Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Brandon Lucas

Most often when people read my blog, it’s usually industry insiders who have knowledge about the business. So most often, I am just voicing opinions and concerns from fellow photographers (and others). I tend to give voice to the frustrations that we go through in everyday life, but today’s blog (the third one in two days) is honestly geared to those outside of the industry. It is for the people who really have no knowledge as to what it takes for a signing of a model to take place.

When a person (and when I use this term it will mean someone not affiliated with the industry) sees a billboard, a magazine campaign, etc. They are seeing the finished image to sell a product. They have no idea what it actually takes to get that image to the point that it is a giant billboard in Times Square.

People involved (in no particular order)
Casting Director
Art Director
Location Scout
Studio Heads
Fit Models
Model Scout
Corporate Entity
Textile Firms
Studio Booker
Photographer's Agent
Camera Rental
Light Rental
Camera Crew
Video Crew
Advertising Firm
Advertising Executive
Graphics Department
Printing Company
Billboard Company
Personal Trainer
Landlord (who owns the billboard)
Fashion Bloggers (who talk about the model)
Maintenance Crew (to put up the sign)
Lighting company (to light the sign)

And all of this is done in order to place a SINGLE SOLITARY IMAGE in Times Square. And all you see is the wonderful iconic photo in place. Each and every job title is a tiny, microscopic and important piece in the puzzle that is needed in order to make all of this happen. Remove any of the puzzle that is listed above and guess what? It won’t happen. I know it may come across a little melodramatic, but there is a hell of a lot that goes on in order to make an actual campaign happen.

But even before we get the model on the billboard, it all starts with getting a model signed and it all starts with the scouting. In this instance, the scout involved is California’s own Michael Maddox. He scouts models and instills in them the idea of being a model. If the “model” takes the bait, it is now Michael’s job to start to groom them. He educates them on what it takes to be a successful model. He may have to take interest in their grooming, in their oral hygiene, in their personal appearance. He may tell a model that they may need to lose weight, gain weight, put on muscle, how to walk, how to talk, take care of their skin, teeth, eyes, hair, etc. No one is walking out like Naomi Campbell right out the box. This may take MONTHS for him to prepare. Michael will then take digital polaroids and start creating a buzz about the model. After the model starts to develop into something he can then see which agency will be the best suit for the model (here comes the behind-the-scene discussions). Michael will go to the firing squad with top agencies around the United States and Europe. A particular model may not have the look for a particular area (California has a different “look” than New York, or Florida). If a model has to relocate, Michael will then start developing connections for the model in the foreseeable future if the model has to move. Michael will assist in housing, in job placement and in making professional connections in order that it is a smooth transition for a model. Now it is time to build a model’s portfolio and this is where I come into the picture.

Michael will send me candid snap shots of the model. He will ask me what I think. How the model should be shot, etc. After that is determined, if the model is not from New York, arrangements are made in order for the model to get here. In order to get more “bang for the buck” through Michael’s connections (or mine), we arrange other photoshoots with other established photographers while the model is here. In the interim we also try to set up appointments with various agencies. If the New York agencies are interested, I then make connections with them to show them finished images from the various shoot(s) that have been arranged.

I arrange photoshoots by pulling together teams of people (other photographers, stylists, makeup artists, locations, etc.) so when the model goes back to their place or origin, their book is complete and they are ready to walk in the door.

After all the photoshoots have been completed and Michael has received all the photographs, he meets with the model yet once again to now build their books (building of a book means putting their portfolio together to present to the agencies). While all this is going on, Michael is back to contacting the agencies with finished images of the model. He will even give the nay-sayers another call, because sometimes they don’t “see it” the first time and now 3-6 months may have passed and now they may see things differently. Michael may arrange a model to get with more than one agency for various reasons but in the end, if all is successful, and the model gets signed, then we all did our job.

It is a proven formula and it works every single time. So remember models:  It takes time and patience and it takes a successful team to make a successful model.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Terrance Gant

Don't get excited.  Please.  It won't happen again.  Two blogs in the same month?  Not to mention in the same day?  It will go down in history!  There has been a lot of issues that have been popping up lately and instead of just writing one long continous blog, it was far easier to break them down into separate blogs.

One question I am asked constantly:  "When will we shoot again?" 

There are two types of photographers out there. There is one that actually likes to build a “stable” of models in which they like to shoot from. They develop connections with models and because of it, photographers are able to express themselves artistically with a particular model, whereas with other models they cannot. They are very monogamous. Then you have the second type of photographer. They rarely like to reshoot models. Usually if they’ve gotten that awe inspiring image, they really don’t go back and revisit. The will usually move onto the next model and produce more magic. I tend to fall in the latter group. I cannot speak for other photographers, but the reason I do it is because I am constantly building my book and it is an ongoing process. Every shoot that is worthy, I present to my agent. I don’t need him saying to me; “you shot this model already, why are you shooting them again?” Unfortunately I cannot have an entire book of 2-3 models.

There are instances where I will revisit a model. I have a few projects pending that may require their look (for either my coffee table series, or exhibit series). There have been times where I’ve been hired for a particular job and the client liked the work I did with the model and wished to use them, but other than that, I am sorry to say I am a photographic whore and once the model and I have achieved what I like to call “hotness”. I move on to create more hotness (with another model, of course).

But there is another side to this coin, and that is the side of the model. I find that once a model has found the photographer that was able to actually capture them, they tend to want to work with that photographer repeatedly. This has its plus and minuses. A model develops a level of comfort with a particular photographer and they produce stellar images. Time and time again, and the more they work with a photographer, sometimes the better the images get. The downside? They will only work well with a particular photographer, hence the reason for this blog.

