In January 2012, I emailed more than a dozen modeling agencies here in NYC in the hopes that I could start photographing professional models to build up my portfolio. 

Three agencies told me no — that my work wasn’t up to their standards.

Two agencies said yes — Ford and Re:Quest. (If it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be today. Thank you so much Damien @ Ford and Melissa @ Re:Quest for believing in me).

The rest of the agencies I asked just straight up didn’t respond to me. 

It’s been more than two years now and I’ve worked with pretty much every agency that was on my original list. In the last few months, the agencies that said “no” have been emailing me, sending me Facebook messages, and leaving voicemails so I can shoot their models. (How the tables have turned.)

But now, as grateful as I am to be working with them, I’m at the point where I feel like I don’t have anything to prove to them. I’m booking commercial shoots for brands that can take care of casting for me, I’m happy with shooting non-models, and even if I wanted to shoot for those agencies, I’m getting so many inquiries directly from their models via Instagram/emails that I’m not suffering for lack of choices. 

Getting to this point was so incredibly difficult. You have to be able to accept brutal critiques and you have to constantly strive to better your work. Some days you don’t want to do anything but lie in bed and feel ashamed about the quality of the content you’re creating, and maybe that’s ok. Other days you’ll feel a tremendous surge of inspiration and produce the best content ever and have people respond to it in a way that vindicates all of the hard work, sweat, tears, and blood you poured into that project. 

But — and I know this is such a cliched way of putting it — it was all worth it. You don’t realize how much it’s worth it until you take a step back and realize how far you’ve come but I did that today… and I feel super grateful for the people that allowed me to get here and for myself, for not giving up or throwing in the towel (I was really close at some points when I was just starting out).