Cam Damage is a freelance traveling model working primarily in the United States and Europe.
She is currently based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota - but travels frequently.
She is also constantly naked/half-naked.
I'd been curious about Cam for quite awhile, wondered what it was like for folks, on the other side of the lens, and was very interested in the rise of Traveling Internet Models, wanted to know more about that world. Cam ended up being perfect for both of those areas of interest, an open and warm subject who was gracious with her insights into the fun and the challenges of her profession.
This interview has been edited for clarity and content.
Yeah, I’d say officially 3, but technically 4.
Because I had a little period where I did shoots that I didn’t like that much, where I was just trying to figure out how to actually get into the modeling world. I wasn’t sure what I was doing at all, and that was before I discovered Tumblr, also. So Tumblr was the real start of discovering modeling and stuff, because I found Chip Willis there, and he was my first real, in air quotes, shoot, in my opinion.
I do a lot of podcasts, so I know.
I don’t think there was a difference in photographers, necessarily, because they were fine photographers. It was more me and not knowing what the hell I was doing. My first shoot ever, I got covered in fake blood, and I would never do that again. Hahaha. I was just like, “yeah sure, let’s do it” and was posing sexy while covered in fake blood, and that’s the dumbest thing ever.
Yeah, of course.
Like a butchered cow above me, or something like that.
And not to say that shoots with fake blood are bad, I just wouldn’t do it again.
Yeah, I’m just putting them down right now, completely. Hahahahaha.
But it was more that I didn’t know what I was doing, I think. And then I got a better idea of it as time went on.
Self-awareness and self-confidence would be the main things, probably. Self-awareness not just mentally, but physically because posing, obviously, is the job. And that was the big difference from first shoots to now, is that I had no idea what the hell I was doing posing or positioning my body, or with my face. Or anything like that. A few years’ practice have taught me what faces work and what body positions work, and what doesn’t. That’s just one part of it though. I just woke up, so I feel like these aren’t great answers right now!
Knock it up!
Just tech writers.
Yeah, I guess I would say that. Which can be a good or bad thing.
Yeah, well there you go! I know it’s a good thing because I know what poses to go into that I’m like, “yeah, I look jacked”, but I’m also super -ware of parts of my body that I don’t like, because you’re constantly looking at yourself in this field of work. I’ll think, “well, my abs look great, but my ass looks flabby.” It’s a constant, I feel, not feeling like my ass looks flat, but finding something that’s an issue! Because you’re constantly looking at yourself and thinking about your body and comparing it to past selves that have been recorded over the years.
That is actually a really big problem, and I think other models would agree with that! You look at old pictures of yourself and you’re thinking, “oh I was so skinny and cute back then, I wonder what I was doing different.” Obviously that’s the wrong move, and not productive to do, but…
I feel I’m okay at it now, but I still struggle at it sometimes in a teenage girl way, where I’ll either be comparing myself to myself, or I’ll see another model and think, “wow, she looks great! Hmm I need to work out” or something! But then I won’t and I’ll go eat a cheeseburger, so really it’s not that big of a deal for me!
Yeah, pizza top, and then cheeseburger second.
That’s how it goes. And then tacos third.
If I was in California, tacos would be first.
It’s difficult, because there’s a large range.
Yeah, it’s getting real hard right off the bat. This may come off bad, but there’s a difference between criteria for a pay shoot and a trade shoot. For a trade shoot, criteria would be… Oh I don’t know, that’s tough. I don’t think there’s a strict criteria, it’s preferences more so, so natural light is always a preference, and obviously that you like the person’s style enough to want to shoot with them trade, which is a concern in this little world for a lot of girls right now.
I don’t know if it’s the case with a lot of other girls, but when I’m traveling, I don’t have a lot of time usually, and I’m not going just to make money, I like obviously creating and making pictures, but also making money is a part of this all that we have to acknowledge, as travel models. So if I get to do trade shoots wherever I go, I have to be very selective and pick one or two people max, because I can only travel for a few days compared to girls who are traveling for weeks. So I have to be very selective and be like, “okay, I want to pick this person cause I may not be back here for like six months and I really want to get to work with them.” That’s just my part of it, though. I know a lot of girls travel for weeks of time, so they could have a lot more time for trade, I’m sure they feel the same, as money takes priority, sadly. Which sucks.
