Contributing photographer OLIVIER YOAN sits down for a conversation with AARON SHANDEL after their shoot for MMSCENE in the south of France to talk about getting scouted while surfing, working with Tom Ford and the modeling industry.
See more of the shoot + read our exclusive interview with Aaron below:
Hey Aaron! It’s been a few weeks since we did that shoot up in the south of France. You’ve been in New York Since then the whole time ? What’s your schedule like these days?
I spent the past couple of months based in New York and it was an extreme learning experience with many ups and downs. This is my first year modelling full time after finishing high school at the end of last year so I’ve had to adjust to not having a planned routine and rather creating my own days. With modelling you can be extremely busy but also have plenty of time of your hands and I’ve spent a lot of time trying new things, meeting people and exploring different stuff that I like doing.
I remember you telling me that you were scouted by your agent Oliver Sutton, who is also a photographer, while surfing. How was that and how important was Oliver’s role in mentoring you?
Meeting Oliver was a bizzare and wonderful occurrence we met out in the ocean during some pretty big surf where I was really not feeling comfortable. I saw this man staring at me and he asked “have you ever thought about being a model?” I looked at him confusingly and said “No?” And he began to tell me things about the high fashion modeling world and to be honest I didn’t believe a word he said but we ended up exchanging details on the beach and that’s where it all began. Oliver’s role has been integral to get me to where I am in modeling, he photographed me and got me signed to top agencies around the globe and has mentored me along the way ensuring that I finished high school and remain down to earth and cantered through it all. I will be forever grateful to Oli!
You also were featured in MMS when you just started your career. Since then you went from part time to full time model and have travelled quiet a lot! Looking back at that, what would you say about your path as a model. Have you learned some valuable lessons about life in general?
This journey has thought me so many valuable lessons and has really opened up my eyes to the rest of the world. I’ve always been someone who wants instant gratification but I have learned the importance of grit and patience. Modeling has changed my perspective as it has made me feel that no dream is too big and that you can literally do anything that you want to in this life.
Are there many pre-conceived ideas about male models that you can now see in yourself?
Many of the stereotypes about male models that I used to believe was that they were arrogant, not very intelligent and assholes was completely disproved to me when I rocked up to my first fashion week in London to a line of models outside of Christopher Raeburn’s casting to friendly faces and young people just like me and they were happy to answer all my questions and we all bantering like my mates back home, that’s when I realised that they’re just normal people thrown into this industry. Their are of course the few that this industry gets to their heads and they feel as if they are superior but I can safely say that’s the minority.
What is your best memory so far since you’ve been working in the industry?
There have been so many amazing memories and experiences but a highlight for me was was walking in Tom Ford’s show last season with my first friend I made in the industry two years ago. We absorbed and enjoyed the whole event together. We were both in awe of the major set design and the top female supermodels that were doing the show with us. The whole experience didn’t feel real and it was just incredible and so special I got to share it with a close friend.
We did our shoot for this issue up in the mountains of the south of France, the day of your birthday and just beside where I was born and grew up. Do you often get shoots like that?
Definitely not! Everything from the beautiful environment of your home town around us to the lovely people on set with us made our shoot so unique and special. I could feel how special this shoot was for you and the fact that it was my birthday too added even more energy it truly felt like we were creating art and everyone on set was working so hard to make it great. A real highlight of that experience was having dinner with your old friends on my birthday sharing stories and saying what we were grateful for. It was a true celebration of life.
Are there any things in the industry that you would like to see evolve or change?
Something in the industry that I have noticed needs to change is the health of some of the models usually the women. Who are being pressurized to have tiny measurements and are not given any dietary or gym plan to achieve them. This results in many models using extremely unhealthy methods to stay skinny.
Do you think you can make a difference in this world ? And if yes, do you have a plan for that?
Yes I do believe I can! I still have a lot to learn and figuring out to do but I plan to make a positive impact on the world and especially South Africa where I am from. For the millions of people who live in poverty here, everyday is a struggle for survival and I would love to be able to help them one day in any way I can.
I’ve enjoyed doing this little interview thing with you. I’m hoping to work together soon again and maybe one time I’ll go to South Africa so you can teach me how to learn without being eaten by a Great White!
Thank you so much for this! It has honestly been incredible to work with you, haha you’ve got to must make your way here and I’ll make sure you get some perfect waves!
Keep up with Aaron on Instagram @aaronshandel
Photographer OLIVIER YOAN – olivieryoan.squarespace.com
Stylist STEVEN DOAN – www.stevendoan.co.uk
Production OLIVIER YOAN and ALEX AALTO
Assistant VICTOR DE HALLEUX
Model AARON SHANDEL at Oliver Sutton Agency