Transcript for Episode 66 – Collaborative Artist, Roarie Yum (North Carolina, USA)

Art Model, Roarie Yum,North Carolina, USA,The difference between the traditional role of models vs today,The need to build a community,Adversity creates growth,Communication is key,TFP,trade for print,Patreon, onlyfans replacing Tumblr,Cultural differences in attitudes toward and appreciation of art,The sexualization and exploitation of the female form,Creating a book project,Much of the creative industry is run with a hope and a prayer,Models as creative equals,Self doubt and the fear of failure,Photography workshops,How photographers can better collaborate with models,Nude/art vs fashion models,If you rely on things you know how to do, you only go places you have already been,Body language and expressiveness,How to choose the best model for your project,Androgyny and gender roles,Respecting the personal space of models,Peter Lindbergh,Frank W. Ockenfels III,Ellen von Unwerth,John Ng, nude model

Recorded April 10, 2020
Published April 28, 2020

Full recording here:

Transcribed by

Matthew Dols 0:12
Can you please pronounce your name correctly?

Roarie Yum 0:14
Roarie Yum

Matthew Dols 0:17
I’ve always been a little trepidatious. I mean, I’m a photographer, I work with models frequently. And and some models like to be associated, like called one thing versus another. So like, how do you define your own career?

Roarie Yum 0:30
Typically, when people ask me what I do, I say, I’m a freelance model. You started off you were born and raised in Florida, correct.

Matthew Dols 0:39
And then so what got you into the the idea of doing modeling as a career,

Roarie Yum 0:45
I shot up in height back in fifth grade. And people since that age had told me that I should go and be a model. And eventually, at the age of 21, I was tired of hearing this and decided, well, maybe what’s that about? Let’s figure it out. Right. So were you raised in a family of people that are creative? and all this kind of stuff? Or like had, you know, how did you even come to it? Because my position on it is sort of the models are collaborators and sort of your co workers in the creation of an image. So there seems to be something that has to be there to be able to do it well beyond just being pretty and tall and whatever else.

Why think it’s a really interesting add on, I’d say add on, because models traditionally are supposed to show up and say, What do you want me to do. And then essentially, the role was to be a clothing rack. That was the traditional model role. And then I think in,

in the age of Peter Lindbergh, and Linda evangelist, and Kate Moss were models became household names. There may have been an add on of like, additional collaboration efforts on their behalf. Linda Angelica was really collaborative, and understood a lot about photography, and worked with a lot of well known photographers. And so maybe that concept spread that way. And I do think it’s, it’s true, like something that a good model does, versus maybe a just a normal regular model would do is participate fully, like be included in the creative process, and say, Okay, this is your idea. Here’s what I can add to that. And I think that makes images stand out. Sure. And I’ve been watching, I’ve been sort of following you your career for a while. And I’ve also been noticing on Facebook, that you’ve been doing a lot of questions that I found really quite interesting to hear the results of and the feedback about, you know, asking things like, do photographers want to our models that are collaborative? Or do they want them to be just clothing racks? Basically, what a lot of those questions are intended to build community, like, we get so lost in our own sphere of what it is that we’re doing that if we don’t stop and look around and go, Hey, what is this person doing our what is that person doing? You stay stagnant in your approach in ways that I’ve grown, as an artist is to constantly have a network of other artists around me, that may not even be doing the same thing that I’m doing, but may have similar overlap, like, we all do a piece of art, and we all get paid. But how those things look are very different. And if this person is doing it, and I can then reflect upon the way that I’m doing it in a different way, I may be able to improve what I’m doing.

Matthew Dols 3:48
Well, that’s that’s a very mature way of looking at it. Unfortunately, not everybody in the industry looks at it like that.

Roarie Yum 3:54
No, for sure. I mean, there are definitely people that are going to be a little bit more competitive. But it’s it’s again, about the approach to like, a long time ago, when I first started modeling, I had questions about coming to Europe, because I never traveled internationally. I just driven in circles around the US for two years. And then it occurred to me, oh, there are other countries, I could potentially do the same thing I’m doing there. Why not? And I had no information. I didn’t know many models that had done that journey before. But the one model that I did, I reached out to you and her responses weren’t as friendly as I’d hoped. And that negative experience informed me that that’s not what I wanted to do, and that I could do something different. And because I had an experience that was adverse to it made me It made me learn about what I wanted to offer what I wanted to create. And in the later years, I created a group where the intention is to say, Hey, this is what I’m doing. Okay, cool. What are you doing? And then we’ve just learned from each other. And I’ve been modeling for 10 years. But I’m constantly surprised with things that I’m learning in this group, by women that have been doing this for shorter amounts of time than I have.

Matthew Dols 5:13
Sure, absolutely. It’s an interesting because like I was thinking about this ahead of time before getting on here with you is like, the idea of a traveling model of any sort, even a fashion, you know, high fashion model, let’s say, is really still reasonably new. Like in the grand scheme of like, the history of art, like, traditionally, model serves either had a patron or a purse, a painter, or sculptor that was sort of their thing. And they didn’t really sort of even go between artists, or creative people, much less traveled the world to work with, you know, people with different cultures and different backgrounds and different intentions. So like, this entire idea is a very, very contemporary idea.

Yeah, that’s a really good point. Give me a timeframe. So you’re saying you’ve been doing this for 10 years. So that means in 2010, you started modeling, roughly, yeah, I started dabbling. There was a local photographer, who had reached out, he said, Oh, I see potential in your work, I’d be very interested in working with you. And in my newer days, before, I’d figured out what roles I wanted to play in the community, and what community I even wanted to exist in, I tried a lot of different genres of shooting, and modeling and posing, and his particular style of shooting, when I look back at it, I would not choose to work with this person now. But it also provided an opportunity for me to grow. So by having, again, experiences that I may have been otherwise adverse to, it helps shape what I wanted to do. And he’d also extended teaching me a couple of things like, maybe you don’t show up to shoot with chip nail polish. Yeah, I mean, there is a certain amount of professionalism that has become expected of models in this day and age. Like I remember, maybe 15 years ago, 20 years ago, like it wasn’t really models were literally sort of just go racks, they showed up, and they just pretty much put on whatever clothes and did whatever they were told, but now they’re sort of their even expectations were oftentimes models are expected to show up, of course, with like, minimal to no makeup, you know, as little adornment as possible, possibly even clothing that doesn’t leave marks on the skin ahead of time. Like, there are lots of different things like that. Yeah, yeah. Well, I’d say, if in order for you to create it, or treat it as a business and get ahead professionally, there would be a certain standard of ethics involved, like, I’m currently working on writing some of the things that I’ve learned, so that a younger version of me can have a leg up things that I had to figure out through trial and error, because there’s really not with freelance modeling, there’s no guide, or guidance, or mentor.

Roarie Yum 8:06
A little bit through the the Facebook group we’re discussing, what is your approach to cold calling? Or what do you find to be your rules? Or what are what are your ethics and every model in the freelance world does it totally different because there’s no one way to model. And we don’t really have an agency that says, Okay, this is the standard, and everyone must appear this way. Each model has found maybe their own route, but also a different set of tool bags, that has shaped either their career or how they approach modeling. in general. As an example, I get hired for different things than some of my peers, because of my look, and because of my interest, I may get hired to teach workshops or to do location scouting, or to do androgynous type images or to create in Peter learn Lindbergh style, which is fashion nudity. And it’s because of my body frame and how I’ve also positioned my portfolio which is your visual resume, and the skills that I bring, which is also styling, and the kind of clothes or the posing that I draw myself to

Matthew Dols 9:21
write so it sounds like you’re trying to basically sort of like make yourself more engaged in the process led me to a certain extent, it feels like you’ve over the time you’ve learned or or even just had the desire to sort of expand your capabilities so that you can offer more to any potential client than just being body.

