Monday, November 22, 2010

TO TF OR NOT TO TF… THAT IS THE QUESTION


Video provided by photographer: Tiran Winston
Website: http://www.awintersfoto.com/

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. As you are sitting around giving thanks for this joyous and fattening occasion, I've decided to leave you with some thoughts on the world of TFing.

For those of you outside of the Industry the term TF means “trade for”. It can be TFP (trade for print) or TFCD (trade for CD-ROM). I was introduced to this phenom through a website called Model Mayhem (http://www.modelmayhem.com/). It can be a useful tool when you are looking to build your portfolio, test out new creative ideas and to test out new talent. It goes a little something like this:

There may be a makeup artist that I may want to test out because I am building my beauty repertoire. The makeup artist will give their talent and time and I will shoot. Once the shoot is over I pay the makeup artist in photographs. I get the talent of a skilled artisan, and in turn they get photographs. It turns out to be a win-win situation for all.

This can be a good thing, because usually through this method, you build good solid business relationships as well as build a team. I would not be where I am today without the expert talent of some of the people that I’ve worked with. I have an incredible team behind my photography and every time I get a compliment or praise, my team gets complimented and praised as well because without them, there would be no me.

So as I embarked on this photographic journey, this is pretty much how I build my team, as I gotten better at photography, my team has gotten better because as you get better you begin to attract bigger and better talent, as you get bigger and better talent, you get bigger and better photographs. When I received paid gigs, my team is the first I call on for the job, because if I get paid THEY get paid. It is a very loyal and monogamous relationship.

However, this holds true with wardrobe stylists, designers, hair stylists and models. The magic of magic of the mythical TF is that it becomes a situation where all parties involved will walk away with something useful for themselves, hence the reason for this blog.

The above video clip illustrates the concept that TF means shoot for free and that really isn’t how it goes (at least in my world). I am constantly approached by models who wish for me to shoot them for free, because they think they will be a “welcoming addition to my portfolio.” Most often they are not. Understand models, there are two ways that a photographer will shoot you: (1) they love your look and you will be a great addition to their book, (2) you’re paying them. It’s just that simple. Most often than not, models who DO approach me would never make my hard book portfolio, nor will my team get anything out of it, so it becomes a waste of my time to do any work of that calibre. Models, be willing to pay for the photographer/photographs of your choice. There is a reason why you approached that photographer and want to work with them.

Most models don’t realize the time, talent and money spent to produce photographs. A simple TF shoot already puts me in the hole for $100.00 because of studio rental time alone. This does not include travel and gas time. I cannot speak on behalf of other photographers, but I cannot take a TF so lightly.

So the next time you think a photographer should shoot you TF, ask yourself. Is it worth it for them?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BEHIND EVERY BILLBOARD THERE’S A STORY

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Nole Marin

Behind every campaign, there’s a story. Behind every photo shoot, there’s a story. Behind every casting, there’s a story. Behind every model/booker meet, there’s a story. Behind every designer’s fitting, there’s a story. Behind every “Polaroid” shoot, there’s a story. Behind every successful model’s career, there’s a story. It’s the nature of the beast. There is a motto that you models need to know. “What you won’t do the next model will.” It is just that simple.

Is it time for you to leave the business? Perhaps. I can’t make that decision for you. But you models (especially the males) are in a business that is predominantly run by the homosexual community (please see my previous blog “Modeling and the Ugly Fat Chickhttp://dallasjlogan.blogspot.com/2010/03/modeling-and-ugly-fat-chick.html). If you wish to succeed in this business, you will have to play the game if you like it or not. It is just that simple.

The reason for this blog is that allegations came to light that celebrity stylist Nole Marin is being charged with making unwanted sexual advances upon wanna-be model Nicholas Hamman-Howe. Is it true? Who’s to say? There are three stories in this particular Greek tragedy. The model’s side, the alleged “perpetrator” side, and what really happened. Since I wasn’t there, I can't tell you what really happened, but I can tell you one thing. I think I know how it went down. It is a very common movie.

Act One / Scene One

Beautiful “model” with great physique is approached by someone in the fashion industry. Information is exchanged, and a professional relationship is forged. Fashion Industry Person (“FIP”) tells model that they can have a great career. Starts to fill their head up with dreams of becoming the next supermodel. (No one can make you the next supermodel. Remember that).

Model becomes intrigued and FIP may or may not start making sexual innuendos to the model. It can be playful banter, it can be sexually suggestive comments, etc. The model (who may or may not be straight, MAY play along). (At this point, if the model wasn’t interested, it should’ve been nipped in the bud).

Then once the model is open to the prospects of possibly being a professional working model, FIP may say something like “I can make you a star.” (No one, except the person SIGNING the checks can do anything like that for you).

Situation ensues where the model and FIP are in a place where the FIP “takes advantage” of the model. The model acquiesces. Then the FIP got what he wanted, but the model didn’t, and guess what? The model cried rape.

End Scene.

This is a common scenario in the world of modeling. For both male and female. People in the industry will offer you advancement and some are in the position to do so. You, being the model, are an adult and it is up to you at this point to make the decision of what you are willing to do, or not. What you will allow, and won’t. What will happen, and not. But what you shouldn’t do is go through with the game plan and then bitch about to others in the industry. That is an ultimate NO-NO.

The fashion industry is very very tiny. And what you say or do will be heard around the modeling world in a matter of minutes. I remember a friend and wonderful photographer in Australia, George Favios (www.georgefavios.com) had a casting, and a model came with photos of mine in her book. He knew right away it was my work and a conversation commenced. Though nothing bad happened between me and this model, if it had and the model decided to badmouth me, I can guarantee you once that meeting was over I would’ve received an email about the situation. It is the nature of the beast. I used this scenario to let you know that anything (good or bad) can reverberate around the globe in a nanosecond.

I know a lot of the sexual proclivities of my colleagues. From CEOs of modeling agencies down to the interns that assist for photographers. I know the sexual appetites of various models and what they will and won’t do. I know of models on the “DL”. I know of the sexual antics of stylists and their stable of models. And I am quite sure a lot of them know about mine. But you want to know something? The difference is you won’t hear it from my mouth, because honestly what occurs between two consenting adults is none of my business. I could care less what happens between Photographer A and Model B. I could care less what happened behind the scenes of a photo shoot between a designer and a model. I could care less what it took to get the “fullness” in a model’s underwear. It is none of my business. And how do I know all these things? Because some models have big mouths. They are good for letting me know what so and so did to them at a photo shoot. Or what was texted, or said or done. My usual retort to that is “did you get what YOU needed?” If the answer is yes, my usual reply is “then shut the fuck up.”

As I said, this world is very small, and I associate with a lot of powerful people behind the scenes. If a model comes at me with their stories, I listen – with a grain of salt and I weigh out the consequences of what this person is telling me, because I have to make a mental decision of “am I going to alert my colleague of this particular incident?” “Is this model telling the truth?” “Should I mind my business?” Most often I mind my business because it let’s me know something. This particular model has a big mouth and if he is telling the business of the next professional, then 10 to 1, he will tell my business as well. And guess what models? Once you’re labeled as a big mouth, no one is going to want to work with you.

Now I am not telling you to go against your own moral fiber. Nor am I telling you what goes on in the fashion industry is right or wrong. I am just laying the scenario before you and you being an adult make the decisions for yourself. But don’t go crucifying the person because you allowed yourself to be put into a situation, and then things didn’t work out for you. You knew what you were doing when you got involved with this particular individual. You can’t cry wolf, after you let the wolf out to play.

So did Mr. Marin make unwanted sexual advances to Mr. Hamman-Howe? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. All I know is that there were two consenting adults in a room and what occurs between two consenting adults is none of my business.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

THE MAKING OF A WELL EQUIPPED MODEL

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Amy Ploof of Identities

Yes, it's me again, and yes another blog is coming your way, just after a short interval of time since the “oath” blog. When people come to my blog (especially models), I always want them to walk away with something that may help them along the way. A lot of the things I say may not affect them now, or even make sense, but somewhere down the line, the model may be in a photo shoot perhaps and a light bulb will go off an they will say to themselves: “THIS is what Dallas was talking about.”

If any of you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, models from coast to coast constantly hear me talk about boot camp, boot camp, boot camp. My dear friend and world renowned runway coach, Michael Maddox (http://www.michaelmaddoxrunway.com/, http://www.dearmichaelmaddox.com/, http://www.michaelmaddoxrunway.com/) talks about it in his seminars.  My good friend and amazing hairstylist Tim Johnson explains it to models he is trying to develop in the southern states. I extol the fundamentals of modeling. The understanding of light, the understanding of a model’s angles, the importance of posing, the importance of emotion, the understanding of presence, how to connect with the camera/photographer, the true meaning of head to toe modeling. I’ve boot camped veterans and neophytes alike and every single time I was met with a “no one has ever told me that before.” Yeah, I’ve become that photographer.

So you, the model, will now think: “well I got some really great images now. I’ve worked on my personality. I’ve learned how to flirt. I went through Dallas’ boot camp. What more do I need to know?”  A lot. 

