Interview with photographer and model, Megan Farmer (Part Two)
In part two of our special interview with Megan Farmer, we’re turning our attention to Megan’s recent modelling experiences and taking an in-depth look at the preparation that goes into each of her unique photoshoots. We find out why Megan was initially reluctant to model, why baring all for her OnlyFans page was a huge step, what modelling has taught her about photography, and much, much more!
Britain Uncovered: In part one of our interview we spoke at length about your work as a photographer, but in addition to this, you’ve also built up some significant experience on the other side of the camera as a model. Are we right in thinking that it was the first lockdown that prompted you to start modelling, almost out of necessity? How valuable is it to have had experience on both sides of the camera?
Megan: Modelling was something I’ve always been told I needed to do from a really young age. Growing up I was told, “Oh you’re really pretty, are you a model? You would be an amazing model when you grow up, you’re so tall” – that kind of thing.
But I never wanted to be a model. I was always really camera-shy, and I didn’t like that much attention. I’ve never liked being the centre of attention, so that just sounded like a nightmare to me!
I was in need of some money during lockdown, and figured that modelling was probably a good way to earn some; but it was also something a lot more than that. I was able to work with other photographers and I was learning so much from the people that I worked with (and actually, far more than I learned in university). I was able to learn how to pose for the people I was working with, and I realised that modelling is my chance to be a sponge. I model, yes, but I also learn about angles, poses and things like the different placements of arms, and how they can either open up an image or completely close it off.
I’ve also learned about hair and make-up. I had no idea the amount of precision and time that goes into it and how long it takes for someone to learn how to do it. I’m not particularly good with it anyway, but I just gained a whole new level of appreciation for it, because you learn every side as a model. You don’t learn that as a photographer – it’s a huge part of the industry that a photographer never gets to experience.
As a model, you experience all of it. Maybe not in the level as actually being in the profession, but you get to have a glimpse of every side; whereas most photographers will just blank it. They’ll think, “I’m doing my thing, you do your thing, I’m not bothered with what you’re doing.” And I learned that that’s not the way to be. You need to understand what the model is going through and everything they’re thinking about. You are put in some really uncomfortable poses and outfits as a model, and you’ve got to just brave it.
I’m not wanting my modelling to be a permanent thing. This is for me to learn more about the photography side and how I can make my future models more comfortable. I can learn about boudoir and the importance of the area through other photographers, and I can learn about their experiences, hear their stories and get their tips. It’s the most incredible way to learn, and I would never have learned that experience purely as a photographer. Because they don’t want to listen if you’re a photographer, they want to listen if you’re a model. It’s very interesting and I have learned a lot, both good and bad.
Britain Uncovered: Now that you’ve worked on both sides of the camera, if you were forced to choose, would you favour one side over the other? Or do you now enjoy photography and modelling equally?
Megan: I couldn’t choose. I love them both for very different reasons. I never thought I’d love modelling, but I do. I have loved working with other photographers, and I’ve loved working with other models. I’ve learned that I can grow a network and contacts through modelling. I’ve had more notice of my work through modelling than I’ve ever had as a photographer.
Take my Instagram account, for example. I set-up my photography account back in 2018. I had 3,000 followers, maybe, and I was getting about 50 likes per picture if I was lucky. For some of them I actually had to pay for reach, and it wasn’t great – I spent far too much money on it and it was really tough to get people to engage with me.
I opened up a modelling account back in June 2020, and I have just hit 5,000 followers – and I get between 300 and 700 likes per image. I get multiple people messaging me, multiple people commenting and saving my images and sending them here, there and everywhere, and it’s amazing! I’ve doubled the networking and have double the platform than I ever had with photography.
It really solidified the fact that people care more about who’s in front of the camera than who’s behind it, and that was a scary thought – because it means that unless I was to work with some really high-profile models, I don’t think I would ever get into the industry. I don’t think I’d ever ‘make it big’, so to speak, but thankfully that’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to make it big!