Roarie Yum 9:45
For sure. The creativity is always been there. That’s a that’s a part that I’ve had and nurtured within myself, but the additional roles that I’ve taken on are maybe out of necessity so that I have more jobs rather than less, but also to shape the specific types of jobs. jobs that I’m interested in. I like location scouting, I spent an entire month, two years ago driving around in my car in Nevada and Arizona in Utah. I mean, I live out of my car already. So this wasn’t anything new. But in those specific locations, waking up at sunrise, watching the sunset, to figure out where cable there was a lot of foot traffic where people would be where the sun would rise and where it would set what were really good locations versus what were too heavily trafficked for doing road trips. And then subsequently did two years of road trips with individual photographers in these really beautiful landscapes. I wouldn’t do that if I was like, Oh, this is just for money. I did it because I thought, Oh, I love Mother Nature. And I love being out and creating beautiful types of images, while complementing this landscape with the natural given body that I have. Because that’s, to me shaping the world that I want to live in, which is female nudity isn’t necessarily inherently sexual. It can be just as natural or beautiful. As Mother Nature is all on its own. You have

Matthew Dols 11:09
seen that you do a lot of location shoots. Now you do other things now also. So you’re now based in North Carolina, from what I understand. Yes. Asheville.

Roarie Yum 11:22
No more recently, I’ve just settled into Raleigh, Raleigh. Okay. My family’s actually in Wilmington. So I know the area pretty well. Cool. You mentioned that you did other things. So like you used to be a photographer’s assistant and used to do all kinds of other things. So like, what going forward, I mean, nothing, nothing personal. But like modeling doesn’t necessarily always expand through an entire lifetimes. At some point, modeling will potentially end and you know, people just won’t hire you for whatever reason. So like, are you preparing yourself for potential other jobs in the future?

Yeah, I mean, I’d offer pushback to that there’s a couple of models that I know that are participating in that group, that are in the 4046 year age range. But I understand the sentiment, there’s a shelf life to modeling, and maybe a third of the income will be for modeling rather than 100% of the income. I took on additional roles, like I was a photo assistant, I did studio managing, so I created programs and networked for a studio, I learned and have been learning light setups, I’ve read and watched many documentaries on different photographers understanding their styles, all of these played roles within the modeling, the more I knew the better model I could do. And I could be and then additionally, with my own creative endeavors, which I’ve started to pick up a camera now, this is also helped me it was like, as a model, I had training wheels on to become the artist, the person who has more control. So photographer is the one who clicks the image and owns the image, the model collaborates, but doesn’t own the image.

Matthew Dols 13:09
Right. I mean, I’m, I am a photographer, and I hire models. And so I’m always interested in the other side of it. Like, I’m, whenever I approach a model, I’m always you know, about hiring them in some way. I’m always wondering, you know, what the right way to be approached is because, for instance, for example, in the United States, I used to, you know, when I was a young photographer, I would ask people to collaborate, you know, with because I had very little money. And then I use the same word collaborate in Europe, and they sort of took offense to it. Like, they basically see that as working for free. And so like, there’s little nuances to even just how to, for a photographer to contact them on a freelance model, I should say, because if you go through an agency that’s differently, but what are some ways that you think are the best practices for photographers approaching models, and what are some bad practices,

Roarie Yum 14:09
bad practices would involve bad communication, I think the more aware you are of what your project entails, and what would be required of the model, and the easier it is for you to communicate that across. Because every model has their own agenda and their own needs and their own value system and value system refers to maybe I’d be willing to accept your particular job and project because I’m really interested in it. Because I know you as a person, not just as a person I’m going to potentially work with and so I may be willing to value that job and my fulfillment at a higher rate and give you a discount as a result, whereas another model who doesn’t know you may not. So there’s a lot of factors that go into it, especially when it’s a value added rating system.

Matthew Dols 14:57
Yeah, when we which goes back to a course the question about

Like how do models price? You know, because I’m, on the one hand, I’m a fan of trade for what used to be trade for print. But like these days, I’m not a big fan of trade for whatever trade for now is like trade for print. In the old days, when I’m thinking like darkroom prints and stuff like that, I felt like I was actually giving them a piece of the art of it, you know, that I crafted and I printed, and it was a unique thing. And it was something nice. But these like trade for just digital images. Now, I feel like that’s a ridiculous question to be asking your model to do something like that. I mean, yes or no, if the if the images are digital, and they’re high quality, and the model was also granted the permission to print them on their own and print them on their own for portfolio updating or print them on their own for selling to her fan base, that could be a value I value a little differently than maybe some models. I know some models who have more strict rigid lines where they say, no, it’s 100 or $125 an hour at the end. Whereas I look at every project that comes my way and you know, right out communicate clearly these are the values and then this is the rate that I can offer. Does that seem fair to you? And then we proceed if it is, and in some circumstances, Frank Oaken fells is a really great example. I worked with him, I love his work, his creative process is incredible. And I thought, well, I would really love a print of our shoot together and worked with him in collaboration for a print and a discounted rate.

Yeah, And to me, that’s better than the whole silly, like trade for just straight up images. But, but I guess these days, like, models also need images, also, because of social media and all the other ways that they continue to build their networks.

Roarie Yum 16:51
Well, there’s also Patreon and this kind of only fans, I think, is another one, where when Tumblr was functioning as a placeholder for for folks who were creative and could put nude work, which and it was also a social outlet, versus Instagram, and Facebook, which does not allow nudity, there was more of a fan base, that would be a mix of both artists and people that just found the work or my story interesting. And I’d created stickers and I had created small print runs that people actually purchased. And that helps, you know, funds, like some of my trips or some of my creative endeavors. And maybe that doesn’t exist on Tumblr anymore, but I can still crowdsource, if given the right pitch and kind of reward to the right crowd.

Matthew Dols 17:44
Okay, so I’m interested so that what you’re now talking about is like the different income sources, so like, the straight up just modeling is not necessarily 100% of your income, you have other income streams that help to, you know, make up your entire gross income. So like, what are some of these other avenues that you’ve been working on? And how well do some of them work these days?

Roarie Yum 18:08
Well, I’ve always been adverse to Patreon, mostly because it felt well at least my understanding of it felt more like selling myself as a product, which seems like Oh, how is modeling not doing that? With modeling, it’s one on one, like, my creativity, and my connection is with one singular person. And I can intensely focus on whatever it is that we’re creating with Patreon. You your person, your personality, is sold to, to a mass amount of people. And it felt like much more work maybe like the work of an extrovert and I wasn’t in didn’t feel like I could achieve that. And maybe I’d built that wall up in my mind, because there are quite a different number of approaches that I’ve seen from other models, who use Patreon as a way to supplement their income from Loulis, who makes roughly 3000 to $4,000 per month, on her Patreon, to folks that only upload artists reference images and make anywhere from 100 to $300 a month, which if you were posing for artists, that might be the same like in person that might be about the same amount of income you’d be making.

Matthew Dols 19:23
Actually, I had a question, have you do you only work with photographers? Are you have you ever done any work with like painters and sculptors or any other medium? I also know you do videos but so other than video and photo? Do you work with other mediums?

Roarie Yum 19:39
Yeah, I’ve sat for my first experience was quite a number of years ago, I sat for a painting class. I didn’t have the understanding that it was two times a week for two hours. And it was a month long process. And that was my first experience for sitting for a class of painters. And I felt I fell asleep one time, during the class. Nice. Yeah. And then I’ve worked with, there’s a fantastic artists same as Toby in London. And he sketches, just portraits. And he found me because at the time I had a shaved head. And it was really intrigued with the shape and being able to adjust it because I sometimes wear wigs, especially in that time. So he kind of felt like oh, well, I get this model who has shaved head, and then I get this other model who has a blunt bang, cut, and then longer hair. And I’ve worked with sculptors, there’s one that’s based in New Orleans, who made a torso of my body, which was really interesting. The experiences have been varied, but they go from painters to sculptors, mostly.

Matthew Dols 20:47
So after two years of doing just around the United States, you decided to go to Europe did was there some dramatic difference between your experiences in the United States versus Europe? And then well, for that matter, even within Europe, did you find any sort of unique differences between the countries and the way that they communicate or the way that they work or the way they plan or anything like this?