Honestly I am surprised I have never covered this topic before, but a model posed a serious question to me a couple of days ago which prompted this blog. He asked, “how do you prepare for a particular photographer?” To say the least, he stumped me.

Different photographers want different things and unless you know the photographer beforehand, or know what the project is going to be, you really don’t honestly know. Some photographers are very precise at how they want their models to pose. Some photographers are more organic at their approach and let the models pose for themselves and the photographer will look for the best possible angles. Some photographers want movement (be it hair, or body), and other photographers want you to pose like stone. It’s a crap shoot (pardon the pun), but if nothing else, you should always be prepared for anything which is the reason for this blog.

Models, how many times have you been booked for a particular designer, and you go online to look at their previous collections? That’s homework. How many times have you gone and actually studied a photographer’s website? Other than going to see if their work is “good or not?” Most of you haven’t. You normally just go to a photographer’s website to see if they are any good, and if they can give you "hot photos". This is also a time to study. What is the MODEL doing in that shot? What emotions are the model conveying. What kind of lighting is the photographer using to set a mood? How are the models groomed? This is very very very important.

Models, I cannot stress this enough, if time allows, always do your homework on who you are going to shoot with. When you go for a job interview you try to find out as much as you can about a company, it isn’t any different than studying a photographer’s work. Secondly, you should always be groomed at all times.

On more than one occasion, I have had models come through with unsightly body and facial hair (this is both male and female). Photographers HATE having to retouch hair that could’ve been taken care of in a quick shave, be it the lip line, the arm pit, the pubic area, jaw line/cheeks, or the back of the neck. Ladies, that pretty downy fluff that sprays across your cheek may look cute for your boyfriend, but if a photographer tries to back light you with that over the shoulder lighting, it comes across like Santa Claus. Males, if you are going to shave your torso, shave your arms and legs as well. Remember black models, hair on the body can photograph like dirt. How do you do your homework? If you go to a photographer’s website, look at the guys. Are they smooth? Hairy? Let that be your benchmark.

Deodorant. I cannot stress this enough as well. Gels everyone. Or sprays. Those blocky, chalky anti perspirant wreaks havoc on wardrobes as well as anything else that will require the model to bring their hand over their head and expose their armpits. Keep perfumes and colognes to an absolute minimum. 

Hands and feet. Manicures and pedicures are paramount. You have no idea what may be captured in an image. Gnarled nails, and bad finger nail polish are a no-no. Remember ladies: neutral colors, short to medium length. Most of us prefer clear polish, or the rudimentary ¼ inch French manicure (anything longer and it comes across like an extra on Jersey Shore).

Hair. Gentlemen always keep it neat. If you are prone to being photographed with facial hair, always have it photo ready. If you can’t then in your bag of tricks bring your shaving equipment, be it shaving cream or clippers. Same holds true for ladies. This means eyebrows as well (gentlemen a neat eyebrow is different than a “done” one). Take care of those pesky nose and ears as well. And ladies, if you are prone to doing beauty, a well established photographer will normally have a well established crew. We prefer to have a model with freshly washed hair and no products in it whatsoever. At the shoot all of that will be taken care of. What happens is, if your hair is dirty, or weighed down by products, the hairstylist can’t achieve their end results, because they are fighting the product that is already in your hair and you start gunking up their equipment. If you have dye jobs, make sure they are fresh, there is nothing more frustrating then Photoshopping in the correct color of the roots. If you have weaves and extensions, make sure they are shoot ready and that you have qualified people doing your hair (REAL hair is much more preferred). And speaking of extensions, if you have clip on hair pieces or wigs, throw them in your bag of tricks (same rule holds true, make sure they are clean). This helps the hairstylist out tremendously if you have thin hair and they may need to build a style.

Makeup. Come with your face free of makeup. Most times, a lot of models don’t know their true color foundation and “shoot” makeup is a hell of a lot different than “every day” makeup. If per chance you have the fortunate discovery of finding your true foundation, always have it available at a shoot. It lets the makeup artist know that you are serious about what you do and that you are well equipped. This goes for guys as well. And all models should know how to apply the fundamentals of makeup. Both male and females. Most important: Skin moisturizer and LIP BALM!!!! Toothpaste and floss are also good to have. If your eyes are never at their “whitest” Visine is always a must for every model’s bag.

Underwear. Always carry fresh underwear in your bag of tricks and possibly different kinds of underwear. You will be surprised how underwear will photograph under garments. This holds true for bras, panties, thongs, briefs, boxer briefs and so forth. Gentlemen you should always have clean socks (both white and black) and ladies you should always have a pair of stockings.

Now that you’ve come well equipped and you had a stellar shoot, one of the most important things is a simple thank you to all you’ve worked with on the crew. A successful photograph starts with a team of people to achieve a required result. If possible, get a business card from each person involved and send them a thank you follow up. You would be surprised at the results. Many times I am contacted about the usage of a model and more often than not I am recommending the model that gave a damn versus the model that I never spoke to again. I’ve asked models about a particular photograph in their portfolio and the worse thing a photographer can hear is: “I don’t remember the photographer’s name.” Ultimate NO-NO because that tells me that you didn’t give a damn about that person and the work they went through to create a beautiful image for your portfolio. So let’s recap, shall we? Things that should always be in a model’s :”bag of tricks”:
  1. Clippers/razors/shaving equipment. This also means that you should have a towel, wash cloth and soap.
  2. Deodorant should be clear.
  3. Change of underwear, bra, socks, etc.
  4. Simple pair of fitted black jeans and a pair of casual black shoes.
  5. Hair products (clips, weaves, etc.).
  6. Fingernail polish / remover (you may have to change your nail color while you are there). Fingernail clippers.
  7. Makeup products and makeup remover as well as a good moisturizer and lip balm and Visine.
  8. Don’t forget thank you.
I can guarantee you that this list may get a little longer as my colleagues bring items to my attention. I know it may seem like a pain in the ass, but there is nothing more beautiful than a well equipped model.

Monday, November 1, 2010

MY OBLIGATION TO MODELS - BUILDING CAREERS ONE PHOTOGRAPH AT A TIME


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 Model:  Renee Thompson for Adha Zelma "Autumn" Collection

Hey you guys.  This has been a tremendous couple of months for me.  I’ve been so busy that I didn’t even get a chance to do a single blog for the month of October.  I vowed that I would at LEAST try to write a one blog a month.  The month of October has been a very busy one.  I shot an album cover for an upcoming artist (Ashley Carpenter).  I’ve shot Adha Zelma’s “Autumn” line with Toronto’s model Renee Thompson (I will be blogging more about it in the future).  I’ve shot for Heather B for their website.  I shot Saks Fifth Avenue Spa/Salon for their Facebook page.  The accessories editorial I’ve shot with the amazingly talented Robert Durant for Bleu Magazine has finally come out.  And I helped yet another model (Justin Shaw) get placed with an agency and he is going to make some noise, which is the reason for this blog.
When I first embarked on photography, my goal was very simple:  I wanted to learn how to operate a SLR to the best of my ability.  It didn’t matter if I was shooting a waterfall, a rock, a flower or a blade of grass.  My intentions were clear:  take the best possible photograph I could possibly take.  Now four years later, I am here transforming the lives of young models across the United States with photographs I never dreamed I would take, not to mention my images are now becoming recognizable.  I actually had someone call me and ask if I did a shot that appeared somewhere, I asked how did he know.  His reply?  “I know your work in a single glance.”  Wow.  That made my day.
But I digress.  As I was saying all I wanted to do was take good, technically sound, artistically compelling images.  As this journey set forth, what my plans may have been, the Universe saw it differently.  It was with my craft that I am able to open doors for models (especially models of color) and allow them access into places where before, no one would see them.  And I thank God for that talent for allowing me to do so.  I can’t photograph everyone that asks me (though I wish I could), but I will vow to do one thing:  I will shoot you (the model) to the best my ability and try to produce the most amazing image possible for you.  If you allow me to fall in love with you, I can promise you stellar photographs.  If you allow yourself to trust me, I will be able to teach you to reach down into the recesses of your soul and make you a better model.
Is that my job?  No.  My job is to become a successful campaign photographer.  But right now, my oath is to help you to the best of my ability with the talent that God has allowed me to developed. 
This is my oath to you.

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Model:  Kortney Williams for Bleu Magazine

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Singer:  Ashley Carpenter for Walking into Sunshine

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Model:  Justin Shaw for NTA 

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Model:  Angelique Velez for Adha Zelma "5" Collection


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

IT TAKES A SUCCESSFUL TEAM TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL MODEL

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Brandon Lucas

Most often when people read my blog, it’s usually industry insiders who have knowledge about the business. So most often, I am just voicing opinions and concerns from fellow photographers (and others). I tend to give voice to the frustrations that we go through in everyday life, but today’s blog (the third one in two days) is honestly geared to those outside of the industry. It is for the people who really have no knowledge as to what it takes for a signing of a model to take place.

