Thursday, April 15, 2010


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.” (

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



2008 Highlights

Identities Model: Diane (Close Up and In Person)

Model: Sean Jones

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

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. (

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.” (

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. (

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. (

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. (

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? (

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. (

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. (

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. (

Marco Grob – To the man who taught me light and the magic of a beauty dish, because of you my life was forever changed. (

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. (

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. (

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. (

Tim Johnson – For opening my eyes to talent outside the triangle of New York, London and Paris. (

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. (

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. (

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. (

... And Others... 
Adha Zelma Jewelry
Adolphus Amissah
Adrian Richards
AJ Oliveria
Alexa Banks
Aliza Williams
Amber Rima
APM Model Management
Ashley Carpenter
B1 Model Management
BASIC Model Management
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 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
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
Malik Williams
Marcus Randall
Mars Model Management
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
Orlane Benau
Patty Tyler
Paula Neilson
Paulo Pascoal
Pearl Chin
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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Renee Thompson of Empire Model Management
Model: Renee Thompson of Code Model Management

Here I am at it again. Writing another blog (not bad for me, I might add). I get a lot of requests to be a little bit more frequent in my entries and I get tons and tons of requests and people throwing ideas at me as to what I should write next. Some are really good, and some not so good. I will let you in on a little secret: I get the best blog ideas from models. Almost every model I come in contact with will give me a nugget of something that is an instant shoo-in to be a topic on my blog.

The last entry (“Who The Fuck Are You?”) sparked some heated debates and some hateful comments – please keep them coming – but you know my pet peeve: If you are man/woman enough to write such hateful things, please be man/woman enough to leave your name and email. It’s only right. Another issue is a lot of models were pissed off to the fact that they seem insulted (“who the hell are you to tell a model that they can’t make it?”). Well let’s clarify a couple of things in that regard. For those of you who honestly know me, would know I would NEVER tell a model that they don’t have the potential to make it in this industry. Who the hell am I to tell a model to give it up? I am not a booker and what floats my boat often times a booker won't even want. There is more than enough work out there for everyone and honestly ANYONE can be a model. So, again, I am quite supportive when a person wants to take the plunge into this industry, because it is very very hard. It is very very competitive and it can be heartbreaking and unnerving for the faint of heart. But that goes for all of us in the industry (be it photographers, makeup artists, stylists, etc.) We are only as memorable as our last shoot and we must keep growing and evolving and reinventing ourselves. It’s about pushing the envelope and changing and growing and not being stuck in the proverbial rut and producing the same thing over and over and over again. So people, when I make a comment (or rant) in the blog, that’s all it is. I will not apologize for what I may say. I will not apologize for how I may say it, but I will apologize if you’re feelings are hurt. It isn’t about that. So let’s go onto today’s subject matter at hand.

When a model asks me for advice, or to critique them, my usual questions are: “Why?” “What do you wish to achieve with my critique of you?” I usually only cover the obvious if I have never photographed them before. It may be weight loss. It may be toning up. It may be shooting with better photographers. It may be telling them to upgrade their book. When they ask me about agencies. I tell them to do their homework. How to approach a booker. How to approach photographers, etc. I just give them the basic information that is needed to get them on the right path. How they decide to use that information is up to them. I can’t control if a model decides not to diet, or exercise, or go to an open call unprepared. And when a model who has been trying to make it for some time and still doesn’t? I am quite sure that any advice I may have offered them has been offered before. You (the model) decided not to follow it and therefore you are hitting a brick wall.

I digress. I had to get a few things off my chest before I could continue. Before this particular blog entry came to light, I’ve discussed with a lot of photographers about some of the issues they have with models (and this is usually the new faces and up-and-comers). And it is the issue of presence. Being aware and being in the moment at the photographic session.

Time and time again I have dealt with models and I usually give this monologue. “Ralph Lauren is looking for the new face to launch his line. You are the correct height, type, look that they are looking for and in a single photograph you have to show me why Ralph Lauren would want you to be their new face and not the next model.” It seems rather easy, doesn’t it? You would not believe it is one of the hardest things that a model would do.

Being a model, you are a performer. You are the silent actor. It is your job in a single image to convey emotion. And in most instances, that is all the time you have. A Casting Director is looking at hundreds of photographs in a single day for a major casting of that magnitude. They don’t have time to filter through images to “find” you. Either you will show it to them or you won’t. It doesn’t matter what the emotion is. It can be sexiness, happiness, sadness, anger, etc. And you have to say it without ever going over the top and mugging for the camera. This particular deed is a lot harder than most people think.

It is a fine line between love and hate, it can be something as simple as raising of an eyebrow, the widening of an eye, the parting of the lips. There is a fine line between sexy and sleepy. I’ve photographed models and said give me sexy, they go slack, the eyes become droopy and they think it's sexy. When I show them the image from my point of view, they realize that there nothing sexy about it. Then there are times when the model just doesn’t even emote at all and those are the models this blog is geared to.

More than one occasion I photographed models and it was frame after frame after frame of the same exact expression. I would say “say give me happy,” click. “Give me sad,” click. “Give me angry,” click. And when you put all three images side by side, there isn’t single change of expression in the face and models, this can be quite frustrating for the photographer trying to achieve an emotion from you. Beyond practicing how to pose and how to walk - the most important thing you can do in your career is learn how to create emotion in your face. How to create that photographic tension that separates a good model from a great model. It is about connecting with your inner-self and reaching deep down inside to find that one emotion that when you release it, there is no mistaken what you were trying to emote in the eyes of the viewer. It is about being present in the moment and being present with the photographer and making that one connection so at the instant that photograph is snapped, the photographer can proudly say “we got it!”

I study a lot of portfolios and the first thing I look for is expression in a model’s face. If I come across 4 or more images in a row and I am seeing the same exact thing, I instantly know it’s not going to work for me and therefore I am not going to want to shoot the model. When I am asked, my reply usually is: “They’re boring.”

Are you boring?