Roarie Yum 21:10
Yeah, I think, after traveling to Europe, I was quite disappointed in the US in the way that we treat art. So in Europe, people were much more professional, they committed to a date, they would commit to a rate they would commit to everything and communication or rather rapid succession in the US, you’d have several conversations before someone committed to any sort of date or, you know, definitive information regarding to the project that you’re about to embark on. And in the US, so you get a lot more back and forth. And rate haggling. I think it has something to do with this. Well, I spend a lot of money on a camera. So you know, why do I need to spend money on you additionally? And can I just give you, you know, digital images, and there’s not really a value in the art, I think there might be several underlying reasons why. Whereas in Europe, a lot of folks have incentives to create art, whether it’s government funded art programs, and grants. But there’s also the need and necessity within the society to understand that art is important. And to repeat that back to the people who are artists, versus in the US where it’s more scrappy, and seems a little bit more scarce to find funding, especially when it relates to nude art. I mean, think about all the great photographers who were famous for nude art, or the American or European.

Matthew Dols 22:44
Primarily European. Absolutely, yeah, no, I’m, I’m from America, but I currently live in Europe. And I do see these dramatic changes and difference of opinions. I mean, you do have to remember America was built on the puritanical idea. So the fact that they’re less evolved in the idea of nudity is not too surprising, really.

Roarie Yum 23:03
I mean, I agree with that. I just think that it’s like perpetuated in the culture through the sexualization of the female form. So whether it started out as this puritanical, the woman’s body is evil, where it has ended up is really exploitive of the woman’s body. And so therefore, it’s kind of hard for young female photographers who are primarily shooting in self portrait to create images of themselves nude or semi nude, and it not be seen or deemed or demonized as porn.

Matthew Dols 23:38
I lived in the Middle East for six years. So all of that was just off the table. Like that was not even a discussion that was had because of Sharia law. So yeah, that to go from America to the Middle East to Europe, a was very refreshing to leave the Middle East and sort of come to someplace like Europe that had a little bit more of an open mind when it came to figurative works in general. So doesn’t matter gender, but just general figurative works.

Roarie Yum 24:09
Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, after I spent time in Jordan, backpacking it, it really made me grateful for the advancements that we’ve made, as far as I know, marriage. Current today for women is an ownership like it used to be many years ago, in the US, and not even that many years ago. And we have the right to vote. Whereas when I was spending time in this village, and Jordan, younger woman came up to me and, and touched my hair and said, I like your hair. And it kind of touched me in a like, Oh, she’s acknowledging that I have a choice that’s not available to her. And something as simple that I had taken for granted, which was my haircut was something that meant a lot more to her because she couldn’t have it. And that really gave me perspective. I’m not saying one culture is better than the other but you can definitely see By comparison, advancement and not be so angry at the things that you don’t have.

Matthew Dols 25:06
Oh, yeah, we do have a sense of sort of entitlement like we we take for granted all the freedoms that we have in sort of certain societies over other societies. I mean, I, you know, as I said, lived in the Middle East, and, and when I was in the Middle East, actually, my job was to teach at a university, I taught art to Muslim women. So I had a very in depth experience with that. And dealing with the sort of cultural dynamics between being a man from a different culture and having to participate in the the female part of the female Muslim community. You know, gave it a whole new perspective, for sure.

Roarie Yum 25:51
sounds really interesting.

Matthew Dols 25:53
It was interesting, and I’m happy I got out without being arrested.

Roarie Yum 25:57
Yeah. say they’re quite strict for my understanding, it could be arrested for nearly anything at any time. So it doesn’t feel as secure.

Matthew Dols 26:08
Yes, that’s absolutely true. Yeah, I have a friend who posted an image on Facebook. And it was a picture of a car. And the person who owned the car didn’t like the picture. And so she got thrown in prison, and deported from the country and is never allowed back in the country.

Roarie Yum 26:25

Matthew Dols 26:26
Yeah. So I couldn’t really participate in social media and anything like that for six years.

Roarie Yum 26:32
I can’t imagine being cut off from the rest of the world. That’s how I connected with my family when I was traveling, was through Facebook.

Matthew Dols 26:40
Yeah, you don’t know what freedoms You have until you suddenly don’t have them anymore? Yeah,

Roarie Yum 26:46
I mean, it’s a side tangent. Like talking about revenue streams. I’ve worked with artists in their developmental process, like creating a book they their intention to hire me was to create a book and have seen the development of idea to completion. And what that looks like. And traditional methods, I’m assuming, would have been just higher model for a particular project then displayed in a gallery. Do you think that with the internet and what we have accessible to us today, we have many different avenues, depending on what our needs are, or what we’re able to accomplish? reasonably, like, if you have a lot of time, or if you’re willing to commit a lot of time, you can create art and profit from it with only the value of using your time, if that makes sense.

Matthew Dols 27:41
It does. I mean, I’ve got seven art projects from my entire career that I’m waiting to find a publisher to help me publish. But yeah, I mean, the hard part is of like publishing books is the issue of, do you hold out and wait for like a proper publishing house or publisher to help you with it? Or do you self publish, because there’s still at this moment a bit, so a bit of a stigma over self publish, it works and books versus having a proper publisher backing it kind of thing. So

Roarie Yum 28:15
wondering if there if that’s a perceived stigma, or if it if there’s metrics that can, like prove that idea?

Matthew Dols 28:24
Well, I come from academia. And so like, in the teaching sphere, you know, a self published book, like when we go up for tenure, or promotion and things like this, they basically, if you have a self published book, it’s worth maybe, let’s say, like, one point towards towards promotion. But if you have a book published by a reputable publishing house, then it’s worth like, five points or 10 points. So, you know, in certain aspects of the arts industry, specifically in academia, like self published is, has very little value, because it’s basically, I had enough money to do this. So I’m just gonna publish it myself. But in some other spheres like, it’s really, it’s great, because it it creates the opportunity for more people to create more things to be able to connect with more people. So like, it should be given a little bit more value than it is in a lot of sort of professional settings.

Roarie Yum 29:19
I think professional settings may tend to stick to these rigid codes that reinforce their power. Like, there’s no university that will hire a person who has not graduated from university. I think that’s kind of silly, because what if somebody has 10 years of experience versus someone who has no experience but recently graduated, who’s going to offer more value in that role. However, their line that they draw is to reinforce their value that they offer in the world? Well, you can’t go out and get years of experience you need us to progress you forward in your career. So I wonder if that particular line that they’re drawing a self published book, kind of reinforces So a lot of the same idea. I’m not saying that one is right and one’s wrong, as you pointed out, it’s interesting that when we have the opportunity to self publish books, it opens up the diversity to the books that are now available. For example, Thomas Holmes book he self published, but the key to his success is that he is actually a colorist, and he works with a huge printing facility. And that is something that he does professionally prints, photo art books. So he had this knowledge that he was able to produce what a publisher would produce on his own, and also created a marketing strategy that sold enough books and, and gained, I think he 26,000 US dollars to fund the project from start to completion. So because of those options being available, there’s now an art book out there that may not have existed if he had just waited, and waited to get a traditional publishing deal.

Matthew Dols 31:00
Indeed, yeah. I mean, it also brings into you know, there’s also then the question of like, the print on demand versus like, you know, publishing like, I know, a guy in Europe that he, he had to throw down a lot of money to publish or print his book in advance with no pre orders. And he’s pretty much just sort of had to hope and pray that, sorry, my cat’s meow, he sort of had to hope and pray that people were going to buy it. And of course, people did. And he ended up selling out the whole first edition, and he ended up printing an entire second edition and that selling well, also. So it’s a lot of the creative field is sort of hoping a prayer.

Roarie Yum 31:41
Yeah, a lot of the questions that I’m fielding for models that are newer, are basically very similar, in the sense that, to be successful in the art field, or to be successful as a freelance writer to be successful, as an artist, you invest in yourself, you’re you as a artist, your materials, what you’re doing, what you’re trying to create, and what you’re trying to produce. And then hopefully, fingers crossed, there’s an audience that’s willing to purchase that, although I would argue that, you know, there’s a we’ll have, you know, maybe 12, different aspects on this, we’ll have areas that help that happen. So self made artists versus the traditional methods. So traditional method, you’re an artist, you invest in your materials, and then you find a manager or gallery, and you sell your items. Or you could create your own Patreon. So group of followers that are interested in your story, what you do what you create, and are willing to buy into whatever it is that you create, as long as it’s a quality, and you’ve nurtured the folks around you, that are truly bought into what it is that you’re creating, or how you view the world or your story. And I think that worked in Thomas’s favor, where he has, you know, X amount of followers that helped book sales, for sure. And then also his workshops that he offered, those folks could see the value that he offers, and was interested in the book, and therefore supported him.

