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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. i know who you speak of too! & what you said here it correct for the industry at whole. tarrice's response is applicable as well. i don't know what else to say about this (SMH & LOL).

  3. hey dallas...
    i saw you shot them - then i decided to come on over to your blog. I was also contacted by their agent to shoot those guys for free. the agent was nice and had good intention but i insisted on being paid my rate. for the very reasons you mentioned i saw no value for me to shoot them...esp for free. They (being typically black... wanting something for little or nothing)pasted on paying me so they found you... Although we don't see eye to eye on alot of things... i hate that you had a shitty experience with them. they should be eternally great because the images you did for them have totally elevated them to a new level. the shit they had before would never hold water here in nyc. Being black male models in this industry filled with hungry competition with great attitudes need to be humbled.
    fuck 'em... and keep doing yo thang.
    (me personally, i woulda threw them out... lol and you know i woulda - lol)

    -"dueces-dap and the 2finger kiss...."

  4. Jordan A. SwainTuesday, 06 July, 2010

    Very well said, and so well put. Thank you DJL, for yet another much needed blog.

  5. say that. say that. say that. mmm...

  6. Ok, I have to chime in on this one.

    Most young models have no sense of the industry today and there are so many cr0oks out there on all levels trying to squeeze mpennies out of unsuspecting talent. Conversely, there are also some crooked photographers that will take advvantage as well.

    The fake bravado and attitude is usually indicative of someone who has never worked or is new to the game. Insecurity and fear make people act very strange.

    This is all about respect and how you choose to treat another human being.

    Lets face it this industry has changed so much in 25 years and there are more people involved with less experience, so somewhere along the way everybody will face rudeness, lateness and unecessary attitudes. How you carry yourself and what you ALLOW to happen to you, will.

    All models want something for nothing and expect photographers and their staff to work miracles where there aren't any to be found. That has become the name of the game.
    We all have to learn that out time is worth MONEY and nothing comes without some sort of price tag.

    In order to get the best work from everyone, the studio needs to be filled with mutual respect and admiration. The drama from BOTH sides should be left outside in the hallway, otherwise there will be a tug of war that will show on film. You cannot create beauty where there is tension and frustration. From my experience , this behavior is the worst on fashion sets where drama seems to abide and grow.

    Manners and etiquette can only be found where there is family and tradition...unfortunately too many people dont learn this at home.

    I am still working and I am appalled by some of the behavior I see. It is not my business to educate anyone, I just cut ties and move on to something better. But perhaps my attitude is why I still continue to work and have bith agents and repeat clients. It is frustrating to watch but I know eventually, someone will stop them and school them as to how to behave or they will just stop working all together.

  7. Thus far, the people I've worked with all came from good, proper backgrounds--mannered and respectful.

    I normally serve tea and stir up a chit-chit to make mental assessments of my guests (models and creatives on a shoot/testing/work day).

    Sometimes, being a gentlemen, you make yourself and easy target--be careful there. You're setting a great example, Dallas.

    Best in health,