When a person (and when I use this term it will mean someone not affiliated with the industry) sees a billboard, a magazine campaign, etc. They are seeing the finished image to sell a product. They have no idea what it actually takes to get that image to the point that it is a giant billboard in Times Square.

People involved (in no particular order)
Model
Casting Director
Art Director
Location Scout
Studio Heads
Designers
Tailors
Seamstresses
Fit Models
Artists
Sketchers
Investors
Model Scout
Agent
Booker
Corporate Entity
Textile Firms
Studio Booker
Caterer
Hair
Makeup
Stylist
Photographer
Photographer's Agent
Payroll
Lawyers
Security
Camera Rental
Light Rental
Insurance
Camera Crew
Video Crew
Retoucher
Advertising Firm
Advertising Executive
Graphics Department
Printing Company
Billboard Company
Dermatologist
Dentist
Personal Trainer
Landlord (who owns the billboard)
Fashion Bloggers (who talk about the model)
Maintenance Crew (to put up the sign)
Lighting company (to light the sign)

And all of this is done in order to place a SINGLE SOLITARY IMAGE in Times Square. And all you see is the wonderful iconic photo in place. Each and every job title is a tiny, microscopic and important piece in the puzzle that is needed in order to make all of this happen. Remove any of the puzzle that is listed above and guess what? It won’t happen. I know it may come across a little melodramatic, but there is a hell of a lot that goes on in order to make an actual campaign happen.

But even before we get the model on the billboard, it all starts with getting a model signed and it all starts with the scouting. In this instance, the scout involved is California’s own Michael Maddox. He scouts models and instills in them the idea of being a model. If the “model” takes the bait, it is now Michael’s job to start to groom them. He educates them on what it takes to be a successful model. He may have to take interest in their grooming, in their oral hygiene, in their personal appearance. He may tell a model that they may need to lose weight, gain weight, put on muscle, how to walk, how to talk, take care of their skin, teeth, eyes, hair, etc. No one is walking out like Naomi Campbell right out the box. This may take MONTHS for him to prepare. Michael will then take digital polaroids and start creating a buzz about the model. After the model starts to develop into something he can then see which agency will be the best suit for the model (here comes the behind-the-scene discussions). Michael will go to the firing squad with top agencies around the United States and Europe. A particular model may not have the look for a particular area (California has a different “look” than New York, or Florida). If a model has to relocate, Michael will then start developing connections for the model in the foreseeable future if the model has to move. Michael will assist in housing, in job placement and in making professional connections in order that it is a smooth transition for a model. Now it is time to build a model’s portfolio and this is where I come into the picture.

Michael will send me candid snap shots of the model. He will ask me what I think. How the model should be shot, etc. After that is determined, if the model is not from New York, arrangements are made in order for the model to get here. In order to get more “bang for the buck” through Michael’s connections (or mine), we arrange other photoshoots with other established photographers while the model is here. In the interim we also try to set up appointments with various agencies. If the New York agencies are interested, I then make connections with them to show them finished images from the various shoot(s) that have been arranged.

I arrange photoshoots by pulling together teams of people (other photographers, stylists, makeup artists, locations, etc.) so when the model goes back to their place or origin, their book is complete and they are ready to walk in the door.

After all the photoshoots have been completed and Michael has received all the photographs, he meets with the model yet once again to now build their books (building of a book means putting their portfolio together to present to the agencies). While all this is going on, Michael is back to contacting the agencies with finished images of the model. He will even give the nay-sayers another call, because sometimes they don’t “see it” the first time and now 3-6 months may have passed and now they may see things differently. Michael may arrange a model to get with more than one agency for various reasons but in the end, if all is successful, and the model gets signed, then we all did our job.

It is a proven formula and it works every single time. So remember models:  It takes time and patience and it takes a successful team to make a successful model.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TO BE SUCCESSFUL - YOU MUST BE ON AT ALL TIMES

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Terrance Gant


Don't get excited.  Please.  It won't happen again.  Two blogs in the same month?  Not to mention in the same day?  It will go down in history!  There has been a lot of issues that have been popping up lately and instead of just writing one long continous blog, it was far easier to break them down into separate blogs.

One question I am asked constantly:  "When will we shoot again?" 

There are two types of photographers out there. There is one that actually likes to build a “stable” of models in which they like to shoot from. They develop connections with models and because of it, photographers are able to express themselves artistically with a particular model, whereas with other models they cannot. They are very monogamous. Then you have the second type of photographer. They rarely like to reshoot models. Usually if they’ve gotten that awe inspiring image, they really don’t go back and revisit. The will usually move onto the next model and produce more magic. I tend to fall in the latter group. I cannot speak for other photographers, but the reason I do it is because I am constantly building my book and it is an ongoing process. Every shoot that is worthy, I present to my agent. I don’t need him saying to me; “you shot this model already, why are you shooting them again?” Unfortunately I cannot have an entire book of 2-3 models.

There are instances where I will revisit a model. I have a few projects pending that may require their look (for either my coffee table series, or exhibit series). There have been times where I’ve been hired for a particular job and the client liked the work I did with the model and wished to use them, but other than that, I am sorry to say I am a photographic whore and once the model and I have achieved what I like to call “hotness”. I move on to create more hotness (with another model, of course).

But there is another side to this coin, and that is the side of the model. I find that once a model has found the photographer that was able to actually capture them, they tend to want to work with that photographer repeatedly. This has its plus and minuses. A model develops a level of comfort with a particular photographer and they produce stellar images. Time and time again, and the more they work with a photographer, sometimes the better the images get. The downside? They will only work well with a particular photographer, hence the reason for this blog.

One of the ultimate goals of a model is to get signed with a professional modeling agency, and once they are signed, they want to start making money with this agency. If you are not one of the few fortunate ones who can walk into the door and wow the agency strictly on your looks, you have to build some type of portfolio. They (the agent) want to see how you photograph, how you look in images and are you a marketable product. So you stroll up there with your book of great photos (albeit coming from just one or two photographers) and they like the magic that they see. Guess what they’re going to do? They are going to send you on a slew of tests to fill up your book with images of other photographers. Herein lies the issue.

A lot of models (especially new faces) are very very comfortable with me. I take the time and patience that is needed for them to grow and develop as a model (not all photographers will do this, or have the patience to want to do it). Most often a single modeling session with me can be as long as 6-7 hours (especially if Boot Camp is involved), because I am teaching the understanding of light as it pertains to the model. I am teaching expression. I am teaching emotion. I am teaching head to toe posing. I do it not for the money, but for the love of the science, and for the growth of the model and my desire for them to succeed into greatness. In the end I want the model to leave my studio with a sense of purpose and a bit of know-how that I want them to take with them on their next photo session. If you ask any model I have shot, I am known to say “from this point onward, whenever ANYONE points a camera at you, TURN IT ON. I don’t care WHO it is. I don’t care WHERE YOU ARE. YOU ARE A MODEL AT ALL TIMES.”

Remember that:  You are a model at all times.  Therefoer, you must be on at all times (especially at a photoshoot). You will not have the luxury of Dallas Logan at all your future shoots.  Do not rest on your laurels because you had one or two photoshoots with the same photographer and got good results. Whatever feelings, emotions, energy that was needed to create those magical images with that one particular photographer, remember that energy and take it to every single shoot you go to.

I’ve seen countless books from models and you can go through the images and know when and where the magical connections were made. I would look at model’s books after they have shot with me and INSTANTLY be able to tell if they used our Boot Camp lessons. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Trust and believe, if you don’t raise the bar at every single photoshoot, you will come across boring and one dimensional. And guess what happens next?

You are no longer signed. Think about it.

WHO ARE YOU MODELING FOR?

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Model:  Renee Thompson

There will come a time in your modeling career where you will be asked to pose nude.  Artistically, editorially, commercially or otherwise.  Remember that.  Kate Moss, Tyson Beckford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Djimon Hudson and countless others have all done it in the course of their careers.  Do you think it is going to be any different for you? 

I don’t know if other photographers go through this, but I’ve been having this particular incident happen recently and it prompted me to really sit back and take a look at how things are going.

A lot of models fail to realize that a photoshoot is a complete collaborative effort of all parties involved. Once they leave the studio, the true work of the photographer at that point begins. Forget the planning of the shoot. Forget the set up and break down of the shoot. Forget the actual shoot.  Forget the time needed to proof the shoot. Forget the time needed for editing the shoot. The model has gone along on his/her merry way to their next venture and they sit there and wait for photos, while we, the photographers, slave away at creating photographic images that we all can be proud of.

For those of you who follow my work, you know I do a lot of nude work. Some full nudity, some sexually driven, most of it artistically implied. I’ve been approached by galleries and even a couple of museums to do complete series for them which are in the works. It is a slow process, because when a particular vision first takes hold, I personally do not have “exhibits” in mind. I just want to produce the best possible photograph I can produce with the model of the moment. Then what happens is, the photograph will take on a life of its own and next thing you know, I am getting an email from a man named Gustav in a country that I can’t pronounce, much less locate on a map.