Matthew Dols 33:12
The whole industries, you know, changing and growing and ever evolving, and new technologies are coming out. And so there’s a lot still to do. And it’ll start lot still to constantly be not only learn, but continually be learning. Like you have taken your social media profile like that. So you use Instagram, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and all this. And you’re using Facebook, the social media platform to create conversations about the industry and build that image. And that’s a very different because most models, at least in my experience, basically just put up the most beautiful photos of themselves and just wait for accolades. instead of actually engaging in conversations so much,

Roarie Yum 33:59
oh, I have a different strategy than maybe more of the other models where I mean, my strategy is to be seen as a creative equal so that when I enter into a creative situation, or partnership, so in other words, that I’m a model, and there’s a photographer, we’re on the same creative plane, where not one or the other person has more information than the other. I’ve taken on every role within photography, and it’s well understood, and then I reinforce it with what I do on Facebook or social media, on Instagram, it’s a little different. I pose challenging perspectives about the world. And that’s for a totally different market on Facebook, where it’s strictly only photographers or artists or models that I’m friends with, that those my people those are the people that I’m getting hired by, or networking with four other potential jobs. And so in that realm, I position myself as an educator who’s learning and teaching by Cuz that’s the same role that I want to play. In the modeling domain, when I’m hired one on one with someone,

Matthew Dols 35:05
let’s do like a little like theory for the future. So like if you had a perfect scenario for your continuation of your career, so as you’re building it, and so on, what are you trying to achieve moving forward?

Roarie Yum 35:19
Oh, well, where I’m going now. And actually, this is a good question for this particular moment in time, is workshops, I’m fleshing out the idea of what a workshop a creative workshop would look like. And what I find with a lot of artists, in even really high caliber artists, is there we all wrangle with self doubt, and I good enough, am I doing this right? Is this worth money? Is this worth someone’s time or attention? Everybody across the board, every single artist that I’ve met, and maybe it’s because of my inquisitive curiosity, childlike nature, where I’m just openly accepting whatever it is, and have been able to take whatever it is and repurpose it to shape, something that works for me going forward, being able to take that utility tool about and sharing that with other artists, has really helped me in my modeling. And now I’m hoping to, to not just be the model, but to also be the facilitator. And that’s why I think workshops are great for that,

Matthew Dols 36:22
oh, man, I love the idea of workshops, the concept of them. And I have, you know, over the years, people have tried to say, like, Hey, you should run workshops. And like, all I see that as a as a photographer, all I see when I think of a workshop is basically another full time job of trying to market another thing. So like, I am a photographer, and I am makeup, my art, and I’m trying to market that. And that’s a job, but then to do to be sort of a workshop person, running workshops, coordinating workshops, planning, worship at all, that’s a whole nother marketing scheme. That’s a whole nother set of clients. It’s, it’s a whole nother public relations thing that I don’t have the skill set to do like and the anxiety like you said, the fear the fear of the embarrassment of like publicly saying, Hey, I’m going to run this workshop, and then nobody signs up for it. And you’re horribly embarrassed, because you can’t even fill up a five person or a 10 person workshop. Like that’s, that is a huge, intimidating, anxious feeling when trying something so new and so public.

Roarie Yum 37:35
Yeah, I mean, everybody. Everybody struggles with the fear of failure, but I would I would reverse that. Do you like teaching so much? Is that a thing that you really enjoy doing?

Matthew Dols 37:49
Are you actually asking me that?

Roarie Yum 37:51
Yeah, genuine question. Do you like I’m a professor,

Matthew Dols 37:53
I absolutely. My favorite part of teaching is the act of teaching. The part I don’t like is the administrative work and the meetings and all that stupid stuff. So being in the classroom and engaging with people learning and and being able to, you know, even learn things myself from from them. So so like, I don’t see teaching as a, you know, I’m the master, you’re the apprentice kind of approach, I see it a bit more of a sort of a, I do like the Socratic method. So like, I teach them how how to learn, and how to grow. And I lead them on paths and I, and I make them figure out for themselves why whatever decision is the right decision, it’s not my place to tell them that

Roarie Yum 38:38
I think we have a similar teaching style. This is I call it empowering people through using the tool belt. They’re their own tool belt, you have all the answers within yourself, but being able to figure out how to get there and feel more solid in your choices. I don’t want to tell you what to do. But I mean, going back to the so you do you really do like teaching. Oh, absolutely. You live your life without teaching a class,

Matthew Dols 39:04
could I Well, there’s the balancing act. If I had more time to sit in the studio and make more work I can deal with not teaching but like, to me the practice of teaching is a similar, like, um, it’s working the same creative muscle as it is like if I’m making my own work versus teaching how to make work. It’s the same creative muscle. So whether if I can be in a classroom, or if I can be in the studio, myself making my own work, that’s the same sort of techniques and muscles and thoughts and all that. So I could do without teaching if I could also be in the studios, but I mean, but being in the studio has its own set of anxieties and fears as well. So like, you know, sometimes I find a good balance between being a practitioner and being a teacher actually keeps me a little bit more well balanced.

Roarie Yum 39:59
Yeah, being able to to kind of go into the studio at times, and then also be around people and teaching kind of has a symbiotic relationship. I guess my next question would be, what if the workshop that you’re envisioning was that you teaching or employing your Socratic method to people that looked at your work and said, Wow, I really respect what you’re doing. Maybe I don’t want to create the same thing. But I’m interested in how did you get to where you’re where you are? And that was the workshop.

Matthew Dols 40:29
There are so many workshops, because I mean, there’s I because I get emails, people offering me workshops, I don’t know why. But there are so many different kinds of workshops, some are technical, some are conceptual, some are portfolio building, some are, you know, like how to approach publishers, some are how to layout and design a book, a project. There’s so many different variations on it, it’s really the one of the sort of more anxiety driven parts for myself, when I think about running a workshop is, what’s the right workshop, you know, cuz I mean, here in Europe, the most common most common ones are basically, photographers will basically say, hey, we’ll get a location, we’ll get some models, and you come, and then I’ll just help you make beautiful pictures of these beautiful people in these beautiful places. And that’s very common here. But that, to me, that’s sort of a rank hobbyist kind of thing. That’s not necessarily helping with professional practices, and, you know, enhancing careers and things like that. But it’s, it’s great practice. And it’s great experiences, I’m not downplaying them. But that’s not really what I want to do, I want to, like I do one of my other jobs is I do portfolio reviews for photographers through lens culture. And so, you know, every week I’m looking at hundreds and hundreds of portfolios and giving feedback on them. So like, I would love to see people just get more professional opportunities and feel more confident in their professional opportunities. But I feel like a bit of a hypocrite in trying to be this person that stands there and says, Hey, you should do this. Because even though I’m not doing it,

Roarie Yum 42:12
I mean, that’s fair. But I think it’s because you’ve allowed fear to speak to you more than the fear of what if you never get the opportunity to do that?

Matthew Dols 42:22
Oh, yeah, fear is a very big overwhelming thing in the creative industries in general. So like, whether it’s an art photographer, or an artist or whatever, like, there, we all have those fears. And we’re always afraid of failure in everything we do. Like, I mean, I’m working on projects, and I’m always going, well, anybody even care about this? Like, period?

