A former model, Debra Somerville now finds herself on the other side of the lens.
Somerville, who lives in Weston, runs a studio in Westport where she teaches aspiring models the basics of modeling and how to move in front of the camera. Her creation—Images Workshop—opened in September and is located on Richmondville Avenue.
"There is a huge void in this area," Somerville said of the services she offers. "As far as I know I am the only one who is doing this."
When she moved to the area more than 20 years ago, Somerville said there wasn't that big of a demand for fashion photography. That trend has recently changed.
"For the past five years I’ve been lucky enough to do what I love to do and what I was trained to do—shoot fashion," she said. "Now with so much more focus on social media, the opportunity to shoot fashion has exploded. Everyone needs photos of their products, clothes, jewelry and even themselves."
Somerville was contacted by Wishlist, a "trendy teen clothing store," and asked to shoot photos for their website.
"As my background was fashion photography and I was actually a model myself back in the day, I knew the look I wanted," she said. "Once I found the girl ot guy, I knew I could teach them how to move in front of the camera."
After that gig, Somerville decided to launch Images Workshop, which she said "was designed for the purpose of training models in a nurturing environment."
The workshop helps aspiring models by creating a portfolio by taking professional headshots of them and seeks to "help navigate newcomers to the often-intimidating world of the fashion industry and to help get them started," Somerville said.
"I also work with actors, established models or simply 'fashionistas' that love having their photo taken and want to have fun," she said.
So far, Somerville's worked with many models—kids, teens and adults—from Fairfield County and beyond.
"I’ve been lucky to have groomed dozens of local aspiring models, some of whom have gone on to amazing careers with top agents in New York," she said.
Images Workshop offers a variety of packages which can be viewed on its website.
"It’s a fun, creative, beautiful studio space, where aspiring models or actors, at any level, can come to experience what its like to be a model," Somerville said. "I have a great crew of professional make-up artists and hair stylists that stay throughout the photo shoot making sure everything looks picture perfect."
Somerville said she discusses wardrobe and photo direction prior to the shoot, "so the day of [it] we know exactly what looks we are going for."
"Each model will get four or five different looks including a headshot, a full body shot and various shots both in studio and on location, weather permitting," Somerville said. "When the session is over you will look and feel like a professional model but most importantly you will feel great about yourself and your photographs will amaze you."