But I digress. When I (I should say we) decide to shoot nude work, it is never with the intentions of shooting nudes. It is usually a comfort level that is developed between model and me and at that precise moment, we are in a collaborative vortex that takes us down a path of personal exploration. They allow me to push their boundaries and I allow them to be comfortable with themselves to explore things that they may have never thought otherwise. Sometimes it’s a simple as me saying “the jeans ruin the shot.” More often then not, it is the model’s doing to remove their garments and once they do, they are much more free to explore their inhibitions and we in turn produce beautiful images.

Let’s fast forward. You (the model) know people know me. You know people follow my work. If you say that you are shooting with Dallas, people are expecting to see images. So why is it such a pain in the ass when I produce such images, and post them (not even nudes per se, but let’s say the images that posted at the top this blog), you get freaked out because you don’t want others to see it? Can someone explain that to me?

On more than one occasion, I’ve posted such images on let’s say Facebook, only to get hit with the email of “can you please not tag me on that image, I don’t want my family to see it.” What? Why? Don’t they know that you are model? Don’t they know there will be times when you will be taking photographs of an artistic nature? Are you embarrassed of such things? If so, then why the fuck did you get undressed in the first place?

If you were David Agbodji would you have gone to Steven Klein when he shot for Calvin Klein and say “oh no, Steve, please don’t put that anywhere, I don’t want my friends to see it.” What if Naomi Campbell said that to Herb Ritts or Demi Moore said that to Annie Lebowitz? Or Kate Moss said that to Mario Testino? They and countless others produced beautiful, iconic images showcasing the human form for the world to see. So if you ever going to be embarrassed, guess what? Don’t model. It's just that simple.  I understand the erected penis and the spread labia images are not for everyone’s artistic taste, but this isn’t want I am talking about and I get that. But there comes a time in your adult life that you have to take a stand for your career and say I am doing this and I am proud. You may never know who will see that image and go “I want to book that model. He/she is beautiful.” Trust me, I get that a lot.

I am proud of the work that I do with models (clothing or otherwise). I am proud when I am approached by art buyers and curators because they see the artistry I see. I am proud when a model allows their inhibitions to be release and they can be themselves so we can take stunning photographs. What I am not proud of is when I must stifle my creativity because of their reticence.

So think about it. Who are you modeling for?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CHALLENGE US - MAKE US RISE TO THE OCCASION

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Harvey "Zenith" Pimental

Models, models, models… Here I am, again, writing another blog, again. About something that is bothering me, again. That I should school you on... again. (Okay, enough with the “agains”). As I’ve stated before, when something – for lack of a better word – disturbing – happens in my tiny microcosmos, it prompts me to write about it and like some of my other blogs, this one was a long time in the making.

In my photographic career, I’ve seen models clamoring to shoot with this photographer, shoot with that photographer, for whatever reason. It could be because they really admire the photographer’s work, it could be because that particular photographer will catapult their career to the next level, or it could simply be to have bragging rights. “Yes, I’ve shot with so and so.”

I’ve had a multitude of models wanting to shoot with me for years. I’ve gotten inundated with emails of “God, I love your work. I want to work with you,” “You are one of my dream photographers,” “when I come to New York, you are the first on my list!” And this is an ongoing litany. For the most part I am flattered, just like my colleagues are flattered when they receive similar emails. I realize as of late, photographers have a lot of power and in some instances we are like rock stars to the modeling community. But there comes a time in a model’s career that they need to sit back and look at us objectively in terms of what a photographer can really do for their career, and not be blinded by the “Oh My God” status that you’ve placed on us. You should say to yourself: “can this photographer help my career?”

Photography like any other is a business. However, this business for the most part is our artistry and we shoot with passion and love. When others admire the love and beauty that we put forth, it puts a smile on our face. When we take what we like to call our “defining shots” is when we take photographs that no matter what we do in the future, these images will always, always be remembered.

For example:
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Photographer:  Maya Guez
Model: Porter


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Photographer:  Tarrice Love
Model:  Art Stroman


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Photographer:  Rick Day
Model:  Unknown


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Photographer:  Dallas J. Logan
Model:  Catherine Frances Scott

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Photographer:  Laretta Houston
Model:  (It's A Secret)


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Photograher:  Bruce Talbot
Model:  Layaria

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Photographer:  William Springfield
Models:  Naija Nne and Kiersten Alexandria


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Photographer:  Jerris Madison
Model:  Eva Pigford


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Photographer:  Gregory Prescott
Model:  Ambrielle Webb


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Photographer:  Stephen Eastwood
Model:  Maria

The above images are indisputable and will forever be acquainted with the photographer that has taken them. When we photographed these images, they are a magical moment in time. Yes, we’ve produced stellar images before and after, however, these images will forever be burned into the psyche of photographic history.

But I digress. This blog today is about the models that seek out our photographic skills and will do anything to achieve a photoshoot with us, even to the point of accepting mediocre, repetitive and mundane work. And the reason this weighs so heavily on my head is because a couple of instances happened this week that made me sit back and take notice.

A celebrity photographer of campaign magnitude recently did a test shoot of a model. Without giving any names, this particular photographer shot campaigns for Revlon, Nine West, etc. as well as celebrities such as Jessica Alba and Halle Berry. So when you are shooting campaigns and celebrities of this status, it raises the bar substantially.  The model was wanted to work with this photographer and it seemed that the feelings were mutual, however, when the photos were produced, the model sent me the link and asked me for my professional opinion. While I don’t like talking negatively about another artist’s work, the images themselves were lackluster, boring and downright bad for a person of this calibre. They did nothing to show case the model, hell they did nothing to show case the photographer’s talents. In fact, they were so poorly done, it forced me to go back to the photographer’s website to see well maybe something is wrong and I am associating this person’s work to another’s name. No, alas, the same photographer, same great name, less than stellar work. I repeatedly looked at the images trying to find something, anything that would’ve made this shoot salvageable. Nothing. In essence, this shoot was a waste of the model’s time.  Did the model deserve a $50,000 campaign shoot? Of course not, however, he (the model) did deserve images he could at least be proud of - and use.

Second incident. A model recently posted images on Facebook with a well known, well loved and well established New York photographer. He was proud.  I know he was.  He was so proud that he sent me an email blast to say “Hey Look at my new photos, what do you think?” I sat there and looked at the images, which were indeed lovely. Great lighting, great composition, great post production, however, I’ve seen this same image from the same photographer, not once, not twice, but literally over twenty some odd times, so the image for all its merit is now boring, dull and uneventful. This wasn’t the first time that I have seen the two above scenarios happen, but to happen days apart from each other, it bothered me enough to want to address this.

I remember I had an incident where a model came to me seeking images that I shot before. He loved what I did with another model and wanted a very similar shoot (almost exact). Though it was against my better judgment, the model demanded this and he had his money. I shot what was asked. As soon as the images were posted, my dear friend Michael Maddox slammed me with an epiphany.

“Dallas,” he says. “You did not do that model justice, because you shot that before. You shot the same exact thing with so and so and now the original images that made so and so unique is no longer special and dear to him. Because you shot this model the same exact way, he in turns has nothing that makes him special and unique.”

“But Michael,” I retorted. “This is what he wanted. He paid for this.”

“I don’t care," he replied. "You should’ve said to him; ‘I can’t do that for you. That was for him, however, I will do something special and unique for you.’ That should’ve been your response, these models get so caught up in wanting to shoot with you that they turn around and lose their identity and in turn you lose your edge because you are repeating what you did before. So now you don’t look fresh and new. You did the model a grave disservice. Make each and every model special and unique in their own right. ”

And you know what? He was right. The model had a preconceived notion of what he wanted the images to look like. He was hell bent on shooting with me, and he wanted the same exact images and even though deep down inside it was against my better judgment, I did what he wanted. Were the photos nice? Yes. Were they well received? Yes. Did it raise the bar for him? Yes. Were they fresh and original? No. Did I do us both a disservice? I reluctantly have got to say yes.

Models, this message is strictly for you. We photographers are very set in our ways. We usually work out of the same space time and time again and what happens is, our own work begins to take on similarities. This is not to be confused with a style. I have a particular photographic style, so when you see it, you know immediately it is a Dallas Logan image, the same holds true for each of the artists listed above. But that is different than producing the same work over and over and over again and that is what you should try to avoid. A photoshoot is a collaborative effort between all parties involved (most importantly between the model and the photographer) and if you don’t push at us to give you something more vibrant, dynamic and different, you won’t get it. It can be something as simple as changing a lighting set up, to changing a location. It can be as simple as saying, "please try something different with me."  Remember, models, this is about your career, and these images are to be used to your advantage and if you have lack luster, repetitive images in your book, who’s to blame… You or me?

Think about it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SELF SABOTAGE - WHAT MODELS DO BEST

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sab•o•tage   [sab-uh-tahzh, sab-uh-tahzh]

–verb (used with object)

1. to injure or attack by sabotage.

2. to disable, vandalize, cripple.

Throughout our lives (and this can take place in any walk of life), we as human beings want better things in our lives. Better health. Better finances. Better relationships. Better careers, etc. In order for anything to advance in a positive direction (or in the direction that you want it to go), you have to work at it. You have to nurture it and you have to make it grow, develop and mature to what you wish to have manifested as your ultimate goal.

