Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Harvey "Zenith" Pimental

Models, models, models… Here I am, again, writing another blog, again. About something that is bothering me, again. That I should school you on... again. (Okay, enough with the “agains”). As I’ve stated before, when something – for lack of a better word – disturbing – happens in my tiny microcosmos, it prompts me to write about it and like some of my other blogs, this one was a long time in the making.

In my photographic career, I’ve seen models clamoring to shoot with this photographer, shoot with that photographer, for whatever reason. It could be because they really admire the photographer’s work, it could be because that particular photographer will catapult their career to the next level, or it could simply be to have bragging rights. “Yes, I’ve shot with so and so.”

I’ve had a multitude of models wanting to shoot with me for years. I’ve gotten inundated with emails of “God, I love your work. I want to work with you,” “You are one of my dream photographers,” “when I come to New York, you are the first on my list!” And this is an ongoing litany. For the most part I am flattered, just like my colleagues are flattered when they receive similar emails. I realize as of late, photographers have a lot of power and in some instances we are like rock stars to the modeling community. But there comes a time in a model’s career that they need to sit back and look at us objectively in terms of what a photographer can really do for their career, and not be blinded by the “Oh My God” status that you’ve placed on us. You should say to yourself: “can this photographer help my career?”

Photography like any other is a business. However, this business for the most part is our artistry and we shoot with passion and love. When others admire the love and beauty that we put forth, it puts a smile on our face. When we take what we like to call our “defining shots” is when we take photographs that no matter what we do in the future, these images will always, always be remembered.

For example:

Photographer:  Maya Guez
Model: Porter

Photographer:  Tarrice Love
Model:  Art Stroman

Photographer:  Rick Day
Model:  Unknown

Photographer:  Dallas J. Logan
Model:  Catherine Frances Scott

Photographer:  Laretta Houston
Model:  (It's A Secret)

Photograher:  Bruce Talbot
Model:  Layaria

Photographer:  William Springfield
Models:  Naija Nne and Kiersten Alexandria

Photographer:  Jerris Madison
Model:  Eva Pigford

Photographer:  Gregory Prescott
Model:  Ambrielle Webb

Photographer:  Stephen Eastwood
Model:  Maria

The above images are indisputable and will forever be acquainted with the photographer that has taken them. When we photographed these images, they are a magical moment in time. Yes, we’ve produced stellar images before and after, however, these images will forever be burned into the psyche of photographic history.

But I digress. This blog today is about the models that seek out our photographic skills and will do anything to achieve a photoshoot with us, even to the point of accepting mediocre, repetitive and mundane work. And the reason this weighs so heavily on my head is because a couple of instances happened this week that made me sit back and take notice.

A celebrity photographer of campaign magnitude recently did a test shoot of a model. Without giving any names, this particular photographer shot campaigns for Revlon, Nine West, etc. as well as celebrities such as Jessica Alba and Halle Berry. So when you are shooting campaigns and celebrities of this status, it raises the bar substantially.  The model was wanted to work with this photographer and it seemed that the feelings were mutual, however, when the photos were produced, the model sent me the link and asked me for my professional opinion. While I don’t like talking negatively about another artist’s work, the images themselves were lackluster, boring and downright bad for a person of this calibre. They did nothing to show case the model, hell they did nothing to show case the photographer’s talents. In fact, they were so poorly done, it forced me to go back to the photographer’s website to see well maybe something is wrong and I am associating this person’s work to another’s name. No, alas, the same photographer, same great name, less than stellar work. I repeatedly looked at the images trying to find something, anything that would’ve made this shoot salvageable. Nothing. In essence, this shoot was a waste of the model’s time.  Did the model deserve a $50,000 campaign shoot? Of course not, however, he (the model) did deserve images he could at least be proud of - and use.

Second incident. A model recently posted images on Facebook with a well known, well loved and well established New York photographer. He was proud.  I know he was.  He was so proud that he sent me an email blast to say “Hey Look at my new photos, what do you think?” I sat there and looked at the images, which were indeed lovely. Great lighting, great composition, great post production, however, I’ve seen this same image from the same photographer, not once, not twice, but literally over twenty some odd times, so the image for all its merit is now boring, dull and uneventful. This wasn’t the first time that I have seen the two above scenarios happen, but to happen days apart from each other, it bothered me enough to want to address this.

I remember I had an incident where a model came to me seeking images that I shot before. He loved what I did with another model and wanted a very similar shoot (almost exact). Though it was against my better judgment, the model demanded this and he had his money. I shot what was asked. As soon as the images were posted, my dear friend Michael Maddox slammed me with an epiphany.

“Dallas,” he says. “You did not do that model justice, because you shot that before. You shot the same exact thing with so and so and now the original images that made so and so unique is no longer special and dear to him. Because you shot this model the same exact way, he in turns has nothing that makes him special and unique.”

“But Michael,” I retorted. “This is what he wanted. He paid for this.”

“I don’t care," he replied. "You should’ve said to him; ‘I can’t do that for you. That was for him, however, I will do something special and unique for you.’ That should’ve been your response, these models get so caught up in wanting to shoot with you that they turn around and lose their identity and in turn you lose your edge because you are repeating what you did before. So now you don’t look fresh and new. You did the model a grave disservice. Make each and every model special and unique in their own right. ”

And you know what? He was right. The model had a preconceived notion of what he wanted the images to look like. He was hell bent on shooting with me, and he wanted the same exact images and even though deep down inside it was against my better judgment, I did what he wanted. Were the photos nice? Yes. Were they well received? Yes. Did it raise the bar for him? Yes. Were they fresh and original? No. Did I do us both a disservice? I reluctantly have got to say yes.

Models, this message is strictly for you. We photographers are very set in our ways. We usually work out of the same space time and time again and what happens is, our own work begins to take on similarities. This is not to be confused with a style. I have a particular photographic style, so when you see it, you know immediately it is a Dallas Logan image, the same holds true for each of the artists listed above. But that is different than producing the same work over and over and over again and that is what you should try to avoid. A photoshoot is a collaborative effort between all parties involved (most importantly between the model and the photographer) and if you don’t push at us to give you something more vibrant, dynamic and different, you won’t get it. It can be something as simple as changing a lighting set up, to changing a location. It can be as simple as saying, "please try something different with me."  Remember, models, this is about your career, and these images are to be used to your advantage and if you have lack luster, repetitive images in your book, who’s to blame… You or me?

Think about it.