Morayma Makay – Interview With A Fashion Model

I have known Morayma for close to 5 years, but I’ve only gotten to know her well over the past 2 because of Facebook. Not everyone knows fashion models in person, so I’m honored.

She’s not one of the big names that most of us know but she’s the real deal. You know all those magazine ads with models whose names you never know? Morayma has been modeling for a couple of decades now and still does modeling part time. She’s traveled the world and knows many other models and can talk about the industry from the inside. There are thousands of pictures of her on and off the internet, and she’s been on the cover of many magazines as well.

I think this is a fascinating interview and I’m glad she answered the questions as thoughtfully as she did. She dispels that false belief that models are vapid; this is one small and engaged lady.

1. What was your life like growing up?

I grew up in Santa Monica, California…even though I am a Los Angeles native I didn’t grow up exposed to the Industry. I had a very normal, quiet, and actually strict upbringing so school was what I was expected to focus on and that’s what I did. I did have a love for theater and dreamt of someday becoming a stage actress….so I performed in the school plays, etc. Modeling was not something I ever really thought about, to be honest.

2. Did you always want to be a model?

–Nope. I wanted to be a theater actor or an interior decorator! LOL

3. How were you discovered?

–While I was in college in Portland, Oregon I walked into a talent agency to see if I could get sent out for local work to make a little extra money and they decided I had a look that would work well for modeling. Within 2 months they had sent me abroad to work.

4. What is it like to travel around the world as a model? I know it can’t all be glamorous, based on a few videos I’ve seen of Sports Illustrated models on photo shoots, but I’m assuming lots of it is pretty fun.

— It was amazing. I am not going to lie. I am something of a gypsy at heart, so being on the road and traveling to different places all the time was a dream come true for me. Yes, it was tiring to work long days in either freezing cold weather or sweltering heat (keep in mind you always shoot the clothing collections during the opposite season…so you freeze in swimwear and summery dresses, and roast wearing coats during midsummer).

You are constantly being poked, prodded, pinned, hair messed with, etc. so you have to lose your sense of personal space very quickly. When you are on a job you are a mannequin and that’s that.

Some clients are kinder than others. I’ve mostly worked with wonderful people, but I do remember one time on a booking I had the stylist pull a sweater over my head so forcefully (they were in a tremendous hurry to get done) that I ended up with a pulled neck muscle and that hurt for days!! Rejection is also never a nice thing, but for every job I didn’t book, there would be one that I did book so that wasn’t enough of a reason not to love my work.

We got a lot of privileges and perks….VIP treatment at clubs, restaurants, etc. I made a lot of wonderful friends from around the globe. Ahh….just writing this is making me miss it so much! =)

5. So many people talk about models and how they eat? What’s your opinion on models considered too thin, bad or good eating habits, and the positives and negatives of trying to keep your body looking a certain way? Is the pressure high?

–That has always been a pet peeve of mine…that people assume models don’t eat. I have to be honest, while there are certainly girls that do starve themselves to look as skinny as they think they need to look, the majority of the models I met, lived with, worked with and became friends with had very hearty appetites and rarely worked out.

Honestly, the majority of models are genetically built the way they are. I knew more girls in college with eating disorders than models. Generally, if a model is not naturally thin, she will start to gain weight or reach a plateau in her weight and will eventually either quit or go into Plus/full figure modeling.

I never felt the pressure because I am naturally thin, although one year in Tokyo I was sent home because my agency there told me my hips (34 inches) were too large and wanted me to have 32 inch hips. That was mortifying but I got over it….the ridiculousness of that was laughable.

I think the models that do feel pressured to lose weight or be really thin are not naturally thin so they are trying to fit a mold that they are not genetically predisposed to fit….but like I said, I knew very few girls in the industry that had an eating disorder….truthfully only two (one of which was a roommate of mine in Milan).

My belief is that eating healthy and having an active lifestyle is the only way to go. Should models be thin? It may not be popular to say so, but yes…I think so. Not skeletal, but healthy and thin….models are paid to showcase clothing and a thin, taller model will be able to showcase a garment better than a shorter curvier girl. The curvier girls have their own markets for clothing too…I am talking about couture….Really there are many types of modeling (sportswear, lingerie/swimwear, etc.) that prefer a healthier, curvy body-type….but for straight up fashion, thin is always going to be in. 😉

6. We were talking recently about a guy who dated a model saying she didn’t know how to handle her money. Would you say that most models are good with their money or do many suffer like athletes in that they spend it as fast as it comes in?

