This is going to be a hard post to write.’

Well, I wasn’t wrong.

Honestly, I’ve been wondering if this is a post that belongs on my blog at all if it’s a thing I should just leave as a question mark for anyone that wants to read through my experiences with Lamour Management’s ‘Mr. And Miss Model International‘ (MMI) competition that began at the beginning of the year. It was a mostly positive experience while it was taking place and I think -some- leeway can be given since it was the first time this competition had ever happened. Mistakes (I still believe they were mistakes) were made.



Natural links to my MMI Experience:

Which brings us to:

Challenge #5: Partner Photo Challenge ~’‘An Artistic Experience.’

This is where I’m trying very hard not to sound bitter because my friend and partner, O, and I worked really, really hard to do what the theme suggested. And it blew up in our faces.

Photo Challenge Styling

Since Occasus and I’ve already styled from the previous partner challenge, this part wasn’t hard at all. We received high marks for our outfits and poses so there wasn’t really much to do here. I can say with full confidence that we both loved what we’d done with our theme.

Photo Challenge Execution

This, too, was a thing we were comfortable doing. Since we’re both fashion bloggers, we were comfortable taking pictures together, working with editorial poses instead of having to wrestle with runway execution (which, if you’ve never had to line up thirty seconds of posing that make any kind of sense and don’t result in your avatar looking disjointed and strange, is not an easy thing to do). We spent the right amount of time discussing poses anyway, of course, and lining things up to achieve what we thought was ‘a good look.’ At this point, we were still riding high from weeks of success and wanting very badly to excel here, too. Chances of us both making the final five were better than good. One could say we were a shoo-in for the top ten. A few people were saying it.

 

Since we were asked to submit a headshot and a full-body shot, we agreed that Occasus would take the headshot (above) and that I’d do the full-body workup (below). O is a raw shot kinda girl, which I love, and I will admit that even then I was enjoying the heck out of working in photoshop. I’m still not super high at it, but I must have spent hours working on my photo anyway; even learned how to use a curves layer to make my wand look extra-magical and provide some much-needed light to what I thought were mysterious shadows and background colors. I still love the look of it; that little bit of blue in the upper right corner is similar’to one of the backdrops used in the musical (Wicked) itself.

 

Photo Challenge Comments and Feedback

And now we arrive at the part that’s been holding me back since February. Even now, I have no idea how I’m going to address comments and feedback; the best thing I can do is list them in their entirety and then .. something. Huzzah for the stream of consciousness prose, huh?

  • Composition: Headshot 4 Fullbody 4TOTAL SCORE (20 pts) 8COMMENTS: ok just totally honest here’.cuz that is how I roll. The headshot is too dark and tiara in Portia’s head. You have to really be careful with dark pictures O is wholly lost in both. The only thing that I see in a headshot is jewelry. The full-body same O is lost in it.
  • Composition: FACE 6 / BODY 7TOTAL SCORE (20 pts) 13/20COMMENTS: I really thought this was a brave attempt to be different a take on wicked (wizard of Oz). what was lacking was a sharper image the foggy wash did not enhance the picture the editing, also needs work as looks disjointed, the body shot was better an excellent use of’shadow helped create atmosphere but could have been cropped better, and poses were a bit wooden
  • Composition: Head 5/10 Full 5/10TOTAL SCORE (20 pts) 10/20COMMENTS: The choice of partners was unusual..good choice. The head shot is drowned out by the background, and all I can see is the jewelry glowing. Also, the hair is in the tiara. On the full body, The experience is too busy and takes away from the characters. A much simpler background would have been better. The photo is also very dark making it hard for me to focus on any one thing.

So these were the comments we were given during a feedback session the night before our’final runway challenge. You can see that the scores netted us just over 50% of total possible points and, for me, I don’t feel like these were failed attempts at photography, especially because other photos that were scored much higher than ours were closer to screencaps than SL ‘art.’ Other comments included:

  • Improper cropping for headshots and bodies not lined up properly/standing on the ground for full-body.
  • Lack of cohesive posing for couples according to theme and relation to one another.
  • Eyes focused everywhere but on each other or‘the camera.
  • Poor choice of background and/or lighting.

