February 24, 2014

Meet the Model: Brianna Olenslager

I've been following model Brianna Olenslager on the internet for as long as I can remember. Since before Instagram, and even before Facebook. I remember seeing this young, effortlessly beautiful girl knocking photoshoots out of the park. She'd shoot with people I'd never heard of before - more obscure artists that I'd immediately become jealous she'd shot with. How did she find these people? She kept shooting and her portfolio just kept getting better and better. If anyone can make the internet work for them it truly is Brianna - turning her ability to network and market herself into real career success. Her keen eye for talent and beguiling social media presence are certainly worthy of attention. Not to mention she has this unique quality of seeming both friendly yet distantly too cool. I'm so thrilled to speak with Brianna here!

Photo: Karl Rothenberger

Photo: Dorian Wolf

How did you get started with modeling?
It all started back in Sacramento - before Model Mayhem - when I was 14 and my parents were paying for these "modeling classes." Nothing came from it other than a $3,000 bill, terrible headshots, and pumped up self-esteem. So I really got my start on Model Mayhem. I made an account and started shooting on my own locally. By the time I was 18 I had already shot with Nasty Gal, established my own clients, and signed with my first agency.

I can remember that even years ago you had a knack for picking out very interesting photographers to shoot with. What is it that attracts you to a photographer's work?
The thing that sticks out the most to me is the way they view their models. You can tell how a photographer thinks about their models by looking at their work. It's all in the way they choose to portray them. I chose to work with photographers who can appreciate a model's natural raw beauty, without over-sexualizing them.

You seem very proactive in building your portfolio and working with new photographers. How do you usually go about building these connections?
Ah there's an art to it. It's definitely hard to do. If I like a photographer's work I'll usually 'Like' a few of their photos on Instagram, or add them on Facebook, and wait to see if they show an interest in my work back. If you outright ask a photographer to work with you they usually throw a rate in your face. So you have to make sure the feeling is mutual, or you'll lose your chance to work with that photographer on a test/trade basis.

Do you keep dream clients in mind when building your book? Or is it more of an artistic process for you?
It is definitely more of an artistic process. I go into shoots not really knowing what the plan is, just fully trusting the photographer I'm working with. We usually build our own concept as we shoot so it becomes something unique to us.

You've played both sides of the fence, so... blonde or brunette?
Ah! I honestly don't know! Haha. I keep going back and forth. I love the blonde, looking young and innocent. And I've noticed when I'm blonde I'm more comfortable with myself. But I love how naturally pretty the brunette is. I look like two very different people, so it's hard to decide.

Photo: Kesler Tran
Above Photo: Kenny Sweeney

Photo: Louie Aguila

What do you see as the next big step or goal for your career?
Traveling for sure. I've only worked in California so far. I'm ready to go out and see the world.

You can pull of some insanely hip looks that frankly most of us aren't cool enough for. How would you describe your personal style?
Haha awe really? Thanks! I would say my style stays pretty much the same. I dress very young and classic - keeping to this late 70's/ early 80's surfer-cowgirl kind of vibe. It's hard to explain. My inspiration is tan skin, dusty blonde hair, and an innocent vintage charm.

What do you do to take care of your skin and body?
Well with my skin I've learned that if I mess with it I'll break out. It's better for me to ignore the smaller bumps and just keep my face clean. With my body - I'm naturally skinny. I pretty much could eat whatever I want and stay thin. But skinny girls get this lazy pudgy look if they don't eat well and exercise. So if I want to look the way I want I have to be serious about it by eating clean and working out about an hour a day.

Are there any negative aspects of this industry that have ever made you think about quitting?
Yes, of course. There are constant battles that I have with my image and self-esteem that can really get me down. It's not easy when you're constantly being evaluated. Every day you're subjected to judgement. You have to be strong in knowing who you are, or it can really get to you.

When you're not in front of the camera what are your hobbies?
Candy, boys, music, cats, and laughing. In that order ;)

Song or album you currently have on repeat?
3:51 AM by oOoOO

Any advice for models just starting out in the industry?
Be sure that this is what you want. Have a real passion for it. Always treat everyone else in this industry with respect - even if they don't respect you. Try to take every negative comment or thought about yourself and push it aside. Negativity will always be there, but it's the success and happiness that you have to aim for.

If you were trapped on a desert island what could you not live without?
Music. I know everyone says that, but really. When I'm in a shitty mood, the only thing that can take me away from that is music.

Above Photo: Charles Lucima

Photo: Louie Aguila

Brianna currently lives in Los Angeles. You can see more of her work on her website: www.briannaolenslager.4ormat.com and follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/briannaolenslager

Thank you Brianna!
-Ellen Hancock

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