Monday, November 22, 2010


Video provided by photographer: Tiran Winston

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. As you are sitting around giving thanks for this joyous and fattening occasion, I've decided to leave you with some thoughts on the world of TFing.

For those of you outside of the Industry the term TF means “trade for”. It can be TFP (trade for print) or TFCD (trade for CD-ROM). I was introduced to this phenom through a website called Model Mayhem ( It can be a useful tool when you are looking to build your portfolio, test out new creative ideas and to test out new talent. It goes a little something like this:

There may be a makeup artist that I may want to test out because I am building my beauty repertoire. The makeup artist will give their talent and time and I will shoot. Once the shoot is over I pay the makeup artist in photographs. I get the talent of a skilled artisan, and in turn they get photographs. It turns out to be a win-win situation for all.

This can be a good thing, because usually through this method, you build good solid business relationships as well as build a team. I would not be where I am today without the expert talent of some of the people that I’ve worked with. I have an incredible team behind my photography and every time I get a compliment or praise, my team gets complimented and praised as well because without them, there would be no me.

So as I embarked on this photographic journey, this is pretty much how I build my team, as I gotten better at photography, my team has gotten better because as you get better you begin to attract bigger and better talent, as you get bigger and better talent, you get bigger and better photographs. When I received paid gigs, my team is the first I call on for the job, because if I get paid THEY get paid. It is a very loyal and monogamous relationship.

However, this holds true with wardrobe stylists, designers, hair stylists and models. The magic of magic of the mythical TF is that it becomes a situation where all parties involved will walk away with something useful for themselves, hence the reason for this blog.

The above video clip illustrates the concept that TF means shoot for free and that really isn’t how it goes (at least in my world). I am constantly approached by models who wish for me to shoot them for free, because they think they will be a “welcoming addition to my portfolio.” Most often they are not. Understand models, there are two ways that a photographer will shoot you: (1) they love your look and you will be a great addition to their book, (2) you’re paying them. It’s just that simple. Most often than not, models who DO approach me would never make my hard book portfolio, nor will my team get anything out of it, so it becomes a waste of my time to do any work of that calibre. Models, be willing to pay for the photographer/photographs of your choice. There is a reason why you approached that photographer and want to work with them.

Most models don’t realize the time, talent and money spent to produce photographs. A simple TF shoot already puts me in the hole for $100.00 because of studio rental time alone. This does not include travel and gas time. I cannot speak on behalf of other photographers, but I cannot take a TF so lightly.

So the next time you think a photographer should shoot you TF, ask yourself. Is it worth it for them?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Nole Marin

Behind every campaign, there’s a story. Behind every photo shoot, there’s a story. Behind every casting, there’s a story. Behind every model/booker meet, there’s a story. Behind every designer’s fitting, there’s a story. Behind every “Polaroid” shoot, there’s a story. Behind every successful model’s career, there’s a story. It’s the nature of the beast. There is a motto that you models need to know. “What you won’t do the next model will.” It is just that simple.

Is it time for you to leave the business? Perhaps. I can’t make that decision for you. But you models (especially the males) are in a business that is predominantly run by the homosexual community (please see my previous blog “Modeling and the Ugly Fat Chick If you wish to succeed in this business, you will have to play the game if you like it or not. It is just that simple.

The reason for this blog is that allegations came to light that celebrity stylist Nole Marin is being charged with making unwanted sexual advances upon wanna-be model Nicholas Hamman-Howe. Is it true? Who’s to say? There are three stories in this particular Greek tragedy. The model’s side, the alleged “perpetrator” side, and what really happened. Since I wasn’t there, I can't tell you what really happened, but I can tell you one thing. I think I know how it went down. It is a very common movie.

Act One / Scene One

Beautiful “model” with great physique is approached by someone in the fashion industry. Information is exchanged, and a professional relationship is forged. Fashion Industry Person (“FIP”) tells model that they can have a great career. Starts to fill their head up with dreams of becoming the next supermodel. (No one can make you the next supermodel. Remember that).

Model becomes intrigued and FIP may or may not start making sexual innuendos to the model. It can be playful banter, it can be sexually suggestive comments, etc. The model (who may or may not be straight, MAY play along). (At this point, if the model wasn’t interested, it should’ve been nipped in the bud).