Roarie Yum 42:47
Yeah, I mean, I struggle with that a little bit too, mostly because the imagery that I’m involved in involves my person. And so it kind of feels vain. But then I remind myself that, you know, it’s not for other people to care or to like, or even to have an interest in. I’m creating it for myself my own purpose, I have something to say when I took on this project. And that thing is still important to me. And so I reframe in my mind, well, who cares if nobody else likes it? I didn’t make it for them. I didn’t spend hours learning what I learned to be able to make the thing that I’m making, because I wanted somebody to pat me on the back. No, I made it because this thing inside myself told me that I needed to express this, I needed to share this thought I needed to share this idea. And that is important. And so I’m going to prioritize that thought that need that desire over the what if somebody doesn’t like it? And so I kind of carved out like, my job wasn’t a real job. Being a freelance model. Sure, that’s a job. But in the way that I approached it, I carved it out because I sat down and said, what is important to me, and then I prioritize those things. And anything that didn’t take me closer to those things, anything that felt like, self crippling, like, Oh, well, what if people don’t like it? Or what if I go to this country, and I don’t find any jobs? Fuck it, go to that country. Anyways, at the very least, I’ll see awesome new landscapes meet new interesting people, and I’ll have a good time. At the most, I’ll get completely booked out. And I’ll have to come back again, when that’d be nice. But if it’s anywhere in the middle, it’s also okay to and taking away all of the things that I could potentially be scared of, like not getting booked. I’m not saying that I didn’t feel scared because I wasn’t going to make enough money to get to the next city because I often live very close to make it or break it line. But I was so mentally focused on what I wanted to accomplish that I got there. I mean, I don’t know a lot of people specifically my age that have traveled to as many places or lived in as many places as I have experienced the richness of what I’ve experienced. And I don’t mean that to boast. I mean it as this is what I set out to do and this is what I accomplished using that tool set.

Matthew Dols 44:59
It is interesting I mean, fear does, unfortunately rule most creative people’s lives in one way, shape or form, like whether they’re afraid of even starting the project, or when they’re done with the project of they’re afraid of putting it out in the world and not having it well received or even received at all. I mean, I do it all the time, because I work on projects for months or years before they ever see the light of day, I mean, might show them to a few friends and peers, but of course, they’re always going to be rather supportive. So it’s the, it’s the nature of getting it out into the the world of the unknown, the people who don’t know you, and love you and support you, and hearing their reactions, that is very intimidating and scary and anxious. Like, I’ve taken up a bit of a Xanax habit these days, because like, I just can’t deal with it. Sometimes.

Roarie Yum 45:51
I totally understand that. I’m not saying that I don’t face my own fears at all. I just, I guess if I had listened to the fears that I’d had years ago, I wouldn’t have gotten to the places that I had gotten to, because at any number of the points, I could have said, Oh, man, like, as an example, the first time I ever went over to Europe, I booked a month long trip, I’d never been to Europe before, this is a totally new market, and not just a new market, several new markets. So I was going to several different cities I’d never been to before, I didn’t have a cell phone. So I felt kind of like, if I made an appointment, and I was even five minutes late, I can guarantee the person was still going to be there because I had no way to communicate to them. And so there’s a lot of hurdles. And, you know, in the process of writing people in Europe, I had fought this interview, and I was like, well, who’s gonna care? I’ve never been to these countries, why would they? Why would they hire me? How am I even going to make money? How am I going to, you know, even fund this whole trip, because I had to pay for the travel and the accommodation and the trains and the buses in between each individual city and all of this logistical stuff that I had never done before, upfront out of pocket, and I wrestled with myself, Oh, man, what if I get there? And this is all been for nothing? What if I get there? And I don’t make any of this back? What if I get there and nobody wants to hire me? which is different than what if I get there? Nobody likes me. And I think because we’re artists, and we work so closely with what we want to say and shape that and create an art piece that says that and then shares that with the world we entangle who we are with our piece of art, and that estrangement that I have between Well, if somebody tells me No, well, then that’s their problem versus Oh, somebody tells me No, they rejected me, has empowered me to be able to go and do those things. Because if they tell me no, too bad, it’s not my problem. Their problem, I know what I offer, I know what I bring to the table. And I have a lot of clients at this point now that were really supportive, and were happy to hire me many times over, which tells me that I do offer a thing. And when I choose to focus on those positive experiences, rather than the few people that said, no, then it empowers me to go forward and move and create cool things and take bigger risks. I’m not saying I don’t also fight with those inner demons of like, well, what if I’m not good enough? Or what if this doesn’t work? I’ve just taken what I’ve known and turned it around on its head. Like, I told myself before I went to Europe before I went to South Africa, before I went to Jordan, could I live with myself if I didn’t? If I went my entire life without going to those places? Could I live with that? And the answer was no. And even if it was scary, even if I didn’t want to on the inside, or even if my fear was talking to me, I said, What’s more important, going or not going? And when I make choices, going or not going going has to be reflected in those choices. like buying a ticket, not procrastinating, not being scared buying insurance, if I’m scared, any number of those things that got me closer to going rather than listening to the things that were more comfortable that took me further away from going?

Matthew Dols 48:53
Oh, certainly, I mean, just when I took my job in Abu Dhabi is in the United Arab Emirates, like, it was a completely unknown thing. It was just totally random. But at that time, my priority in my life was to try something new. Like that was it and now I’m in Europe, and my entire life is new, like every experience I have in Europe is foreign to my having been raised in the United States, you know, like I have conversations on more or less a daily basis about cultural differences, nuances, even in language and, and expectations as well, like, here, like I’ve had this conversation with my wife numerous times, which is that here in Europe or specifically more in the Czech Republic, there’s a sense of humbleness, like so you, you you don’t boast about yourself very much. Like as an artist, I have to write grants and things like this for funding here. And they, they’ve constantly been telling me Don’t be a cheerleader. Just say what you’re doing. Just explain it sort of ABC. This is what you’re going to accomplish. Whereas in the United States, if you write a grant for something, it’s very much you have to sell yourself here, you’re convincing people that you’re worthy of investing in through this grant. And just even those little subtle cultural differences make a huge difference in sort of who I am. Because I have chosen to live in these places.

Roarie Yum 50:22
I think that’s really interesting. I learned a lot about American culture or North American culture from having traveled and visiting other cultures. Absolutely. And it kind of shapes the person that you are like, after you leave this experience, you may view the world differently, or your approach to writing grants may be different. And I think more more well rounded because of the things that you’ve learned that are in contrast to the things that you’ve learned in the US.

Matthew Dols 50:52
I hope. So we’ll see Time will tell on that stuff. Okay, so these future workshops that you’re thinking about doing that you’re going to facilitate? Are you going to be doing these things in the United States? You can view them worldwide? How are you doing these things?

Roarie Yum 51:07
Wow, I love that question. Because I hadn’t considered the potential of taking it to Europe. That’s how limiting I was putting it on myself. But thanks. Yeah, I could I would definitely.

Matthew Dols 51:19
Well, from what I see of you, you’ve built a very good, strong network of people throughout the world. I mean, you You seem to have worked with people everywhere, whenever I’m seeing your posts on Facebook and things like this, people are responding from South Africa, Germany, you know, all kinds of different places, not just the United States.

Roarie Yum 51:39
Yeah, I would agree with that every country that I visited with the exception of Jordan, because I visited for different reasons. I’ve worked with artists, and I would hope that I did leave a maybe an impression and the footprints of a network. And I could draw on that, and continue to collaborate with folks, I think, the idea of the workshop is to facilitate in physical form, a learning atmosphere, and then also, maybe one on one sessions with artists, because I do spend a lot of my time working with artists, using that tool belt of creativity and curiosity and quieting our inner fear demon, to just in a photoshoot realm where I’ve only been hired as a model.

Matthew Dols 52:34
Going back to the just the pure modeling thing. I have a question about that. Do you like it when P like photographers come in? And let’s say they have inspirational photos, you could call it mood boards, whatever, like as things like this, or do you prefer it to be more non visual, so that later allows you to sort of interpret the words they’re explaining more than just sort of mimicking or copying an image that’s been put in front of you.

