While everybody thinks they can be a model, the harsh reality is that it's not for everyone. While some think that height and weight are the most important qualities, the model's connection with the camera is key. Willow Faygenholtz, 23, finds a comfort in front of the camera that allows her to flow effortlessly while being photographed.
“I don’t know what it is, but if you put me in front of a camera, there’s this chemistry that me and the camera has and no one will ever understand it except for me and the camera,” says Willow.
Willow was born and raised in California where she began successfully modeling in bridal expos and pageants. Looking past Hollywood, she decided to move to Chicago to finish school and continue building her portfolio.
Willow is now a dance major at Columbia but was encouraged to network between the departments, especially photography. After connecting and collaborating with other students, she received a casting call from an outside fashion show.
“The fashion world is very small here in Chicago. Once you meet one photographer, they’ll refer you to another, and it kind of goes from there,” says Willow. “And with a name like Willow it’s easy to remember me. It snowballed out of control.”
Last summer she decided to stay in Chicago because of her job and because she wanted to stay active in this city's progressing industry. Towards the end of the summer she did some breakthrough shoots that brought her portfolio to the next level.
“I just networked throughout the city, replying to casting calls and auditions for models wanting this and photographers wanting that and my portfolio really started to grow and my name started getting around,” she says. “I can now walk into a room and I know everybody. The right people have connected me to the right opportunities.”
Willow recently did a shoot for a boutique owner for their website and a couple of months later she got a call from the boutique owner asking if she was familiar with Athlete’s Foot, the athletic shoe store.
“I just did their [Athlete’s Foot] 2012 Spring Campaign. So I’m in 80 stores across the US and I’m published internationally,” she says.
Willow also has been published in Teen Prom Magazine and on billboards.
Standing at only 5 foot 7 Willow has managed to break through height barriers with confidence. Looking to figures like Shirley Temple and Marilyn Monroe, she's pushed the envelope.
Willow will be graduating with a Bachelor's degree in choreography and performance this spring.
“After graduation I’m going to stay here in Chicago. I just became Zumba certified,” she says. “Zumba is a Latin dance fusion, fun workout.”
Willow plans to audition for performances around the city and hopefully find a representative to model with.
“I’m also in the process of building a dance resume,” she says. “When things start to mellow out and I become financially stable I want to start my own dance company and put my own styles and forms on my own set of dancers and have them tour and travel.”