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.
My all-time favorite pic. This image was my very first one, and has been my money maker.
I love this image because I amost look "Angelic". It shows my curves and my face looks sweet.
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