Then once the model is open to the prospects of possibly being a professional working model, FIP may say something like “I can make you a star.” (No one, except the person SIGNING the checks can do anything like that for you).

Situation ensues where the model and FIP are in a place where the FIP “takes advantage” of the model. The model acquiesces. Then the FIP got what he wanted, but the model didn’t, and guess what? The model cried rape.

End Scene.

This is a common scenario in the world of modeling. For both male and female. People in the industry will offer you advancement and some are in the position to do so. You, being the model, are an adult and it is up to you at this point to make the decision of what you are willing to do, or not. What you will allow, and won’t. What will happen, and not. But what you shouldn’t do is go through with the game plan and then bitch about to others in the industry. That is an ultimate NO-NO.

The fashion industry is very very tiny. And what you say or do will be heard around the modeling world in a matter of minutes. I remember a friend and wonderful photographer in Australia, George Favios ( had a casting, and a model came with photos of mine in her book. He knew right away it was my work and a conversation commenced. Though nothing bad happened between me and this model, if it had and the model decided to badmouth me, I can guarantee you once that meeting was over I would’ve received an email about the situation. It is the nature of the beast. I used this scenario to let you know that anything (good or bad) can reverberate around the globe in a nanosecond.

I know a lot of the sexual proclivities of my colleagues. From CEOs of modeling agencies down to the interns that assist for photographers. I know the sexual appetites of various models and what they will and won’t do. I know of models on the “DL”. I know of the sexual antics of stylists and their stable of models. And I am quite sure a lot of them know about mine. But you want to know something? The difference is you won’t hear it from my mouth, because honestly what occurs between two consenting adults is none of my business. I could care less what happens between Photographer A and Model B. I could care less what happened behind the scenes of a photo shoot between a designer and a model. I could care less what it took to get the “fullness” in a model’s underwear. It is none of my business. And how do I know all these things? Because some models have big mouths. They are good for letting me know what so and so did to them at a photo shoot. Or what was texted, or said or done. My usual retort to that is “did you get what YOU needed?” If the answer is yes, my usual reply is “then shut the fuck up.”

As I said, this world is very small, and I associate with a lot of powerful people behind the scenes. If a model comes at me with their stories, I listen – with a grain of salt and I weigh out the consequences of what this person is telling me, because I have to make a mental decision of “am I going to alert my colleague of this particular incident?” “Is this model telling the truth?” “Should I mind my business?” Most often I mind my business because it let’s me know something. This particular model has a big mouth and if he is telling the business of the next professional, then 10 to 1, he will tell my business as well. And guess what models? Once you’re labeled as a big mouth, no one is going to want to work with you.

Now I am not telling you to go against your own moral fiber. Nor am I telling you what goes on in the fashion industry is right or wrong. I am just laying the scenario before you and you being an adult make the decisions for yourself. But don’t go crucifying the person because you allowed yourself to be put into a situation, and then things didn’t work out for you. You knew what you were doing when you got involved with this particular individual. You can’t cry wolf, after you let the wolf out to play.

So did Mr. Marin make unwanted sexual advances to Mr. Hamman-Howe? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. All I know is that there were two consenting adults in a room and what occurs between two consenting adults is none of my business.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Amy Ploof of Identities

Yes, it's me again, and yes another blog is coming your way, just after a short interval of time since the “oath” blog. When people come to my blog (especially models), I always want them to walk away with something that may help them along the way. A lot of the things I say may not affect them now, or even make sense, but somewhere down the line, the model may be in a photo shoot perhaps and a light bulb will go off an they will say to themselves: “THIS is what Dallas was talking about.”

If any of you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, models from coast to coast constantly hear me talk about boot camp, boot camp, boot camp. My dear friend and world renowned runway coach, Michael Maddox (,, talks about it in his seminars.  My good friend and amazing hairstylist Tim Johnson explains it to models he is trying to develop in the southern states. I extol the fundamentals of modeling. The understanding of light, the understanding of a model’s angles, the importance of posing, the importance of emotion, the understanding of presence, how to connect with the camera/photographer, the true meaning of head to toe modeling. I’ve boot camped veterans and neophytes alike and every single time I was met with a “no one has ever told me that before.” Yeah, I’ve become that photographer.

