Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Models vs. Mannequins

Ah modeling in Second Life. What can I say about this industry? Oh lot’s apparently. But first things first.

Girls, ladies, guys, let me just tell you something I used to tell the students of a class I taught in modeling on the very first day of class.

You’re never going to get rich modeling in Second Life. Nope, never. You will never become so sought after, so much of a star, so highly recognized that you will be able to support you, your family and your kids in the real first life, lifestyle you wish to become accustomed to.

Feel better? No? Oh, well I’m sorry if I popped someone’s bubble. Here, let me explain.

Modeling in SL is part of the fashion industry. Much like modeling in the first life. The difference is in the first life, models are highly paid, sought after individuals not only for their looks but their abilities as well. Make sense? Sure it does. One works hard to craft a certain physical look that is pleasing to the eye and suitable for showcasing a variety of fashions. Classes are taken to perfect a craft that will ensure one can not only walk down a runway without falling off but also know exactly what poses are necessary for print ads based solely on the style of the outfit given to wear. One also spends copious amounts of currency to maintain the most current trends and styles. So ultimately when faced with a runway show for a big name designer the designer knows when that model step out onto the runway not only will his designs be best represented but showcased as well. So, why shouldn’t the model be highly paid. They are, and it’s the right thing to do.

You see, people look at Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour and other fashion magazines to check out the latest and greatest new styles and where do they see them? On the backs of a model of course.

You know why? Sure you do. Because seeing them, on someone, styled complete with shoes, a hot new hair style, the latest handbag, jewelry that just screams I was made for this, and the most up to date, season shattering, you’ll be wearing this next fall makeup, sells.

And you want it. You want that look. The whole thing. The full Monty. You lust after it, you look for substitutes of it, and you want to emulate that look at almost any cost. Now... take that cost and multiply it by oh... I dunno... 5 bazillion. Well you do the math. That’s why models in first life are paid as highly as they are. They’re worth it to the designers, the advertisers, the magazine owners etc. Everyone makes money… at least in the first life.

Now see here’s where I’m about to make some enemies I’m sure. But lemme just say in advance I have no agenda here, I’m not out to get you… I’m not angry at the fashion industry in Second Life, on the contrary I love the fashion industry, I just think there are some things that can be made better, more equitable. And, I’m also curious.

You see, I’ve been a model in Second Life for oooh... I dunno... almost three years now and I’ve had the opportunity to see what goes on from this side of the runway.

Back in the day I kind of fell into modeling simply because I had a friend who was in the industry, and she was short a model for a RFL show, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Like many newbies I was clueless. Probably more so, because I had never modeled before, taken a class or done any of the normal protocol that most models do now. I was handed an outfit, (it happened to be a gypsy style) told to obtain hair that would best match the outfit, be ready to hit two spots on the runway and pose at each one, and that folks consisted of my formal training and entry into the modeling world of SL.

Well needless to say I fell some what short of the task at hand. Not only did I crash horribly during the show which btw left my avi attached to the roof of the stage flaying about like a bug stuck to someone’s windshield at 70 mph before mercifully poofing, but when I finally was able to teleport back I had one shoe, one bracelet and the biggest baddest gypsy style hair stuck up my behind. Yes, that was back in the day when if you teleported somewhere, and there was even the most minor of glitches, one could expect to harvest a variety of inventory from ones butt upon entry. Oh yes, and on stage of course. Ah… good times.

Anywhoo... I did finally make it through that show albeit I’ve developed an eye twitch that when I remember that day tends get a bit lively and animated.

So I’m sure you’re wondering how I ever got work again right? Well frankly so am I. I never will know how I got that next gig. Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean, after that experience I decided I wanted to model in SL, but I didn’t have the money to take a class and buy everything I thought would be necessary to complete my look. So, I made the decision to just work on perfecting the look I thought would be best suitable to the industry here. I bought 500 shapes… none of them worked… you know what I’m talking about, finally opting to make my own. I bought decent hair, skin, shoes and accessories. I found a runway walk and modeling poses that didn’t’ make me look like I was having an epileptic fit. I bought detail items such as eyes that didn’t spin, flash or say “want sex?” when I blinked. I purchased sunglasses, belts, tattoos and a modeling HUD.

