Friday, January 8, 2016


Dauntless. That is the word we believe best describes her. Never before have we seen someone so determined, fierce and fearless - yet, reserving all of her supple sensuousness. Like soft kisses on Spring breezes and fragrant scents of flowers - but flowers with steel stems. Beautiful, soft, rare, infinitely graceful but strong, confident and never yielding. She is a rare gift; an amalgamation of stunning elegance and strength of character. Olya Pickering is the 2015 SIRCUS magazine Model Of The Year.
We came to know Olya just shy of two years ago. We needed a very specific model for a publishing project we were working on at the time. We had photographed several people up until that point but we needed one person who could really capture a specific concept we required to finalize the publication. When we discovered her online we knew we could not complete our project without her and no one else would do. No other person had the look or body type. No other evoked the sense of strength and grace we were confident she had. After a time, the stylist says it has to be her. She has to be the one to wear these garments. An arrangement was reached and we would soon have our model.

Olya was just as we suspected she would be. She was as confident, beautiful and as determined as we imagined. We had never witnessed anyone take on a project with such bravery. She never flinched, never complained. Even early on in the shoot, we knew that Olya was destined to be a Cover Model and given time potentially a Model of the Year candidate. Had our arrangement allowed it at the time she would have been. It wasn't until 2015 that we worked with Olya again and she deservingly graced the front cover of Sircus Magazine Issue 11 and produced some of the boldest and most tasteful fitness pictures we have ever taken. We knew all along but this was even further evidence of her unrelenting self confidence and fearlessness.

People often ask me about Olya and we tell them first and foremost that she is authentic. She is kind and bold, but doesn't brag about what she has done or what she is doing. Often times, models brag about what they've been working on or they make almost impossible demands about needs and wants before even knowing what the project entails. Not Olya. Not ever. We've never had a disagreement, a cancellation, a bout of sickness, nor an unscheduled mishap.

Do you know how many misunderstandings we have had about image use with Olya? Zero. Do you believe she was timid or shy? Never. Do you know how many times she complained about the heat or the cold when we're shooting? None. How often is she late for an assignment? It never happened. How many shoots did it take before Olya pouted because she didn't have a makeup artist again or a specific type of hair stylist? None. At this time, how often do you believe that we would try within reason and all of our power to give Olya anything she wanted when she wanted it? Infinitely. When everything is said and done, who do you believe will get the first call when a new project is on the horizon? Olya Pickering. She is consistently the most daring, steadfast and trustworthy model we have ever had the pleasure of working with.

A few weeks ago we asked a stylist to describe Olya in five words or less. She replied, "timeless beauty, fearless and steadfast." We later went on to ask a hair stylist that once styled Olya's hair for us on what she thought of Olya and the stylist replied, "extremely kind, determined and gorgeous." We went on to speak with a makeup artist about Olya and her reply was "she is always so calm and confident, polite and professional. She has wonderful skin and hair and really takes care of herself." Testimonies like these go on to solidify our belief that she is everything we think she is and more.

We are not suggesting that 2015 hasn't had an immense amount of talent. In fact, 2015 was a fantastic year. We were elated to work with Actress Elizabeth Rhoades, who we can already foresee as a 2016 favorite. We were also delighted to work with our 2013 Model of the Year again last year, fashion, swimwear and glamour model ShyAng3L. There was also the forever beautiful Kim Jonet, and Chase "Whitehill" Rubeor, the first-time SIRCUS magazine Issue 9 double cover model along with many others. But "The Model of the Year" is about so much more than that. It's about distinction and how people conduct themselves before, during and after a shoot. It's about how they communicate and behave one on one as well as in a team environment. It includes how well they convey ideas, retain a post shoot

professional relationship and even how well they are perceived to work with other photographers and creatives. Are they crediting collaborators and referring other creatives when applicable? Is she supportive of artists and respectful of creative property? Is she difficult or arrogant? Model of the Year is about a person's professional character and how easy they are to get along with and work with. It's larger than anything we have done for the entire year and we believe that it is only proper to recognize an individual that goes above and beyond and when and where possible, award excellence. In a sense, it's akin to an endorsement and anything we put so much effort into creating, growing and nurturing deserves our scrutiny. We take it personal which is why we spend so much effort vetting and when it is deserving, acknowledging the best talent.

We have now known of Olya for almost two years but it was only recently in our exclusive SIRCUS magazine Issue 11 interview, that we had a chance to sit down and really find out who she is. Authenticity confirmed. She has this deep life-long belief in working hard, believing in oneself and never giving up. It shapes her competitive fitness philosophy and keeps her unwavering in achieving her goals. It also makes her very driven and a person of strong character. Intelligence, kindness, confidence, bold and beautiful; all the things that make Olya Pickering our Helios & SIRCUS magazine indisputable 2015 Model of the Year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015's Greatest Models Part IV with Elizabeth Rhoades

From a rare combination of personality, intoxicating beauty and an infectious smile I was immediately enamored with Elizabeth upon our first and only pre-shoot face to face. Elizabeth might be among a very very short list of people I could just kick it with - have a drink, a few laughs and just hang out for hours and wonder what happened to the day. I actually didn't want the meet-up to end. She's just easy to look at and very easy to talk to. Besides who wouldn't want to hangout with as gorgeous a woman as she? She has this warm easy going attractive thing working for her I couldn't let go of and I immediately thought, we're going to make some magnificent images.

