This Woman's Work - The (Gorgeous) Girl Next Door

Emma (from Manchester, now living in London)

I fell into modelling after my step-mum entered me in a competition without my knowledge – I got through to the final and was really intimidated by all the super tall & busty blondes that had entered! After the competition I started booking jobs with an agency and realised there was something appealing to clients about a flat chested, skinny girl with a mass of ginger hair!

I studied Media at college with the intention of becoming a TV producer. I was lucky enough to land work experience with the BBC and was offered a runner position for when I finished college, but by this point I’d begun modelling and the idea of being a runner for £8k a year had little appeal! My husband is a fashion and advertising photographer and due to my love of clothes, I began helping him out with styling for shoots and built a portfolio from there. Clients don’t always like the cross over, so as a freelance fashion stylist and agency represented model I’ve found it makes life easier by using both my maiden and married names to keep the roles separate.

Generally I don’t have a “typical” day, but this is one of the reasons I love what I do! Sometimes I’ll be running around London going to castings, modelling on a photoshoot, doing shopping prep for a styling job or actually on a shoot styling the models. Most days involve early wake ups though – but then having a toddler means I’m used to it even on days off! I love the variety of what I do and the contrasting sides of being in front of and behind the camera. Being a model means I rock up and have a team of people trying to make me look the best I can, where as styling allows me to have a creative input on a shoot and not just feel like a clothes horse. One of the hardest parts I would say is the competitiveness of both careers; it’s very easy to get caught up in why you didn’t get booked for something and why someone else is better than you. It’s important to remember they got booked because they are different to you, not better.

Another amazing thing about my career choice is the flexibility it affords. I booked plenty of modelling jobs when I was pregnant, and even now I quite often shoot with my son. We did our first commercial together earlier this year and he absolutely loved it! It’s difficult if I get booked on shoots abroad as I have the “mummy guilt” about leaving him, but I feel it balances out as I get to spend a lot more time with him than if I had a “regular” 9-5 job.

Having worked in the industry for over 16 years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing clients in some fabulous locations. It’s hard to pick favourites, but highlights would include shooting on a rooftop in LA, on top of a glacier in Iceland, and dressed in 6ft angels wings on a rock in the middle of the Hebrides! For anyone looking to get into the fashion industry, the best advice I can give is to grow a thick skin and be realistic about the types of work you’ll be able to do. I’m not a 6ft fashion model – I’m really commercial and so shoot a lot of advertising which I love. The same goes for styling – I’m not interested in styling high fashion magazines – I much prefer the more commercial side of the industry. It’s about understanding the market and where to place yourself within it.

Photo Credits: James Lightbown // Chris Reeve

Follow Emma on Instagram: @EmmaLightbown // @EmmaRice