This question has been on my mind for quite some time, so I thought it would be productive to write a bit of a think piece to make sense of my thoughts. I’m not writing this post to answer the title question with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. I’m simply writing it to play devils advocate and to start a bit of a conversation in the blogosphere. Are Influencers and Bloggers Just Becoming Models?
Blogging has now become a recognised profession and influencer marketing is now a huge industry. Brand collaborations make up a large part of a full time bloggers and influencers pay-checks (including mine), so it’s only natural that we’re going to see our favourite influencers featuring different brands and products. In my opinion, these brands are getting an incredible deal from influencers. Exposure aside, bloggers are creating beautiful, unique content for brands featuring their products, for a fee. What did brands do before this type of content was available? They had to hire a studio, a photographer, a make up artist and of course, models! That all costs a substantial amount of money, and it doesn’t come with a readily engaged audience. Not to say brands don’t still do professional shoots, but bloggers can showcase products to their target audience in a more organic and authentic way.
When I say ‘product’ this could be anything from a handbag to a watch, or from a hotel to a holiday. The products vary, but I’ve found that a common requirement is that I (the blogger) need to feature in the photo they’ve asked me to create. Suddenly, this changes everything.
With these requirements, the blogger is no longer behind the camera. Despite their natural eye for photography or the unique shooting style that initially got them noticed, the blogger is now in front of the camera. The blogger is the photo subject. So who takes the photos?
Of course there are Instagram husbands, friends, parents and siblings who might be willing to help out and get a few quick snaps. I’ve relied on my boyfriend, friends and fellow bloggers to take my photos and until now I’ve done just fine. But recently I have felt like the photos they take for me aren’t good enough. In terms of beautiful photography, the bar is constantly being raised and I want to stay at the top of it. I recently decided to enlist the help of a professional photographer for the very first time, Leeds-based photographer Matt McCormick. The driving decision maker that pushed me to do it was the fact I was collaborating with a jewellery brand. I wanted to impress the brand I was collaborating with and physically couldn’t have got the shots myself as I had to 'model' the jewellery. The photos in this post were actually taken on our test shoot in Leeds.
I had very mixed feelings about working with a photographer for the first time. I felt excited what kind of photos we might create and I felt relieved that we’d share the same end goal of getting that ‘perfect shot’. But I also felt uneasy as I felt like I was handing over the creative control. Ultimately I knew that the photography would be all his work. Not mine. Did the jewellery brand want my photography style, or did they just want me to be in the photos with their product? Had I just gone from blogger to model?
To an extent, I did just feel slightly like a model. Not in a glamorous Victoria-Secret / Gigi Hadid sense, but just in the sense that I was the photo subject. Matt brought his own camera and equipment and took all the photos. He edited the photos himself and sent the final versions over to me a day or so later.
But on reflection I realised that there was so much that went in to it. Although Matt did physically take the photos, I think my creative vision massively influenced the final shots. I decided on the location of the shoot (the tiled hall café), I styled myself with an outfit I thought would compliment the jewellery and I clearly explained my vision for the photos. I then edited the final images in my own way. Before the shoot, I already knew the story behind the images and could already see them in my head. Matt and I worked together to bring them to life. When I think of it like that, I wasn’t just a model at all. Yes I was in the photos, but I also had the role of ‘creative director’.
Are Bloggers Just Becoming Models?
I loved the final result of the photos and felt they fit well with my general photography style and Instagram aesthetic. I would definitely work with a photographer again, if they were happy for it to be a collaborative effort. I don’t just want to feel like a model.
Bloggers and Influencers are working with photographers more and more frequently and I think overall this is a positive thing. It shows that the industry is becoming more professional and bloggers can produce high quality content that brands are willing to pay for. Part of me is a little sad that there is less call for raw, real and unedited photos, but I think that’s now the role of Instagram Stories and live social streaming. Embracing change can only be a good thing so whilst I will continue to take my own photos, I will definitely call upon the help of a Photographer when I need it.
Are bloggers just becoming models or do you see it as more of a collaborative effort? Do you love to see polished photography or raw photos on blogs and social media? I’d absolutely love to hear your opinion on this topic, so please do leave a comment in the box below. Jess x
Below are a couple of my favourite jewellery shots from the shoot. All pieces available on danielladraper.com