When you were in high school and college, if you wanted good grades, you would study hard. If you wanted to excel in a particular sport, you would practice. If you wanted to excel in the arts, you would rehearse. It was just that simple. When I decided to make a conscious effort to be a professional photographer, what did I do? I kept shooting. I kept studying. I kept learning. I kept growing. (I am still growing).  I remember looking at a video clip featuring Atlanta’s own Laretta Houston (http://www.larettahouston.com/) and she said something that struck home. "You have to practice. You have to keep developing your skills." She would sit at Barnes & Noble and read every single book pertaining to photography, retouching, etc. (and I thought I was the only crazy one). But as you can see, the bottom line is this: Anything you want, you have to work for it, you have to seek guidance from others in your field and then only can you excel in most cases.   You can't keep shooting the same thing over and over and over again, year after year after year. 

What if you don’t want those things? What if you don’t wish to excel in your decided career paths? What if you just want to settle for mediocrity? What do you do? It’s easy; Sabotage it. It is just that simple, hence the reason for this blog. For example, you hate your job, but you don’t have the guts to quit? Sabotage it. Do a lackluster job performance, come in late – hell don’t come in at all. Watch what happens.

Time and time again, I’ve come across model hopefuls that wish to excel in the field of modeling and all the time I am constantly asked “what do I have to do to make it to the ‘next level’? What do I have to do to excel? What do I have to do to be better at my craft?” I know if I am asked this question, my professional colleagues are asked the same damn thing. I get this question on an average of approximately five times a day. Most times when a model asks me this, I have to look at their track record, their body of work and their person in order to make an educated suggestion. Sometimes it is not as simple as saying “lose weight” or “take care of your skin.” I wish it was that easy. Sometimes it’s telling a model to make better choices in who they decide to shoot with. Sometimes it’s telling a model to be patient and slow down and stop making bad decisions. Sometimes it's telling a model not to forget where they've come from and whose guided them along the way.  Sometimes its telling a model to stop going against the grain and realize that professional decisions are made for their own good (not every model is a Gucci model).  Sometimes it's teaching a model how to build long term relationships.  Sometimes it's telling a model to stop sabotaging the people who've helped you along the way (see Marcus Hill and Anthony Gallo - they listened).  Sometimes it’s a simple as telling a model “you need to cut your hair.” Bottom line is a lot of hindrances a model goes through is because they are doing things to themselves and they are impeding their own advancement, because they just don’t want to listen. So when you don’t listen and don’t take the much needed suggestions given to you, guess what? You are sabotaging your own career.  Hence the title of this blog.

I’ve come across sooooooo many models that would be a lot further along in their career if they would just heed the advice of not necessarily me, per se (hell I’m just a photographer), but to take the advice of noted and well established professionals. There has been more than one occasion when a model would ask me for advice and I would give it to them, I would get the bombardment of:  “I can’t do that.” “I’m not cutting my hair.” “I’m not losing weight.” “I’m not changing my style.” “I don’t want to wear that to a casting, it will make me look gay.” “I want to keep my cornrows.” “I think I look sexy in a beard.” Oh really? If that is the case, then why the fuck aren’t you an established model? All the above remarks are actual retorts that I have received from models who are at a point in their career decided that they weren't going anywhere and wanted to know why. When things are repeatedly brought to their attention, they don’t want to listen, therefore, they are stuck in a particular rut and they don’t know why (well maybe they do know why, but they are being to damn stubborn to admit to it).

There was a male model of color I shot a few years back from Philadelphia. He is a very handsome man. His down fall? Too burly and too much hair. He was getting local work (church fashion shows and neighborhood mall work), however, he was shooting with third-tier local photographers and this really wasn't advancing his career. When he approached me about photographing him, my first response to him was “you got to cut that hair.” You would’ve thought I told him to cut his throat. His hair, though beautiful, was an incredible hindrance to his career advancement. Not many male models have that certain jene-se-quois to carry off a head full of hair. Some models have that magic (Google:  Paulo Pascoal), however, most males just don’t have it. When you deal with a head full of hair (especially on a model of color), you limit yourselves to the types of job that you can possibly book, and it gets even WORSE if your long hair is dated (see: dreadlocks). Nobody is looking to book you. If you want to get more work, take heed, do the necessary modifications that will need to be done in order for you to advance.

Needless to say, he bitched and complained about wanting to keep his hair, and I replied: “Don’t waste my time. You have no idea just how beautiful you are, because your features are being hidden behind a shit load of hair.” Usually when a male model has a head full of hair, it usually comes from some girl telling him that shit is cute. Yeah, it may be cute for hanging out around the way, and possibly being booked as an extra on a hip-hop video, and if you’re lucky, you may book a Jimmy Jazz advertisement, but in the mainstream fashion/modeling world, that usually doesn’t fly. So gentlemen, (and some ladies can use a major makeover hairstyle as well), if a professional in the field is giving you suggestions, take heed. It will really help in the long run. In some instances, the hair just may work. Whose to say? Ask a few professionals. If the general consensus is to change something, that should be telling you to make that change.

To make a long story short, the model did cut his hair. And once he did, people began to take notice. He began to look more like a model. We had our shoot, and people began to realize just how good looking he really was and he started to get picked up by better photographers and started picking up better gigs. He actually cut off two pounds of useless hair. He thanked me.

So ask the professionals. See what they have to say. Take notes. Listen. Actually listen and open up your mind. Take control of your careers and stop sabotaging it. You will thank the professional (and yourself) in the long run.

So ask yourself. Are you sabotaging you own career? Think about it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

THE PHRASE FOR TODAY IS “THANK YOU” (AND OTHER THINGS THAT MODELS TEND TO DO – OR NOT)

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I know. It’s been an INCREDIBLY long time since I’ve written a post and I am sincerely sorry. I am not going to say that I am going to try to be more diligent. I am not going to say that I will start pumping out an entry once a week – hell even once a month (because we all know I would be lying). But when something bothers me, it will prompt me to have to say something to someone or I will scream.

To catch you up on a couple of things,  I’ve been getting my hard book portfolio together. This means printing, printing and more printing. It was also the first time my book was viewed by my agent and NOT A SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH WAS REMOVED. So now I can be shopped full throttle. I’ve recently shot the new line of Euge Fashion’s look book. I’ve been shooting a lot of models from California (and three of them have been placed [Brandon Lucas with LA Models, Brandon Espy and BJ Williams with Red Model Management in New York]). I will try to give you some morsels on those guys in a future blog. I swear.

But I digress. Let’s get to the topic at hand and the reason for this post. I’ve come from a bygone era where etiquette and manners were paramount. Girls went to charm school to learn social grace and elegance. Young men were taught to walk up to a door of a young lady he was courting and knock on her door to announce his arrival (not blare a car horn, or text a message saying he is outside). I come from a time that if I had a party and received gifts, I had a week’s time to send out handwritten Thank You cards, because if I didn’t, there was an inevitable ass whipping in my immediate future.

As I embark on this wondrous career in the fashion industry, the average age of my subjects range from about 16 to 22. I can understand the communication and generational gap that stands between us (as wide and as deep as the Continental Divide), however, I’ve been noticing that a lot of the youth today are downright rude. I get tons of emails from models with questions about “how to be put on” “what can I do to advance my career” “can you help me out” “how can I get it to the next level?” “Introduce me to so and so.”  Never do I receive a formal greeting. Never do I receive a simple hello. Never do I receive the customary how are you? Just the straight forward bombardment of what they need, can I provide the necessary information, and if not let them move on.

At first I thought it was me and maybe – just maybe I was being a little sensitive. When I am sent an email, I respond. When someone compliments my work, I say thank you. Remember ladies and gentlemen, if someone can take the time to write you, you should take the time to respond accordingly. Even if you are not interested. It is just the proper thing to do. If I am greeting someone in any form, it is a formal phrase of “How Are You, My Name Is… “ It is closed with a “Thank You for your time.” It is natural course of business and proper etiquette in a world that text messaging, video games and computers have removed all the social graces and taking us a step backwards in the realm of social norm.

The reason this blog came into fruition is I recently had a photo shoot for an out of town modeling agency. The agency owner is trying to groom and build a solid foundation of models (most of them were men of color). I’ve been in negotiations with this agency for a while and finally they came to my studio for their test shots. It was a hodgepodge of cornrows, tattoos, unkempt beards, bad hairlines and rotten attitudes. As I watched Mr. Doe (names changed to protect the innocent, of course) try to get these men into shape, he was greeted with attitude, surly come backs and flippant remarks. I stood there in wonderment because these models weren’t paying for their photo shoot – MR. DOE WAS!!!

