Thursday, March 19, 2009


This entry was a long time in the making (at least since the inception of this blog) and I never knew exactly what to talk about when this model came to mind. Mind you, when I first met her, she wasn't a model. She was booker with Ikon Models. She is also officially my first success story. Can I say that I discovered her? I doubt it, but I will let you be the judge of that. I will, however, take credit for launching her career. This model's name is Donna Taylor. She is from Springfield, Ohio (where the hell is that?).

Let me tell you how she and I came to meet. I scheduled a test shoot with her boyfriend at the time (Kent Edwards) and he did the absolute horrible faux pas of asking "can I bring my girlfriend along? Maybe you can get some shots of her." Models, please let me bring something to your attention: never bring another person along on your shoot in hopes a photographer will photograph them. It is unprofessional. It is tacky and it shows a lack of respect. I am soooooo glad he did.

Kent Edwards is a wonderful commercial model based out of New York and he and I were in negotations for a test shoot. When he asked if he can bring his girlfriend along, I of course asked was she a model (at the time the answer was no). He said she was very pretty and I reluctantly said yes. I did, however, asked for a photograph to be emailed to me.

The email arrived and my stylist and I sat in front of my computer to see just what kind of woman would be accompanying Mr. Edwards for his shoot. To sum it up in a single word: hideous. The image was of a young girl wearing a black hoody with her face twisted up in a comical grimace for the camera. The scenery could've been anyone of your franchised restaurants (think TGIF, Ruby Tuesdays, etc.) I turned to my stylist and said, "what the hell are we going to do with her?" He replied sardonically, "it's your shoot" and walked away unimpressed.

They arrived to my studio, Saturday, July 27th. It was a beautiful summer day. Emerging from the car was Kent and he extended his hand to help out his girlfriend. In a word, she was stunning. At that point I really didn't want to shoot Kent. It was all about his girlfriend.

We did a simple beauty shoot. No bells no whistles, but her command of the camera was amazing. She took direction and criticism very well. We also did some GAP like black and white photos. She knew her limitations and she knew that she would never be anyone's supermodel and she knew that she would never be the new face for Burberry, but she is a great commercial find.

She was even comfortable shooting nudes (at least with me)...

I have to say, she was an absolute rare find. From that shoot she's booked quite a few jobs. To date, she's booked Palmer's Skin Care, Sephora, Benefit Cosmetics, Lancome Cosmetics. Essence Magazine, Modern Salon Magazine, Rockefeller Plaza, Coca Cola/Walmart Commercial, Divine Bradley Collection, Clearvision Optical, Harlem 125, John Legend's Video "Everybody Knows" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic" motion picture. To say that Donna is a busy bee would be an understatement.

So, Donna, are you currently a full time model?
It's becoming that way. I've been averaging about 6 castings a week

How did you land the Palmer's campaign?
I heard that they were looking for women, so I submitted the new images that you had just shot of me. This was a MAJOR casting and all the top agencies were working on it, so I didn't think I had a chance. They called me into audition, and I didn't even have a comp card. I got extremely nervous and decided 10 minutes before that I wasn't going. My coworker insisted that I suck it up, so I stood in from of a panel of 6 in my bikini (sooo not in shape) while the photographer took snapshots and videotaped me. I left relieved..but didn't think there was a chance in hell I had gotten it; I saw some of the names on the sign in sheet and knew I couldn't compete with them. A week went by and they called to tell me I booked the job!

Now that you are on the “other side” of the industry. Do you feel different towards models, now that you are one?
I haven't gotten used to being referred to as a "model." I have sympathy for the girls now that I'm running all around town trying to juggle a hectic schedule and still meet with demanding clients.

How was it shooting the "Everybody Knows" video? Tell us how you landed that job.
The John Legend video was fun. I saw it come through on "Breakdowns" which is a system agents use to submit talent. There was a role for real couples, so I submitted myself and Kent. We went to the audition and they loved us together. I'm good friends with John and his brothers, so being on set was great because I got to hang out with them all day. People tease me and think that John hand selected me, or someone set it up...but we really auditioned just like everyone else. It was an honest coincidence.

If there was anything you can change about the modeling industry (from your point of view, of course), what would it be?
Wow....there's a lot I would change. I feel sorry for these girls that go through the mental anguish of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. I could go deeper into the psychological aspect, but I'll refrain til next time.

Are there any models that you look up to?
It was never a dream of mine to model, so I didn't follow the lives of anyone inparticular. However, when I was younger, I loved Supermodel Niki Taylor. She has always been so naturally beautiful and full of personality.

What is the hardest thing you ever had to do being a model?
I did a live body painting at Club Duvet. I was up on stage naked while and artist painted all over me. I was really nervous at first, but after standing in the same position for an hour until my body went tumb....I didn't care anymore, I just wanted to go home.

