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.
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 Eastwood – The 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
APM Model Management
B1 Model Management
BASIC Model Management
Black Ice Jewelry
Catherine Frances Scott
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Durant by Robert Durant
Empire Model Management
Full Circle Counseling, LLC
Get Focused, Inc.
Greg J. Konop
Hosea Johnson Photography
Mars Model Management
Red Model Management
Romell 4 Face
Silver Model Management
Stanley Kaplan Talent
Third Ward Studios
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.