I know as I type this blog it is going to cause a lot of controversy. But it was a long time coming. I also know that I will receive a lot of backlash because of it, but you know what? I don't care. It is something that needed to be discussed.
Photography has been around for almost 200 years in that time, everything and anything that can possibly be photographed has, from spectactular sunsets to awe inspiring landscapes. A baby's face to a flowing Valentino creation. Guess what, people? Nothing in photography is truly, truly original, which is the reason for writing this blog.
Photographers go through life viewing the world with their eyes. We see things that triggers emotions inside of us that forces our creative juices to bubble and froth and produce images that we as artist think are original, beautiful and one of a kind. Then you come to find out, that no, it isn't original, it isn't one of kind, however, it is yours.
Back in July, a wonderful California model (Milan Christopher) flew into town for a few short days and I got the inevitable call of "Dallas, I'm here, let's do this!!!!!" I rose to the occassion and I thought to myself; "just what am I going to do with this young man." I thought about it and lamented and in my quest to find something to do with him, I came across an beautiful Herb Ritts photograph where Naomi Campell is wrapped in black fabric that is blowing in an invisible wind. I loved it. I thought to myself; "that's a hot idea. Let me get some fabric."
Photographer: Herb Ritts
I thought about Milan's beautiful dark complexion and I thought about which color would go against him. I chose red. I set up the shoot, I shot it, I was was proud of it, and I posted it. Then, the fun began.
The first comment came from a model named Mike Mizzle. He says "damn, I know that imitation is a form of flattery, but couldn't you be original?" I asked myself "where did that come from?" Then I saw his image (he was photographed similarly by Tarrice Love just two week's prior - however, it wasn't until I posted this image that I realized this). The similarities? Black male models, entombed in flowing fabric.
Photographer: Tarrice Love
Model: Mike Mizzel
That was where the similarities stopped. Eventually it became a barrage of nasty slinging comments from Tarrice Love supporters as well as Dallas J. Logan supporters and all I wanted to do was produce a beautiful image. Does it look like Mr. Love's image, that is for you to decide. Did I look to Mr. Love for inspiration, no. But the ruckus this image caused almost made me want to shut this whole production down (and I am glad I didn't). I wasn't going to allow myself to be bullied into altering my artistry, because someone else thought something different about it. A piece of fabric and a fan and a model is not original. I wasn't the first to do it, and neither was Mr. Love (I can guarantee you that even Ritts wasn't the first to do it, either) and neither will we be the last. But it is amazing how such a simple concept caused such nonsensical uproar.
I know one thing it did prompt me to do. A series. And because of that series, it has now been commissioned into an exhibit. Adversity is the building blocks of strength.
Model: Milan Christopher
Model: Paulo Pascoal
Model: Rumando Kelley
There will be more to come.