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  • Writer's pictureDani Sauter

Coco Rocha Model Camp

Its been just over one month since I attended Coco Rocha Model Camp (CRMC), and I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought "what would Coco Rocha do," every day since. At the end of August, I embarked on a personal journey to attend Coco Rocha's model camp and what I got out of it was so much more than the study of pose.

To give some history here, Coco Rocha was one of the first people I ever followed on Instagram when I signed up for the platform back in 2011/2012. I had seen her in magazines and I was so intrigued how it seemed like she could transform into any sort of look. That and her poses. They just spoke to me. She made it look so easy to convey a message without having to speak. I have always viewed modeling as a form of acting, but even harder because you can only use your emotion and pose to convey the message, instead of your words.

Ran into Coco Rocha at NYFW after attending CRMC the week before! / Photo by Arielle Lewis Studios

Modeling and photography has always been an interest of mine. My parents were photographers and I grew up in front of the lens, which is why I think I'm so comfortable in front of a camera. I even wanted to be a model when I was young, but I had many things against me- my height (too short), my smile (I had massive dental cosmetic surgery when I was 17), and ultimately, my size. Even though I could come to life behind a camera as a young girl, I was still very shy. In an effort to bring me out of my shell my mom put me in acting school and I liked it so much I was involved in community theater my entire childhood/teenage years and I initially went to college for theater (I later switched to Communications because I was an immature 19 year old who didn't get cast for a few shows after being cast in everything my freshmen year and decided to quit instead of persevere). I gave up acting and my dreams to be a model after being told no too many times, and looking back- that is one of my biggest regrets.

When I started my blog now almost exactly 5 years ago, I think in part I wanted to reopen this side of me that I had shut away. As I got more serious about blogging, I got more serious about the visuals. While my dad was my first blog photog since he had a background of photography and was perfectly priced at $free.99 (thanks, Dad lol), I eventually started hiring out photography because I found photo editing was not my forte. I turned to editorial-esque photo inspiration, both because I wanted my photos to look high fashion and I wanted to emit the feeling and emotions of acting that I missed, but also I wasn't seeing a lot of women in magazines or digitally that looked like me, so I wanted to create my own ideals of what editorial photos COULD look like for women who may look like or relate to me too. A huge shout out to my photography partner, Arielle Lewis Studios, who has helped me bring this vision to life the past 2.5 years.

Shot at CRMC. Directed by Coco Rocha / Photo by Nick Suarez / Hair by Caroline Cina / Makeup by Londy Makeup

When I saw that Coco Rocha started a model camp, I was highly intrigued. Due to my blog, I have been granted some amazing experiences that have led me to walking in local fashion shows, on set at legitimate studios in New York City with major fashion brands, on shoots with published magazines, commercials, TV modeling, and one thing I've always left set thinking is, "I could improve my movement and pose." Even for my own photos, I wanted to improve my movement as I found I was sticking with the same poses over and over again on rotation. I wanted to expand.

After seeing some behind the scenes of CRMC on Instagram, I knew I had to go to push myself out of my comfort zone, but also learn more about the industry (which is very similar to the influencer industry), and invest in myself. I inquired to attend back in March/April, and within just a few days I was contacted by Coco herself via Instagram DM to let me know I was accepted into camp. I was assigned a camp in August and I kept it a secret from most everyone that I was attending.

Shot at CRMC. Directed by Coco Rocha / Photo by Nick Suarez / Hair by Caroline Cina / Makeup by Londy Makeup

At camp, I learned way more than I ever envisioned I would. In addition to the study of pose, runway walks, social media, the in's and out's of the industry, I learned so much about myself. I walked into camp reverted to my shy 12-year-old-self, scared of judgement that I wouldn't be as good as the other girls, but left with even more confidence than I have ever before felt in my life and 14 new friends. There were 15 girls in camp, all ranging from ages 15-49, with experience from none to tons, and from across the world.

CRMC #26 / Photo by Nick Suarez

The 4 days at camp flew by but the wealth of knowledge I learned in those 4 days will stay with me forever. Learning from Coco Rocha and her husband and manager, James Conran, is one of the best investments I've made for myself both personally and professionally. Personally, she helped me find another side of me that I've buried behind red lipstick and kitchy fun photos. She pulled me into raw emotion and edginess that is reflected in my portfolio images that she directed in camp. She opened my mind to new ideas and ways to move, emit emotion, and to be more confident. Professionally, she helped me realize how to be smarter about business and contracts, and how to be more interesting to clients. Although I attended as a "blogger/influencer," she treated me like a model. My size nor my height were an issue to her. She made me feel like I finally had a seat at the model table, and I belonged there.

Since attending Coco Rocha Model Camp, I have noticed a difference in myself and I have been told from a few friends that they've noticed a difference too. I've taken everything I learned and put it back into my blog and I will continue to do so and I can't wait to see where it takes me. For anyone who is in the fashion, modeling, influencing/blogging, photography industries, I highly suggest attending this fully immersive camp. You'll leave with the confidence to pursue your dreams, skills to take you to the next level of your career, and lastly - inner courage to know you are good enough, regardless of size or height, to be a model.


Blonde in the District


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