Money is great, it just really sucks because there’s so many people I want to shoot with that would be trade, and that’s totally fine, I just don’t have the time, and I need to get there.
Yes. Although, I’d like a part-time job, too, it’s just difficult right now.
I don’t know, I’ve done office jobs in the past, and a waitress and a delivery driver, and my favorite thing was delivery driving, but I wouldn’t do that around here.
I don’t really know, I never really wanted to go to college, actually. It was kind of an appeasing my parents thing, and I was good at school, so I just went for it. I guess, hypothetically, I was thinking, “maybe I’ll go get a Masters and be a teacher,” which I could still do, but I never really had after-college degree goals, to be honest, beyond that.
I wanted to model or act since I was a child, actually, but I was never allowed to pursue it. And I lived in Pennsylvania, so it wasn’t really the place for it anyway. So once I graduated college, and was figuring out my own whatever I wanted to do, I discovered Tumblr at the same time, and found out about this… I never know what to call it… So I call it “Internet Modeling World,” which I feel like reduces it, but I don’t know what else to call it?
So I discovered that, and realized, “oh, this is something people do, and this would be really fun,” and just wormed my way into it in like a month or something. All by happenstance, there were no goals or plans here.
Between college and modeling? Just delivery driving. In a college town, so that was fun. (SARCASM FONT)
I’d say Model Mayhem more so, but a lot of people are now finding out about a lot of models on Tumblr, and going and contacting them elsewhere. So I feel like it’s equal amounts Tumblr and Model Mayhem, frankly. Model Mayhem is just a necessary evil contact point.
Sometimes. It seems in general, if people are on Tumblr, they’re a little more aware of the world, the little modeling world and community, and their work seems to be a little better, or progressed faster, something like that. Whereas there will be a lot of people on Model Mayhem that are just very stagnant, Guy With Cameras are all over the place there, which is not to say they’re not on Tumblr, but you know what I mean. There’s a lot of bad stuff on Model Mayhem. Like, really really bad. Like, legit porn companies are recruiting from Model Mayhem now.
Yeah, like Bang Bros is on there and will message people, which is funny.
Yeah, I would say for sure. Though it’s difficult to distinguish that some times, because for some photographers, they’ll have a shoot that’s pretty decent with a certain model, but then they are terrible with everyone else. So if there’s one good model, I’ll think, “oh, maybe it’s highly model dependent, so I could make something work, or something better, with this person because I know I can turn it on.” And then there’s just some people who’re just beyond hope. I never just don’t respond, I’m usually just honest and say, “I’m all booked,” or “I’m not interested right now, but I’ll let you know when I’m back.” I think everyone has a lower limit of quality that they’re willing to shoot with. Or not willing, that they’re wanting to shoot with…I’m trying not to offend anyone.
Yeah, that’s definitely a thing that happens. But then, the problem is afterwards, you have to deal with these bad pictures of you…being on the lower end of the scale, which is fine, photos being on Model Mayhem where no one will see them probably, because no one but travel models will visit that person’s portfolio. Or on Tumblr, which can be problematic, because there’s all the tags that people search through, and you’re like, “oh, well I don’t want pictures I don’t like in there.” It’s kind of a gamble if you do shoots like that, which is why a lot of us try to steer clear of ones we feel totally unhappy with.
Yeah, that’s how I feel about it. I avoid doing stuff just for money because I know I won’t feel good about the shoot anyway, because that just doesn’t feel good.
Exactly. It sucks because it is a “job,” but there’s this weird dichotomy that I feel a lot of people don’t see, we DO really like creating images, and it is really important to us to make art and to make interesting photos, but we gotta get paid.
Yeah. Widgets all day.
I thought they were the things people put on their Crocs, I don’t know if that used to happen when I was in college, and our trainers would wear these little decorations on them, in the holes.