I want to work with everyday people who struggle to view themselves the way that their loved ones see them. I want to work with people who want to take an hour or two to treat themselves, love themselves and realise that they deserve to feel good in their own skin. I want to work with people who struggle to look in the mirror because they don’t see or acknowledge their beauty. I want to work with people who are parents and people who are ageing and maybe miss how they used to look and need to learn to love how their bodies have changed. I want to work with people who need a bit of help loving themselves.
I want to show them how amazing they are, inside and out. I don’t want to necessarily work with people who are on the front cover of magazines because that doesn’t interest me – fame doesn’t interest me. I have no interest in becoming filthy rich and on every cover, either in front or behind the camera. It does not interest me and I don’t want that at all.
So I love them both equally for different reasons, but modelling is not something that I want to be big. Successful at, but not big.
Britain Uncovered: When you first launched your dedicated modelling account on Instagram, your shoots were often location-based and you got to pose in a wide variety of different costumes. What have been some of your favourites to date, and does each shoot generate different emotions and help you learn more about either yourself or your craft?
Megan: They were location-based because we were in the middle of the pandemic, so I was trying to keep everything as socially distant and as safe as possible.
In terms of my favourite shoot to date, that somebody else has shot… that’s a really tough one, because I love them all for different reasons. That first shoot that I did was amazing, because it was my first ever modelling job and I was getting loads of praise where the photographer was saying, “You just know your angles, you know what to do, I don’t have to tell you anything! These shots are great… this is your first time, what?!” And he couldn’t believe it. That was a huge confidence boost and I thought, “Okay, maybe I can do this”, because up until that point I was doubting myself a lot.
I don’t think I can pick a favourite photographer or shoot that I worked on with somebody else, because on every single one I learned something so different and I felt myself improve every time, both in front of and behind the camera. So that’s a really tough question.
If we’re talking about dressing up and a costume shoot, the one in the big dress with Pete Lock was probably my favourite because I really got to show a bit more of my personality. I got to pull the funny faces, be a bit moody and use a lot more body language, and that was fun.
In terms of self-portraits, I would definitely say my newer stuff with the blue background because that was a complete style shift and that got a lot of interaction from people and I was really, really proud of them.
Britain Uncovered: In more recent times, you have also taken part in a few nude shoots – some of which have been to generate content for your recently-launched OnlyFans page. What was it like transitioning to these types of shoots, and did you find them at all challenging or out of your comfort zone – or were you at ease and confident right from the get-go?
Megan: I have a rule for my OnlyFans page. Everything that’s shot on there is something that I would be comfortable with posting on another platform (but which is too risky for Instagram and could see my account get taken down or shadow-banned).
I try my best to keep those photos artistic. Some of them are slightly less so (if I got a little bit lazy), but overall a lot of them are artistic. It was a little bit challenging and scary to begin with. I didn’t know what people were going to think of me, which is why I have to state that I try to make them as artistic as possible. Sometimes the photos are more artistic than others and sometimes they show an exposed chest, but it doesn’t go further than that on the main page.
Britain Uncovered: How do you prepare for more revealing photoshoots such as these, whether it be from a mental or physical perspective?
Megan: Physically I have just been trying to look after myself, because I go through phases where I neglect my body; I don’t eat as much as I should and I certainly don’t drink as much as I should, but I’m working on that! I am not as kind to myself as I should be. I don’t move as much as I should, so if I know I’m going to do a shoot, I make an effort a few weeks before to try and get myself to a point where I’m happy – where I feel stronger and healthier.
Mentally, it’s pretty challenging for me. Some days it’s great and I’m so ready for it, but then other days I don’t want to be in front of the camera at all. To do a nude shoot in general doesn’t take much preparation for me, I don’t think. It might do and I’ve just never noticed! But I’m comfortable enough in my own skin. It’s a new thing, but I am.
