Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Ebony Retouch (Before and After)
Model: Ebony Sade
Class: Beauty Retouch 1o1
Instructor: Dallas J. Logan

This will be my last official entry for the year of 2009 and what a year it has been. It has been about personal growth, change and learning about myself. The new year will bring new challenges and one that's been coming to me is in the form of teaching. A talented and wise colleague of mine (and an AMAZING photographer I might add [please look him up - Joe Wigfall]) said to me when I first embarked on this wonderous journey; "you will be teaching soon. It is just a matter of time." I laughed at his comment never thinking in a million years that anyone would want to come to me to learn anything, because, I, myself, am in constant learning mode.

One question later, one assistant later, one protege and now I stand at the precipice of the possibility of teaching and I am scared. Not scared that I don't know what I am talking about. Trust me, I know what I am doing, and if I didn't know something, trust and believe I will ask. But as I look at soooooooooo many talented photographers around me and I study their lighting, their composition, their post production and all the while going "how do they do that?" The question(s) are now being thrown to me. How do I do what I do?

In an honest answer? I don't know. I just know what I do comes from the inside and once I tried to show/explain/teach I realize that I could not. Because, in all honesty, you cannot teach photography.

That was the very first words out of my mentor's mouth. "I cannot teach you photography. No one can." I was perplexed by that comment. I see you produce beautiful photos time and time again. I see you light a shot time and time again and I see you develop both film and digital time and time again, so what do you mean you cannot teach me photography? His reply. "I can teach you how to operate your camera. Everything else is up to you."

And that he did. And today it makes sense. Whenever anyone approaches me about photography, I cannot teach them. I can show them how their camera works to achieve a particular image, but I cannot tell them how to capture magic. To capture that defining moment. To make an awe inspiring image. You cannot teach that. That comes from within. That's like asking Leonardo da Vinci "how did you get the mouth on the Mona Lisa to look like that? Teach me."

Am I comparing myself to da Vinci? Not hardly. It is just an analogy to artistry. There's been times I've been in a photosession and the model is in hair and makeup and I am setting up lights, then I look at the model and I go "no, this light isn't going to work for her" while she is still being prepped. There's been times when I've had models getting prepped and walked in front of me and I've had to do complete lighting changes, because what I conceived in my head and the artistry of my makeup artist and hair stylist has put before me will not "connect." Or when I look at the face of a female model and say to myself "I have to light you like a guy." I know this on the inside of my core, but to stand in front of photographic neophytes and try to teach this is impossible.

Can I teach lighting? Yes, of course I can. No, let me rephrase that. I cannot teach lighting per se, but I can teach what light does. I can teach the rudiments of what a beauty dish does, what a softbox does, what a parabolic umbrella does. Practically any photographer can teach that, but what I cannot teach is why I would use one over the other in a particular case. Why hard light would work in one instance, but not in another. Honestly, no one can. That is something that you're going to have to pick up and figure out on your own.

So when you decide to approach a photographer and asks for lessons, understand exactly what you're asking, because odds are he/she will not be able to teach you anything, but the mechanics of photography or lighting or post production.

Have a happy and safe new year. I hope to see you in class.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I bet you didn't think I would be writing yet another entry before year's end. Well guess what? Fooled you!!! Seriously, this entry was honestly written in October. I was just putting on the finishing pieces so I can now release it. Just in time for the Christmas Holidays!!!! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Adha Zelma.

I had the wonderful fortune of photographing the new and exciting collection of Adha Zelma's jewelry known as "Rock and Bone". It's bold, vivacious, colorful and beautiful. It names means just that, the collection is an amalgamation of beautiful semi precious stones, animal bones, exotic feathers all in an amazing webbing of precious metals. It is eye catching as well as breathtaking and once you've seen an Adha Zelma creation, you will never forget it.

... Especially for those who love to adorn themselves, Adha Zelma is a jewelry line that connects you to your power and sensuality....

When one does a search for Adha Zelma, the above quote will appear in one of the entries. What does that mean? ... connects you to your power and sensuality....? I decided to find out more about this beautiful and amazing line belonging to Brooklyn's own Sheanan Bond and Cherise TrahanMiller.