It was about this time I found out I had no technical skills whatsoever when I couldn’t figure out how to work that modeling HUD to save my life. So… ever diligent in my goal, I did a search for, and I kid you not, “Nerds” in groups, joined an open one, and publicly asked in the group chat if anyone could help me program this mother @#&^%*$ing HUD and I would gladly pay them, or have their first born child. That’s right, my first modeling HUD was actually configured by a card carrying, pocket protecting nerd who actually came to my HOUSE in SL and walked me step thru step on how to use it. Now is that not so freaking sad? But let me just say to that nerd out there, who’s name escapes me now, if it had not been for you I may have entirely given up because I was so frustrated by that time I was ready to take that HUD and shove it up the ass of the sadistic inventor who clearly thought his marketing slogan of “so easy even a prim baby could do it” was clever. So thank you nerd wherever you are!!

Soooooo in an effort to make this epic novel a bit shorter, let’s fast forward a bit. I made it into the modeling world. Yep, I worked hard, spent an embarrassing amount of money on my avi, was diligent, showed up on time, did what I was told, didn’t cause any trouble, didn’t gossip, was loyal, honest and dependable. That seemed to be enough to push me forward to enough agencies and production companies to keep me pretty busy in the modeling world for some time to come.

Goal reached.

Let’s fast forward even more to today. Now these days, I don’t model as much as I used to. Primarily due to time constraints with running my own business in SL. But still on occasion, I like to toss my hat in the ring and work a show or two. It’s good for me, it keeps me up to date and keeps me in runway form. And again, it’s something I like.

However, recently I’ve found myself in the position of being the ear and shoulder for the collective feelings of many other new and long time models in SL. So I figured if I’m going to do that, why not be a mouthpiece as well. Since I’ve been told I have a big mouth anyway… yeah I see you in the back, put your hands down, I said I have a big mouth. But seriously there are some issues in SL in this particular industry that need to be addressed. I’m not saying anyone will do anything, or that anything written here will result in any changes but, it has to be said. Because people, I’m telling you its being said right now behind your backs and in some cases not very friendly, with some seriously hurt feelings and occasionally some very angry models. So I’m here willing to say what needs to be said at the risk of alienating some people.

Again, let me tell you all I have nothing against designers, modeling agencies, production companies or the likes there of. You’ve been who I’ve worked very hard for in the past and hope to continue to do so in the future. You guys know me, I’m not out to hurt anyone.

But here’s the thing. There is no consistency in compensation for models in SL. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say sometimes there is no compensation at all. Shocking I know but a fact. It happened to me just recently. Don’t ask.

Now modeling came about long before I less than gracefully entered SL, I’m not sure how it did but it did. I do know I’m certain I wouldn’t like to see photos of some of those early days as I’m not sure I would be able to successfully control the laughing because as bad as it can be now, I’m sure it was much, much worse then and forgive me but how can you not see the humor in watching a Ruthed avi, who’s model AO is not working, waddling down the runway whilst Right Said Fred sings “I’m too Sexy” only to finally glimpse just a bit of her designer shoes and hair stuck up her butt as she uncontrollably tips over the edge of the runway into a fake serene like pond obviously set for the ambiance.

Come on! Sorry… I don’t know about you… but that crap killed me. I spotted.

Dang, digressing again. Anyway, so someone must have originally said... this is a great idea. A way to get a product shown to a mass of people thus increasing sales and productivity. Perfect! I mean that’s the business model you want. Absolutely. But somewhere along the line something happened or didn’t happen when it came to compensating the models.

Maybe it was because there was and is a glutton of wanna be models… maybe because there were so many hungry young avi’s eager to break into the modeling industry in SL they skewed the compensatory framework, I just don’t know but something happened that allowed for agencies and production companies alike to compensate their models as if they were a very simple cog, an unimportant element in the process that is fashion design.

Frankly speaking I think it’s time the modeling industry here in SL had it’s own union, or group whatever you want to call it that ensures some standards in compensation, hours worked, rights for petes sake. Something that would represent the great number of talented, hard working individuals and working together to secure their rights. Yes, their rights.

