Thursday, July 29, 2010



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 ( 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



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.