Model Monday: The Pressure to Perform

One of the things that I see affect most new models and photographers is a strong case of nerves or stage fright. Often, this can be for many reasons, but usually it's out of fear. It could be a fear of rejection, or a fear of doing something wrong, or even a fear of looking like an amateur. Whatever the reason, it can be overwhelming to the point of being crippling.

I remember growing up, doing like so many kids do when playing neighborhood basketball, and pretending that I was Michael Jordan, taking that last second shot at the buzzer to win it all. Or maybe it was ALWAYS the bottom of the Ninth, down three runs, with bases loaded, and 2 outs, waiting on an O and 2 pitch at the World Series. Or Fourth and Goal for the at the 5 yard line needing a touchdown for the win, and either throwing or making the catch to win the game. What do all of these scenarios have in common? They are all high stress situations. Situations that require a need to perform.

I often wonder how many times Whitney Houston sang the Star Spangled Banner before her performance in Tampa Bay at Super Bowl 25? Or how many buzzer beaters MJ or Kobe practiced daily? I wonder if Tiger Woods, out of those hundreds of balls he practices with every morning, pretends that some are a 60 foot putt to win the Green Jacket.

When I was in the military, we had a saying; "You train to fight and you fight as you train." When I played soccer, during practice we did "lightning" rounds of trying to press and offense or a defense in the last 5 minutes of the game. In football, we practiced the 2-Minute Drill. All of these things bring us to being able to do what is routine, in non-routine situations.

Train as you fight

As a Model or a Photographer, I always encourage practice. Of course, it is great to be in front of and behind the camera as often as possible, but that may not be afforded to us. To my photographers, I tell them to grab their favorite stuffed animal and use that as a model. When they see a location, shoot the stuffed animal first and pose it or position it. See what the light is doing. See what THEIR lights are doing, or what the sun is doing at that time of day. This often makes the actual shooting on set so much easier, because the only variable at that point is now the model, and not the environment. If things change, it makes it easier to adapt and overcome.

For the Models, while your mirror is your closest ally, it will often lie to you by showing you only what you want to see. A majority of us now carry advanced mobile phones which can not only take photos, but capture video. Take 30 seconds or so, and see how many facial expressions you can make on command. Can you transition from them? Why not do a monologue for 15 seconds. Post it on your favorite Social Media Networking site, and have your friends and followers critique your performance as well. Not only will it build up your abilities as a model, but it will make you more confident on set and in frame.

As you can see, it's not just practice that is needed, but also the right kind of practicing. Getting ready for that situation; relieving the pressure to perform, and turning it into a situation that is routine. To this day, when I go flying, and I come in for a landing, I still verbally go through my check lists. The same way I do when I am at home, "chair flying" so that it is routine to me. I remember in flight school, walking around the living room with all kind of objects on the ground to simulate an airfield. Think of the pressure that is placed on you when you are trying to land a plane. In most movies, that is the climactic, chaotic event, but every day, pilots around the world make it seem easy. Everyday models and photographers around the world, do what you want to do, and make it seem easy.

Practice the moment, and then LIVE for the moment!

Leighton DaCosta

Hello, I'm Leighton and I help people around the world tell their story. Let me introduce myself. Whether it's for online dating, or a professional profile, it always seems that the "About Me" section is always the hardest to write. Not because you have nothing to say about yourself, but because you want to be sincere, genuine, interesting, and brief all at the same time. I have never been a fan of writing about me in the third person, like: "Leighton DaCosta, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to Brooklyn, NY at an early age when his parents wanted to form a new life for themselves and their children. In the third grade, the family moved to Orlando, Fl, where Leighton considers his home town. After spending 3 tours in the Navy, he settled in Jacksonville, and now Miramar, Florida, where he now calls home. Today, still wanted by many, he does work as a fashion and wedding photographer. If you have a wedding(or photo shoot)... if no one else can help... and if you can find him... maybe you can hire... ok.. this is not The A- Team." But you see what I mean? What do you know about me? How can we connect? Did you know that my FAVORITE food is Pizza and Sushi? Or that my favorite color is Purple? When I go to the wine bars, I usually order Mimosas, because even the cheapest champagne tastes great with some good ole OJ. When I travel, I like staying in nice hotels. Not because of the name, (even though I AM partial to Hyatt) but because of the bathrooms. One of my favorite hotels is the Viking in Newport, Rhode Island. Small rooms, but AWESOME bathrooms. I LOVE TO EAT, and eating as much as I have, has led me to be about 100 pounds more than I was in High School... Yeah there is some muscle there, but if it was all muscle, I'm sorry folks, I wouldn't be taking photos, I would be retiring from the NFL. If you want to see some of my favorite dishes, follow me on Instagram. Because of that, I find myself now in the gym more than ever. Trying to stay fit and alive... I workout, so I can EAT! Well that's enough for now, if you want to know more about me, follow my blog. Better yet, I want to find out more about YOU. So let's talk!