Please start with a short introduction telling us a little about yourself.
Hello fellow creatives! My name is Helen Diaz and I am a model and singer, originally from Bristol, England.
What made you decide to be a Model?
I got into modelling by accident, I had never intended to model! I had an eating disorder when I was very young and when I was 16 I was scouted whilst working part time in a supermarket during school. I was very much an "Ugly Betty"- with thick framed glasses and goofy teeth, but I was very slim and photogenic, with long hair down to my waist.
I had my first photoshoot with a lovely company called Clifton Photographic Company (who are still around today) and I just got the bug! Modelling gets a lot of bad press- but I can honestly say that through modelling I gained a lot of self-confidence and self-worth- I also gained an insatiable appetite for nutrition. I actually gained weight once I started modelling and took greater care of my body.
What's the most enjoyable part of your job?
The most enjoyable part of the job is that every single day is a brand-new day; you are working with different personalities, from different walks of life and you never truly know what or who you will encounter along the way. No day is the same and that is what makes it exciting! I also greatly enjoy travelling and modelling in the UK and abroad. Above everything else, I have met my best friends in modelling.
Is there anything you don't like/ would change?
I would like there to be more emphasis on a models safety and for models to prioritise their safety when accepting a shoot, above all else. When you are just starting out as a model it can be very daunting and you do not know who to trust. You are very vulnerable and easily taken advantage of… and you need to become streetwise rather quickly.
Thankfully, today there are online Model Safety groups (groups run by models, for models) which look out for each other and warn each other of potential threats or those that may not be safe to work with. These were not around when I first started many years ago! Most freelance modelling websites also have a very good referencing system in place now. I do however speak to very young models who often don’t check these - safety should always be your number one priority. If you are under 18, always have a chaperone. Even to this day I give my family a copy of my diary, so they know where I am and that I am safe.
Proudest moments of your career?
It’s really difficult to say what my proudest moment is, as I have so many personal ones rather than professional goals. I was never going to be a supermodel or a top fashion model (I am very petite!). I suppose I am proudest of the fact that I have lasted this long, that I am well respected, that I have been published in some fantastic mainstream magazines (such as Amateur Photographic as the Front cover model) and that people still want to work with me! :)
I am very proud of my charity work too. I raised £2000 for a local cat rescue centre which relies completely on donations to run (The Moggery, Bristol). I also raised £500 for St Peters Hospice who helped to care for my father through his terminal cancer.
In my personal life, I am very proud that I have overcome an eating disorder, an abusive childhood and alcoholism (which I am most proud of, as I am a child of alcoholism). I have been a green tea and raw food fanatic for the past 4 years and absolutely love my life now! I wouldn't change it for anything.
Professional goals for 2017?
I plan on travelling abroad much more this year and hopefully create many more publications! I would also like to test more with a full team of creatives, as last year I did not have much time to. I have many exciting projects on the cards but these are top secret! ;)
If you were not a Model what would you be?
When I was a child I wanted to be a Vet, as I loved (and still love!) animals. I started a Law degree after I left school, but my heart just wasn't in it. I would say now at this stage in my life that I would love a career in business/property of some kind for the future. I would also love to do some more charity work.
What's your opinion on the current industry?
The current industry is strong! Freelance modelling now has such great platforms for models, with fantastic photography websites such as Purple Port and Model Mayhem. There is so much online support now for models, photographers, MUA’s and stylists and it is a fantastic community to be part of. There are just so many opportunities available online; the world is your oyster! You also no longer have to be a supermodel to get a gig! The internet is an amazing tool - you can be whatever you want to be.
If you could change one thing what would it be?
Such a difficult one...
If I could change one thing about the industry, it would be to encourage photographers to respect models a bit more and to think of their needs on a shoot. Most of my shoots have been extremely enjoyable; there have only been a few where a break wasn't offered, refreshments were not offered and/or the studio/location was without heating. Remember that models are people too - we need to be looked after and treated with respect (and likewise the model needs to treat the team with respect - it’s a two-way street). You are much more likely to have a super productive shoot if the heating is on, the music is on the iPod and the tea and refreshments are flowing!
Models especially need a warm room to work in to keep their joints warm - it’s very difficult to pose in cold temperatures and at times, painful. And please, if you need to adjust a models strap or touch the model in any way- just ask :) I believe that is one of the biggest peeves of a model. A models safety and comfort should be paramount. Remember- if the model is uncomfortable, unhappy or upset, it will show in the photographs.
What's next for you and where should we expect to see you/ keep an eye out for you?
I have a few exciting projects abroad and really looking forward to my travels! I also plan to record (sing) much more this year!
Images attached by Photographer: Martyn Foster (black and whites)
Other two photographs (colour) are by Photographer: Fluffycat