KATHMANDU, June 12: The flashing lights, the beautiful costumes, the glamorous makeup, and the constant clicks of cameras. Add to that the chances of having those pictures published in magazines and newspapers.
Modeling, it seems, is the easiest, the most fun, and a quickest way to achieving fame and fortune.
As a profession, too, modeling today attracts a large number of youngsters. It’s common knowledge that as others prepare their bio-data before job interviews, models pretty up and pose in front of the camera. These photos build up one’s portfolio, which further works as curriculum vitae (CV) for a model.
“Only having a portfolio, however, will hardly suffice, for you’ll have to market yourself,” shares Pawan Jha, model and actor. In the case of the Nepali industry, the most common way to do that is by uploading your pictures on various web portals.
Although on the first thought, the idea of placing your pictures up on Internet so that various modeling agencies can scan through and approach you with offers for assignments might seem pretty convenient, the process, however, isn’t as simple.
“It’s sad that although the number of websites offering space for models is on a never-before surge, the quality of photo shoots, it seems, is on a never-before low,” opines Jha.
In the beginning
Cybersansar is one of the premier websites in encouraging online portfolios.
“We began in 1997,” explains Abhinav Kasaju, director of the portal. Back then, the internet was not as common a phenomenon, with only a few travel websites available online. Cybersansar, too, began as a travel website. The idea of adding glamour to the web portal came up just like that.
“We thought why not,” says Kasaju who is bothered by the rampant websites who contribute to degrading the quality of modeling in Nepal. “I can only speak for my website,” he says when asked for the reason behind the widespread fashion of having improper photo shoots.
“Our aim was to provide platforms to young upcoming models,” he explains, adding, “We have never charged any fee to our models. Rather, we demand a 25% incentive after they bag their first assignment.”
Cybersansar has till date given the Nepali film and modeling industry stars like Namrata Shrestha and Una Uprety, among others.
The idea was simple
Laxmi Basnet, 26, has been a part of the modeling industry for a decade now. Her experience in the industry ranges from visual to print assignments.
She also has had multiple photo shoots till date. In fact, she updates her portfolio every year. But she’s distressed, she says, by the fact that “ photo shoots are getting vulgar in the name of glamour. There’s a huge difference between looking glamorous and vulgar. Today, most of the pictures I see are of the latter lot,” she sighs.
The idea behind having pictures uploaded on the internet was because dropping off photos at every modeling and advertisement agency was not a feasible idea. But “There’s never been any compulsion to show skin,” she exclaims.
Meet Rijhu Shrestha, 22, who would rather stay without projects than have raunchy photo shoots done.
She believes modeling as a profession requires a lot of patience and confidence. “If you have it, flaunt it. But stay within limit,” she says, adding “A large number of people my age are in a rush to see themselves on TV and in magazines Therefore, they won’t object to showing extreme skin as wanted by various media houses.”
So, between young models and various agencies, whose fault is it anyway?
“Often, girls who are only 16, will want a photo-shoot without understanding the various aspects of the modeling profession,” Laxmi says.
Kasaju, too, has had experiences of young girls as young as 15 and 16 years coming with their parents asking for photo shoots. “We don’t feature models younger than 18 years,” he clarifies, adding “There has to be a limit.”
There are many instances when pictures of models have been downloaded form the internet and put to misuses.
“I’ve seen cases when there have been fake Facebook and other social networking site accounts created, using random pictures of models available on the internet,” claims Basnet. She says models should be aware of such things and work with only credible websites. By the way, “Cybersansar doesn’t allow downloads,” shares Kasaju.
Om Pandey, 29, has been a professional model for a decade now and is among the few who makes a nice living out of the profession. But he observes how people take modeling not as a serious profession but as a shortcut to fame.
“The vulgarity was limited to photo shoots on various websites. But it has now entered the film industry, too,” he sys, adding, “It’s sad. But because of a desperate few, the whole industry is looked down upon, and it’s high time we set some rules.”
As an immediate measure, Kasaju suggests that young upcoming models must think for themselves.
“You should be responsible for your decision and refrain from jumping into anything, no matter how tempting it seems. As for websites, they need to make sure their clients’ pictures are safe,” he says, adding, “I also find faults with mainstream newspapers which publish raunchy photo features, encouraging vulgarity.”