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Rising Stars: Meet Will G. MacNeil

Today we’d like to introduce you to Will G. MacNeil.

Hi Will, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started photographing with a film camera in 2011. Started my photography business in January 0f 2014 while living out in Chicago. Made some reach outs and contacts with local modeling agencies and began pursuing a career as an editorial photographer. Since then, I moved to Seattle and then back home to LA where I grew up. Everywhere I visit and live I make connections with local models/talent and agencies. While in LA, where I’ve been since 2016, I got a job at a local print/commercial agency where I got to learn a lot more of the inner workings of how a talent agency procures work, the relationships between models to agents, agents to casting directors, and casting directors to clients.

During the pandemic, I realized how much information I had obtained over the years as a photographer, as an agent, as someone who’s paid photographers to photograph me. I’ve done as much as I can (short of becoming a casting director myself) to learn about this industry. So during the pandemic, I started making reels sharing this information as “Model Tips”. The series has been a success. I’m doing my best to listen to what people have questions about because sometimes I feel what sounds obvious to me isn’t obvious at all to someone just starting in this industry. I also recently got signed to a commercial agency to become a commercial actor so that I can put my own tips into action. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, anyone can do commercials.

All while doing this, I’m still photographing. I’m working in commercial/editorial photography, live-action sports coverage photography, and portfolio building for new faces and updates for veteran models to improve their portfolios for more bookings in print and commercial work.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not always smooth. I don’t feel anyone in the creative industry has a very smooth road. I’ve had my business since 2014 and I get a full-time job every now and then to supplement income when things are slow. I built up some debt that I’ve since paid off. Photography is an expensive business. I hate to say it, but any creative field is often dominated by the wealthy elite or those with generational wealth. They don’t have to worry about side income, they may have connections in the industry to propel their career and can be more choosy about the work their accept as they may not be stressed about cash inflow.

So if you’re a creative and don’t come from generational wealth, you’re succeeding. That’s the way I look at it.

I’ve had the pleasure of maintaining really healthy working relationships with just about everyone I’ve come into contact with which has been lovely. Just the art of business as a creative is a huge hurdle many struggles with, myself included (if not especially).

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Ya, so I’m a photographer. Commercial/editorial, sports, and talent portfolio building are the genres I work in the most.

I think I’m known most for sharing insider knowledge about the industry and how to succeed as a model/talent. I try to share tips, break up misconceptions, raise red flags about foul practices happening, and ways to be safe. This is huge in a time when more and more people want to be models, social media is putting out lifestyles that are not always realistic, and the overwhelming misconception that “sex sells” is the only way to become a model/actor these days.

I’m most proud of my model tips series because I really believe I’m offering a resource that isn’t there at the moment. People need well-guided information about how to gain success without crossing their own boundaries or feeling unsafe. With social media, there’s too much pressure to “appear” a certain way rather than live your best way and build success like that. I want people to have the information at their fingertips so that they know they can choose what they can say yes to but more importantly, what they can say no to. Also, social media allows too many predators access to young people with promises of making their career big while not delivering and actually scaring young talent from doing something they didn’t really want to do in the first place.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
Everything in life comes down to a bit of luck, I believe. I’ve been lucky to have my wonderful mother who has found ways to give beyond her means whenever I’ve been at the end of my rope.

Bad luck sometimes when things break and I couldn’t afford to replace them really put me in mind as I really extended beyond my means to replace using credit cards and then having to be hard-headed enough to continue pushing onwards in order to get out of the debt. It works out great that way.

Pricing:

  • Portfolio Shoots – $250-500
  • Commercial/Edital – TBD
  • Model Tips – Free (@willg.macneil)

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Models: Delaney – Swim Leia – Cocktail Melody – Orange Dress Studio Sage – Jeans studio Nick – Tank Top Jump Rope Cal Poly Pomona Track

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