It took all of about 43 seconds for me to want to shoot with her. The rest of the time was just making sure we're on the same page and ironing out a few, "who is driving this car" kind of details. You see, on creative projects it can be difficult to define who is running the show. On larger shoots you might have a creative director on occasion, a photographer, the model, a publisher or whoever else that might be attributing to or funding the idea. But there can be only a single driver in the end. Part of the meeting is to make certain we have compatible personalities and clear of what looks we're both comfortable with, styling protocols, preparation, image use, copyright terms, etc. It's just best to iron all of that out first. But once all of that was over I wanted to just stare and listen to her for a few hours.
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SIRCUS magazine Issue 12 at
The most incredible thing about Elizabeth aside from the obvious was the fact that she has one of the most incredible online portfolios of every model I'd seen in all of 2015. Each image seemed to have been carefully selected for maximum visual impact, quality, style and taste. Like we've always said, it only takes a handful of images to make your point and she made it. In less than a dozen images she told us, she prefers high quality over quantity. She was saying that she wants refined, polished and tasteful images. She was letting us know that she is confident and daring but sophisticated and  premium. She had set a benchmark. But even more-so, she told us that she is very very selective about who she works with and that's the kind of model we want to work with. Someone meticulously caring and mindful of their overall modeling reputation. That very fact, the way she looks, her professionalism and personality gave us all the ammunition we needed to take this collaboration. I left the meet-up very excited and uplifted about the possibilities. I recall thinking, this is gonna be good.
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SIRCUS magazine Issue 12 at
It took a few starts and re-starts to get things rolling until finally our project day arrives. After many months I finally saw our talent again. Here she was, after so many long months of planning. I hope she didn't catch my slight lost of composure. She was stunning. I may have audibly gasped a bit. Even before makeup and hair styling I recall asking myself, "has she gotten even more beautiful?"

It was a several hours later that felt like minutes. You see, when things flow very well and you're getting the takes you want, you just don't seem to tire out. You're still excited. Our only regret is that it didn't seem like it was long enough. We wanted more; more looks, more images, more of Elizabeth. On the best days and best shoots, it always happens that way. If we just had her in front of the camera for just a couple more hours I thought. But such as it is, we all have other tasks to get done and we couldn't just adopt her and have her move in to be an on-call 24/7 model now could we? That would awesome and yet preposterous all the same.

In summary, it was a fantastic shoot and a great experience. It was easy, laid back, fun, stimulating. and most of all... productive. We can't say enough how important portfolios matter. Be objective and selective. Yet, personality matters. Talent matters. How you groom yourself and interact with the team all matters. Elizabeth easily goes down as one of our greatest models of 2015 because she is by far one of the most well-rounded models to date; the ultimate combination of beauty, class, talent and flawless execution. Thank you again Elizabeth for a fantastic 2015. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015's Greatest Models Part III with Chase "Whitehill" Rubeor

She was Sircus Magazine's most wildly distributed and popular Cover Model. She was the first double cover Issue Released model Sircus had ever had for a single Issue release. Additionally, she is 5'11" of absolutely perfection in every way.  Chase is the epitome of flawless. She is one of the most naturally born models we have ever run across.

A perfect set of events had to happen for our chance meeting. A prior model learned of a casting and told Chase about it. Chase in turn contacted us for a last minute meet up in the middle of nowhere to discuss her potential inclusion for publishing in a special swimwear magazine edition of Sircus Magazine. We were literally down to the wire on time and she literally squeaked in at the last possible second to make the shoot and publishing deadline. She literally drove through three cities in mid-day traffic on a weekend just to have a face to face and to discuss just the possibility of being chosen for a spot. I was already impressed by her dedication and commitment. When someone does that we're already likely to extend a great deal of trust in them and willing to put forth a lot of effort to make sure their included.

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It was a good thing she did. If looks were all that it took then she sealed the deal. The stylist was with me the day we'd met Chase for the first time and seconds after our meeting adjourned she was busy discussing ideas and the exact styling she had in mind for our newest prospective model. When the stylist is that excited about a model I knew at that exact moment magic was gonna happen.