Are there any photographers (living or dead) that you would love to shoot with?
Doesn't every girl want to be shot by Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber?

If you had a chance to do it all again, would you have still shot with Dallas?
Uh....YEAH! Dallas is THE MAN!!!!!

Complete this phrase. Modeling to me is….
... A form of self expression and escape.

Model:  Donna
My all-time favorite pic. This image was my very first one, and has been my money maker.

Model:  Donna
I love this image because I amost look "Angelic". It shows my curves and my face looks sweet.

Model:  Donna Taylor
This image is hottt! Love my mouth and the gaze in my eyes

This was my first tear sheet with Benefit/Sephora

My first major job...which was shot about a week after Dallas took my first headshot

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Oh my God. Can I say that again? Oh my God. One more time. OH. MY. GOD. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can continue.

I vowed that when I started this blog, I would do my damnedest to update it at least once a week. I had visions of a calm Sunday evening with my favorite herbal tea, typing away my weekly anecdotes for those of you who actually take the time to read them. Witty sayings, insightful outlooks, fond memories. Nice, right? Well needless to say, my LAST post was a month ago about the illustrious Mr. Bermudez. I don't have to say it, but I've dropped the proverbial ball.

This past month has been filled with campaign shoots, cattle calls, castings, scoutings, magazine shoots, new faces, old faces, bad faces and good faces. So in between my hectic scheduling of my 9 to 5 (yes, I am STILL working a 9 to 5, President Obama hasn't handed me my bailout check yet) and having shoots, Dallas has been a very busy man. Thus, the "Oh my God" statement at the opening of this blog.

I guess a lot of you are now saying; "Okay, Dallas, get to the point. What tasty morsel can I get from this entry?" Well, I will get to that. I just wanted to justify why this entry was a loooooooooooooong time coming.

Cattle Call:
What is a cattle call, you may ask. My crew and I totally understand the downturn of our econcomic enviroment. We took it upon ourselves to offer a portfolio building special. You would receive a complete professional photoshoot with hair, makeup, styling and retouching all for 200.00. How my crew and I walked away with any money is we had to book a lot of people for the day. When I say a lot, we got a lot. I had the shoot two weeks ago and I am still editing photos. I am not complaining, it is part of the job. The sad thing would've been if NO ONE turned out for the event. So, my crew walked away with a little money, the models walked away with some photos and we are building our reputation out there putting out a good product. The reason we call it a "cattle call" is; once I posted the flyer for this special, EVERYONE came out the woodwork. Everyone. Were there any modeling gems in that call? Could be. You will have to wait and find out, now won't you?

Nuovo Magazine:
While that was going on, Mr. Duval (Editor-In-Charge of Nuovo Magazine) places a wonderful nugget in my lap. He informed me that the last shoot I did for him (The Unsigned Beauty) was a success (personally, I don't know what is meant by that), but he did say that the pictorial was well received, to the point that people wanted to know if it will be showcased again. Mr. Duval asked me if I would do it again. And not only do it again, but make it a monthly addition to his magazine. That was an incredible shot in the arm. He gave me complete carte-blanche over the models, the story line, the photos. All I have to do is meet his monthly deadline. So, of course, me getting this information mid-month, I had to do castings and locate models worthy of that title. Be on the lookout for it in Nuovo magazine (

JS Dirty International:
JS Dirty International is an underwear line put out by designer/model/photographer Jeffrey Salomon. It is a new line with sexy under wear (both tops and bottoms) for men and women. The line is approximately a year or so old and can already be found in fine boutiques. Mr. Salomon approached me about shooting his new campaign and he wanted it done like very sexy slumber party. Guess what? More castings. More meetings. More shootings. We've already received a two page spread advertisement in next months Bleu Magazine. Be on the look out for that and I will be showing images in the future.

Whew. I think I've covered just about everything that has taken place in the past month. But trust me when I say that I will go into explicit details in the future with all the above mentioned shoots. The good, the bad and the ugly of it all. But let's get down to the reason for this blog.

Sean Smith - Subway Model:
I've discussed in a previous blog (Gatekeeper to the Gods) that we (we meaning people in the modeling/fashion industry) are always on the lookout for the next best face. The new Tyson, the new Kate, the new Naomi. We all want to take the credit of "discovering" the next new face. Some photographers have some unbelievable luck at doing so (think Shameer Khan, think Tarrice Love). They have the ability of walking into a fastfood restaurant, a clothing store, a laundromat and finding that fresh new face. I, alas, don't possess that kind of magic and I often wanted to know why.

When you get into photography, you sometimes have to separate your photographer's eye from your personal eye and look at people in a plain and simple state. There are a lot of good looking men and women out there, but not all of them can be models. They just don't have that "it" factor that will translate to the fashion industry. It could be something as simple as having too short of a neck. Looks are pretty, but pedestrian. Eyes may be too close together. They may be a little too fleshy. Needless to say, something is "off" and not necessarily in a bad way. Just the way God's genetics have put them together to say "I cannot make you too perfect, so here is YOUR imperfection." And once you've placed your personal eye aside (which is the first eye that is always used), you start looking with your photographer's eye and you quickly realize that people start falling far from the mark.