So you, the model, will now think: “well I got some really great images now. I’ve worked on my personality. I’ve learned how to flirt. I went through Dallas’ boot camp. What more do I need to know?”  A lot. 

Honestly I am surprised I have never covered this topic before, but a model posed a serious question to me a couple of days ago which prompted this blog. He asked, “how do you prepare for a particular photographer?” To say the least, he stumped me.

Different photographers want different things and unless you know the photographer beforehand, or know what the project is going to be, you really don’t honestly know. Some photographers are very precise at how they want their models to pose. Some photographers are more organic at their approach and let the models pose for themselves and the photographer will look for the best possible angles. Some photographers want movement (be it hair, or body), and other photographers want you to pose like stone. It’s a crap shoot (pardon the pun), but if nothing else, you should always be prepared for anything which is the reason for this blog.

Models, how many times have you been booked for a particular designer, and you go online to look at their previous collections? That’s homework. How many times have you gone and actually studied a photographer’s website? Other than going to see if their work is “good or not?” Most of you haven’t. You normally just go to a photographer’s website to see if they are any good, and if they can give you "hot photos". This is also a time to study. What is the MODEL doing in that shot? What emotions are the model conveying. What kind of lighting is the photographer using to set a mood? How are the models groomed? This is very very very important.

Models, I cannot stress this enough, if time allows, always do your homework on who you are going to shoot with. When you go for a job interview you try to find out as much as you can about a company, it isn’t any different than studying a photographer’s work. Secondly, you should always be groomed at all times.

On more than one occasion, I have had models come through with unsightly body and facial hair (this is both male and female). Photographers HATE having to retouch hair that could’ve been taken care of in a quick shave, be it the lip line, the arm pit, the pubic area, jaw line/cheeks, or the back of the neck. Ladies, that pretty downy fluff that sprays across your cheek may look cute for your boyfriend, but if a photographer tries to back light you with that over the shoulder lighting, it comes across like Santa Claus. Males, if you are going to shave your torso, shave your arms and legs as well. Remember black models, hair on the body can photograph like dirt. How do you do your homework? If you go to a photographer’s website, look at the guys. Are they smooth? Hairy? Let that be your benchmark.

Deodorant. I cannot stress this enough as well. Gels everyone. Or sprays. Those blocky, chalky anti perspirant wreaks havoc on wardrobes as well as anything else that will require the model to bring their hand over their head and expose their armpits. Keep perfumes and colognes to an absolute minimum. 

Hands and feet. Manicures and pedicures are paramount. You have no idea what may be captured in an image. Gnarled nails, and bad finger nail polish are a no-no. Remember ladies: neutral colors, short to medium length. Most of us prefer clear polish, or the rudimentary ¼ inch French manicure (anything longer and it comes across like an extra on Jersey Shore).

Hair. Gentlemen always keep it neat. If you are prone to being photographed with facial hair, always have it photo ready. If you can’t then in your bag of tricks bring your shaving equipment, be it shaving cream or clippers. Same holds true for ladies. This means eyebrows as well (gentlemen a neat eyebrow is different than a “done” one). Take care of those pesky nose and ears as well. And ladies, if you are prone to doing beauty, a well established photographer will normally have a well established crew. We prefer to have a model with freshly washed hair and no products in it whatsoever. At the shoot all of that will be taken care of. What happens is, if your hair is dirty, or weighed down by products, the hairstylist can’t achieve their end results, because they are fighting the product that is already in your hair and you start gunking up their equipment. If you have dye jobs, make sure they are fresh, there is nothing more frustrating then Photoshopping in the correct color of the roots. If you have weaves and extensions, make sure they are shoot ready and that you have qualified people doing your hair (REAL hair is much more preferred). And speaking of extensions, if you have clip on hair pieces or wigs, throw them in your bag of tricks (same rule holds true, make sure they are clean). This helps the hairstylist out tremendously if you have thin hair and they may need to build a style.

Makeup. Come with your face free of makeup. Most times, a lot of models don’t know their true color foundation and “shoot” makeup is a hell of a lot different than “every day” makeup. If per chance you have the fortunate discovery of finding your true foundation, always have it available at a shoot. It lets the makeup artist know that you are serious about what you do and that you are well equipped. This goes for guys as well. And all models should know how to apply the fundamentals of makeup. Both male and females. Most important: Skin moisturizer and LIP BALM!!!! Toothpaste and floss are also good to have. If your eyes are never at their “whitest” Visine is always a must for every model’s bag.