Roarie Yum 53:05
I’m a visual person. And so words are really hard for me to visualize. Like, for example, if you were to say, Rory, I would love to hire you for this project. In my mind’s eye, I see you wearing a blue dress standing in a field. And that tells me so little about this specific project. However, if you show me examples of the of the field, you went out and you located a specific field, and this was a field that you were going to shoot in, and you even showed me the perspective that you’re going to create in maybe like the framing, the time of day, and a particular set of images that showed me the style of dress that you were looking for, or even references to what kind of makeup or hairstyle you might be, then it gives me a foot to go Okay, well, this is a little bit of what he’s talking about showing up to this is what I can accomplish. This is what I can arrive in us. And this is our starting point. And where can we take it from there. So that’s good communication to me, because I’m very visual person in the words like if you said blue, and I interpreted as Navy, but you met periwinkle, we wouldn’t be on the same page. And I may not be able to fulfill the vision that you have requested. And I always think of those things as starting points. It’s not the concrete box that we have to exist in. This is where you said this is where I’d like to start. And then from where we take it from there is based on my personality, what my posing style is, like, what you see and what you’re interpreting of me as you see it. That’s our artistry. That’s what we’re adding to it.

Matthew Dols 54:40
Certainly, I mean, over the course of my career, I’ve worked with everything from amateur models to professional high fashion models, and then also aren’t nude models, and I’ve even worked with pornographic actresses that wanted to do sort of fashion II kind of shoots and I found personally that a Model who does nudes, knows how to move their body and use their body in more expressive ways than models who traditionally only wear clothes, and have never done any nude works. That’s just my experiences,

Roarie Yum 55:16
I would say the same. It’s like if we use it another way when I didn’t have hair, so I had no hair that could frame my face or cover my face or be used as a form of expression, I had to learn how to use my face, I couldn’t just stand there and stare point blank that would make very boring images. So when I didn’t have something, when you don’t have clothing, you have to learn how to carry sadness, carry anger carry tension, because all parts of your body are visible.

Matthew Dols 55:46
Yeah, and you don’t have the the cover or the the illusion of some sort of guardedness or even just the like, I’ve worked with a young lady with a model. She’s great lady good model. And she relied on her hair to express things. And so the first thing I did was I made them put her hair up in a bond. And so she couldn’t use her hair for anything, which I felt like was very interesting to force her to find new ways to express herself and ended up making some really stunning images in that way. So I find that a lot of times, like taking away some of the habits or the the ease of things that make it’s that make models feel overly comfortable to make them feel a little, a slight amount of uncomfortableness, in as far as you know, how they have traditionally done things to make them force them to think of new ways to express things, I find it oftentimes gets better results than relying on things, your old habits and old techniques.

Roarie Yum 56:49
Well, I mean, if you rely on the old things, you only go places you’ve you’ve already been kind of in my career, I’ve, you know, shaved my head, and I didn’t have hair. And so I knew that without hair, I couldn’t, I could only get away with just standing there with my blank face, maybe one or two shoots if I was lucky. And that’s just not me, I used it as an opportunity to push myself. So I watched a lot of films about how to emote, how to use your face, how to how to be absolutely still and convey sadness, and then in the next frame, convey anger with just your face. It was a challenge to me, like I’ve constantly gone through that within my career. And I’ve always, it’s not I waited for an opportunity to shape me I created those opportunities to challenge me to get outside of my norms. And another example is after, after every six months, I would just look through my book of work and go What if I habitually created, whether it was intentional or unintentional? What are the patterns of things that I’ve created a lot of in this six month period? Okay, next month, what am I going to focus on what is different than I’m going to hone in and say, This is what I want to create that’s different than what I’ve already created.

Matthew Dols 58:00
From my perspective, as a person who would potentially hire models, like, it’s great to hear that there are models that are basically pushing themselves and making sure that they’re constantly evolving and changing so that like, if I hire a model, I don’t want the to hire a model and have them do the same poses that they did two years ago, or four years ago, like I wanted, as much as I’m making new work as the photographer, I also want the model to be bringing new opportunities and new ideas to the shoot or through new, whatever new expressiveness, emotive newness understanding of how their body works, you know, knowing that people like you, were specific, you in this case, are working to get better in the same way that, you know, photographers and painters we are constantly working to get better, is very optimistic and appreciate it.

Roarie Yum 58:54
I would also venture to say there are some models that found really good success at doing the one thing that they do and doing that really well. And so it’s like, if I was an artist, and I had a specific project that I was like, Oh, I need this specific thing. Oh, that model fulfills that specific thing. And so that’s a good business model that’s worked for certain models, I think, where I made that distinction at the beginning of the difference between, say, an artist collaborator model, versus a model is that one model who does that one thing that they do, and you know that they do that you can hire them for that thing. That would be the model. And then the person who may be hybrids are it goes above and beyond would be an artist, collaborator, co creator, would be me. And I’m not saying one’s better than the other, each of them have their necessary roles. Indeed,

Matthew Dols 59:42
I mean, there are models that make entire brands and industries I mean, they’re even movies, the jokes, the zoo lander and stuff about models that just have like one sort of style or look to them.

Roarie Yum 59:53
Well, I mean, more like your specific project in mind that needed a particular kind of posing or a particular type of body. And if you looked at my body of work, and it was hard for, for you to distinguish me from one image to the next, then I may not be well suited for that project. Now, if you needed a model that had the ability within the same scope to start here, maybe have a very feminine appearance. And then at the end of this, you’d have a masculine appearance, because you needed a juxtaposition, and that was your project, then I would be the model for that. So there are different roles for different things,

Matthew Dols 1:00:30
certainly, which actually brings up an interesting question that you you actively state sort of on your website, and in other places, I’ve seen your online that your androgynous look, and you use that as sort of a selling point for you, whereas maybe some other models might not want to encourage that idea. So they have you found the nature of sort of playing with gender roles and and drogyny to your benefit?

Roarie Yum 1:00:56
Oh, this is I know that people ask this and think that it’s quite simple answer, but it’s quite lengthy. So for me, and I know there’s a lot of non binary talk and they them their talk, I don’t, it’s not a i tennety identity. in those ways. It’s more of an a concept or an idea or belief. For me, I have a strong jawline, which would be masculine. But it’s complemented by soft feminine lips. And I have long eyelashes, that are that work in tangent collaboratively with my thick eyebrows that are more masculine, those things are not in competition with each other, they work together to create who I am. And so both the masculine and the feminine traits within my personality, which are, for a woman, I’m quite dominant, I’m not afraid to take up space or to speak my mind. And those things are typically attributed to men, at least in the North American culture. And then additionally, I can be quite nurturing or thoughtful, caring in a way that would be attributed to a woman. And so when I say androgynous, I can be nude and have the figure of a female, but I pose not in the traditional female asserted or prioritizing, weighs. So if I’m in an image, I will stand and take up space and physically create shapes with my body, that are not the traditional S curve, or pushing your female anatomy forward and making that the priority and the image. And so I get a lot of responses from folks who say things like, I didn’t realize that you could be androgynous while being nude when you have boobs, or you know, female anatomy. And it made me realize that what I was doing was just standing, physically holding my body carrying it in ways that people interpreted as only male. So I thought it was really interesting that it’s kind of it’s been shaped by society, as well as like my own personal belief, and I make it a necessity. Like, on my social media, I make it a very public thing for people to acknowledge and to see. Because my approach to modeling if you were to hire me to be like a traditional figure, model, I may not do the figure poses like the voluptuous, curvy, type poses. It’s like a signifier that these are the things I do. I think it’s

Matthew Dols 1:03:45
great, you do understand, I’m a fan. So I think it’s marvelous. I mean, I would much rather hire a model that’s very versatile and could potentially they, on the day, if like, even if we plan something for a shoot, and then we showed up in booths for whatever reason, some things weren’t working, that you had the capability to, you know, just work with, with some of the things that might end up happening out there. The versatility is one of my favorite parts of models. I’m you know, from my perspective, I’m not a huge fan of models that pretty much are only good for one thing, like, you know, if I’m going to go through and plan for a shoot, there’s lots of effort and time and planning and, and communication that goes into that. And so I want to be able to have the capability to do any, you know, any number of things depending on how things work out because sometimes it could be as simple as he’s planning an outdoor shoot, and you want to do it, let’s say in a feminine style, but then you get there and it’s an overcast day. And all of a sudden it was just the light quality has changed the whole thing to feeling more masculine or more somber, let’s say or something like this. And so having a model with greater versatility from my perspective on I see as a huge benefit.