I just have to make sure that whoever it is I’m working with is someone I’m comfortable being with. If it’s just me taking them, I’m quite happy to go into my kitchen – I’ll bare all and will quite happily do a photoshoot very comfortably. If I’m working with someone else, I have to know what kind of character they are and I have to have been speaking to them for a while. I have to know what they’re like and know how they’re going to be, and I will always have someone with me. But that’s about as much preparation I can think of that I do, because it’s not very much.
Britain Uncovered: Has baring all in these types of photoshoots helped with your body confidence and self-perception, and, in addition to being an artistic success, do you also find them to be empowering in any way?
Megan: Yes, absolutely. It’s not even having to bare all really – it’s just being in front of the camera.
Growing up as a girl, puberty is a really difficult thing, especially being in PE changing rooms. Everyone is judging each other based on how fast they develop, so if a girl develops in her chest a lot faster than others, you take notice. You can’t help it, that’s all they talk about! Likewise, if you don’t develop as quickly, it’s talked about, and that’s really tough sometimes.
I’ve grown up with a relatively flat chest, up until a few years ago, and I have always felt less feminine and less beautiful because of my chest, and that’s crazy. Now that I have a better understanding of my body image, I know how crazy that is, and my thoughts around that topic have adjusted. But that’s the truth – I hated how I looked. I felt like a stick. I didn’t have a bum and had no curve on me at all. I was straight up and down.
And it’s not even that I was bullied for it, but I was so aware and I was comparing myself to so many other girls, and I didn’t like how I looked. The thing is, I could meet a girl who had the exact same body type and shape as me and I would look at her and think she was beautiful just the way she is and would even tell her that she didn’t need to change a thing. But I could never seem to do that for myself.
Being in front of the camera made me realise that I didn’t need to have excessive curves (and if you do have excessive curves, then you’re just as beautiful); but the media push so much that you have to be ‘slim thick’ and you have to be curvy and have a big bum. You have to have big boobs, or if you have small boobs then you have to have a big bum and a small waist, and you have to be perfect. And I had no idea how much modelling would affect my body image.
But at the beginning, I actually found myself not eating as much and working out far more. And I put all this pressure on myself to look perfect and to look really ‘model-like’. Over Christmas last year I was crying all the time and was really hard on myself – and my boyfriend got me to promise that, at least for the last few weeks of Christmas, that I would not go on Instagram. I didn’t, and my god did it do me a world of good! But it was really, really hard.
And then to go into baring all was a huge step. I felt really, really vulnerable but because I did it in an artistic way I didn’t feel used. I made the mistake a few years ago about sending inappropriate pictures to people, and every time, I felt used. Every time I felt really disgusting and hated myself a little bit more, and then I felt the need for validation and so it continued and just got worse. But this time it’s different, and everyone seems to think that it’s the same thing, but it’s not.
Self-portraits are really tough anyway. You take a piece of yourself and put it in every image you take – no matter if you’re dressed up in costume and make-up or not. You are vulnerable. And not only is it hard to take the pictures in the first place, it’s really hard to sit there, model for them and take the pictures; and then be kind to yourself when looking at the images.
And to do that baring all is even harder, and I will not sugercoat that. It is really bloody hard. But it was amazing at the same time, and after a while I appreciated how I looked. I can look in the mirror naked now and be okay with what I see. And that’s amazing for me, because I never used to be able to do that – and I know a lot of people can’t look at themselves naked. But I really really believe that the more you do it, the more okay you are with seeing yourself like that.
Britain Uncovered: Finally, what are some of your goals and plans for the remainder of the year?
Megan: My goals for the year are to photograph and shoot more, work with other people, work with more models and photographers, save like crazy and try to get some paid work. It’s possible that I might do another year of university, but I’m not sure. That’s what my year hopefully will look like.
- To follow Megan over on Instagram, head to her dedicated photography and modelling accounts at @meganfarmer_photography and @meg.modelling respectively! You can also find Megan on Twitter at @Megan_Modelling.