for both modeling and photography.