Each model had their strengths and weaknesses. A lot of their weaknesses were cosmetic – most honestly, just grooming. Something that could honestly be taken care of right there in the studio. Everytime I discussed my concerns with the model it was echoed with a “see what did I tell you?” from Mr. Doe. So that means these suggestions were already raised prior to seeing me, but they chose to ignore it. So that means they didn't care what their agent has to say which in turns means they didn't care about their career. Every time something was suggested it was met with a negative bombardment of reasoning. I responded with “none of you would make it in New York. If an agent says X Y and Z, you do X Y and Z or you go home. It’s just that simple.”

When you are given valuable advice from a well known and well established person in the modeling industry, please take heed (remember, a lot of these professionals get TOP DOLLAR for giving you this information). We don't tell you these things for shits and giggles. We don’t get off on telling you things that will hurt your career. We are telling you these things and giving you the building blocks to help build a successful career. Don’t think that your good looks and great body is going to do it all and that you can have a rotten attitude and feeling of entitlement (remember NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING). For every one of you with that rotten attitude, there is another model waiting in the wings who's prettier, has a better body and has a better attitude and are GRATEFUL that someone has taken the time to express an interest in their career.

I’ve shot many models not for monetary purposes, but because they were humble, eager and passionate. They were appreciative of my time, energy and talent. Remember models of color (especially the males): you have to work three times as hard to get less than half the work of your white peers. You don’t have the luxury of an off day. You don’t have the luxury of a bad hair day. You don’t have the luxury of telling the industry to kiss your ass. It just doesn’t work that way.

So as I shot these models this past weekend, I pondered over the fact that a lot of professionals in the industry are being taken advantage of and if we were to step back and let these young men and women flounder in their ignorance, a lot of them would be sitting there spinning their wheels. I’ve taken a new stance. Approach me wrong, I probably won’t respond. If I offer you the proper suggestions to advance your career and I see that you don’t take heed, I will probably not associate with you again. If you can’t give me a proper token of gratitude, guess what? I will probably not work with you again. (No one is saying send me a Mercedes [though it would be really really nice]. A simple thank you would mean the world of difference to me – to a lot of us in the industry). It may also be the difference of you booking future work or not. (I get a lot of phone calls from people looking for models and trust me, I’ve turned a lot of models on to good jobs. Merely because they were appreciative).

Relationships are very important and every single thing I’ve discussed above can be applied to any aspect of life. No one in the professional world owes you anything, so when you walk in the door with your kiss my ass attitude thinking you are the shit and you feel like the world owes you something, guess again. I know a lot of photographers who’ve turned down paid gigs merely because of a model’s rotten attitude. There is a difference between confidence and conceit. There is a difference between bravado and belligerent. There is a difference between attitude and gratitude.

Remember, a lot of us can make a single phone call and you won’t get booked for a damn thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

MARCUS RANDALL - CALIFORNIA'S BEST KEPT SECRET

Model: Marcus Randall

Sometimes you go through life blissfully (and ignorantly) thinking that everything you’ve been taught about the “industry” is “correct.” Models are to be a certain height, a certain weight, a certain look, or a certain [fill in the blanks]. And as you go along, you are so busy pounding in your head all the industry “standards” that you find yourself turning away models merely because they don’t fit the industry standard. I know I’ve turned away some gems, and I know some of my colleagues have done the same. It’s a shameful way to be, because we become guilty of the very thing in which we complain about (no diversity in the industry).

Every once in a while, God comes along and shakes things up a bit and goes “Dallas (or whatever your name is). It’s time to sit back and look with ‘new’ eyes. Sometimes it is your job as an image maker to step away from the rigid rules of “industry standard” and make an exception. Eventually that exception will become the rule.” In this case God is played by California’s own Michael Maddox, my dear friend and industry mentor. Please check out his website (www.dearmichaelmaddox.com, and www.michaelmaddoxrunway.com).

I’ve developed a keen relationship with Michael and there isn’t much he says to me that hasn’t come to pass and he is like a wise old Jedi Master. I realize now that when he says things to me, I no longer question, I go blindly along because before long he is calling me and saying in the mixture of Southern drawl and California twang; “Didn’t I tell you, my dear friend?” Hence, the reason for this blog.

In my relationship with Michael, he has introduced me to a plethora of West Coast models that have been making trips to New York primarily to shoot with me. Thus far it has been B.J. Williams, Brandon Espy and lastly Marcus Randall. My adventures with each model has been unique and beautiful in its own right, but the most unique adventure of them all has been Mr. Marcus Randall.

If any of you have followed any of my blogs you will know one thing. I could honestly care what a model looks like (because they are all beautiful in there own unique way). However, like other photographers I still had an industry standard “chip” lodged deep into my cerebral cortex and very rarely do I stray from it. And if I followed this rule of thumb, I wouldn’t be writing this blog today.

What happens with Michael is, he will tell me that he is planning to send a model to New York to shoot with me. He will send me their images, and if I agree, he will tell me a little bit of what he wants. Most often Michael has been sending me stunning models of correct height, correct stature, correct body proportions and correct looks, this particular day, our conversation ran a little differently.

The email read: “Marcus Randall  –  What do you think?” As I opened the email, I was greeted with a bunch of photographs from a very good looking young man (although nothing stellar). I immediately told Michael no. Please tell this model not to waste his time.

What I love about Michael is this, he hears you out. He doesn’t override and dismiss anything you may think, and like a true friend, conversations with him are always a give and take.

“Why?” He asked.

I went into the usual diatribe of not liking his features, I pointed out all his physical shortcomings, I pointed out things that I found wrong with his images. Though he was photographed okay, he came across like an actor (or a calendar model), he would never be seriously taken as a real model in New York.

The phone was silent for a moment and Michael took a deep breath and said (these words I will never forget). “Just say hi. If after speaking with him, if you don’t want to photograph him, I totally understand.” It was as simple as that. Two days later I said hello, one month later I was picking him up from JFK airport in New York.

See, once you get to know Michael, you will realize that no matter what you think, you will do as he says, but the magic of it all is this: Michael will not say in so many words “you will do this.” The scenario will play out before you like an amazing Shakesperean play and before you know it, you would’ve done Mr. Maddox’s bidding.

Michael knows that I go COMPLETELY on feelings when it comes to my photography and it’s as simple as falling in love with the model and if that happens, I will indeed shoot him/her and upon speaking with Marcus, what was there not to love?

Once he and I agreed on a shooting date, it was no my tasks to study him. Understand all his flaws and all the reasons WHY I didn’t want to shoot him. He wasn’t industry standard height for models. Though handsome, he still came across like a B rated actor in his photographs, though his body was a stunning specimen of anatomy, there always seem to be something missing. And it was my job to find out just what that was. I asked for candid photographs and it was then I found the missing puzzle. Dazzling smile, warm personality and a frankness that exploded off the photographs that I just wasn’t seeing with previous photoshoots.

As I met him in New York I realized a couple of things, he was taller than I expected (still shorter than industry) and a hell of a lot better looking than his photos. I was immediately excited to shoot him and when we met it wasn’t the usual conventional handshake, but it was the warm hug of an old friend.

We hung out for a couple of days and in the interim I got a chance to really really know him. (Even though I “knew” him, our previous communications were through emails, telephone conversations, Twitter comments and texts). And all the nuances that you can’t capture in a photo were displayed before me. And I knew then and there that though Marcus has been photographed on countless occassions, he has never truly been captured and I took it as my person quest to make that happen.

Marcus went through my Model Bootcamp Sessions and he soaked everything up like a sponge. He learned hand placement, arm placement, connecting with the camera. He learned his good side versus bad and things he thought looked good in the camera, didn’t. He would sit on my dining room floor with a multitude of editorial magazines and studying poses, and expressions and feelings. He was hungry and he wanted to prove to me, to Michael and to all the other nay-sayers that yes, he has what it takes to succeed with the likes of Anthony Gallo, Marcus Hill, B.J. Williams and all the rest. For those photographers who turned him away, he wanted you to know what you were missing.

With a single photoshoot he was able to walk into New York agencies and prove to them that yes, even though he may be an inch or two below standard, what he lacked in height, he made up in confidence and bravado. Marcus will let you know he’s here and he is a force to be reckoned with. From this point onward, he will always be known to me as California’s Best Kept Secret.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you and the rest of the world: Marcus Randall. Like I said, I will never doubt Michael again.

Model:  Marcus Randall
PhotobucketModel:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall
Model:  Marcus Randall

Monday, May 3, 2010

MODEL BOOTCAMP - RELEASING THE MODEL WITHIN YOU

This blog was a long time in the making and I am living it through almost every photoshoot. You know when you do something everyday all the time, it’s no biggie to you, however, others are seeing amazing things and you just shrug your shoulders and go; “really? It’s what I do everyday.”

Every photographer has their strengths and weaknesses and each photographer should know to evolve and grow as an artist.  It is our job to constantly crush those weaknesses and turn them into strengths, and make our strengths even stronger. I was recently asked this question: What is your strengths and weaknesses? Without delving into the realms of my twisted psyche my most horrible weakness is conceptualization. I see the work of someone like Ruven Afanador (http://www.art-dept.com/artists/afanador/). I would view his work and go “my God, how does he think of these things?” But of course, as you delve deeper into the actual concepts, there are budgets involved, art directors, creative directors and such, but I, too can try to attempt small scale concepts and create magic like the likes of Maya Guez (http://www.mayaguezart.com/) and someone like Luqman (http://luqmanfotography.com/). My strengths? I can only call on two. My lighting and my ability to connect with a model, hence the reason for this blog.

