Almost 20 years ago, I was listening to the "Bourbon Street Preacher," Bob Harrington, give a motivational sermon. One of the things he mentioned was a take on the lyrics from a Jefferson Airplane song, 'White Rabbit.' "Feed your head! Feed your head! Feed your head daily!"
I remember those words like it was yesterday. How much those words came back to visit me a few years ago, when during a conference a few years ago, I heard the speaker say almost the same exact words. Take a mental vacation during the week. Now his point wasn't to shut down and veg out, his point was that in order to do more, sometimes you must KNOW more. The suggestion was to take at a minimum, an hour a week, reading and gathering information that would make your business grow.
If modeling is your "business" then your intent should be to make your business grow. I would suggest that you become your "business'" subject matter expert. That's right, don't only be the most talented model out there, but also to be the most knowledgeable. Who you know may get you in the door, but what you know very well may be the difference between you getting a gig or not getting a gig.
I would suggest that at least once or twice a week, to take a few hours to increase your mental and visual knowledge. Read books that make you better not in just modeling, but also in life as well. Some of the best books that I have read in the past 6 months have NOTHING to do with photography, but I feel set me up better as a photographer. Some of these books include:
-The Art of the Deal -Rich Dad, Poor Dad -The Admirals -The Third Alternative -The Alchemist -The Richest Man in Babylon
Some of these books are in electronic or audio form, so it gives me more opportunities to appreciate it than just the printed version. Another good source to get visual inspiration too as well is of course, magazines. Here is where you can get VERY flexible and do magazines that are geared towards the area that you would like to specialize in. For me, some of the magazines I choose to read are in both printed and electronic form. These magazines include:
-Vogue -Popular Photography -Motor Trend -Brides -Time -Money -Rangefinder -Details -GQ
As you can see the titles are more than just photography as well, but other parts of my business strategies as well. I also read travel magazines, because a lot of times, a location that you may see in a far way land, may have an equivalent nearby. For example, I love the architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but sometimes the crowds make it almost impossible to do a session. It wasn't until I lived in Pensacola, FL that I realized that a lot of the same architecture existed there as well. If movies are made in places like Montreal, Toronto, and even Singapore and Hong Kong to be made to look like New York and Chicago, why not take the same principles into editorial photography? I love the fact that many "Spaghetti Westerns" are called that because they were shot in Italy, vice the US.
Speaking of movies, what other medium encompasses so much information like movies and television. Project Runway and America's Next Top Model are not the only opportunities to see style and fashion. Think of the shows Mad Men, Suits, or even White Collar, where the fashion scenes are always impeccable. When you watch movies, do you look to see how the actors stand to, or away from the light? How is the costuming done? How are the clothes worn? Many things have been done to get your mind subconsciously involved into the scene, is it working? The scene of the lady with the red dress, did she catch your eye as well?
My advice to you as a model, or even as a photographer, makeup artist, or other facet in the industry, is to look all around you once or twice a week and get information that will help your careers and business grow. For this industry, as heavily as it relies on looks, relies even more on the knowledge and abilities of the players that are inside of it.