Through the lens of a community of creatives
For years, Baton Rouge creatives have been steadily etching their names into the walls of this city, each leaving a unique impression on the heart of the community. The faces behind the growing Instagram account, @ModelsLouisiana, are Guillermo Bricene, Emma Thompson and Hunter Hamilton, a local photographer, model, and videographer. They are on a mission to unite the visual creatives of Baton Rouge and surrounding cities through an online photo collection, emphasizing aesthetics and originality. This month DIG sat down with the curators of the account to get the whole picture.
Tell us about your backgrounds and how you each became interested in visual arts.
Guillermo: I am a local photographer and have been doing photography for three years.
Hunter: I started doing behind-the-scenes work on Guillermo’s shoots and realized right there I wanted to start doing videography myself. In April I bought a video camera and it’s been going from there.
Emma: I started doing modeling 5 years ago. About 6 months ago, I went through a rough time. Whenever I go through a rough time, modeling pops in my head. It gives me life. This time it took off and I met these guys and they asked me to be a part of this team. It’s been wonderful.
How did you three meet and start working together as a team?
Guillermo: Organized photo walks in New Orleans hosted by David Gasc of Local Nomads. Emma came to me and said, “By any chance are you @ModelsLouisiana?” Emma was a model that really caught my attention. Hunter had been my friend for five years, and we are always trying to help each other and push each other the most we can. I couldn’t make @ModelsLouisiana by myself. We all had a meeting and that was the starting point.
Emma: I was his fangirl. Now, I’m the mom of the group. That’s the role I like. Through the process we’ve become such close friends. If one of us weren’t here, it wouldn’t work out.
What is @ModelsLouisiana?
Hunter: It’s a feature page where people can connect. A lot of people are just starting out and have no clue who to get in contact with.
Guillermo: The main reason was to bring the photography arts and the model community all together in one spot.
When was @ModelsLouisiana officially launched?
Guillermo: Four months ago the page got started. Mallory of MalloryMayDay Photography was the founder. One day I saw she posted on her Instagram that she was trying to build this community and I was like “Let me see about this.” It caught my attention. Hunter and Emma got involved in early May of 2018.
New work is featured nearly every day on your page. What do you look for when selecting photos and what makes a submission stand out?
Hunter: Typically, it’s local photographers, but photo shoots can be from other locations. We’re not too set on a specific look, and we have so many different styles. That’s the cool thing about Louisiana. We like to keep it colorful. We can’t do everybody at once, but we want to get to a point where we’ve featured everybody. It makes them feel good about their work. People want to feel good about their creativity.
Emma: First of all, we make sure it’s from Louisiana or in some way connected to our community. It is more based on the quality of the photography than what the model looks like. I get asked a lot, “Am I good enough to be a model on your page?” Absolutely, everyone is.
The @ModelsLouisiana page has amassed a large following in a short amount of time. What attracts members to the page?
Emma: I’ve noticed the most response when we’re speaking and making videos because people can see your personality. No matter who you are, that’s something that’s attractive to anyone on social media. Memo (Guillermo) taught me that. This page has a lot of heart and it separates us from other people who have tried to incorporate this in Louisiana. This is part of our brand, part of who we are. We have a lot invested.
Hunter: You can look at other feature pages and they don’t have a face. We have a personality. We want people to know who we are so we can better connect with people.
How can all members of the community get involved in the effort?
Guillermo: We have recently been doing shout-outs in our Instagram stories. These are weekly advertisements. We always preach that it is not just a feature page, but a page where everybody can connect with everybody.
Emma: They can interact with our page and follow it.
What is the future of @ModelsLouisiana? Will there be an expansion?
Hunter: At some point, we will pull in other people. There are not a lot of videographers on the page but we will be trying to feature more, as well.
Guillermo: The vision is to build a brand. We don’t want to just be a feature page. We are not just photographers and models. We want to connect with restaurants, boutiques, events, magazines, and get more involved in the community. We may expand by adding more people to the team. Every day it is getting bigger and bigger.
What effect do you hope @ModelsLouisiana will have on the community?
Hunter: We want to bring the community together and make everybody like a family.
Guillermo: I want people to understand this is not a competition, for sure. We need to be together over here. Louisiana is growing so fast and everybody needs to be supportive. It’s about getting together, and at the same time trying to help people. Emma gives tips at photoshoots. I give motivation. Hunter gives video tips. We are not ModelsLouisiana. ModelsLouisiana is everybody.
Whether you are itching to get behind a camera or ready to strike a pose, the @ModelsLouisiana Instagram page is a valuable hub offering support, connections and daily masterpieces. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Louisiana creatives certainly have a lot to say.