As a photographer, I am always getting bombarded with the statements of how amazing my work is, how awesome the subject is, etc. And one night it dawned on me. My photography, though nice, really isn’t amazing. It is no better or worse than my equivalent peers. What the viewer is really seeing is the connection I make with the model and the energy in which we create the image.

Most times when I am shooting a new face, they don’t have much experience in front of the lens. Agencies like to send me these new faces because I take the time that is needed to teach them some of the fundamentals of modeling. It can be a long and laborious process, but in the end, the model, the agency and I are quite pleased with the finished product. Over time it has developed into something known as Model Bootcamp. Ask any of the models that I have put through this (both neophytes and veterans alike), and they will tell you, it can be tough.

What is Model Bootcamp? Well usually before I shoot a model, if time permits, I actually study their previous photoshoots. If I am actually lucky, I get to study candid images of them (be it Myspace photos, party images, Facebook images, etc.), because I personally find when a model is in front of the lens, they tend to have a guard up and I cannot get a chance to see the “real” person.  I am seeing a photographer’s rendition of them, so in essence, I am see what the photographer sees. This has its good points and bad points for me. We (meaning photographers) are magicians of illusion. We allow you to see what we want you to see. A model may be a little thick around the middle, a slight twist of the hip away from the camera may alleviate that. If a model is shorter than industry standard, it is our job to get lower than the model and shoot upward to make them appear taller, etc. However, I study these images to look for their physical weaknesses and strengths. Most often they are quite apparent, however, when they are not, it is my job to spot them out and to minimize them when I decide to shoot them.

If anyone knows me professionally, they know that I liken a photoshoot to a session of lovemaking. It is my job to make the model feel sexy, desirable, angry, whatever. It is the model’s job to convey that particular emotion back to me and it is my job to record it. The better the lovemaking, the better the babies (photographs) are going to be. That has always been my job and it hasn’t changed, however, it has evolved as I evolved as a photographer.

So now that I’ve had a chance to study a model, I figure out their angles and how best it will suit my needs in order to shoot them with regards to lighting, feel, etc., but then I also start looking at how they pose. Does it look forced, are their hands placed correctly, are their arm placements natural looking, is the feet well placed in the shot? If I start noticing common things in the photographs (even if shot by different photographers) it is now MY job to find out why. Has the photographer not pushed them enough, is there something going on that the model/photographer are trying to hide, etc. And lastly, I look at emotion and connection with the viewer. This herein lies the crux of the issues with most models.

When I first started shooting (like most of us), we were always looking for beautiful people. It made our job a lot easier, but as I evolved and my photographic eye evolved, I began to notice a trend of what I liked and what I didn’t like. And I noticed that the better models were producing something far more “magical” than the standard models. It was a connection with the photographer and with the connection with the photographer, you make a connection with the viewing audience. By doing that you create “life” in the eyes of the model. Emotion across the face and a connection that is indisputable and that is what I’ve began to develop in what is known as Model Boot Camp. I want to connect with the model. If I want the model to be sexy, it’s a lot more than just “looking” sexy for the camera. It’s about “feeling” sexy, so when the viewer views the image, I want to hear “God, that model is soooooooo sexy!” And sexy is a broad adjective and it means different things to different people and in each session it is my job to find out what that particular model’s sexy is, and teach them out to bring it out.

But it starts even before that. I would sit a model down and ask them what to they think their physical weaknesses are. It may be a weak chin, it may be a large nose, it may be eyes too close together. You would be surprised what kind of answers I may get from a model, because sometimes they just don’t know. They would tell me things that they may not like about themselves, but that is a whole different ballgame than saying what is your weakness as it pertains to the photographer. So we discuss these things and I take a series of photographs so they can personally see what I may see (yes, I allow the model to view the shoot as we go along, how else are they to learn?). A simple ½ inch turn of the head can make a weak chin look strong. Eyes that are too close together can come across slightly cross eyed, so changing the angle of the head ever so slightly will correct that. It is the little nuances in angles that can make a mediocre picture into a great picture. We find out what their best angles are, their good side versus their bad side, etc.. Once they get a clear understanding, you can see their modeling start taking on a particular shape and understanding that now they are not just standing in front the camera, they are actually modeling. Then from there we go into connecting with me as the photographer and viewer of the image. At this point is a psychological dance of the minds. I literally have to get into their business (and WOW some of the things I’ve learned). I need to know what it is that makes them feel particular ways about themselves and whatever that feeling is, they must learn to evoke it at the drop of a hat to produce the image. Most times I get it, and if not, we work at it until they’ve achieved it. The magical thing about it is this. Once they start viewing the images, it gets to a point that they tell me if the “it” factor is there or not. And it is how a model learns to grow.

Once I have achieved that special connection, we can then move on to the body. Most models I shoot are already in peak physical condition, but it is still my job to teach them how the equates to a photograph. A well built body can look blocky and square at the wrong angle, a woman’s waist can look thicker and thighs can look wider if they are presented to the camera wrong. So it is my job in Model Bootcamp to explain these things and how they relate to the camera. This is an ever evolving process. We discuss hand placement, arm placement, foot placement. And it is to get it to the point that it is natural. I strip away at the “model” fa├žade and I force the model to become real and vulnerable with me, because when they do, I can guarantee you an amazing photograph. Most models have no idea what they are about to present to me, however, when we are done, it is not I that are picking out the final proofs it is them.

Is it a lot of work? Hell yeah, but it is also very rewarding. I love to hear an agent say to me “what in the world did you do to get this? These images are amazing! There is life in their eyes!”

It’s all about the connection. It’s all about the emotion. It’s all about the love.

It’s all about the Bootcamp.


Before Bootcamp
Model: Yusuf Myers
Model:  Yusuf Myers

After BootcampModel: Yusuf Myers

Before Bootcamp
Model: Anthony Lorenzo
Model:  Anthony Lorenzo

After Bootcamp
Model: Anthony Lorenzo

Before Bootcamp
Model: BJ Williams
Model:  B.J. Williams

After Bootcamp
Model: BJ Williams

Before Bootcamp
Model: Goldin
Model:  Goldin Martinez

After Bootcamp
Goldin: Oro Masculino Series

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME - AND THANK YOU TO YOU... YEAR 3 AND GOING STRONG.

Michael Maddox said to me one night… “You have worth, Dallas. Your work is vital to the industry and never let anyone make you think differently. You have talent, you have passion and you have love for the industry. Just keep doing what you’re doing and make them hate you or love you because they ain’t you. You wouldn’t be shooting any of my boys if you weren’t good at what you do. Know your worth.” (http://www.dearmichaelmaddox.com/)

Since I’ve embarked on a career in photography, three things will always happen in April as long as I am alive. Taxes, my birthday and my photographic anniversary (which, to me is really the MOST important day for me).

As I looked at the calendar it didn’t dawn on me my 3rd anniversary was upon me until I looked in my appointment book and was booking a photo shoot. I always sit there in stunned amazement. April 13, 2007 I was sitting in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York with photographer Sean Toussaint. His first words to me was and I will never forget: “I cannot teach you photography, no one can. However, I can teach you how to use your camera.” And that he did.

Each year brought something new and different. Each year was better than the year before. My passion for my craft and artistry is just as strong today as it was the day I learned how to truly operate my camera. Today I’m shooting magazine editorials, clothing campaigns, fitness campaigns, body campaigns, hair campaigns, makeup campaigns. You name it, I may have shot it.

I’ve learned so much about myself in this journey. I’ve learned that photography, though a technical manifestation of lights, angles, distances and so forth, I also know that it is very very organic and there is no wrong way or right way to take a photograph. It is only your way.

I’ve learned how to stand in a middle of a studio with my eyes closed and “feel” the light dance across my body so I will know how I want my lights set up. I’ve learned that if something doesn’t work, don’t force it, move on. I’ve learned how to turn a untrained person into a professional model. When people talk about how “amazing” my lighting is, the only entity I can thank is God.

How? I can’t begin to tell you. I just know that when a model leaves my studio anything that they could’ve possibly picked up will go with them for the rest of their lives. I am eternally grateful for every single model that has ever graced my camera because with each and every photo shoot I’ve walked away with a nugget of information that will carry me over into the next shoot. Because of my skill set, I am building careers one photograph at a time.

Models are flying in from all over the United States to shoot with me, when only a few short months ago, nobody really knew who I was. Am I getting the giant campaigns yet? No, but I know with each image I take, I am getting closer and closer to the prize. It makes me feel good when someone forwards me a picture of a major campaign and says “this looks EXACTLY like something you would shoot..” I smile inside, because they see what I see.

This blog will not be a controversial one. No in your face. No making you take a long look at yourself (but one will be coming soon). This is a simple blog to say thank you to all of you who believed in me, you made me a better photographer. For those of you who didn’t believe in me, because it forced me to prove myself. For those of you who encouraged me, because I know that I’ve made the right choices. For those of you who said I sucked, because of you, I had to get better.