Let’s be honest here. Some agencies pay as little as L$400 for models to work a runway show. Said show may include 4 or 5 outfit changes. Which everyone should know requires each outfit to be styled, including finding a skin that best fits the style of the outfit, matching that with complimentary hair, choosing the right jewelry or accessories, securing the right shoes that don’t fight with the pant leg or distort the already lovely cankle, spend countless hours on a pose stand flipping thru poses to choose just the right ones that wont distort the outfit but rather show it in its most complimentary way, show up for 2 or more rehearsals lasting no less than one hour and more often like 2 or 3, be able to retain a maze of a sometimes ridiculous runway walk pattern and walk order, wake up sometimes at 4am to show up for a print shoot to accommodate the photographer of the show catalog, put up with impossibly laggy sims where the number of people set to allow is maxed out insuring numerous crashes and failures, horrendous attachment problems, teleporting issues, screaming stage coordinators and any other random acts of SL I’ve failed to mention in the longest run on sentence in the history of inkslinging, all for the glory of $L400.

Yes, I realize the models receive the designs for free. Let me just address that here. We love you designers. In fact I would go so far as to say models are some of your biggest customers. So, no offense to the designers is meant in any way shape or form in what I’m about to say. Please know that in advance. But let’s face it, if I had the choice between keeping the dress with the enormous sculpty dolphin hat and matching set of fin shoes and taking Lindens I’m gonna go with the Lindens. No disrespect intended designers but I just don’t have any use for some of the items I model. As with anyone, our styles and choice of clothing to wear vary from avi to avi in SL. While one might just squeal with delight over the dolphin hat the other would just as soon take the $L.

But it’s not the designers that make this process break down. Frankly I think it’s a combination of agency owners, production company owners and the models themselves.
The agency/production owners are out to make money just like everyone else. They get paid by the designers AND receive the outfits for free as well to showcase their hard work. The agency/production company owners get the fattest cut in this deal. There’s no doubt about it. And yes in their defense they have to secure the venue, do the advertising and generally bring all four corners together, I do believe however they’re getting the lion’s share of the funds and it’s just not equitable. Now the models themselves are to blame somewhat because clearly they/we’ve become complacent. Accepting what they give us for the face time, the glory, and our name in lights if you will. And while for some that might be enough, it pulls down the whole industry standard for the rest of the models.

Tell me, does this sound right to you? I mean honestly. If it does, it does because you’re entitled to your opinion. But to me… it just feels wrong.

I’m not certain what other models are thinking while they’re up there on the runway, I can only tell you what I’m thinking after all the hours of work that culminate in me stepping from behind the runway curtain, hitting marks, changing poses, watching the model in front, and ultimately ending backstage again without major incident, but here’s what I’m thinking.

Have I successfully put together a styled look for this outfit that will make the designer thrilled/happy/delighted? Are the people here going to run out afterwards and want this entire look because I made it happen? (No, I didn’t design the outfit, but put together a “look”). Are my attachments correct? Will my next outfit attach with no problems. What are my next steps should X, Y, Z happen. How will I go on if I can’t make something attach and still sell this to the audience?

You see, I’m up there selling this for you designers. I’m up there to make your product and any other accessory products sell. I’m up there for you agency/production company owners to make you look good with the designers.

Could you reach your target customer demographics using a hairy guy avatar in lingerie? Ok maybe some of you could but… ahem… let’s stick with the usual and customary. How about a mannequin that robo-automatically rolled down the runway? Well, I think you get my point. So to you the designers I say choose the companies that are supposed to be promoting your designs carefully. You wouldn’t use a sweat shop employing child labor to design your clothing in first life… why would you accept less than the best qualified individuals, working for your goals, your best interest, showcasing your hard work in SL? And why shouldn’t those individuals be compensated accordingly.

To you agency/production owners. I’m not sure what to say. Because frankly I’m not sure you really care. I’m not trying to be ugly/snarky or pissy, I say this because if you did truly care, your agenda would be different. Your goals would include not only obtaining new clientele.. but keeping your loyal employees and fostering the relationship. Now I know it’s hard to take a step back and reevaluate your actions perhaps resulting in a pay cut to your own pocket. It takes a big person to look at the ugly about a situation and their involvement in it and stand up to make a change.