Upon reading the profile link in their website (, you can get a gist of exactly what this dynamic duo is all about:

... Adha Zelma is an audacious and distinctly international, jewelry line created by long time best friends Sheanan Bond and Cherise TrahanMiller.

Inspired by world culture their line blends edge and elegance. The designs reflect a distinctively sexy yet sophisticated point of view. Adha Zelma experiments with traditional adornment concepts and reinterprets through a modern eye.

Each piece is handcrafted and, therefore, each is one of a kind. Themes include earth, air, fire and water.

Adha Zelma created the accessory line for MTV’s Spring Break Fashionably Loud in Cancun, Creations have also been featured by Dirty Girl Productions, worn by Jennifer Lopez, Ananda Lewis, Rosie Perez, Keri Hilson and celebrity make-up artist Scott Barnes.
All pieces are created in the Adha Zelma studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Just what makes this jewelry amazing... Let's ask the designers.

How long have you been designing jewelry and what is the process to how a Adha Zelma piece is designed?

I have been designing since I was about eight years old. It all started with my first doll, who I thought was quite boring. So I deconstructed her clothes and created a pair of earrings and a necklace for her. My designs are centered on bringing elements of traditionalism into the modern world, while allowing spirit to flow organically through the designs. Sometimes there is a specific design in mind and other times there is not.

As I see your colleciton grow and change you gone from "Rio" to "Aria" to "Rock and Bones" explain to us the transformation and the inspiration.

Rio came about on a rainy day in Brazil, the foliage, Ipanema, carnival, the colors, the spices and the history. The city had truly transcended me to another place on earth and that collection is the manifestation of that trip. I was inspired by a simple raindrop falling from a leaf, the color of the ocean and the relaxed nature of the city.

The transformation to Aria happened when I realized that a great deal of the pieces I design, sing when worn and are often quite light like air... hence, Aria. Just like arias over time, the collection moved from simple melodies into structured forms, which became the Aria collection.

The latest collection, Rock & Bone was inspired by the Papua; each tribe has its own beliefs and the people recognize spirits, deities, totems and ancestors unique to their clans. The Papua use a great deal of teeth and bone in their jewelry, worn as a remembrance and as a way to attract spiritual power. The Jivaro was also a huge inspiration. A variety of myths have been passed down through the generations to explain the origins of the Jivaro people. In one story, the Andean foothills were subject to a severe flood, killing all but two brothers. When the waters receded and the brothers returned to their shelter, they found dishes of food laid out for them by two parrots. One of the brothers caught one of the gift-bearing parrots and married her. This is where the inspiration for the use of feathers came into play. To bring in a modern twist I started thinking about what we as a culture see as deities, the Gods and Goddesses of Rock, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Betty Davis. These are just a few artists who have influenced the collection.

As a woman, when you look at jewelry (your own and others), what exactly draws you to it?

Before written language, or the spoken word, there was jewelry. I am often lured by my desire to capture the essence of beauty, to posses its secrets, and to unlock its mysteries. It is funny because I am actually quite shy and what often draws me to a piece of jewelry is anything that draws attention to you. I look for jewelry that is bold, and that makes a statement.

What determines the materials used in making your jewelry?

I am interested in the balance of nature and explore material that represents earth, air, fire and water. I enjoy incorporating materials used traditionally for adornment like leather, feathers, snakeskin, minerals and bone, while mixing modern elements such as 24k gold electroplated Czech Charlottes.

Some people find jewelry to be an afterthought to the completion of an outfit, however, Adha Zelma seems to be the outfit. What are your thoughts?

Accessories are typically used as external visual symbols or for function. My designs are meant to be the complete opposite and form the fashion and anything else you choose to dawn is secondary to the statement.

Complete this sentence... "Adha Zelma to me is... "

Power and sensuality...

It most certainly is.

Rock and Bone Collection:




Model: May Satch
Photography: Dallas J. Logan

Rio Collection:




Photographer: Sean Toussaint
Model: Fabyiene Miranda

Aria Collection



Model: Bintou
Photography: Sean Toussaint

Places to purchase Adha Zelma Jewelry:

Michelle New York
376 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Pieces of Brooklyn
671 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Thistle & Clover
221 DeKalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY


By request