The right model makes or breaks a photo. As I have mentioned before, I believe 75% of the final image comes from the model, 20% from the concept/lighting/makeup (and post processing), and 5% is actually from the photographer. It’s our job as the photographer to not screw up that last 5%. Our responsibility is especially important when shooting a stunning model. I like the way Jonathan Kos-Read puts it when he was shooting a beautiful Ukrainian actress, he said:
I’d had a bit of trouble photographing her – she’s so pretty that it’s difficult to find your place as a photographer, anything you shoot looks great because she looks great, not because you did anything special.
Maya Vulgaropulos is an Aston model, an extra on AMC’s Mad Men and pursuing a career in film/television production. I had the pleasure of working with her a few weeks ago in continuation for our Annie Leibovitz series. We shot in a beautiful studio in downtown LA, she wore a gorgeous red dress, and I’m very happy with the results. iLHP had a chance to sit down and talk with her.
iLHP: Hi Maya, please tell us about yourself.
Maya: I’m from North Carolina and I moved to LA about a year ago after I finished college. I studied photography and film production and have done some work in production out here. I’ve also been modeling part time for the last year and when I’m not doing that, I work as an extra in TV, movies and commercials.
iLHP: Very cool, which television shows and movies have you been involved with?
Maya: There’s a picture of me dressed as a flight attendant on the DVD menu for one of the seasons of Mad Men, so that would probably be my greatest achievement as an extra so far.
iLHP: Haha, that’s it, you’ve made it! The next question may sound somewhat naive, but would you say you are a professional extra or is it a stepping stone to something else?
Maya: It’s mostly just an easy way for people who freelance or are trying to get into acting or modeling to pick up days of work for extra cash. It doesn’t get you anywhere professionally but there are snacks.
iLHP: Cash and snacks are good. How do you compare modeling to your other professional work?
Maya: I think one of the reasons I enjoy modeling so much is because of my background in photography. I think having the experience of being behind the camera as well as in front of it gives me a different perspective while I’m modeling, and makes the job even more interesting because I’m always thinking about how the shot as a whole is going to work.
iLHP: Have you thought about pursuing modeling full time with an agency either in LA or in NY? I believe you really do have what it takes to take it to the next level.
Maya: Thank you! I actually just signed with an agency here in LA (Aston Models) and I’m really excited to do a lot more modeling.
iLHP: Lastly, did you have fun during our photo shoot?
Maya: Yeah I had a great time! It’s always fun when it feels like you’re getting to play dress up on a shoot.
iLHP: Before I let you go, here at iLHP, we’d like to play a game with all the model we interview. It’s called “Would You Rather.” Are you ready?
iLHP: Question one. Would you rather do a road trip across Europe or get pampered in Maldives?
Maya: Road trip across Europe, because it sounds like more of an adventure. And maybe I can find a place to get pampered around there.
iLHP: Question two. Nirvana or the Beatles?
Maya: The Beatles, just because it’s The Beatles. Most of the music I listen to is from that generation too.
iLHP: Question three. Would you rather work with a famous actor or famous director?
Maya: I’ll say actor because that sounds more fun
iLHP: Question four. Pulp Fiction or Donnie Darko?
Maya: Pulp Fiction
iLHP: Last question. Would you rather star in an Oscar winning film or an Emmy winning television show?
Maya: Oscar… I would probably get to wear a cooler dress to the awards
iLHP: Thanks for the interview Maya! Any parting words of advice for model and/or photographers?
Maya: Thank you so much! As far as advice goes, for people in general really – don’t be afraid to try something new!