Now all you people in the back jumping up and down, relax. I’m not saying every single agency/production company here is Simon Legree, I’m just asking why can’t we have some uniformity, some consistency, if the DJ’s can do it, then there’s really nothing stopping the models from doing it as well. But first, people have to come together and be ready to say no, I’m sorry that’s not acceptable.

I’m under no delusion that this article will have any great impact on the industry, nor will it change the answer of the new girl fresh out of modeling school, But I’m hoping at least someone recognizes something in this, can lift a little knowledge from it, and maybe just maybe start somewhere to effect change.

I’m not a mannequin I’m a model.

P.S. Again my apologies for bad grammar, poor punctuations and misspellings :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If These Walls Could Talk - A Challenge to Tenshi Vielle


After a conversation with Pixeleen Mistral about a one sided article written in her paper, she assured me that she wanted to have more than one side of this story. By her request I wrote this article. After I sent it to her , she never responded to any of my messages. I take this action to mean the SL Herald has no interest in seeing any other side of this story. photoLIFE will soon begin the task of getting a professional review from a journalist who takes pride and honor in their work ... that work will be pubilshed as soon as its available. Our product, the photoLIFE 3.0 is held in high regard by hundreds of users. I believe a full and fair review will indicate this as well.

If These Walls Could Talk - A Challenge to Tenshi Vielle

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is OomPoppaMowMow Snookums, the creator and owner of the photoLIFE Photography System. If you’ve ever heard the song “Elvira” by the Oakridge Boys then you probably recognize the name. Yeah… you're welcome. I know you’re trying to get that song out of your head now. I suggest the Gilligan's Island theme for that. Anyway, recently an article was published in the Herald targeting photoLIFE as a company that casually disregarded someone’s artistic rights and seemed to feel good about doing it, while just a few articles below, the editor of the Herald states in an article of her own that “The Herald adheres to the highest standards of journalistic integrity”. While I can say I feel very confident this editor purposes to uphold these standards, I’d like to address the standards held in the article about photoLIFE written by Tenshi Vielle.

Obviously me being personally involved I'm here to give a different side of the story. I commend the great editor for allowing it and offer a sound ear for any reasonable feedback. Rather than spend a large amount of time trying to convince you what we "really meant" by uploading someone's photos without permissions, or why it wasn't "really that bad", I'd rather take you on a different journey. One that isn't based on what my view is, but one that has been agreed to by all parties involved. Yes, that’s right. The photographer whose work was mishandled has agreed to all of the following points.

1. The photo that was allegedly being sold was actually a 20 meter long wall that contained a total of 19 other photographs from several other photographers all linked together, many of which contained the name of the photography studio right on the photo itself. The wall also had the name of the photoLIFE Flickr site written on it showing where these photos were located. Can anyone imagine who would want to purchase a 20 meter long wall of photos from photography studios around the grid? Common sense says nobody except maybe the owner of the photography studio used to make the photos would have a need for an item like that. Would You Buy This Wall? The photos appearing on this wall are all replacements by Team photoLIFE members so that the exhibit could continue in the SLBD event. We received 20 high quality full perm photos to use on the wall within 5 minutes of the request. Thank you Team photoLIFE.

2. The SLBD event does not allow any items up for sale. That fact alone should help suggest that this was a mistake. The builder of the wall exhibit used a prim from his inventory that had once been used to sell something. He was in a very big hurry to finish the build for me and never stopped to check permissions on his wall.

3. LL has reviewed the incident and the exhibit was corrected to comply with TOS. Intent has a lot to do with how something is handled. Doing photography in SL for almost 2 years and running a group of over 500 photographers we have never had a case where one photographer was stealing another’s work to profit, but imagine a 20 foot wall of photographs with the logo of the studio and photographers name on the front of most.

4. The individual whose work was taken without permission states that she never felt like the intention to take her material was malicious, but that if the other individual involved would have been more apologetic than this story would have never been told. Everyone involved agreed that this was not handled correctly and again new policies are in place to prevent this from happening again, but would the story have been as interesting to have heard the individual never felt it was intentionally malicious.

5. As soon as I became aware of this incident I contacted the individual involved to personally apologize. This was never written or followed up about but photoLIFE was portrayed to be as thoughtless and heartless as possible.