Roarie Yum 1:05:02
Yeah, I don’t mean to try and sell you on the idea. It’s, I think that there’s a lot of preconceived notions of maybe what androgyny might be, because we all define words differently or use them differently. And so I’ve had several folks asked me more in relation to non binary, and kind of confused the way that I’m using the word for that which I understand,

Matthew Dols 1:05:25
as you say, maybe maybe define the way you’re using it. Because again, like, I’m probably thinking something very different just by the word and drogyny than you are like to me. And drogyny basically means able to have attributes of either gender, depending on situations,

Roarie Yum 1:05:43
well, I would, I would say instead of either, both simultaneously and working together, so I use the word collaboration, when I say like, long a feminine eyelashes, with collaboration to the thicker, more masculine eyebrows, so neither one is stealing the light from the other, they work together to make the whole thing beautiful. So I accept both roles and don’t choose one over or prioritize one over, which would signify that one’s better than the other. I mean, sure, there are times that I stand really steered straight and tall, and have this fierce, angry look, which could look really dominating. But it’s also within this tiny frame of an individual who in reality has female assets. So you know, both of them exist within that same picture, and a lot of the, quote unquote, vulnerable images where I’m pulling you in there, it’s that Yin to Yang of vulnerability being strength as well. I hope that makes sense.

Matthew Dols 1:06:50
I get it as a practitioner, and I’m sure that people who are probably listening are in some way in this industry as well. So yeah, sure, the things I want to know about is that I’m a photographer, and, or, and or slash, artists, let’s call it and I work on sort of one side of, of the collaboration, and I get the sense and even you’ve mentioned on social media, that you talk with other models around the world. I wonder how much like you all take from our experiences, like, you know, like, I’m always afraid, God, I feel like I’m like in therapy session, talking about all my fears. But anyways, that I feel like I’m always afraid that I’m somehow going to offend or do something wrong or say something wrong, or want something more from the model than they are comfortable doing. And there’s, there’s this sort of walking on eggshells that I find somewhat difficult sometimes with some models, you know, me, not all models, for sure. And I think a lot of it comes down to the nature of communication upfront. So,

Roarie Yum 1:07:59

Matthew Dols 1:08:00
if I was better, you know, I’m now I’m better. And what I’m, the situation’s I’m thinking of are earlier in my career, is that, you know, I didn’t communicate quite effectively what I was planning or expecting or hoping from the collaboration. And so therefore, it was difficult to sort of maybe get the thing that I wanted. And so I wonder, like, how does that affect you? On your side, so like, let’s say there is a situation where you go to a modeling job, and you show up, and they didn’t communicate very well, and they want you to do something different. So I’m not saying necessarily, like, uncomfortable, but like, something completely different than you expected? How does that mean, you as the model feel?

Roarie Yum 1:08:44
Well, I mean, as you pointed out before, what you value in a model is the versatility. So if you have this plan, and it doesn’t come to fruition, being able to make the best of it has been an asset for me, I can give you an example. I worked with this photographer, who he booked me. And we were to work in a studio and he was having trouble getting into the studio. And mind you, I at that time, it showed up 10 minutes before the session, which I like to do, because I like to get a Hey, how are you? You know, how’s your day going? What’s your energy level like, kind of gauge before we enter into this very vulnerable state of creating? And so I arrived 10 minutes early, and he was struggling with getting the studio open. And half an hour into when we were supposed to have already been creating. He was we still weren’t in the studio, and I can tell he was visibly upset about it. And it wasn’t we didn’t have the opportunity to reschedule because I was visiting the city. And I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to make it back because I did a different course of action for the next year, which was running the studio. And so I said look, you know, I’m willing to give you a discount because the situation is out of your control and you’ve tried it every which way that you’re possible to do that. But instead of sitting on her hand Because this is now out of your control, and you’re waiting for the studio owner to come in and facilitate opening the studio, why don’t we take a walk around the building and see if there’s anything interesting to create around here and make the best of what it is that we have. And I have a whole suitcase of wardrobe. We can do, you know, x x, x. And having that tool belt of what all of the different learnings that I’ve self taught, like, looking at photo art, books, deconstructing reverse engineering, how people set up lights, asking questions at photoshoots, why are you putting that light there? What does it due? Can you show me, all of those things helped me in that situation expressed to this person, I see this wall, here’s some things that we can do with that wall, and then also know what to look up on my phone to give them a visual reference, do you have any interest in shooting something like that? Now, when I do those things, and I start asking those questions, and I probe and show creativity, it opens the door for them. He was angry, and was not able to create. And then during this creation process, where we reframed what was happening, here’s what we can do with what we have. He was able to create things that were different than what he had set his agenda on. And we were able to use our time in a way that was productive.

Matthew Dols 1:11:24
Yeah, absolutely. It’s fabulous. I mean, from your, what you’re talking about there, I started thinking about, like Ellen von unwerth. And like, so like, are you going to start becoming more of a photographer and creating some of your own ideas as well?

Roarie Yum 1:11:38
Well, at this point, I’ve started shooting self portrait out of necessity because of quarantine. And I think the reason why I’ve been so adverse to picking up a camera for the longest time is because, um, kind of the thing that you expressed about teaching, would you ever give up teaching, probably not, because a part of it that fulfills you is the learning process that you’re learning, and they’re learning, and it’s a learning atmosphere. And what I found that I was doing in modeling was teaching and learning. It wasn’t I saved the day, it’s because his willingness to make a bad situation a better situation, and engage in those conversations, we were able to make a bad situation into a good situation. It wasn’t, I’m the teacher, and you’re the student, it was, let’s figure out how to do this going forward together. And what I’ve maintained the difference being between a model and I guess what I do is, the medium is people, I work with people, I work with people on ideas and bring those ideas to life. But I work with people. And with photography, you shape the world that you see, like you’re you’re making a distinctive, this is what I see. And it is important because I’ve taken the time and effort to create an image. And for me, picking up a camera was a little I don’t want to create or shape the world. I had the reverse kind of apprehension to it, where I didn’t want to allow myself to acknowledge the amount of of information and education I had gained over the 10 years. And I was good enough. And so eventually, it did pick up a camera Thank you quarantine, and have been creating, but I don’t see it as like, a way that you do it like a means to an end where I create a finished piece, I see it as an expression of these are the things that I can do. This is my credit dentals of the things that I’ve learned. And this is the space I want to create with you. So it’s a necessary means to an end to create workshops, and other learning atmospheres for people.

Matthew Dols 1:13:52
Okay, so you’re not going to be a future photographer, that’s fine.

Roarie Yum 1:13:57
No, not as I don’t see it as like a, you know, like a 1/3 of my revenue stream will strictly come from photography, maybe even less of it. But definitely a way to show this is what I can do. And this is what I’m capable of. And this is why you should be interested in these learning atmospheres not because I’m just going to show up and teach you things that I’ve learned about how my body looks good, or how to pose it. Like these are the attributes that I can additionally teach you and here’s kind of like a resume.

Matthew Dols 1:14:27
Sure. It’s funny, I always wonder about the old days like the you know, because like you hear about old painters and sculptors talking about their muses, you know, these people that sat for them for, you know, months and years on end. In many ways as a practitioner these days, I wish I could find a single Muse to really sort of work with again and again and sort of to get better and richer and deeper and more emotive and expressive and more collaborative. But it doesn’t seem like that’s very common. Like, do you have the habit of like doing working with the same artists, year after year or month after month? I don’t know how frequently you work with them.

Roarie Yum 1:15:11
Yeah, I know it sounds crazy because I’m all over the place. But there have been many artists that I’ve worked with, where I can look back and say, this is where we started. And this is where we are now. JOHN Ainge is based in Chicago, and he’s a fashion photographer. And I would work with him one to two times a year, depending on how frequently I was coming through Chicago. And I can see from our first collaboration to our last collaboration, the growth that each of us have made, because we’re not shooting the same thing, which would make me want to go and shoot with that person again, I generally, if I work with someone, I work with them again, if the experience was great, but if on the second time, there’s no growth or change in their style, that I’m less inclined to work with them a third time.

