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Getting Started as a Model

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Meet Photographer Ivy Darling

ivy darling
Photograph of Cover Model Rebecca by Ivy Darling

When searching for the January 2007 cover for PLUS Model Magazine, the Editor's wanted something that not only captured the imagination, but the beautiful, whimsical, icy quality of the winter months.

We were introduced to artist Ivy Darling from Wandering Bohemian, who's ethereal images caught our attention in her work with plus model, Rebecca. We sat down for a virtual chat with this extraordinary lady to learn a bit about her photography, art and life...

Tell us a little about growing up in an artistic family… Did you always know that you wanted to follow a career in the arts?

Where I grew up, being an artist is unfortunately not considered a favorable choice for a profession. I come from working class, manual labor people. Art is seen as something you do as a hobby, not a career to feed your family. Though many people in my family have artistic urges & inclinations, the works they produce are pretty much kept close to the vest.

Growing up artistically geared in a blue collar world is the equivalent of trying to get through life as a lion who is born with heart and mind of a giraffe. (It's only a matter of time before the rest of the pride figures out that something is weird & decides to eat you. lol :-)

The art gene also seems to run most strongly with the women in my family. It's only been recently during the 1960's and 70's that society, especially among the working classes, has begun to view female artists a little more kindly. Before then we were often seen as crazy, eccentric, head in the clouds type girls with backwards priorities.

ivy darling
Photographer Ivy Darling and Daughter

So, for me, I never actually saw myself becoming a professional artist. I assumed I would get a "real" job & leave the art for evenings & weekends, when I wasn't busy with family & other commitments. Even after my divorce, when I decided to go to college, I was still thinking practically. Though I attended an art school, I was aiming for a teaching degree. Living through cancer changed all of that. Tragedy invariably alters everything.

In your bio on your website, you share a heartfelt story about being diagnosed with cancer and how it changed your life. Can you tell our readers how you found the inner strength to deal with this life altering part of your life and how your passion for photography blossomed?

I wish I could say that I was brave & strong in the face of physical adversity, but the plain truth is that I cried through the whole thing. I was swallowed whole by pain & grief for a very long time. I remember trying to be brave in the beginning, but it all happened so quickly. Cancer chewed me up & spit me out. It breaks you down & takes everything away. You come face to face with your spirit, because that's pretty much all that's left after the disease has it's way with you.

I made myself a lot of promises during those long months of laying in a hospital bed. A big one was to go all the places that I had always wanted to go & had never made the time to travel to. A few years later I found myself in Florence, taking a tour of the Uffizi Gallery. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how it affected me  -  to be so close to all that beautiful, soulful art. As soon as I came home I began sketching. The pictures evolved from needing to take photos for figure reference. Then I realized that the photos ARE my sketches – that with today’s technology I can do much more artistically. It’s been like opening up to a whole new world as an artist.

You offer models fantasy shoots and you have a very specific style of shooting. What can a model expect when she comes to shoot with you?

I have always loved myths & fairy tales. Especially the older, original stories filled with drama & passion. These are my favorite kinds of pieces to create. I like to tailor my shoots to be specific to the model & her (or his!) personality, loves & interests. All photographers & artists through the centuries have always aspired to one thing mainly - to capture the human spirit. That is what I am trying to do, as well.

My shooting style is very laid back & comfortable. I am not about a big fancy set up, or tons of people running around doing a million things. (Though I am a terrible prop-a-holic, so I will always bring a carload of stuff! lol :-)

My ideal shoot is getting to spend the day with my model, taking my time, chatting & getting to know the person. This seems to produce the best results. At the end of the day, I want the model to go home feeling beautiful & special. Every woman should have the opportunity to spend 1 day as a model – to know what that feels like. The best compliment I can get is when a model sees her pictures for the first time & exclaims “Oh my God! Is that ME!?” I aspire to show my models the beauty that I see in them when I look through my lens. Nothing is more beautiful or enduring than the human spirit. Believe me – I know.

To learn more about Ivy Darling and her company Wandering Bohemian, please visit her website,



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