6. The writer of the article and the photographer involved are personal friends. Probably a good reason not to mention this one. Not giving full disclosure of these facts prevents the reader from being able to judge clearly how unsensational this story really is. Makes it harder to get those hits on the blogs, yanno.

7. The photographer had an already well known dislike for the photoLIFE staff. They've stated that this whole problem would have just gone away if the builder of the wall would have been more kind. While I do agree with that statement, I do believe the level of hostility was far worse due to the already strained relationship between the two.

Hardly the same story huh? You know these kinds of facts are hard to miss.

For me, I can understand why this photographer is angry. They had a right to be. I can accept the fact that a mistake was made and some public trust was lost. I will work hard to restore trust in the company I have worked so hard to create. What I can’t accept is not making every effort to make sure that all the facts of this story are told.

I have implemented 10 new policies that are designed to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. I have discussed this issue with the photographer on numerous occasions emphatically apologizing for all that was done wrong, and recently published a public apology, not for public opinion, but based on a conversation I had with this photographer. We have a relationship that is important to me. Yes, even after all of this.

While portraying our company in the worst possible light wasn’t good enough for the writer, her partner decided to join the fun and write a review of our flagship product on their blog. Can you guess where this is going? It's not really hard is it? This review was said to be a 5 minute “look” at our system. A system that’s estimated to have a 2 week learning curve got a 5 minute "look" without any demonstration from any photoLIFE rep involved. Nice review huh. I can see the creators around SL lining up for these 5 minute reviews now.

It’s no surprise it was less than stellar. The truth is the photoLIFE system is one of the most comprehensive available and 5 minutes can not begin to give a clear picture of what it is capable of. For any review ever done on the system, we offer a demonstration by someone who is familiar with it. We've had many reviews done and this is the first that wasn't absolutely 100 percent positive. I constantly get individuals contacting me saying how much they love their studio long after they’ve purchased it.

Anyone that knows me or has ever met me in photoLIFE will tell you that I don’t push my products. I often suggest that others go around SL and see what’s available, to take their time, and that photoLIFE isn't for everyone. Also, our customer service program has been said by many to be the best in SL and I'll proudly stand by that statement.

-------The Challenge To Tenshi Vielle--------------

A challenge for a full and fair review on the photoLIFE 3.0 studio.

The Rules
A demonstration given by myself at my home in SL lasting 1-2 hours.
The Editor of the Herald will be invited to attend.
Your review must be based on a fair perspective on what the studio actually does.
You can't use excessive profanity or strange versions of the words douche.
You can't be personally insulting.
No promotional statements of other products offered by other companies. Comparisons are fine as long as it’s not an obvious promotion.
The review must be written in a fair and professional manner not discussing outside issues other than the performance of the studio itself.

If you decide to accept the challenge you will be compensated for your time to stand for the review and the article you write. 3000L appears to be a fair price for these two things. You will also be given a gift certificate of the photoLIFE 3.0 studio to use yourself or give to a photographer friend for references during the writing of the review.

During the demonstration you will be able to bring one photographer friend along with you. This photographer must have been in the photography business in SL with a commercial studio in business for at least 90 days. We are flexible on this requirement but you can see it would make sense for a fair review of a photography studio.

If you decide to accept this challenge, know that I do have knowledge of you as a very talented and capable writer. I'd just like you to do it with full knowledge of the product.

Once your review is written, and it meets the criteria stated above, I will publish it in the Opium Sim blog and send it to the Team photoLIFE group. That's me being fair.

If the product sucks horribly you should be very excited about another opportunity to tear it apart publicly. It's my hopes that you'll see what over 1000 other users have seen. A studio built with the development and feedback of hundreds of photographers doing business in SL.

I look forward to your response.

OomPoppaMowMow Snookums

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Skin Addicted

Crabe, Carl Crabe. THE Carl Crabe, has released a new film he made called Skin Addicted. I had the pleasure of working with Carl in this film and I know all you Skin Addicts, Skin Whores and other random Skin-0-philes will love this so I thought why not pass this on.

Permission to post the link here granted by Carl Crabe.

Skin Addicted can be seen @