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John Duder Interviews Professional Model Amber Belle

John Duder has a portfolio full of great portraits and one lady who features quite prominently is Amber Belle who John has recently sat down with to talk all things photography which includes taking photos as well as striking a pose in front of the camera.

|  Portraits and People
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Amber from our first ever shoot, in July 2021

Amber from our first ever shoot, in July 2021

 

Over the last year, I’ve photographed Amber Belle several times, starting a few weeks after she first joined Purpleport, and we’ve talked about taking pictures a lot – she inspired a recent article about camera ergonomics. It seemed a good idea to get her views on her new job, around 12 months in...

 

You started modelling relatively recently – around a year ago. Let’s start by finding out what your motivation was (and is)…

I suppose that’s changed, quite a bit. I first got into modelling as a bit of an experiment. I lost my job going into lockdown, like I’m sure a lot of people did, and it wasn’t so much of a problem to begin with as I was quite busy moving house. But after a little while, I started to think maybe I should find another job to do – and my partner actually mentioned modelling to me. I must admit it wasn’t something I’d ever thought of and I thought he was a little mad. But I thought, ‘do you know what? I’ll give it a go and see what happens. I can’t lose anything.’ From my first shoot, I was pretty much hooked, and so I have him to thank for that.

 

2 Blonde Amber – she’s now got very dark hair, so I’m glad I’ve got some images from her very earliest days modelling.

Blonde Amber – she’s now got very dark hair, so I’m glad I’ve got some images from her very earliest days modelling.

 

So you like being in front of a camera – that’s part of the continuing motivation?

Yes, I do. But most of all I like creating art, and I like creating beautiful pictures. I’ve always been very interested in art, looking at art and creating it. I used to paint. And it’s nice to be sort of a bit of a tool in that. There are other aspects of the job that I’m really drawn to, like the travelling side and meeting new people. It’s a very social job, isn’t it, and I’ve always been in very social jobs where I’ve had to travel.

On a completely different note, I guess, the fact that being self-employed gives you a certain amount of freedom. It’s also very nice being able to work around your social life.

 

3 Travelling in style –Amber’s car makes for good portraits. A note to anyone shooting similar material, where a model is posing with her own car – exclude the number plate from images, or clone out the index number. Models value their privacy.

Travelling in style –Amber’s car makes for good portraits. A note to anyone shooting similar material, where a model is posing with her own car – exclude the number plate from images, or clone out the index number. Models value their privacy.

 

Are there any downsides to the business?

[Pause] Well, you can see by the fact that I’m having to think about it that there’s not a lot! But I had a message today… It reminded me that I do get this from time to time. A lot of photographers think this is something that you do more as a hobby, something that you don’t necessarily need to be paid for, that it’s a bonus that you get paid. I guess it’s difficult for people to understand that this is a serious job, this is what I do to pay my bills and it’s not just something I do as a bit of fun. Even though I do have fun!

 

4 ‘Timelessly stylish’ describes Amber’s Mazda soft-top car, and Amber herself.

 ‘Timelessly stylish’ describes Amber’s Mazda soft-top car, and Amber herself.

 

Please tell us about a typical week for you, and the hours involved – early starts and late finishes.

A typical week doesn’t really exist. In terms of the number of bookings, that’s fairly regularly most of the time – three or four bookings a week, and that will range from model days, studio days, where you go into the studio for the whole day and you have two or three-hour slots where a photographer will come in. I particularly enjoy that, because you get to meet more people. I do home shoots as well, where photographers will come to my home. I do location shoots, and then your typical studio booking. The majority are four or five hours, of full days.

Mostly early starts, I prefer them to a late finish. I will never turn a job down just because it is later on in the evening – if someone can only do an evening, that’s fine. I can stay up late for work – for example, tomorrow I’ve got a shoot that will finish at half-past nine. Long-distance travelling isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but I’ve got used to wearing loose clothing that doesn’t leave lines all over your body when you’re travelling for two or three hours.

 

5 Amber’s choice of clothes is as impeccable on the street as it is in the studio – this infrared shot in my garden emphasises her freedom and independence.

Amber’s choice of clothes is as impeccable on the street as it is in the studio – this infrared shot in my garden emphasises her freedom and independence.

 

How has modelling affected your overall lifestyle?

I guess the biggest thing in terms of lifestyle is the freedom of it. I can choose whether to take on work or not, depending on what else I’m doing with my life. And also, probably confidence: I didn’t think in a million years that I had the potential to be a model, or even that I’d know how to act in front of the camera. So it’s very nice to look back and think I’ve done that, and I’m doing all right.