Yeah, exactly. They would have little red crosses or bandaids cause they were…
Well, pretty cool in Rhode Island, so look out.
Oh hmm, well you guys are missing out.
Sometimes, I consider only because I give people a different impression. People think on Tumblr specifically that I’m crazy outgoing, überself-confident all the time, whatever. But maybe just from this call you can judge that I’m actually incredibly socially awkward, can’t maintain eye contact with people when I talk with them, I have a very difficult time speaking in public, etc. I have ehhhh…decent self-confidence, I’m doing okay, but I don’t think it’s all that people think it is. I don’t think I try to represent myself differently online, because I want people to have the closest analogue between real life and online that they can in their mind. I think I appear differently, sadly, sometimes. I still post depressing shit online so people know that I’m not just hunky-dory, so I think people see the real me a decent amount on there. I definitely seem more outgoing.
That’s how it really is.
I always apologize to people before I meet them in person if they aren’t a photographer. I’ve had people want to meet me when I travel, and I’ll say, “that’s cool, but just ahead of time, I’m really lame, I’ll probably look at the ground and not talk at all.”
Because they only see snippets of your life and personality, really, even though I live online and record a great deal of my life online, even into my personal life a lot. Even so, they only see 60% of what’s really going on. I feel like they take from that that I am just super-sassy, because I Am online a little bit, hyper-sex-crazy, submissive person: I think that’s what people take away from it because that’s what I post most about.
Probably, even if it’s unconsciously, because I know people like and feed off of more sexual posts, for instance, or more kink-oriented posts. So I’ll post more of that stuff, and then that view of me gets amplified, I guess.
Yeah, definitely. You probably don’t ever feel this way because you aren’t ever just shooting stuff for other people, I feel.
There we go! Exactly, so sometimes I’ll shoot shit and think, “yeah, Tumblr would like this.” It’s a picture of my ass or something, it’s never, “oh, it’s a beautiful picture of my butt!” So I definitely play to what the crowd wants a lot of the time.
Yes, and that is something I just thought about the other day. I shot a bunch of self-portraits where I didn’t really take any that focused on my butt, which was like, “yeah, I’m taking a stand!” Like a lot of face stuff, and was really into it, but they’re probably my favorite self-portraits. And that day I thought, “I shouldn’t always have to take pictures of me squeezing my butt!” So I’m trying to move myself forward with my self-portrait work. And hopefully into a studio, and away from sexualizing myself, because I feel like that’s what people want.
Yes and no? On the yes side, I just feel like I would pigeon-hole myself into a sexualized hole…ahahahhaha, you know what I mean. Because I get the response from people that they’re more interested in stuff like that, so I’ll post more of that, and that’s what makes money, also. I have my “Cam Damage” app thing, where I’ll post portrait work that I think is beautiful, and that will get one like, but then I post a picture of my ass getting grabbed, and that gets 20. Sometimes you have to do what people like to make more, or to get more noticed, but that could turn out to be detrimental. Because that could line up with what I don’t want to do.
I’m feeling more like that now. I probably wouldn’t have felt like that a few months ago, “they don’t give a shit, they’re just here to look at my ass!” Half of my followers are 16-year-old boys who probably saw one GIF of me jiggling my butt, and started following me! But with the self-portraits I just took the other day, there was a really overwhelming positive, way more than I expected. I feel if I go where I want to go, people will still like me, and still follow my work, despite me not constantly posting sexual shit, because it’s still going to be there. But I feel like you are right in that I can steer where this is going, without feeling like I’m being led by people and their wants.
Yeah okay, glad we established that. I was thinking it.
Not really. I guess I’m just always trying to contact certain people that I’ve wanted to work with since the beginning, and see where that goes. In my dreams I want to end up acting, but that’s probably not going to happen because I live in fucking Minneapolis, so it’s not really a great place for that.
I’ve talked to people about how to get into it. Basically, all I hear is go to auditions in New York or LA. I have always wanted to get an because it’s also been a goal to be a body double, I feel like I could be a good stand-in butt! That sounds like I’m totally joking, but I’m super serious.
