How diverse modelling agency founder Romany Francesca stays creative at home

As part of photographer Jasmine Engel-Malone’s ongoing project, ‘Girls at Home’, her most recent creative collaboration is with Rare Select Models founder Romany Francesca. In this photo series, Engel-Malone is shining a light on women's spaces where they feel most comfortable, aiming to capture the beauty in creative freedom. In the latest series, she follows modelling agency founder and photographer Francesca, who is on a mission to bridge the gap for greater representation in media.

How would you describe your creative practice?

I am a London-based photographer, specialising in portraiture within fashion, music, art, and culture. From this, I naturally transitioned into casting for audience-targeted visual campaigns and commercials which was the catalyst for developing my modelling agency – Rare Select Models.

When starting your modelling agency in 2017, Rare Select Models, what gap did you aim to fill in the industry?

I started Rare Select Models in 2017 whilst in my 2nd/3rd year of Uni, University of the Arts London. As part of my course, we looked at the various ways digital forms of media influenced our society. Alongside my hobby, at the time, as a photographer fascinated with the stories people would tell through their portraits. I saw a disparity between the diverse people I was photographing and what we saw every day via the digital forms of media I was analysing for Uni. As a British-born Nigerian heritage girl, I thought it was important to see more people like myself across the media as well as other people from marginalised groups. Whether that be ethnicity, age, gender identification, sexuality, and people with impairments, physical or otherwise.

How did you get into photography and what was that journey like for you?

I got into photography when I was quite young, like 7/8, where I would document family gatherings and little weekly vlogs before the youtube era we know today. I studied it loosely through school and college as it wasn’t an art form that held much importance within the curriculum back then. Attending UAL definitely helped to concrete my passion and interest in photography – that allowed for not only the practical side of taking images but the theory behind it. As an introvert and only child, I love to people-watch and see how people from different walks of life interact with each other, create space for one another, and form connections. Documenting that has always been such a beautiful gift to me. 

What has been one of your favourite projects so far?

My favourite project so far is yet to be released – but I can’t wait to share, it’s going to be good!

What are the things that make you feel creatively inspired?

I feel creatively inspired when I’m around new people, new faces, and new stories. Learning about the society and world we live in always encourages new creative work and ideas, especially as my creative craft is so heavily reliant on people.

What do you do if you’re in a creative rut?

I have been journaling quite a lot to understand what’s blocking me creatively and then I can decipher what tools will aid the progression of my creative juices.

What does your day-to-day routine look like?

At the moment, I am working on about 5-10 different projects a day so my diary and scheduling out my time by the hour is essential. This process is done at about 7 am every morning after some tea and meditative work. Then I just crack on really with regular breaks to re-centre and not feel misaligned or overwhelmed. Taking a step back for 10-20 mins allows for reflection and gratitude for a small task you’ve accomplished in that hour.

Do you have a productivity hack?

I’d say planning out a schedule by the hour before you start your day so there leaves very little room for procrastination or forgetting what task you should do next. With structure comes balance. 

What do you do to celebrate your career successes?

I have only recently learned to celebrate my successes! So, it would be to meet up with my friends and do fun activities. Simple but heart-warming things with the people I love who have supported me along the way.

Where do you see your creativity taking you? What’s next for you?

The next steps are definitely connecting with more people internationally. Creating community on a larger scale and really adding to the positive changes we are starting to see in the creative industry.

PhotographerJasmine Engel-Malone