–I think it really depends on the girl and how she was raised and how old she is too! I cannot imagine how the baby models who are 14 and 15 years old could possibly know what to do when handed checks for thousands of dollars!!

My parents brought me up to be very responsible and frugal and that is how I’ve always handled my finances. I had college loans to pay while on the road too so I knew that I had to keep good track of my finances since you really do not know when your next check will come or how much it will be for! I actually found it easy to save money and take care of my bills at home while traveling because we were always being offered free dinners via the agencies, eating on-set, free lunches at some restaurants (in Milan). All of my expenses were fronted to me (the agencies then take money from our earnings to pay off what they have fronted us) really all I needed to pay for was my airline tickets!

7. I’ve seen a lot of your pictures and you don’t always look like the same person. But some models we see always look the same. Do you feel your versatility is better or do you think it matters in the end?

–I think my versatility comes from my original passion for the theater. As a theater actor you have to be able to convey emotion…not all models can do that. I do see many models that ALWAYS have the same expression. That annoys me…haha! My agencies have always called me a “chameleon”.

I think versatility is a great thing and it helped me work a lot….but I don’t think it matters all that much in the end because a lot of the monotone-faces (lol) still end up working a lot too and I do think that “who you know” is a powerful tool in this biz…as in many others.

8. What’s the best thing about modeling and what’s the worst thing?

–Best thing? Traveling. Good pay (when you get it!). Meeting interesting people. Wearing clothes I could never afford on my own….aka playing dress-up and getting paid for it. 😉

–Worst thing? How fickle the industry can be…and not knowing when your next paycheck will come….

9. How has your husband and kids handled your modeling? Do your kids even really understand what you do or did, since they’re very young?

–I stopped traveling when I became pregnant with my son….I know other models that do travel for lengthy amounts of time and have kids, but I can’t justify doing that. I will travel to a location for a specific shoot, but anything longer than that is not going to happen. I don’t want to miss these moments with the kids because they are so fleeting…..even though sometimes I fantasize about taking off for a while, for some peace and quiet! LOL!

My husband doesn’t think much about my work one way or the other. He knows I enjoy what I do so he’s happy and supportive when I work, and luckily he’s not a jealous type. My kids like when they see me in an ad or a TV commercial…they think it’s funny, actually!

10. Time to shine; what are you doing now and are you enjoying your life?

–I am still modeling and working on commercials part-time. I like that I can do a job here and there and still be afforded the time to be here for my kids whenever they need me. I am enjoying life here in Los Angeles again…..the sunshine and proximity to my family is wonderful! I like that I can work as little or as much as I want because I don’t have to use this as my way to make a living anymore…’s nice not to stress about when the next job will come….my husband is the main breadwinner, so that takes the pressure off.

I am also in the process of seeing what else is out there for me career-wise. I don’t want the ol’ brain to rust! LOL! Toying with the idea of going back into the medical interpreting field as I am fluent in Spanish as well. I did that for a while before modeling took me on the road and I remember really enjoying it.

I also need to get back to my own blog one of these days, now that both kids are in school…I have no excuse to not write again! 😉

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Images Used By Permission & Copyright Laws – Guest Post

Following up on my post yesterday titled The Quest For Legitimate Images, I was able to convince my friend Scott Thomas to write this post explaining his position on the topic as well as giving us some insight into the issue.

Used by permission of
Scott Thomas Photography

Mitch and I were discussing the use of photos on this blog a couple of weeks ago. I told him he should find the person who took any photo he uses on his blogs to ask permission to use it. What he said disturbed me and I find it is a prevalent attitude found around blogs, websites and even in advertising and other media. He said if he can not find the person who created the photo and sees it in other locations, he saw no reason not to use it.

As an amateur photographer with aspirations to sell my work on a regular basis, I find such statements very upsetting. I countered saying if someone took one of his articles or published works and posted it or republished it under their name without asking permission, giving credit or payment, what would be his reaction? What would be yours?