One of the ultimate goals of a model is to get signed with a professional modeling agency, and once they are signed, they want to start making money with this agency. If you are not one of the few fortunate ones who can walk into the door and wow the agency strictly on your looks, you have to build some type of portfolio. They (the agent) want to see how you photograph, how you look in images and are you a marketable product. So you stroll up there with your book of great photos (albeit coming from just one or two photographers) and they like the magic that they see. Guess what they’re going to do? They are going to send you on a slew of tests to fill up your book with images of other photographers. Herein lies the issue.

A lot of models (especially new faces) are very very comfortable with me. I take the time and patience that is needed for them to grow and develop as a model (not all photographers will do this, or have the patience to want to do it). Most often a single modeling session with me can be as long as 6-7 hours (especially if Boot Camp is involved), because I am teaching the understanding of light as it pertains to the model. I am teaching expression. I am teaching emotion. I am teaching head to toe posing. I do it not for the money, but for the love of the science, and for the growth of the model and my desire for them to succeed into greatness. In the end I want the model to leave my studio with a sense of purpose and a bit of know-how that I want them to take with them on their next photo session. If you ask any model I have shot, I am known to say “from this point onward, whenever ANYONE points a camera at you, TURN IT ON. I don’t care WHO it is. I don’t care WHERE YOU ARE. YOU ARE A MODEL AT ALL TIMES.”

Remember that:  You are a model at all times.  Therefoer, you must be on at all times (especially at a photoshoot). You will not have the luxury of Dallas Logan at all your future shoots.  Do not rest on your laurels because you had one or two photoshoots with the same photographer and got good results. Whatever feelings, emotions, energy that was needed to create those magical images with that one particular photographer, remember that energy and take it to every single shoot you go to.

I’ve seen countless books from models and you can go through the images and know when and where the magical connections were made. I would look at model’s books after they have shot with me and INSTANTLY be able to tell if they used our Boot Camp lessons. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Trust and believe, if you don’t raise the bar at every single photoshoot, you will come across boring and one dimensional. And guess what happens next?

You are no longer signed. Think about it.


Model:  Renee Thompson

There will come a time in your modeling career where you will be asked to pose nude.  Artistically, editorially, commercially or otherwise.  Remember that.  Kate Moss, Tyson Beckford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Djimon Hudson and countless others have all done it in the course of their careers.  Do you think it is going to be any different for you? 

I don’t know if other photographers go through this, but I’ve been having this particular incident happen recently and it prompted me to really sit back and take a look at how things are going.

A lot of models fail to realize that a photoshoot is a complete collaborative effort of all parties involved. Once they leave the studio, the true work of the photographer at that point begins. Forget the planning of the shoot. Forget the set up and break down of the shoot. Forget the actual shoot.  Forget the time needed to proof the shoot. Forget the time needed for editing the shoot. The model has gone along on his/her merry way to their next venture and they sit there and wait for photos, while we, the photographers, slave away at creating photographic images that we all can be proud of.

For those of you who follow my work, you know I do a lot of nude work. Some full nudity, some sexually driven, most of it artistically implied. I’ve been approached by galleries and even a couple of museums to do complete series for them which are in the works. It is a slow process, because when a particular vision first takes hold, I personally do not have “exhibits” in mind. I just want to produce the best possible photograph I can produce with the model of the moment. Then what happens is, the photograph will take on a life of its own and next thing you know, I am getting an email from a man named Gustav in a country that I can’t pronounce, much less locate on a map.

But I digress. When I (I should say we) decide to shoot nude work, it is never with the intentions of shooting nudes. It is usually a comfort level that is developed between model and me and at that precise moment, we are in a collaborative vortex that takes us down a path of personal exploration. They allow me to push their boundaries and I allow them to be comfortable with themselves to explore things that they may have never thought otherwise. Sometimes it’s a simple as me saying “the jeans ruin the shot.” More often then not, it is the model’s doing to remove their garments and once they do, they are much more free to explore their inhibitions and we in turn produce beautiful images.

Let’s fast forward. You (the model) know people know me. You know people follow my work. If you say that you are shooting with Dallas, people are expecting to see images. So why is it such a pain in the ass when I produce such images, and post them (not even nudes per se, but let’s say the images that posted at the top this blog), you get freaked out because you don’t want others to see it? Can someone explain that to me?

On more than one occasion, I’ve posted such images on let’s say Facebook, only to get hit with the email of “can you please not tag me on that image, I don’t want my family to see it.” What? Why? Don’t they know that you are model? Don’t they know there will be times when you will be taking photographs of an artistic nature? Are you embarrassed of such things? If so, then why the fuck did you get undressed in the first place?

If you were David Agbodji would you have gone to Steven Klein when he shot for Calvin Klein and say “oh no, Steve, please don’t put that anywhere, I don’t want my friends to see it.” What if Naomi Campbell said that to Herb Ritts or Demi Moore said that to Annie Lebowitz? Or Kate Moss said that to Mario Testino? They and countless others produced beautiful, iconic images showcasing the human form for the world to see. So if you ever going to be embarrassed, guess what? Don’t model. It's just that simple.  I understand the erected penis and the spread labia images are not for everyone’s artistic taste, but this isn’t want I am talking about and I get that. But there comes a time in your adult life that you have to take a stand for your career and say I am doing this and I am proud. You may never know who will see that image and go “I want to book that model. He/she is beautiful.” Trust me, I get that a lot.

I am proud of the work that I do with models (clothing or otherwise). I am proud when I am approached by art buyers and curators because they see the artistry I see. I am proud when a model allows their inhibitions to be release and they can be themselves so we can take stunning photographs. What I am not proud of is when I must stifle my creativity because of their reticence.

So think about it. Who are you modeling for?