Wednesday, May 12, 2010
MARCUS RANDALL - CALIFORNIA'S BEST KEPT SECRET
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.
Posted by DALLAS J LOGAN at 5:15 PM