It’s a thing, but I don’t know how to go about those things, so I just really need to do more research on my own. That would be where I would want to go, or just getting published more and getting my work published eventually…I don’t think very long-term.
Eh, it’s a difficult age, because it’s too old for a lot of people.
Yeah, I am not there. I’m doing a little better, but I don’t know. 25 is the cut-off for fashion agencies, that’s too old. And I’m too tall, technically, too.
You’re not supposed to be 6 foot, you’re supposed to be 5’11”. They told me to not list my stats as six foot, just five eleven.
I know, it’s really crazy. They all said that I would have to stop working out because my legs are too muscle-y. I will never be able to do agency stuff.
Yeah, and it’s a different type of focusing from agencies.
I really want to do more editorial stuff in general, which is such a super-general term for photo shoots. I feel that could be anything in studio with dramatic lighting, fashion motion stuff, or I want to just shoot at the beach, or cool outdoor location stuff where it’s not just about me making S-curves with my body, or stuff like that. More me getting to actually move and be instead of going through the 20-pose repertoire that all traveling models have in their arsenal. That gets really old relying on.
No? Everyone knows! Hahaha. It’s fine to do shoots that are…I like doing art model shoots, and “bodyscape” shoots, but it gets old after awhile. I just really want to move on to more fashion and editorial stuff. It’s just hard to break into that when you, again, live in Minneapolis.
I’m not sure. Right now, I want to be here for a while. I’m here at least for a year, right now, because of therapy obligations.
A bit, in the way that, well for one thing I had always wanted to be a model but I was never allowed to be, so now I’m like, “I’m doin’ it, Mom!”
That will be the headline! I don’t want to say it’s…I don’t know how else to word it, but say it’s not a daddy-issues thing, which is one of my least favorite terms. It’s more a reclaiming myself thing, where I’m getting to do what I want to do with my body and person, because growing up I had to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do to please other people. Basically this is the first thing in my life that I’ve done that I chose myself to do and pursued really.
Yeah, yeah exactly. That’s where we’re going, it’s taken a while. And continues to.
Yes, I really enjoy doing that, and like doing shoots like that because I’m experienced at it, so I feel like I’m semi-educating people. But conversely, I don’t like it because I open up to doing shoots like that, everyone thinks they can ask me to do stuff like that, and I am not open to giving shoots of that content with everyone. I have to feel decently comfortable with you. So it leaves people to assume that I’m going to do it for anyone, which is not the case. Or because I’m submissive, that means I’m going to…the joke is always, “so I get to order you around now?” And it’s like, no, you fucking don’t. And that happens, not frequently, but that has happened a handful of times. So people just become a bit presumptuous when you put yourself out there in that way, I guess. Just being a nude model, you’re adding another level of openness and vulnerability to it that people can take the wrong way.
Not really. Sometimes I regret shooting so much in a certain way, like shooting submissive stuff with people, I wish I would’ve kept it a little bit more selective maybe, which I’ve done a pretty good job at. But in the beginning, I wore a tail for some shoots, which not many other people were doing then, but now a lot of girls are, which I’m really happy about, because now photographers have other people they can shoot with tails in their butts! But when I first started doing that, everyone was like, “can I shoot with that tail in your butt?” and it was just like, no, because then there will be 50 people with pictures of a tail in my ass.
It’s gotta be. There’s like one person I would shoot that with now.
Exactly, of people knowing there’s a butt plug attached to fur in my butt.
It was like weird people with dungeons.
I think it may just be that’s how it is so that’s how it comes off. I think that, maybe it’s unconscious because a lot of on Tumblr, obviously there’s a huge BDSM community, and while some of it’s great, a lot of it is this gross, weird portrayal of it where Doms are like…I don’t know, scary? And doesn’t seem consensual, and they’re gross; they’re the weird guys who comment on pictures of models that aren’t necessarily sexual and you’re just like “eh.” So people get this idea from Tumblr about BDSM that it’s this weird scary thing with these gross dudes in charge, so I feel, as someone that’s in a real relationship of that nature, that I…it’s not a responsibility, but it’s important that I portray it in a more realistic sense. And not just what people see in porn, because the porn side of BDSM, while awesome, is very hardcore, and I think it scares people sometimes. I really enjoy it, but I can understand how people from the outside would think, “woah, geez.” So it’s important that people see the home-play aspect of it, and that we’re not just people in dungeons getting beat until we’re crying, which does happen sometimes. There’s a lot of loving and caring that goes into it all, and it’s more about fun than anything.