Another real issue I had is that even though these comments were reasonably common, the scoring varied widely from one photograph to the next. And I hate to say it, but some of the pictures that scored well were not especially good. My Canadian Self is still reeling from the fact that I’ve said this much at all.’We couldn’t use photographers, it’s true, and one of the critical points of this competition was inclusiveness and equality, which I loved and still love to this day. The problem with relaxing these criteria, however, and allowing everyone to compete on an even field regardless of .. whatever .. is that overall quality suffers. Our pictures weren’t the greatest, granted, but they were far from the worst in my heavily-biased-but-still-trying-to-be-objective opinion.

Thoughts on the Partner Photo Challenge and the MMI Competition in General

First of all, there’s nothing in this post that I haven’t expressed to the show’s creators’during the exit survey of how I felt after taking part in the MMI competition’and, though I’ll spare you the full extent of what I had to say about it, there are a couple of comments I wanted to make here in the interest of wrapping up this post series. I’d originally intended to post my styling for/details of the final runway challenge, but I’ve decided against it, not because the outfit wasn’t amazing (it was) but because I just want’this chapter of my SL life to be over. Closed. Done. I will not take part in MMI a second time.

Overall, it was a good experience. I believe that entirely and if my partner and I hadn’t bombed SO hard in the penultimate challenge before the finals (a problem that was inexplicably’worth 25% MORE points than every other one until the finals), I’d have had a much easier time writing about my experiences at the beginning of the year, rather than seven months later. I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to take interesting pictures and am still working on getting ‘to a place where I can feel good about my contributions as a blogger, stylist, and model in Second Life.

So here’s some of what I had to say on the subject of ‘Any Additional comments?’ on the questionnaire:

‘I have a few additional comments, yes, and again I hope they don’t overshadow all the good that has taken place in these last two months. There has been so much good, and I can’t stress it enough.’

  • It’s hard to say this delicately. One of the things I admire most about MMI is the fact that contestants aren’t required to spend massive amounts of money to compete. It’s one of the reasons I joined in the first place because, to put it just, I’m far from plentiful in my Second Life. I agree that success can and -should- be measured by what a person can do with what they have instead of what they can obtain from one week to the next, tying in with the obvious issue that some models have connections and some really don’t.
  • With that said, however, I feel that overall quality suffered for it. While contestants were not penalized for working with what they had, nor should they have been, it seemed to me that success was more likely if one had less to work within the first place. In the effort to keep the playing field level for all competitors, I wonder if the balance tipped in the other direction instead. It felt like doing more with less was rewarded while striving for more and missing that higher benchmark, sometimes only by a little bit, -was- penalized.
  • Maybe I’m still too caught up in my emotions over the final week of the competition (I’m trying not to be), and if this isn’t a fair assessment, I apologize. For me, having an updated avatar is a necessary part of a competition, as is styling in the most effective manner possible with all I have at my disposal; if I can’t make something work and have no means to improve upon what I have, I only try something else. For me, it didn’t feel like every competitor understood these concepts but, from week to week, managed to achieve middling to high scores from the judges.
  • This is the double-edged sword of transparency and open feedback sessions. This competition was a fantastic learning experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone I know but, even now, I know I’m going to have a hard time getting over my own injured feelings.

And they were injured. I can’t say that I worked harder than any of the others that stuck it out through the end of the competition; I can’t even say that I put more time and energy into my planning and preparation, because at the end of the day it isn’t about what I was or was not able to do but what the judges saw and did not see. I can disagree (politely) and share what I know; I can take what I’ve learned and try to apply it in future endeavors. I can post here, before I’m super-syndicated and people know who I am, to leave this message in a place that’s meaningful to me, personally. This isn’t about causing problems or making waves, and though I was angry and upset at one point, I’m not either of these things now. I regret the time it’s taken to get my head on straight again and missed opportunities from the last several months, but in truth, I wouldn’t have been ready for them anyway.

I am ready now, though, and I look forward to the run I’m going to have very soon.?