the mad heiress interview:
mh: why do you model? how did you start?
sp: modeling to me is a form of silent acting and i am all about story telling! i feel like i am celebrating the diversity and complexity of people through pictures! i model because i get to step away from myself and capture someone else's story. i get a creative buzz from it! also i think it's a time that i get to appreciate being a woman. i did a little bit of modeling when i was 14, and then picked it back up when i turned 19 and moved to nc. i had a terrible, barely-there portfolio at the time. luckily, a great photographer, jeff miller, found me on model mayhem and helped me develop my portfolio. i remember meeting jeff for the first time at applebees in raleigh for a preshoot interview and by the end of that interview i was told i was a "diamond in the rough." that stroked my teen ego and since then i've tried my best to imitate the shine of a diamond.
mh: you were born in ulyanovsk, russia. do you think there any aspects of being russian and of your childhood there that influence your approach to modeling?
sp: yes! my childhood was full of change, transition, and variety of circumstances and people. i believe this helped me develop an open-minded perspective on the world around me and has helped me to become more receptive to opportunities around me and beyond me. and with that in mind, i believe my modeling is largely influenced by my background because i am able to embrace variety and weirdness...yes to crawling on a muddy floor and attempting to look like a godess vampire, yes to looking like a duck, yes to looking like a sex-crazed woman! i dissassociate myself from feelings of embarassment or worry when it comes to artistic expressions. but i do have artistic intuition, if i am a duck then i have to cover all the right bases of being a duck in a picture!
mh: do you have any advice for someone wanting to model?
sp: plenty. for a beginner model make sure to shoot tfp with really good photographers. you are investing in you! be patient and picky, read photographer's profiles and look at his/her portfolio and imagine yourself as one of the models! take time to create your boundaries, more than likely it's a bad idea to shoot nude if you don't have any experience in the field! if you are looking to be a freelance model then your idea of success is probably largely due to learning or knowing what a good picture of yourself looks like. i really believe that not all models or photographers have a natural eye for this. some photographers are great technically, they have the light set up perfectly and the beach water is crashing down just so and the model's pose looks great and the picture is released....the model's face resembles a reptile, eyes are too squinted, shadow supports the reptilian look...this face doesn't fit the intended concept and is distracting. i had it happen and some photographers brush me off and say that it's all perspective based and i am being "hard on myself." well actually sir it was my boyfriend who pointed out that i looked like a reptile, and it happened to be exactly the word i was looking for when studying that picture! yes, preference plays a role in art but a picture has a beggining, middle, and end in which there is still fluidity; even in the most abstract of concepts, one concept layer determines another layer. so as a model you are the final photoshop tool, you release only what you are proud of. if you think you look great in just about every picture and release just about every picture, you might have a faulty ego and you may have to do heavy revision on what success is to you. if you don't think you have a natural eye, practice picture comparison and keep around some very honest friends, and learn to take critique well.
mh: what’s it like trying to walk around in a champagne dress? what’s the most unusual costume you’ve worn for a shoot or an event?
sp: haha, i am sure some people have no idea what champagne dress is being refrenced here. you can go to to see the champagne dress, along with other fun stuff, or you can keep up with my page to see all of my elevate roles and costuming. the dress actually has little wheels at the bottom, which makes it easy for me to roam around and treat all of the party guests to some champagne! fun fact: my ex-boyfriend david burton made the champagne dresses. he's super talented with design and if you are looking for unique furniture or metal art then check out his fb page metal mind! ok, i'll stop advertising! the most unusual costume i've worn for a shoot were condoms. we filled them with water and put them on my hands and imagination ran wild as we magnified my eyeballs with them and pretended i was from another planet. super fun!
mh: i give you a fur-covered spoon. what do you do with it?
sp: i'd smile, question you, and save it for a shoot! we would probably start talking shoot concepts: cave woman shoot? a lady obssesed with fur? morphed cat series?
mh: what would you say to those who think that there’s nothing to modeling beyond looking pretty?
sp: ohhh that's a dry, generalized, and closed perspective to hold, and i would suspect that such a person may lack depth, artistic involvement, and/or understanding. models do have the job of capturing your attention and one of the tools we use is "prettiness" but we can easily deviate from just looking pretty and tell you whatever story we choose to. the beauty of modeling is we get to help build a story. i have a wide variety of poses, feelings, ideas, and i am hoping that my audience can connect in a variety of ways to the story i've helped create. i know some will choose to just see a "pretty face" or just a girl who is sexy, which is okay, but i am also really hoping to capture the people who appreciate details - how the sun's rays add an element of uniqueness to the model's pensive smile or how the model's expression suggests a thought that adds a hint of mystery and makes you wonder. i actually am most intrigued by pictures that are not pretty but are grungy. most people flock to innocent smiles, and the "classy lady-like stuff." nooo...free the monsters that we pretend we can never become, sit like a man, you are not you, tell the story like it is!
mh: who are your heroes? why?
sp: my closest friends are my heroes. these are the people who energize me. there is something almost magnetic about their energy! their super powers include great conversation, confidence in who they are, intellectual, funny, passionate, open minded, honest, and animal friendly.
mh: you’ve got a one-use time machine, there and back. when and where do you go to? why?
sp: i'd go back to the biblical times and attempt to meet jesus. i really want to know what happened that makes most of the human population bound to religious ideas. but i assume such knowledge would be dangerous and it'd probably have emotional repercussions. who knows what i'd discover...
mh: do you have any favorite styles to shoot?
sp: fantasy type shoots, far-away-from-reality type shoots. these are my favorite styles.
mh: where do you see yourself in twenty years?
sp: no idea, i don't know what i'd get myself into. i am an opportunist so who knows...maybe i'll go back to russia.