However, there does come a time when you are in the right place at the right time and you do come across that face that maybe.... just maybe has the it factor. You sized it up with your personal eye and then you put on your photographer's eye. Height? Check. Weight? Check. Proportions? Check. Looks? Check. They seemed to be in order. Then you have to go deeper. Eye spacing? Check. Ear placement? Check. Cheek bones, jaw line, neck to shoulder ratio, the list can go on and on and all of these check points have to happen within nanoseconds, because you may be in a situation where you have to take the bull by the horns and make that move and approach this person, or are you going to say nevermind.

I always found myself to be the nevermind character. I was never one to approach a person in the streets. I've been fortunate enough to have models come search me out, however, as of late, I do carry my portfolio around whereever I go, because I never want to be in a situation of approaching a potential model and say; "I think you have a great look. I would love to photograph you." For some this approach may work, for me, I feel as if I am a perveted pedophile. Now, if I come across a face that I like, I can produce my portfolio (and/or compcard) and say "hi, I am a photographer. Have you ever thought about modeling before?" And for the first time, ladies and gentlemen, I did just that. I approached my first new face. Some of you may not agree, but I know one thing: this is my first step into this arena, so as my photographer's eye gets better, my models may as well, but first time out the box, I must say I am pleased.

Picture this: January 21, 2009 I am coming from a magazine photoshoot and I am on a photographer's high. For those of you who don't understand this, it comes when you have this amazing shoot. Everything was perfect. The model(s), the makeup, the styling, the hair, the lighting and the magic of the whole shoot just comes together. You leave the studio floating. You want to go and just look at the images over and over again, because you know you've recorded hotness. Well, it was exactly that feeling I had when I went home from this shoot. As I stepped on the Manhattan bound L train, I scanned the train for a seat and I see a young black male with a hoodie on his head. As I get on the train, he glances up to see the subway stop. It was only an instant, but wait, did I see piercing eyes? Did I see chisled features? Did I see cheekbones? I don't know. He put his head back down and the hoodie draped his face in complete darkness. In that one instant my entire high was blown because now the photographer's eye has taken over and I wanted to make sure that I saw what I thought I saw. What happens most times is you see someone in a glance, and you think it will be something good, and then you get a second appreciative look and you go; "nevermind." I was between the first glance and the second appreciative look and all I could do is wait for him to raise his head. And I waited.

This was a first for me. I took out my portfolio and a compcard and I waited patiently. I positioned myself on the train so if and when (please be when) he looked up, I could get a full view of his face and by the grace of God, the next subway stop, he looked up and I was able to get a full long look at his face and yes, in the second look, I was able to determine his features in that nanosecond. He glanced up, looked at the subway, glanced at me and then proceeded to put his head down.

Now I think I better put in some of the other elements into play, because this is playing out like a scene from the Matrix franchise. As if no one else was on the train, and everything was in suspended animation. No, that wasn't the case at all. I wasn't alone. I was with the stylist from the shoot, my assistant, a model and a few other people. We were all high from the shoot and were talking. This eventually prompted the young man to raise his head and look at all of us. My assistant noticed my photographer's eye go into play and I said "I like his look." At that point my assistant approached him with my portfolio. His name? Sean Smith.

He looked at my portfolio and was very unimpressed. Most people outside of the industry would be. You would say "nice pictures." Which is what he said. He also said "I am not a model."

"You have a great look. I would love to photograph you." I can say this now, because I had my book in hand. He took my card and I thought to myself: well, at least I tried.

One month later (literally). I received an email stating: "You may not remember me, but I am the guy you met on the train. I am not a model but if you want to take some pictures, I'm down." I had him in the studio the very next day.

Now at this point I was able to take full grasp of his looks. 6 feet tall, approximately 160lbs, chiseled features. Everything I saw on the train was correct. Great features, good eyes, great proportions. Now, what is he like in front of the camera?

In a phrase: he NAILED it. He was so comfortable in front of the camera, it prompted me to ask; "have you ever done this before?" He responded with a shaking of the head and said "no."

We continued to a point I said, "Don't have me shop these pictures around and people say to me 'Dallas, you don't know who this is?'" Needless to say, he had an incredible connection with the camera, he photographed well and wore clothing well.

I can't promise that he will become the next supermodel and I can't promise that you will ever see him again, but if I have my way, you most certainly will.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... Sean Smith.

New Model?  Sean Smith

New Model?  Sean Smith

New Model?  Sean Smith

New Model?  Sean Smith

P.S. I promise to be more diligent with my entries.