Copyright infringement is rampant on the Internet. People feel if it is found on the Internet, it must be free to use. It hurts established professional artists, photographers, writers, musicians and other creative artists who are trying or are making a living from their hard work, investment in education and equipment and talent. Yes, things are changing. Are they changing for the good?

The Copyright Law of the United States protects a creator from others using his creations without his permission. It goes on to say, at the time of creation, the creator copyrights his creations. Be it a shutter click on a camera or keystrokes on to a screen, the photograph or text is copyrighted and given all the protection of the Copyright Law, whether it is published publicly or not. If people are to use something created by another, they must ask and receive permission before doing so. Permission may be just a simple verbal agreement or a written contact which may or may not include the exchange of funds. For photographs, people agree to a use of a photo and scope of that use. Usually it is for a one-time use. If its for advertising, the money can be substantial and the rights to the photo may be purchased outright. In essence, the photographer gives up his copyright “rights” to the buyer. However, he still owns the copyright to the photo.

How does this work in real life? The photo used to illustrate this article is a prime example. At the time I took the photograph and the image was saved to my camera’s memory card, I owned the copyright. My camera even embeds the copyright notice into the photo’s metadata as part of the file. The photo is a creation of mine and is a whole work of art. If someone was to use it without my permission in any way, I could go to court. Would I? That depends on how it was used. Usually, when this happens, I simply inform the person and they either stop using it or we negotiate fair use of the photo.

There are the buzz words you probably have had in the back of your mind while reading thus far. Fair Use is a part of the Copyright Law. It is there not to hinder but to help people wishing to use other’s creative work in exhibiting their own work. A prime example is reviews of books, movies, concerts, and art exhibitions. The reviewer will quote or show examples of the work being reviewed. This is allowed under Fair Use. When I review books on my blog, I will quote the author and use a photo of the book’s cover. I do not replicate word for word long passages of the book and call them my own. That would be against the law. Another part of Fair Use is to give credit to the person or persons who created the work. Again, for my book reviews, I find the author’s blog or website to link to. Fair Use is a win-win if used under the spirit in which the law was written.

If you are familiar with Flickr, the popular Internet photo sharing community website, you will see the term Creative Common license. In short, the photographer who puts a Creative Commons license on a photo is allowing its use under certain conditions without having to directly ask for permission. Those conditions are spelled out in icons under the photo. They range from unconditional use to restrictive use of a photo for only personal use, derivative uses or not and commercial use or not. All Creative Common licenses require a link back to the location of the photo being used. Make sure you understand what you can and can not do under a Creative Commons license. The photographer is being nice enough to allow use of the photo without negotiation or payment, please, don’t abuse it so, like Fair Use, Creative Commons licensing stays a win-win.

Getting back to my photo. What would constitute Fair Use of it? If someone asked me if they could use it on their blog about ice hockey, I would ask for a credit and a link back to my blog or website. My “payment” if you will. That is a common practice among bloggers, photographers and other media outlets. If the photo was part of a book I produced or in my Flickr photostream, someone may use the photo as an example of my work in a review of my photography. Fair Use has been taken many ways in the U. S. courts over the years. For a layman’s explanation, visit Tim Wu’s excellent article on what constitutes Fair Use.

I know it is easy to Google photos and download them for your use. Someone created the photo; it is their photo. Not yours to use, duplicate, render it in another form (crop, print, change, etc.), publish and certainly nothing you can use to sell without permission of the person who created it whether or not you know who that is. You’ll find reports of people finding others using their photos or other artwork and suing them for monetary damages. The law gives fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to people who are found to have infringed on another’s copyright. Sounds silly for a personal blog I know but is no reason to simply ignore it. Just because something is on the Internet, does not mean it is free to use.

I hope this sheds some light on why people should seek out and ask permission to use someone else’s photograph or images on your blogs, websites and other electronic media outlets.

I thank Scott for his article here, and I know it’s an interesting and controversial topic across the board. We’d both welcome hearing from you and your thoughts on the issue. If you’re interested in learning more about photography and seeing some great shots check out Scott’s blog Views Infinitum.

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