 

Amber in her gym – while she prefers yoga to boxing, the outfit is photogenic!

Amber in her gym – while she prefers yoga to boxing, the outfit is photogenic!

 

What fitness and health regimes do you follow?

The biggest way I stay healthy is with my diet. That’s the most important thing. You can go to the gym seven days a week, but if your diet isn’t up to scratch you won’t be the healthiest of people. So I do follow a very strict diet. In terms of exercise, I don’t kill myself in the gym for two hours at a time. I do have a home gym, and if I fancy something different I’ll go and use it, but my thing is yoga. I love yoga, and sometimes a bit of Pilates. It’s just such a convenient exercise – if you can fit a yoga mat somewhere, you can do a workout. I’ve noticed that they have very much helped my balance, and it’s a lot more important than I thought for posing!


[7]7 Focus matters… here, in camera, on Amber’s eye. It helps in working out, too, and forging a career as a freelance model.

Focus matters… here, in-camera, on Amber’s eye. It helps in working out, too, and forging a career as a freelance model.

 

Do you find that you work with a relatively small group of photographers repeatedly, or a lot of new faces – or a mixture?

It’s a pretty even mixture of both, which is nice. I have a lot of regulars now, a year into modelling, normally about once a month, and I get a lot of new enquiries as well. It’s nice because I like meeting new people, but it’s also nice to go back and catch up with those people as well and build a good working relationship.

 

Single light image of Amber – a bikini for the studio rather than the beach? She’s keeping it ready for our workshops this month and in July…

A single light image of Amber – a bikini for the studio rather than the beach? She’s keeping it ready for our workshops this month and in July…

 

There’s a lot said and written about the images of women being all about the male gaze. Please tell us your take on that, and how you wish to be perceived by people viewing your pictures.

A lot of the point of some types of modelling – glamour, and where you dress very sexy – you are going to be looked at a certain way by males, and I think that should be expected. I don’t mind it. If I did mind it, I’d be in a different job. The way I see it, I go to work, I have an assignment, I get paid, and I go home. I’m happy with the job that I do. You’re always going to get people who are a little unkind about what you do, but I do think that’s something that comes with the job, and you possibly need a little bit of a thick skin to be a model, especially one that does glamour or art nude.

 

Sidelight is often more interesting than flat-on, even illumination…

Sidelight is often more interesting than flat-on, even illumination…

 

Do you perceive a big difference between the pictures you like and the ones photographers are most pleased with?

If you’d asked me this a few months ago, I’d have said yes. However, the longer I’ve been modelling, the more I’ve been seeing eye to eye with the photographers and understanding what a technically good image looks like. There are still some things in me that if I see in an image, I’m going to instantly dislike it! However, if I see a really good image it’s more ‘Wow! The lighting’s perfect there!’ rather than ‘Oh, I look really pretty in that picture.’

 

Toplight is hard to work with, because tiny variations in angle alter the result so much. And it’s not necessarily an obvious choice for a portrait. Here, the hooded look it gives Amber’s eyes, and the shadow of her well-defined jawline on her torso makes for a ‘photographer’s choice’ portrait.

Toplight is hard to work with because tiny variations in angle alter the result so much. And it’s not necessarily an obvious choice for a portrait. Here, the hooded look it gives Amber’s eyes, and the shadow of her well-defined jawline on her torso make for a ‘photographer’s choice’ portrait.

 

You’ve become interested in taking pictures as well as posing for them. Can you tell us something about what you like doing with a camera?

Before I started modelling, I’d never picked up a camera and taken any proper pictures. A smartphone was all I’d used. But as I mentioned, I’ve always been interested in art, and when I started modelling, I was fascinated by this whole other art that’s being produced, and all the different things you could do with lighting, and how you could make a very normal scene look phenomenal through a lens and editing. I thought I’d quite like to give that a go. I have no problem finding what looks good, but there’s a whole other technical side that I wasn’t expecting. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks. I’m sure practice makes perfect, and I shall keep on practicing.

 

11 After the interview, Amber took me for a walk outside her village: this was visible from a long way off, resting on a ridge between fields.

After the interview, Amber took me for a walk outside her village: this was visible from a long way off, resting on a ridge between fields.

 

What subjects do you like shooting?

Photographing buildings interests me, often older, decaying ones. I have no interest in photographing pretty things. I would much rather make something beautiful out of something that most people wouldn’t look twice at.

How has taking pictures and understanding the technical side of photography affected your approach as a model?

