Introducing Aimee and Fashion Blog Wednesday, you can look forward to seeing some of Aimee and the FBW team’s work every Sunday in the Majorca Daily Bulletin from next week.
Vicki: What’s your background, where were you raised?
Aimee: I was raised in the countryside outside of Seattle, Washington and have many memories of the great outdoors – trees, rivers, lakes, country roads and the open sky were my playground. My grandparents owned several of the small businesses in our town and life was very simple – school, church, camping. I never had homework. At that time the area was so rural it took 5 towns that were scattered far apart from one another to make up an elementary school. From a very young age I yearned to travel, to see the world. When I read stories of distant cultures and faraway places or heard of other´s travels, I felt a pang of jealousy.
Vicki: How did you get into modelling?
Aimee: At the age of 15, and with the support of a school teacher, I began to pursue a modelling career. At 17 I left school and went to work as a model in New York City. At 173 cm, I was always considered the short model and my lack of height only toughened the competition. Everyone in the industry said that I needed to go to Milano to start. A few months later the agency in New York connected me with an agency in Milano and I was on a plane within 3 weeks. I spent the next 6 months working as an editorial model there and also worked as a recording artist with Polygram records.
The next 5 years of my life involved a lot of travelling. Every city had its modelling market – Tokyo was smiling and happy girls, Milan was the interesting editorial types, Germany was the healthy granola eating type, Taiwan was the catalogues, Paris was the runway types and finally there was my market – Barcelona, for the TV commercial types. In Barcelona I found my niche and in 1989 it became home. I would leave for two month contracts when the cities were interesting and the agencies were good. My home was located in Sitges, half an hour south of Barcelona by train. I was also involved in music and sang in a band called GG Gabetta – we sung in Spanish and were fortunate to open for the Bee Gees at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium in Parc Montjuic and also in Madrid. It was during these days of living in Sitges that I began photography as a hobby. I was surrounded by beautiful and talented models who were the adventurous types open to new experiences. They were inspiring to photograph.
My primary niche was in non-speaking TV spots and I could be seen during prime time drinking beer, driving a new car, eating doughnuts, in sailing boats or in the shower (Palmolive body wash). That market was far from the anorexic and cocaine-induced types that could be found in the bigger cities like Paris or Milan. Except for the occasional comment about my height, body image wasn´t an issue.
Vicki: What’s your opinion about modelling now? Is it still important to be tall and skinny? What about the guys? Are they affected as well?
Aimee: The issue for the female models is largely about age and body size. The emphasis on women´s beauty being age-based has always dug deeper than the issues around body size. Girls as young as 13 are working as women and by the time they are 22, they would be considered too old for the industry. Youth is what is valued in women for most of the huge, money-driven advertising campaigns that teach our children the definition of “beauty”. Male models work successfully into their 30´s. The rough, rugged look, 3-day beard, strong brow and lined forehead (think Marlboro man) shows society values men at an older age. With these societal values instilled so deeply, men grow older gracefully while women feel pressured to “preserve” themselves instead of embracing the womanly qualities that develop with age. There have been advances lately on the cat-walk as some designers are demanding to use “plus size” models. Most women in the real world would love to be considered a “plus size” by runway standards because those women are not even mildly plump! Clothes do show well by hanging from the model instead of fitting the model but this can also be achieved by using real-life sized models in larger clothing sizes.
Vicki: So, what happened next?
Aimee: I left the modelling industry at 22 years of age with the feeling that I wanted roots and a base. I returned to Seattle and began studies. As I had dropped out of school, I had to take one year of science, English and maths to qualify to take the university entrance exams. I spent the next 7 years pursuing a degree in Master´s of Nursing, Women´s Health Studies and graduated with marks in the top 10% of the country. This was followed by working in a large teaching hospital in the Maternity Ward. In 2004, I moved to Hong Kong and worked for the Chinese University of Hong Kong´s Teaching and Educational Support Department.
Although I loved academia and could be creative in the writing aspects of the job, I found it to be dry. In 2008, I opened a kid´s talent agency called Peanut Butter ´n Jelly Models (www.peanutbutternjellyhk.com) and this was where the photography career unintentionally found its roots. In order to get the website to look the streamline and clean, I bought studio lights and rented a studio space. For the next 6 months, I photographed hundreds of children for free – working to populate the agency database with gorgeous images of the children before opening for business. Peanut Butter ´n Jelly is a largely diversified agency with children from all ethnicities and sizes. We encourage only expressive children who are outgoing with a lean towards independence to register. It can be an empowering experience for these children on so many levels, for example – self expression, instilling responsibility and working cooperatively.
In 2010, I took a trip to Bodhgaya, India to work on a healthcare team helping 4000 Buddhist monks and nuns who were attending a retreat. There, I met my husband, Oliver Haak, a German Mallorca-based paediatrician. One year later, I moved to Majorca and fell in love with this beautiful island. To me, Majorca is one of the most beautiful places in the world and every day I feel fortunate to live here and experience this island. Palma has a big city mentality in a big village ambience. The design and layout of the buildings, parks and streets along with the small family run businesses and lack of corporate presence makes it a quaint place with a quality environment.
Vicki: Tell me about photography career, how has it developed? How did Fashion Blog Wednesday start?
Aimee: In the first three years in Majorca I worked primarily with models, then my business grew into documentary-style wedding photography. At the end of the wedding season last year, I wanted to do something creative and teamed up with make-up artist Laura Gisbert and stylist Sara Linnea Lund to do a test shoot. This meant that everyone worked at no cost but developed professionally, with the final images used for professional promotion. We found that it was so freeing to not have an end-client and that we had the space to offer each other constructive feedback. The shoot was rewarding on personal and professional levels. We decided together that we would keep it going. It was a Wednesday and that was the birth of Fashion Blog Wednesday (FBW). Since then, we´ve added behind-the-scenes videography of each shoot set to music. Fashion Blog Wednesday is a project with simple goals and no end-client – creativity, fun and professional development.
Vicki: What influences FBW?
Aimee: Each team member of FBW has their own inspiration depending on their role. Our work flow is largely based on the stylist´s inspiration board. We go for street-style shots, with natural lighting, vertical layout and clean looking photography. We´ve grown our team to include some guest make-up artists and stylists who offer some fresh ideas and new perspectives.
Street style fashion photography has been around since 2005. A street style blog photographer shoots snazzy dressers who happen by and then blogs about it. FBW uses clothing that is affordable and accessible with brand names from shops of medium price range and an occasional high-end item. We use textures, layers and styles from the current season and latest trends.
Vicki: Are you interested to get applications from models?
Aimee: We´re always looking to collaborate with new talent. Female models of average sizes who wear the clothes well are welcome to send us their info and fashion designers who would like to do test shoots are more than welcome. We´ve turned down models for being overly thin and don´t support that aspect of the fashion industry. We prefer to work on a community-level as Majorca has an abundance of talent!
and view her commercial work at www.aimeek-photography.com