Matthew Dols 1:16:00
You know what, I’d love to hear some examples from you. Because, again, you’re my first model Muse person that I’ve spoken to on this podcast. So this is all exciting. I have lots of questions. The what are some bad experience? Give me a couple examples of some things that just made you be like, Oh, crap, what have I gotten myself into? Or Holy shit, I never want to work with this person, again. Obviously, do not say names.

Roarie Yum 1:16:25
Yeah, I read I worked with a person who. And again, it goes back to the you can create art in any atmosphere, home studio, a studio on location, anywhere, there’s no judgments for which one’s better than the other. Like, I just want to create art. And I want to create art to the best of our capabilities. And in this particular instance, this person had a home studio. It was in Barcelona. So as you can imagine, it was quite small. And the photographer had asked me to wear a hat. And I was adjusting it, putting it on my head and completely nude, wearing the hat. That was the concept. And I thought, Oh, this is really cool, we can make some really interesting shadows across my face, or even across my body, depending on where we put the light. And as I was putting, had my head down, adjusting the head on my head, I felt the hat move. And I was like, Hmm, this is really interesting. The hat suddenly grows legs and limbs and decided didn’t want to be on my head. And when I pulled my head up, it was the person adjusting the head on my head. And I asked him politely. Um, so this is my bubble. And I prefer if you’re not in my bubble, if you need to adjust the hat, can you ask me? And he’s like, well, it’s just easier if I move it. And I was like, well, it’s really interesting that we have communication as human beings. Can you use your words to tell me how you need it to be moved? I’m perfectly capable of doing it my own. So I try to politely say it two times before I get more rigid and say, Look, do you don’t touch me?

Matthew Dols 1:17:58
I have a hard fast rule that I don’t touch models. And you know, part of it comes from being in the Middle East, of course, but but I know a lot of photographers that feel like feel like it’s perfectly appropriate for them to basically touch models and move them, especially when they’re in vulnerable positions, like being nude models and things like this. And I don’t understand. Personally, I feel that’s completely inappropriate and unprofessional. And so my question to you is basically, like, how do models feel about that? So like, I have my feelings, but I always wonder how two models feel about that.

Roarie Yum 1:18:31
I think it’s a good standard to assume what you’ve assumed is just like a clean rule across the board, do not touch the model doesn’t matter if you’re adjusting their clothes, or a hat on their head. It’s, I like to keep an arm’s length bubble around me at all times. And if you’re going to be close to me, then it within that bubble, whether it’s because the the framing or your lens, or any other reason, you need to adjust the light. It’s always polite to just ask I mean, if you were in an office atmosphere, and you were going to walk up to your co worker, would you walk within their bubble? likely not. And if you wouldn’t do it in an office space, then don’t bring that to a more intimate, more vulnerable setting. It’s not that I’m saying never adjust something on me. And I’m not demonizing people who are not aware of you can’t be aware of what you don’t know. And so if someone was so excited about the art they were creating, and leaned over and quickly adjusted something and then went back to shooting, I wouldn’t yell at them or get mad at them. I would gently say something like, Hey, I would prefer you not to be within my bubble. If you need to, you know, if in something needs to be fixed, can you please communicate it to me and I also, I mean, I guess maybe you have a little bit more empathy, because there’s been many situations, especially in Japan, where I don’t speak the same language, and it may be really hard for them to communicate something that they need, like an L Lower an arm or a knee, and I’ve had people say elbow and they meant wrist. And so I then at the beginning of the shoot, knowing that there’s a language barrier, say, Hey, I know that it’s going to be difficult for us, perhaps point to the part on your body or demonstrate with your body. What it is that I need to change, that we don’t have to be touched.

Matthew Dols 1:20:20
I do it all the time. Like I’m constantly posing, I look absolutely ridiculous when I’m shooting, because like, I’ll get in the pose that I want the model to get into. So like I’m doing it while trying to shoot it. And it’s a thoroughly entertaining thing, if anybody ever watched me do a photo shoot, but luckily, nobody has done that yet. But yeah, I mean, don’t get me wrong, my 100% like, never touch, I should clarify. Because I mean, I’m sure there are reasons like I can think of like moving some hair, like if a hair drops in the wrong place, or article of clothing is sort of draping not quite right. And I needed to drape a certain way like I will go in and adjust those things. But I try to generally have the hard fast rule of basically sort of like, I guess, for lack of a better word, like no skin on skin touching. Yeah.

Roarie Yum 1:21:06
I mean, Well, in that case, the photographer, when his rebuttal to me was like, well, it’s just a hat. And I’m just touching the hat. And I was like, but you’re in my personal bubble. And I’ve requested as a person who is nude and vulnerable for you not to touch me. And you’re telling me that you wanting to touch me, or your desire to touch the hat is more important than what makes me feel comfortable? And if that’s the case, then we are not able to collaborate? Because you’re telling me at a basic level, you don’t care what I have to say.

Matthew Dols 1:21:33
Indeed, yeah, I mean, it’s in I want to hear a couple if you have any more sort of like, inappropriate, unprofessional experiences, because there I still run into younger models, or even some professional or sorry, photographers, some professional photographers and some some amateur photographers who have what I would consider like unprofessional or bad habits when they hire models. So like I would I instead of me telling them, hey, you shouldn’t do that. I like the idea that you as a model would say, hey, these are bad practices.

Roarie Yum 1:22:07
I like that you’re, you’re spinning it. But I also I, I feel that there’s a lot of value in another photographer, saying and stating these things, because they have been led to believe that they are more likely to be listened to you when it comes from another respected peer, rather than a person who hasn’t had to bet to be considered in those ways before.

Matthew Dols 1:22:32
yeah. But see, photographers are horribly competitive and catty towards one another. We don’t there. Very few photographers respect other photographers, we generally, as a community see each other as competition more than peers. In the most cases. I mean, I have a few friends as photographers, but like, throughout my career, I rarely am friends with photographers, I’m friends with sculptors, printmakers painters, all these kinds of people, but very rarely the photographer’s because they oftentimes see other photographers as potential competition.

Roarie Yum 1:23:09
That’s so crazy. To me, I guess that’s kind of the thing that I’d encountered with models as well, and sought to change that, or at least to surround myself with people that didn’t have that specific mindset. There are some out there.

Matthew Dols 1:23:22
Yeah, I’m friends with a very good photographer right now. It’s so like me, I do have friends who are photographers, but it’s not the most common thing. Majority of my, my, what I would consider my peers are in other mediums. I mean, part of the reason why I’m probably not a more successful photographer is because I have I don’t like to play all those games. And I see them as just games, little, Petty, childish games, that the photo industry plays between each other, and I just don’t appreciate it. So like, I don’t feel like it’s necessary for me to participate in it.

Roarie Yum 1:23:58
For sure, I totally get it. There’s some models that through their actions, I’ve I’ve been informed that that’s not the kind of model or person I want to spend time with. And the same goes with photographers, like when you had mentioned with Facebook, posing those questions, was really informative of, of who people were the artist personhood behind what they created. So when people responded, here’s a great example of like an inappropriate thing. I had posed a question at one point about having different rates for different levels of nudity. Is that a thing? Should models have that and it said, clearly models question to you? Do you have different rates for different levels of nudity or for different projects? How does that work? I’m not asking for the specifics of your your rates. So I don’t want to put you on the spot. But I just wanted to feedback on you know what the other approaches may be and photographer messaged me, saying that his opinion on the matter was having different rates for different levels of nudity was likened to having different rates for different services as a prostitute X amount of money for a blowjob X amount of money for sex X amount of money for this and I was like, this is a really inappropriate answer, like and appreciate that you wanted to express your opinion. But the fact that you came to me, in a private message tells me that you were too scared for good reason to say this publicly, perhaps you should reconsider what you’re sharing with me. And and so like, that’s kind of the role that I played as a facilitator of those questions. Yeah, what a lot of angry people let me at different points for different reasons.

Matthew Dols 1:25:47
Sadly, there are just a lot of angry people on the internet. But well, thank you very much for your time.

Roarie Yum 1:25:54
Thank you for having me in writing. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Matthew Dols 1:26:00
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