With understanding lighting a bit more, it helps me with my posing because I know where to face, what would happen if I was to turn away from the light slightly and it would cast certain shadows on my face and body. And maybe I’d look at the back of the camera and think that could be improved if the light was slightly different or if they used a different technique, and I might feel confident enough to mention that.

 

Another detail that Amber spotted and turned into an image.

Another detail that Amber spotted and turned into an image.

 

What’s your advice to aspiring models?

I think I should look at what advice I’d give myself when I started out – and if I could go back, I’d have told myself to do this a little earlier, because it’s potentially such an enjoyable job, and you can take so much from it. That would be the biggest bit of advice – that if you’re umming and ahhing about it, just give it a go. Don’t feel pressured to do any type of modelling you don’t want to do. Just do what you enjoy. Also, in my personal opinion, and this might be different for everybody, when you first start off in modelling I’d advise to try freelancing before sign up with an agency because you get more chance to try out different kinds of modelling and see what you do enjoy. If you don’t enjoy some types of work you’re not tied into anything, and of course you get 100% of what you earn.

 

Don't be afraid to use a low viewpoint – Amber shooting. See 14 for the result.

Don't be afraid to use a low viewpoint – Amber shooting. See 14 for the result.

 

And to go with that, what’s your advice to photographers wanting to book a model for the first time?

I think that’s a little bit more of a difficult one. I’ve worked with a lot of first time photographers who’ve chosen me to be their first model. The only thing I’ve picked out form them is that they usually undersell themselves. It’s never as bad as they think it’s going to be. What I’d say is just relax and enjoy it. Models aren’t these scary, stuck-up people who are going to make life hard for them. They’re pretty nice. Just enjoy yourself and use it as a learning experience. When you’re choosing a model to work with for the first time, even though it might be daunting, try to go for someone who has lots of experience and knows what they’re doing because they can help you along.

 

A low viewpoint has given Amber excellent perspective here. On the way back from our walk, the bins had gone, and the bricks were being cleared. Never walk past a shot, because it may not be there next time you pass!

A low viewpoint has given Amber an excellent perspective here. On the way back from our walk, the bins had gone, and the bricks were being cleared. Never walk past a shot, because it may not be there next time you pass!

 

Please tell us the answer to the question that you wanted me to ask, and I haven’t.

On the more serious side, I should mention model safety. If you decide to freelance, it’s so important to keep a log of everyone you’re talking to and everything that you’re arranging, and just make sure someone knows where you are at all times, when you’ve arrived at a shoot and when you’re leaving, because you never truly know who’s going to be there at a shoot when you turn up. So always be safe, never think ‘Oh, I’ll be all right just this once.’ Always play it on the safe side. And if you are worried, consider taking a chaperone – and if a photographer decides they don’t want to shoot with you any more as soon as you mention a chaperone, you’re probably dodging a bullet there.

 

A session discussing lighting led Amber to take this portrait of me. I’m not sure that I smile often enough…

A session discussing lighting led Amber to take this portrait of me. I’m not sure that I smile often enough…

 

Pictures 11-15 inclusive © Amber Belle 2022.

 

About Author: John Duder 

John Duder has been taking pictures more or less seriously since he was 14, and shot his first nudes around his 18th birthday. Although he maintains he’s actually a 17-year-old, he’s now retired from his day job, and now writes and does the occasional bit of photographic tuition.

He’s particularly pleased to have restarted lighting workshops in May, after a 26-month layoff due to the pandemic. He’s looking forward to running several series in different locations over the next few months, including (at least) two with Amber.

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Comments


dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
21 Jun 2022 6:12PM
If you want to work with Amber Belle, contact her through her page at Purpleport. Please note that you may find nude ('NSFW') pictures there.
bliba Plus
16 1 2 Austria
22 Jun 2022 5:59AM
interesting interview - very well done , JWinkhn

cheers

Winkllie
af1 Plus
9 1 United Kingdom
22 Jun 2022 3:33PM
Hi John read your article with Amber..congratulations a great interview and good read...Alan 👍
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
22 Jun 2022 5:01PM
We both aim to give good value, Alan!
JuBarney Plus
11 36 5 United Kingdom
22 Jun 2022 9:05PM
Terrific shots and love the one of you too!
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
23 Jun 2022 8:49AM
I suspect you'd get on well with Amber, Ju - like you, she gets on with the things she's decided to do!

Smile
24 Jun 2022 10:17AM
Great interview John, Amber is on my wish list when I get my mobility issues sorted.
Martin.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
24 Jun 2022 10:40AM
As she should be - on every photographer's list of people to photograph, of course.

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