Year 4 will bring lighting seminars, modeling seminars, celebrity photography, major modeling photography, trips abroad, trips around the corner, billboards and magazines. Sean Toussaint, you may not have taught me photography, but you sure taught me how to take a fabulous photograph.

2007 Highlights

Model: Dremmler Desil

GRAND CENTRAL STATION

MY GIRL CUFFY

2008 Highlights

Identities Model: Diane (Close Up and In Person)

Model: Sean Jones

www.dallasjlogan.com

Model: Rumando Kelley

Model: Kortney (Get Focused Campaign)
2009 Highlights

Model: Devone Stephenson

Model: Suzie for JS Dirty Industry

Model: Estella Amara of Red Models

Model: Seven - The Outtakes

Model: Lavante Isaac for Editorial Submission

Model: Bintou

Model: Milan Christopher - I See Red People
SPECIAL THANK YOUS

Sean Toussaint – Without the knowledge that you’ve bestowed on me, I would be entering my years in absolute darkness. Thank you for showing me the light. (http://www.seantoussaint.com/)

Butch Johnson – My best friend, my brother and my partner. When the chips are down, I know where I can always turn for encouragement. Thank you for never allowing me to just be happy with “good enough.” (http://www.styledbybutch.com/)

Cuffy Johnson – Something as simple as saying “I’m not feeling that” will always send me back to the drawing board. I thank you for being in my corner, and I thank you for loving me and my artistry and letting me know that, yeah, I can do this.

Goldin Martinez – When all others told you I my work was garbage, you’ve stood by my side through thick and thin. Because of you I have gotten some of the most amazing images that I have never planned for. Thank you for seeing my greatness even when I couldn’t. (http://www.getfocusedfitness.org/)

Jordan Brown – Thank you for just being my soul mate. No one will ever truly understand the true meaning of “following your dream” unless, of course, they are following their dream. Thank you for being Mother Logan when I need Mother Logan. (http://www.fullcirclecounseling.org/)

Kimberly Montgomery – Through the ups and downs and richer and poorer, you’ve pushed and pushed and pushed me. Without your undying support I would not be the professional, the artist or the person I am today. I thank you.

Amy Dresser – Girl, you know what you’ve done for me. Keep doing it. (http://www.amydresser.com/)

Kam Khan – Thank you for all the late night conversations and teaching me how to understand lighting better. Thank you for showing me all the cool photographers and learning to grow as an artist.

Maya Guez – Girl, you will never know how much you’ve influenced me. When someone even mentions me in the same sentence as you, I get butterflies. What is THAT about? (http://www.mayaguezart.com/)

Tarrice Love – Though we may have never seen eye to eye, you have been one of the most influential photographers in my life. Good, bad or indifferent, you made my game a true A game. You've made me understand the industry for what it is and you've made me want to promote my brothers and sisters to absolute greatness. Thank you, Mr. Love. (http://www.ice-itsocool.com/)

Shae Fontaine – Thank you for always being in my corner and being one of my biggest supporters. I am blessed to have a fellow Aries in my life that understand what it is to say “fuck it” to everything else and following my dream. (http://www.shaefontaine.com/)

Steve Reganato – To the man who has been INCREDIBLY instrumental in my growth as an editorial/fashion photographer. Thank you for showing me not only how to be a better more technical photographer, but how to be a better conceptualizer. (http://www.stevereganato.com/)

Marco Grob – To the man who taught me light and the magic of a beauty dish, because of you my life was forever changed. (http://www.marcogrob.com/)

Steven EastwoodThe Canon Master? I know I am on a looooooooooooooong list of admirers and followers. Thank you for forcing me to think outside the box and at the same time still keeping it simple and still being able to take a wow worthy photo on a shoe string budget. No one can compare. (http://www.stepheneastwood.com/)

Heather Wilson – I will be eternally grateful for all your support when I first started. You saw talent in me when others didn't. You’ve elevated me to heights I never thought I could imagine. What would I do without you. (http://www.makeupbyheatherwilson.com/)

Damion Gerado - We have come so far in such a short period of time.  No one, and I mean NO ONE can beat a face (man or woman) quite like you.  Thank you for being part of the team.

Robert Durant – Without your unwavering support in such a volatile industry, I thank you for your friendship and support. I thank you for bringing me hotness every time you show up to the set and letting me know that I can better every time I shoot. I salute you. (http://www.robertdurant.com/)

Tim Johnson – For opening my eyes to talent outside the triangle of New York, London and Paris. (http://www.timjohnsoninternational.com/)

Alva Page – For being there from the beginning. You have been instrumental in my career in so many ways you may never know.

Romell Duresseau – For your undying support at my craft, my life, my career and my growth. You made me look at the beauty world in a whole new light.

Man Man Nance – For the man that put the word “Man” in ManHandled. Thank you for understanding what true passion is and true work ethics. Thank you for never ever letting me be second best at anything I do. Thank you for teach me all about illegal cable. Some people will never know.

Greg J. Konop - Because you are always hungry for knowledge, you keep me on my toes.  One day we will laugh about it all as we collect our royalty checks from Jed Root. (http://www.gregjkonop.com/)

Laretta Houston – From my early days of Flickr, thank you for the bombardment of some of the hottest photos I have ever seen. I am proud to be in the company of greatness, because, Laretta, you’re great. (http://www.larettahouston.com/)

Michael Maddox – In the third year of my career, I can’t think of anyone at this moment who has been the most influential in my growth not just as an artist or photographer, but as a human being. Thank you for letting me know that I can kick ass with a camera. Thank you for letting me know when I take a good photo, you turn around and say “do it again and make a great photo.” Thank you for having faith in me to send me models from across the United States. Thank you for letting me into your world without ever second guessing. Thank you for removing the 5 degrees of separation that needed to be removed. When God made you, my friend, he knew he had to throw the mold away. (http://www.dearmichaelmaddox.com/)


... And Others... 
Adha Zelma Jewelry
Adolphus Amissah
Adrian Richards
AJ Oliveria
Alexa Banks
Aliza Williams
Amber Rima
APM Model Management
Art&Exile
Ashley Carpenter
B1 Model Management
BASIC Model Management
Bintou
BJ Williams
Black Ice Jewelry
Bleu Magazine
Boss Models
Bradon Espy
Brianna Michelle
Brittany Oldenhoff
Bruce Hawkins
Carline Dargenson
Carlos Arias
Catherine Frances Scott
Celestino
Celestino Couture
Charlotte Berry
Chelsea Irwin
Claudia Unabia
Click Models
Damion Adams
Dansk Magazine
Devon Stephenson
Diana Schmidt
Direct Models
DJ Halston
Don Harris
Donna Taylor
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Double Exxposure
Dremmler Desil
Drew Felton
Drew Milan
Durant by Robert Durant
Eboni Sade
Edwin Perriot
Ema Masters
Emilio Miller
Empire Model Management
Engels Santana
Epic Models
Erik Ford
Ethan James
Felton Group
Ford Models
Full Circle Counseling, LLC
Fusion Models
George Brown
George Favios
Ger
Get Focused, Inc.
Glynn Jackson
Greg J. Konop
Gregory Prescott
Harry Leonard
Hosea Johnson Photography
ID Models
Identities Models
Ikon Models
Itaysha Jordan
Jackie Lui
Jalicia Nightengale
Jamie Charles
Jamie Hilfiger
Jerome Storey
Jerris Madison
Joe Wigfall
Jon Hylton
Jonathan Brodick
JS Dirty
Judith Ashley
Karen Lee
Kenneth Anderson
Kent Edwards
Kenyba Mclean
Lavante Isaac
Lisa Grant
Loa
Makari
Malik Williams
Marcus Randall
Mars Model Management
Marvin
May Satch
Memi Johnson
Messiah McNair
Michael Delao
Michael Stallings
Milan Christopher
MMG Models
Nathan Basset
Neo Anderson
Nicole Archibald
Nick Perkins
Noise Magazine
Numero Magazine
NUOVO Magazine
Obi
Orlane Benau
Patty Tyler
Paula Neilson
Paulo Pascoal
Pearl Chin
Porselene
Q Models
Qudamah Hamilton
Red Model Management
Renee Thompson
Richard Farino
Romell 4 Face
Rumando Kelly
Sailey Williams
Sarah Blessing
Seven Muhammed
Shamar Forte
Sidney Etienne
Silver Model Management
Stanley Kaplan Talent
Stephanie Auguste
Stephanie Garcia
Suzie Chang
Svitlana Glebova
Terell Mason
Third Ward Studios
Tim Harris
Trevor Green
Tyra Banks
Vincent Payne
Wilhemina Models
Will Springfield
Willy Whitfield
Yeikov Bermudez
Yusuf Myers
Zaquan Champ
Zenith Pimental

I know there are a whole lot more people to thank. Forgive me if I have over looked you. Going into year 4, and it’s time to start pushing it to the next level.