Cari and Lila Flowers

Lila Flowers (12) and Cari Flowers (11) stand side-by-side in front of a white backdrop, smiles wide and brilliant, hair catching the wind, generated by a fan, at just the right angle to lift it. A photographer rapidly snaps shots, photo assistants adjust overwhelmingly bright lights and creative directors, managers and agents look on, arms crossed and hands on their chins, watching critically but approvingly.

In a movie, the scene would be a quick, painless photo shoot full of drama and panning video clips. But according to Lila, modeling is far from quick. Or painless.

“There’s shoots for lots of different kinds of things, so that [determines] how long it is,” Lila said. “I’ve had two-hour shoots, but … I’ve also had 10-hour shoots. For me, the average is about six hours for a shoot.”

Lila began modeling three years ago after she was scouted by No Ties Management, a modeling agency based in downtown San Diego. But, this was not the first time she was approached with suggestions to start modeling.

“I’ve had people tell me that I should [model] just because I was always tall, super skinny, just from my metabolism,” Lila said. “I’ve had people give me little business cards for agencies … but I was just super young at the time and very much not in the state to start modeling.”

For Cari, who signed with No Ties Management six months ago, there was a different barrier: braces. She often accompanied her sister to shoots without being able to model herself.

“I honestly thought that modeling was the stupidest thing when I was younger, and when [Lila] got scouted I was like, ‘Wow, that’s going to be super boring for her,’” Cari said. “But I went to a couple of her shoots and I saw it actually happen, and I [thought], ‘Oh, that’s actually kind of cool.’”

A photo shoot, where hair and makeup alone take an hour and a half, is not always be as routine as it seems, according to Lila.

“You can start with one look, and then you go and change your hair and makeup and you wear another look,” Lila said. “Or you keep the same hair and makeup, and you’re changing clothes all the time. It’s really different [each time].”

Cari said that even the locations of shoots drastically differ.

“One time, I showed up, and it was in a big studio, and everything was super professional,” Cari said. “And one time, I showed up, and we got ready in an RV. You honestly don’t know what to expect.”

Lila and Cari both work at Brandy Melville in Pacific Beach, so much of their modeling is done for the store. They have done shoots for Hollister, Urban Decay, Claire’s, Pura Vida Bracelets and other local, “up-and-coming” companies, Cari said. They describe their style as simply “relaxed, casual and easy-going.”

For Lila, modeling has turned into a passion that will continue after high school. She recently signed a contract with DNA, a New York City-based modeling agency, and will move there to try to make a go of New York modeling.

“[DNA] is [the] number one [modeling agency] in New York, which is cool because New York is the fashion hub of the United States,” Lila said. “Eventually, once this starts to slow down, I’m going to try to balance my schedule and obviously go back to school, but I’m really excited about [modeling in New York].”

For Cari, who still has a year before graduating from TPHS, the future is still uncertain — she does not know yet whether she will follow her sister in the modeling industry.

“I wanted to be a marine biologist, but when I started modeling I saw a different aspect of everything,” Cari said. “I still don’t really know what I want to do.”

Like many jobs that seem glamorous, modeling combines the exciting with the mundane, the perception with the reality. Lila and Cari Flowers have front row seats to it all.