You can’t help but smile as you get to know Maria – she radiates beauty, positivity, and charm. She’s made waves in the modeling industry thus far, and all signs point to an even more auspicious future. Check out her lovely story below. 🙂
Say hello to Maria :
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I was born in the US but moved to Russia at an early age where I lived until the age of 13. After 7th grade, I moved to Florida. I haven’t traveled nearly as much as I would have liked to, but I have been to various places in the US, which I have completely loved! I’ve been to Kansas, Arizona, Florida, Chicago, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. I cannot wait to see the rest of the country. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to see a few countries besides the places where I have lived. As a child, my parents took me to Tunisia, Africa and Abkhazia, right outside of Russia. We’ve taken cruise adventures to Mexico and the Bahamas.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
I’ve been asked this question various times, but haven’t been able to answer it. Just recently, I have figured out that it is not the place that is important, it is how you feel in the moment that matters. The most amazing place for me is wherever my family and loved ones are. They always make it feel like home, no matter how far I am from my house. 🙂
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I would love to hear people’s answer to this one! Personally, I have many ideas that I would love to create and many things I would like to try. Most recently, I have had the desire to incorporate my culture into my work and add some type of background story and feel to my photos. I want to collaborate with the best photographers and do a photoshoot in every state of the US. Eventually, I want to make a TV show that shows a couple completing the bucket list activities/ideas that viewers send to them.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
In the beginning of 2013, a photographer, Dewayne Brady, reached out to me asking to shoot together. As any young girl, having a photoshoot of her own sounds like a dream come true, so I agreed to the offer. The day of our collaboration was amazing – I felt very happy and complete. The experience was a confidence boost for me. Dewayne and I worked together on many more photoshoots. After that, he helped put my portfolio together and took me to sign with my first agency – Alexa Models. Ever since then,, I have been working as much as I can with photographers, agents, and clients.
What are some of your favorite pictures of yourself?
I have so many photos that I love! Every photographer has their own way of capturing a person. Here are a few shots that I really love. I wish I could share more, but at this moment, I do not have a way to access them.
Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?
There have been many jobs that I have done that I was so blessed to be a part of. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities! Here are some magazine publications that I am very grateful to be in.
What was your most embarrassing situation while modeling?
This is a tough one, considering that embarrassing stuff happens to me all the time. One of the situations that stands out to me the most was when I was two hours late to my shoot because I had slept through my alarm. I had scheduled a shoot with an amazing photographer and a wonderful makeup artist for 8am at the beach. It would have taken me two hours to get there, so the alarm was set for 5.30am. It was already 8am. I got a call from my photographer and MUA (both had driven quite far and only had this specific time available for the shoot). It was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. It was so embarrassing. I had let both of them down. By the time I got to our location, the MUA was about to leave. The sun was too high, and we couldn’t really shoot for very long. Ever since then, I set 15 alarms every morning.
Modeling is very competitive. How do you stand out?
Modeling is very competitive. Most people do not realize that it is very tough to get very far in this industry. Many women and men from all over the world desire to get paid for taking pictures. It is much more than just that. If it was so easy, we would all get paid to be in commercials and shoots. We all have unique features that deserve to be captured and could be interesting for someone to notice. It takes a lot of motivation, confidence, and persistence to be able to get booked on a regular basis. It is tough to go to agency after agency and hear people tell you that what you have to offer is not what they need. It is easy to give up if you are not determined.
Where I believe I stand out is in my determination. I know where I want to be and I am not going to stop until I get there. I am going to give my all rather than look back and have regrets about not trying. I sincerely enjoy working with people, meeting new faces, and I am very enthusiastic about what I do. I don’t consider modeling as work. It is just a thing I enjoy so much. One thing that I have heard many people say about models is that they feel entitled -many feel that they are the star of the show and accordingly, treat others from that same perspective. I could say that that is one thing I never wish to do to others – treat them disrespectfully. Even though that doesn’t seem like an important thing, or an aspect that will make your career, I think the way you treat others is the most important thing – it could make or break a whole day of work.
What is the best thing a photographer can do to bring out your personality?
I strongly believe that each and every one of us has different sides to our personalities. It takes a specific type of person to bring out the best or the worst out of any of us, and we all have those sides. Normally, I am friendly, very easygoing, and enthusiastic about most things. I like the freedom of creativity, I like to know what the photographer wants to see and work with that. I like to see that we both are getting the images we were looking for. Honestly, just be simple and positive – that is all it takes.
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
Out of all the photoshoots I have done, it is impossible to pick favorites. I love doing what I do, and I love working with other professional people. Here are some of my favorite photos that really stand out to me.
What do you like most about modeling?
What do I like about modeling? Well, you have days where you get to go to an amusement park, hang out with great people, have fun, and get into ads, all at the same time.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
A few things that I have dealt with before will no longer be tolerated by me and should never be tolerated by any model.
- If there is something you do not want to do/shoot, you shouldn’t do it. You definitely should not be pressured into it.
- If a photographer is disrespectful or unprofessional. Never let people talk down to you, or talk to you inappropriately. People should have respect for their co-workers at all times.