Once the garments and accessories were chosen by the stylist, Chase's measurements were checked again, then confirmed and the stylist worked her magic. The day of the shoot came quickly after weeks of planning and styling. The very first image was absolutely amazing, and then the second and third and so on. The clothing was made to her it seemed; superbly fitted and styled marvelously accentuating her best and plentiful extraordinary beautiful features. Few times had we seen anyone so stunning and visually commanding. We were also all stunned by how effortlessly she moved from pose to pose; those subtle gestures that seemed so nuanced and yet so powerful when the image was captured. I call them transition poses or flowing gestures. She glided between them and she displayed some of the most dynamic posing we had witnessed. Tasteful, powerful, attention-grabbing and also beautiful, lithe and graceful. Chase has it all.
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In 2015 and more than 18 months later Chase visits us once more. All those subtle graceful poses and naturally ballet like transitions were still there. The stylist planned polished cowgirl-like denim wear look to a metro chic white on white silk romper with the accessories to match. It was stunning. Chase... like she always does, mastered every single look.

She is more than a perfect body and a flawless face. She is intuitive; sensing every change in my location and she anticipated angles of capture and followed my movements for the best light and composition. She is also highly imaginative and creative knowing when to engage the camera directly and when to look away casually and candidly. When we shot the denim she posed more casually without being told. When we went to urban chic looks she was more refined and yet dynamic. She sought interesting angles for the ideal body lines, shapes and shadows. By all intents and purposes, Chase is a perfect model.

Should anyone ask about what we're looking for in a model we simply say study Chase's posing. Study Chase's body language and facial expressiveness. But what Chase does that can't be taught is replying to a casting call in timely manner. What we can't teach you that Chase did on her own is willingness to drive across town to meet us in person to insure we shared common goals and objectives and to prove her commitment to the project. What can't be taught is letting us know with an email and a call that she has received our Call Sheet and that she has every expectation of being able to make and keep the shoot schedule. What can't be taught is making it to the shoot on time and not rushing thru it and allotting the appropriate amount of time to see the project through.  What we can't teach is respecting other artists time on the set and staying the course until the shoot is done. Very importantly, what we can't tell you to do is to periodically check in and let us know your availability and modeling status from time to time and if you're still interested in upcoming projects. All those things are just as important as being talented and gorgeous. It could be said, that those are the things that make you a professional and Chase has it all.

Like any great model, she is not overly demanding. She is not burdensome or needy. She always arrives on-time, prepared and ready for anything. She made our 2015 - and quite frankly our 2014 spectacular. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015's Greatest Models Part II with ShyAng3L

For all the reasons she was the 2013 Model of the Year and Cover Model of Sircus Magazine Issue 5, are the same things that make her one of 2015's Greatest Models. There are few people we have worked with as much as her. In fact, there may be no one we have worked with as often as ShyAng3L. But to be fair, we do tend to give preferential treatment to individuals that are extremely professional, talented, diverse and quite frankly have agreeable personalities.

It is her ability to shift from one visual persona to the next that makes her so intriguing a model. One shoot with her can often appear to an outsider to look like ten different shoots if we so choose. She fully engages what we're shooting on a emotional level. If we're doing dark and moody she will emote dark. If we're shooting light and fashionable, then she will emote light and fashionable. No one else changes as effortlessly as she can.

Yet, with all her abilities it is her stunning beauty that captivates us the most. But she doesn't flaunt it. She is not even fully aware of how insanely gorgeous she is and that makes her even more attractive than most people I know; people who actively model day in and day out. Additionally, she is the sweetest person I've ever met. Her voice is barely a whisper but when she models no words are needed. Her body, her posing, her skin, face, hair, her extraordinary and infinitely youthful look screams volumes.
Even after more than three years she can still be a little anxious at the start, (those first few seconds). But given just the right amount of coaxing, she swiftly goes right into character.  Despite her namesake, I don't necessarily feel that she is shy. She is simply gentler and kinder than most people we've worked with before. But if you need a bad ass harlot for a look or a fairy princess, ShyAng3L is definitely the model to have because not only can she do the look, she is the most creatively malleable person I've personally ever known. She can do both on the same shoot and within minutes of one another in a way that is both beautiful and convincing.

She is not going to push back and tell you something isn't possible. She will not argue with you and tell you she won't do it or try it. If it's stylish, tasteful and she trusts you, then she will do it and do it well. In fact, no model I've ever had with the exception of maybe Trexie Dorrell has successfully done and mastered as many genres as ShyAng3L. Fashion, beauty, cosplay, lingerie, art, creative and swimwear are just a few of the things we have done together over the years. We have done more themed shoots together than anyone and I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.  She would bring me an idea or two and we would just do them - no questions asked on why or how. She was simply that kind of person and model. You want to do everything for her because you know she would excel in all that she does. As a result, we would always make extraordinary images. As of yet, those images still remain some of our best ever.

Unfortunately, we suspect that as time carries on our sessions will be fewer and farther between. It is simply the way of things as we scale back our operations to pursue different graphic design and video projects and she travels more as the demand for her talent continues to grow. Yet, as far as modeling and friendship goes, ShyAng3L can return again and again as much as she desires and we will always try to make time for her. Her talent, beauty, versatility and kindness has no equal. She remains and will likely always be one of our most revered collaborations.