Underwear. Always carry fresh underwear in your bag of tricks and possibly different kinds of underwear. You will be surprised how underwear will photograph under garments. This holds true for bras, panties, thongs, briefs, boxer briefs and so forth. Gentlemen you should always have clean socks (both white and black) and ladies you should always have a pair of stockings.

Now that you’ve come well equipped and you had a stellar shoot, one of the most important things is a simple thank you to all you’ve worked with on the crew. A successful photograph starts with a team of people to achieve a required result. If possible, get a business card from each person involved and send them a thank you follow up. You would be surprised at the results. Many times I am contacted about the usage of a model and more often than not I am recommending the model that gave a damn versus the model that I never spoke to again. I’ve asked models about a particular photograph in their portfolio and the worse thing a photographer can hear is: “I don’t remember the photographer’s name.” Ultimate NO-NO because that tells me that you didn’t give a damn about that person and the work they went through to create a beautiful image for your portfolio. So let’s recap, shall we? Things that should always be in a model’s :”bag of tricks”:
  1. Clippers/razors/shaving equipment. This also means that you should have a towel, wash cloth and soap.
  2. Deodorant should be clear.
  3. Change of underwear, bra, socks, etc.
  4. Simple pair of fitted black jeans and a pair of casual black shoes.
  5. Hair products (clips, weaves, etc.).
  6. Fingernail polish / remover (you may have to change your nail color while you are there). Fingernail clippers.
  7. Makeup products and makeup remover as well as a good moisturizer and lip balm and Visine.
  8. Don’t forget thank you.
I can guarantee you that this list may get a little longer as my colleagues bring items to my attention. I know it may seem like a pain in the ass, but there is nothing more beautiful than a well equipped model.

Monday, November 1, 2010


 Model:  Renee Thompson for Adha Zelma "Autumn" Collection

Hey you guys.  This has been a tremendous couple of months for me.  I’ve been so busy that I didn’t even get a chance to do a single blog for the month of October.  I vowed that I would at LEAST try to write a one blog a month.  The month of October has been a very busy one.  I shot an album cover for an upcoming artist (Ashley Carpenter).  I’ve shot Adha Zelma’s “Autumn” line with Toronto’s model Renee Thompson (I will be blogging more about it in the future).  I’ve shot for Heather B for their website.  I shot Saks Fifth Avenue Spa/Salon for their Facebook page.  The accessories editorial I’ve shot with the amazingly talented Robert Durant for Bleu Magazine has finally come out.  And I helped yet another model (Justin Shaw) get placed with an agency and he is going to make some noise, which is the reason for this blog.
When I first embarked on photography, my goal was very simple:  I wanted to learn how to operate a SLR to the best of my ability.  It didn’t matter if I was shooting a waterfall, a rock, a flower or a blade of grass.  My intentions were clear:  take the best possible photograph I could possibly take.  Now four years later, I am here transforming the lives of young models across the United States with photographs I never dreamed I would take, not to mention my images are now becoming recognizable.  I actually had someone call me and ask if I did a shot that appeared somewhere, I asked how did he know.  His reply?  “I know your work in a single glance.”  Wow.  That made my day.
But I digress.  As I was saying all I wanted to do was take good, technically sound, artistically compelling images.  As this journey set forth, what my plans may have been, the Universe saw it differently.  It was with my craft that I am able to open doors for models (especially models of color) and allow them access into places where before, no one would see them.  And I thank God for that talent for allowing me to do so.  I can’t photograph everyone that asks me (though I wish I could), but I will vow to do one thing:  I will shoot you (the model) to the best my ability and try to produce the most amazing image possible for you.  If you allow me to fall in love with you, I can promise you stellar photographs.  If you allow yourself to trust me, I will be able to teach you to reach down into the recesses of your soul and make you a better model.
Is that my job?  No.  My job is to become a successful campaign photographer.  But right now, my oath is to help you to the best of my ability with the talent that God has allowed me to developed. 
This is my oath to you.

Model:  Kortney Williams for Bleu Magazine

Singer:  Ashley Carpenter for Walking into Sunshine

Model:  Justin Shaw for NTA 

Model:  Angelique Velez for Adha Zelma "5" Collection