It is not uncommon, in the world of fashion and art in general, to meet creative people with multiple caps. This is the case of Lucille Delabarre, who combines the profession of photographer and of mother agency, a combination that places her at the heart of a closed industry with well-defined codes.
We asked her about each of her professions, which feed off each other and provide an unprecedented insight into a controversial and interesting environment.
Hi Lucille, can you introduce yourself?
Lucille, nice to meet you, 23, model agent and photographer.
I live not far from Paris in the suburbs in an apartment big enough to live with two animals (a dog and a cat).
I work from home, in my living room filled with photo frames and plants. This harmonious framework allows me to be zen in my daily work.
How did you start taking pictures?
I have always been passionate about fashion from a very young age. I even had a subscription to Vogue magazine, which over time piled up in a piece of furniture that is now packed to capacity.
I even put up editorials or campaigns that I found beautiful on my walls… While I was far from being the “fashionista” of my school.
After the third I chose to go towards a professional course in fashion and clothing, to start learning a profession that interested me, rather than following the classic path and waiting another 3 years before starting to work.
During these 3 years I had the opportunity to learn how to make a piece of clothing from A to Z, and to work for several companies, fashion houses, etc….
“Today I am the agent of a dozen French models, who are placed in French and foreign agencies.”
The more time I spent in the fashion world, the more I realized that what captured me the most was the image rendering.
I started taking pictures of girlfriends, then amateur models, then soliciting models, then make-up artists, stylist, hairstylist etc….
Until I get complete teams, organized shoots and enough confidence to leave model-making and start photography full time.
What drove you to become a modeling agent?
When I started photographing models, I was practically the same age as them, which created affinities.
The same subjects often came up during our conversations: “I wish I had a better agency but I don’t know where to go”, “I don’t understand why I have less work than others”…
I ended up directing them to one agency rather than another in relation to their profiles, and the match with those already represented, helped them choose the right photos from their books…
Sometimes I even applied for them. I prevented them from doing direct booking (that means without going through an agency Ed.) that could harm their careers.
“[…] everyone has their personality, and some are not made for the fashion world.”
Before leaving to live abroad for a while, I had worked in a Parisian modeling agency: I took care of their books, accompanied them on different jobs, managed the schedules.
When I returned to France, models asked me again for help, my opinion, advice… I told myself it was time to do it correctly, and to put my skills to work.Today I am the agent of about ten French models, who are placed in French and foreign agencies (Milan / London / New York / Germany / Spain) and who regularly work for magazines and fashion houses etc….
How do you scout models?
At first they were friends, or members of their families, then profiles crossed on the internet, in the subway, in the street.
By working on certain people and posting the results on social networks, I was able to “prove myself” and create a little word-of-mouth. People end up recommending me to aspiring models.
“I would never impose a draconian diet, the important thing is to be healthy, well in your body and well in your head.”
To choose the models I want to work with, I first look at their faces, then the height, because there is always this very important criteria in this field.
If the profile interests me I propose a meeting in a café, we exchange on our points of view, our goals… This appointment also allows me to sense the personality of the person in front of me, to know if they are motivated or not, if we can work together. Because this is not always the case, everyone has their own personality, and some are not made for the fashion world.
What is your job as an agent?
My job is to “train” the model to enter the market.
We all know very well that this environment is full of clichés, thinness, exploitation, etc…. It is often that I recruit future models who are too ” large ” in hip size to enter agencies.
You should know that an agency will not wait for the model to lose centimetres, and will automatically refuse to represent him/her.
It also works for models who are too shy, not sure of themselves. The agency won’t take the time to help them get self-confidence.
When a model needs to get some confidence, and even to have some material (a book base, ed) to present themselves later in agency, I organize shoots with professional photographers , and not #metoo photographers. I accompany, I direct if necessary.
“In Paris, the creative world is very small, everyone knows each other.”
If a model has to lose a few centimetres, I advise a few exercises of stretching, which help to stretch the muscles and firm them, but also advice on nutrients. I would never impose a draconian diet, the important thing is to be healthy, well in your body and well in your head.
Once the measurements are at their best and self-confidence is at its highest, I organize appointments with agencies to present the model.
When the model signs with an agency, they are ready to work the next day, and everyone is happy.
“The agent is also the first person to whom the model refers in case of questions, problems…”
Then there are placements abroad, conversations with bookers (bookers are employees of a model agency. They are the ones who negotiate the models’ contracts and send them to castings. Ed) to optimize a great career, avoid bad choices…
The agent is also the first person to whom the model refers in case of questions or problems; this is why you must always be available to them. It is a full-time job. Proposals for jobs can arrive the day before for the next day, emergency trips to plan, “dramas” to solve etc….
How does being a photographer contribute to your activity as an agent (and vice versa)?
Being a photographer and having seen a large number of models pass by allowed me to be able to spot them in the street or on the internet.
I know what profiles are wanted, facial features, look, etc….
It also allows me to have contacts: I can propose them to photographers I know, but also on editorials, and I also know the bookers of agencies with whom I worked before etc..
In Paris, the creative world is very small, everyone knows each other.
“[…] I favor fairly natural photo styles, I see how the photographer manages his light, his retouching […]”
How do you choose the photographers you send your models to?
They are photographers that I already know through my network or that I discover by searching or by accident on Instagram. Sometimes they come to me because they like one of my models, already follow them on the social networks… and want to organize a shoot.
So I look at their work first, which is very important, you don’t hire someone without looking at their resume. I see how the model is highlighted on the photos, I favour fairly natural styles of photos, I see how the photographer manages his light, his retouching (photos too retouched do not interest me), and also his artistic imprint. Whether or not the photos will be beneficial to the model.
What do you expect from a photographer to whom you send one of your models?
It should be known that the model, when they will be suggested to a client will already be judged on their portfolio, if the photographer does not highlight them, their chances of having work will be reduced.
I would say that the top photos for a model book are beautiful portraits and beautiful compositions, properly retouched images, it is necessary to reduce dark circles and imperfections without recreating an unreal skin. A beautiful harmony of colours in the make-up, styling and background is essential.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Currently, just to continue like this, as the chain of events is beginning to get more and more interesting.
The models who are placed in agencies work more and more for more and more interesting projects. I am in charge of their follow-up and during this time I train newcomers.
It’s a rotation that’s pinning pretty well now. Lots of news to post on the Instagram page, more solid books.
It grows and makes me happy. Let’s hope it continues that way.
I would also like to go back to photography I put aside for a moment to focus on my agent activity.