Eh, not really.
I wouldn’t say so, because I don’t try to sugarcoat stuff, or pretend that I’m doing better than I am, and I’ve always been open with life struggles on there, well, not as open as other stuff, but I talk about stuff on there.
I don’t know if it’s that I feel it’s important, in fact sometimes I feel like people are going to have the adverse reaction, which they do. Sometimes people will say, “I don’t give a shit about your emotions, I’m here to look at you naked.” I’ve gotten that message several times before. I know I’m not the only model; there are a lot of models who post about their feelings and will get “shut up, bitch” in reply. So I’ll be wary of that when I’m making personal posts, I’ll always post things and add, “I’ll probably delete this, no one wants to read this blah blah blah.” But I’ll still post stuff that’s personal, regardless of that. But I always think of it as a way to weed out bad followers. If people don’t want to read my personal stuff, or are bothered by it, I’m like, “you shouldn’t be following me anyway, and you’re probably here for the wrong reasons.”
I thoroughly enjoy finding really good GIF responses to them, and making a joke out of it for the most part.
Why are people being mean to you? That’s weird.
You don’t do anything exclamatory at all, why would people be mean to you?
Yeah, well I guess in terms of the question of armoring myself, that’s exactly what I think. When people are really mean, I’m like wow, what’s going on in your life? Because I’ve never sought someone out on the internet and sent an anonymous mean message, that’s never even really crossed my mind as a thing to do. So when people do that, I just think, “wow what must be going on that you sought out this person on the internet and had to send them a mean message?” Makes it easy to not internalize it. People make fun of my body, which is hilarious to me, that’s not a problem. When people make fun of me for being flat I’m like, “yeah, I know. I know it’s there, I live with it, it’s fine.”
Yeah, like I’m supposed to realize “OHMIGOD I AM FLAT?!” No, that doesn’t…meh. I think people would try and make fun of my relationship stuff, but also that has no effect, I don’t know.
Yes, definitely. Even in terms of body confidence stuff alone, it’s been, yeah, turnaround experience.
I really am dying to do a beach one.
No. And I was going to say, that’s maybe because I’m landlocked in Minnesota where it’s been –6 degrees. But I keep seeing other models who have been traveling do beach pictures recently, and I’m just like oh god, I wanna go to there… So that would be fun.
I was born in San Diego, so I’m a little salty about not being in California.
I was a Navy brat, so we moved…it was actually California, to North Carolina, to Pennsylvania.
It’s really depressing, especially for my family, cause they went from Guam to Hawaii to California, and it just kept going downhill.
Yeah, I definitely want to do that a lot more actually. I have a studio at my disposal that I’m learning to use. I haven’t started that at all yet, but I really want to learn studio lighting and how to do that. I want to save up to get a new camera eventually, but I just want to shoot other people. I still find it incredibly nerve-wracking to shoot people who aren’t me. I shot Roarie Yum recently, and was just…I couldn’t focus. I got like 5 or 6 pictures out of it, because I’m not very good at the technical aspects, and my camera sucks. I have a Canon Rebel from when Andre Agassi was the spokesperson.
Yeah, it’s a really old digital camera.
I know, every time I say that I’m like, I shouldn’t be talking it down this much because it’s still a good digital camera that works, but it is ancient, in terms of digital cameras. But it gets the job done. I would really like to get further with my photography, and do self-published stuff, and have a catalog of work of myself that I’m really proud of, that aren’t just self-shots in my bedroom of me squeezing my butt.
Yeah, that’s true. There’s like one of three people that could be at any given time.