Dawn Collinson talks to the rugby hunk who is giving modelling a try
RUGBY players are no strangers to looking good in front of the camera. Just ask Charlotte Church. But if Welshman Gavin Henson is more the perma-tanned pretty boy, England and GB winger Stuart Reardon is clearly at the manlier end of the modelling market.
Although, he jokes, there was a little less-than-macho behaviour required for his first professional photoshoot.
“I had to wear make-up for the first time, which was a bit of a culture shock,” he laughs. “Although I had to admit it did look better. Nobody’s perfect are they? But it was only a bit of foundation to even out my skin and make it look a bit browner – there was definitely no mascara!”
The 29-year-old, whose sporting CV includes stints at Warrington, Bradford and Salford, is now playing in Wrexham for Crusaders, although he lives in Warrington.
But with the prospect of retirement not a million miles away, and with casual offers to model coming his way, he’s decided to try his hand at a second career.
“There aren’t many rugby players who play until they’re 35 or 36, so once you’re knocking 30 you have to start looking around,” he explains. “I think when I stop playing I’ll probably become a personal trainer, but people asked me to do some modelling so I thought I’d give it a try.
“I’m pretty open-minded and I’ll try things and hope for the best, so I thought I might as well see how far modelling could take me.”
Stuart’s first task was to get a portfolio of photos to present to agencies.
For that he turned to Liverpool-based photographer Rory Lewis, who specialises in fashion and beauty work.
Rory was immediately impressed with Stuart’s look and his ease in front of the camera.
“I get a lot of people who come and say to me ‘I want to be a model, do you think I can make it?’ Nine times out of 10 the answer is no and you have to tell them straight.
“But with Stuart, as soon as I saw him I thought he could definitely make it. He’s a really good looking guy and he has the basic criteria – the bone structure and height – that you look for.”
When Stuart walked in to Rory’s Renshaw Street studio, he was a little nervous at first, says the photographer.
“But he got on with it and he did a very good job,” he adds. “I gave him some direction, too, which helps to get a reaction and break the ice.”
Stuart agrees that his first session went smoothly, with Rory’s guidance.
“I felt fine in front of the camera and Rory made me feel really comfortable,” says Stuart. “I didn’t really know how to do a model pose, so he obviously had to give me a few directions about that, but I’m just starting out. I’m happy to be shown.”
Now signed to Impact agency in Liverpool, both photographer and model agree that commercial work is the most likely route for Stuart to take.
“I’ve got an athletic body because of what I do so I’m not embarrassed about taking my top off and showing it,” he smiles. “Obviously I’m training and playing, but you have to be really fit to play rugby so working out with weights and eating healthily becomes a part of your daily routine.
“I’m not so big that I couldn’t model clothes, though. I’m an outside back so I look athletic but I’m only 14 stone and a 42inch chest so I can wear off-the-peg, whereas some of the lads who play with me are 18 stone at least.”
Rory believes Stuart has quite a versatile look which would work well in several markets.
“He’s not really catwalk, but I think he’s the sort of person you’d see in an ad campaign for sportswear or outdoor clothes,” he says. “He could work for cosmetic brands, too, because a lot of those companies use built men to advertise their products. They like the whole concept of tough guys using beauty products.”
Stuart’s girlfriend Emma is a former model so, he says, she’s been supporting his ambition. But what about his teammates?
“Because I haven’t really done any professional jobs yet, not all of them know, but I don’t think they’ll be that bothered,” he smiles. “A couple of them know, but they’ve not given me a hard time … not yet, anyway.”
Just before jetting off to Spain I was commissioned to shoot Stuart Reardon Rugby Player for the Warrington Wolves. Stuart has just joined a model agency and needed to start his model portfolio. Shot in the studio in Liverpool we spent the afternoon working on several looks.
One important note about model portfolios is that you always want to start off with powerful images for your model book. You have to make clients excited about turning the next page to see what they will find next.
Whenever I shoot a model portfolio I want to create these captivating and powerful images to capture the imagination of potential clients. If you are looking for a model portfolio or model portfolio update then please take a look at My Packages.
Being Stuarts first photoshoot I gave him the direction he needed to produce these striking images, and as the shoot progressed he started reacting naturally to the camera. I wish him the best of look with modelling in the future and hope to work with him again soon.