- If a photographer seems like he doesn’t know what he is doing, doesn’t take the time to plan anything at all, or represents him/herself as something he or she isn’t. Modeling or being a model is a job. Your time is valuable. Your photos represent you. They are your resume. Do not waste your time on photos that you don’t think will benefit you in any way. Take yourself seriously.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
Constantly shooting and working with photographers has it’s pluses and minuses. It is always great to get to know someone through a work experience and create something that resembles both partners. A few tips for aspiring photographers from my perspective:
- If you do a TFP shoot, keep in mind that even though being a photographer is a tough job, a model (and HMUA/Stylists and etc.) were all a part of the shoot and have put their effort into it. They all deserve to get a certain amount of photos within a reasonable amount of time. Models cannot use photos that were taken more than 6 months ago – if your edits come through 9 months later, it no longer makes a difference in their portfolio.
- If you want to have a good reputation and a good flow of clients, you definitely want to be professional. Never force a model to do something he or she is not interested in doing. Never make a person feel uncomfortable, it will create a bad impression and terrible photos.
- Lastly, take your time and skill seriously. Respect yourself just like you would respect anyone else who is working on a project with you. Set a goal for your shoot. If you want to test the light, do a TFP. It could be spontaneous. If you desire to get published, I would definitely recommend to plan everything down to detail. There is a good quote I’ve been told, “If you fail to plan, your plan will fail.” Respect your time and everyone else’s.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
Modeling is definitely not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of work, psychological preparedness, and a lot of communication skills. Some things I would recommend for aspiring models:
- Always be prepared. Have a goal. Ask yourself what you want to get out of every shoot. Practice and plan ahead. Be prepared. Come on time, 15 minutes early preferably. Always bring water and snacks with you. Some shoots can take up to 18 hours. Even though you’ll most likely get fed, it is still good to have your own backup plan. Try to bring extra clothes and makeup with you just in case something goes wrong. If you are attending a casting, always bring a few headshots. Keep them in your trunk. Bring a resume, and a bikini/swimwear. The client might want to see what you look like to be able to hire you for a job.
- Just because you are a model doesn’t mean the world revolves around you. Most of the time, modeling is about everything but what you want (to an extent, of course). Act polite and professional on any shoot or job.
- I think this is the most important advice I can give to a new model – never do what you don’t want to do. Ask your client, agent, or photographer for all the terms of the job you’ll be working on. If you are not comfortable with shooting swimwear or lingerie, you do not have to do it. Many of us have this misconception that all models have to get naked. That is wrong. You do not have to get naked to book jobs. Some agencies do not want you to have those types of photos. Make conscious decisions about what you want or don’t want without considering money. If your goal is to become a Victoria’s Secret model, you will have to shoot lingerie. If you want to do commercials or catalogs, you can just stick to normal shoots.
What do you want people to remember about you after a shoot?
The most important thing for me is to leave with a positive experience. I want the people I work with to have the same feeling. I want to be pleasant to work with and for my client/photographer to be satisfied with our photos.
If you could model anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
At this very moment I am excited to travel. I would take the opportunity to model in Miami, L.A., New York, or Europe. Every market is different and is worth learning about.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life and why?
Without a doubt, my heroes are my mom and dad. They have done so much for me that I can’t even begin to explain. I have been a very lucky person to have such an amazing and caring family. They show me strength, love, and appreciation. I would not be the person that I am without them.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
I have many fears. I have a fear of losing my family and friends, a fear of not being healthy enough to do the things that I want, and a fear of not “making it.” Ultimately, I would say something that scares me, frustrates me, and pushes me all at the same time, is a fear of not having any progress. Consistency is great, but not when it comes to your progress. As a person who wants to be successful in our times, you have to always keep striving for more. You have to keep working, learning, and setting new goals.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to my family and friends. They are always here for me. I want to thank all the photographers, agents, clients, HMUA, and stylists that I’ve ever worked with for giving me the opportunities that I have had. Special thanks to Dewayne Brady, Alexa Models, Modern Muse Models, Kristen – a very special person, Jennifer and Randy Zales, Yosbel Amor, and Stewart Price. Of course, I would also like to give a shoutout to all the people that I haven’t talked to in forever that would take the time out of their day to say kind and supportive words to me. It means so much to me! Thank you to everyone. I might not have listed all of the names, but I am grateful. A good deed never goes unnoticed.
What fashion trend do you wish would come back?
I love the Renaissance styles. They are beautiful!
What do you think is your best feature?
I do not normally like to speak highly of myself. However, through some time and evaluation of my life, I can honestly say that being positive and taking on challenges has helped me a lot in my life. Some things that were seemingly tough were accomplished because of the way I saw the situation – a challenge that I must accept.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Oh… where do I even start? I would like to be able to manage my time better, have a better routine, be more organized, etc. I definitely would like to get back into reading and learning. I am definitely going to change that one day.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
For many years, I have wanted to go to Arizona and spend some time learning about the Native American tribes. Something there is just calling my name. Being able to live freely and more connected to nature seems amazing. Even though it might not be the case, I still want to learn and appreciate the native people of these lands.
What was the happiest day of your life?
Every day is a happy day, especially if you have some pizza. 🙂
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Maria, here’s some contact information:
Maria, thank you so much for sharing your beauty and positivity with us! 🙂
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.