Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Billy Payne

Credit:  Photographer Daniel Serrette via hodginsphotography

Wow. Look at the date (March 2, 2011). This is my first official blog of 2011. Sooooooooooooo Happy New Year, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy President's Day and Happy Ground Hog's Day.  I can’t even BEGIN to explain why I haven’t been writing. I apologize for not writing sooner (yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard THAT before). I’ve been busy with shooting (thank, God), building my brand (finally realizing what I need to do to make that happen), upgrading equipment (new studio lights are on their way) and promoting my lighting seminar ( So dear readers, I want you to know that even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve been busy plugging away making things happen for me (and others) behind the scenes.

I will do a re-cap of what’s been going on in the past few months and when time allows address each one of these topics in their own blog.

Let’s see. I FINALLY met the wonderful and illustrious Michael Maddox face to face and we had a modeling seminar (that will definitely be a blog).  He was so much fun.

I was introduced to a new and talented designer by the name of Vaughn Jereaux Adams ( and did some shooting of his women’s line.

The shoot for Adha Zelma called “Autumn” ( was met with rave reviews.

I was featured in article in Style-ology Magazine and finally my long awaited and much anticipated editorial with the wonderful and talented designer/stylist Robert Durant for Bleu Magazine finally on the shelves at various bookstores and newsstands (

I was approached by the African-American painting phenom Kihende Wiley ( to be his lighting technician and photographer for some upcoming art projects. (Let's see what our agents have to say). 

And lastly, what I am known to do, I shot a few models and changed their lives.

But back to the topic at hand. When I write a blog, it usually pertains to the fashion and modeling industry as a whole, however, anything that is discussed here can be used in any walk of life. Just change the occupations and some of the anecdotes to suit your particular lifestyle and voil√°, you have your own life altering epiphany right before your very eyes.

The reason for this blog was a person asked me most recently “do you consider yourself a talented photographer or a skillful photographer?” I didn’t have to give it much thought. My answer immediately was “skillful.” That prompted the next question: "How so?"

There are a lot of talented photographers out here. With the advent of digital photography, the learning curve has dropped into the toilet and almost anyone can pick up a camera kit at your local Wal-Mart and start snapping away. If a person takes 10,000 photographs, its inevitable they will eventually take a nice picture. I will venture to say they may even take a good one. They may go on to take several good pictures. It does take a certain amount of talent to produce a good image every now and then and most photographers when starting out (if they know what they are doing) have some sort of talent, passion and drive, hence the reason for this blog.

So where does the skill part come in? The hours upon hours upon hours of perfecting my craft, the endless sleepless nights of understanding just where to put a particular strobe to achieve an effect that I want. To understand the precise moment of the sun rise or sun set and how it glints in a subject’s eye. To figure out and master the most exact ratio where the blending of flash and ambient light comes together to produce a stellar and dramatic image. To understand that if I stand just right at a particular point in the room, I can look at a model and see just how the light is going to flicker in his or her eye to create an image the will make the viewer heart skip a beat. That all takes a level of skill. You will only get so far on your talent. You need consistency and wherewithal to get the job done time after time and that can only be done with skill. And lastly, knowing enough to never have to talk about just how good you are, because honestly, your work should speak for itself.

As I said earlier in this blog a lot of people are buying cameras, lighting equipment, building a website and setting up shop. They are charging unsuspected and gullible models fees at a time when they should really be learning their craft. The unsuspecting models think that they are getting quality images from a skillful photographer, because they don’t know any better. But when you hear from someone (usually the horse’s mouth) about how FABULOUS they are, you tend to buy into the hype.

It’s bothersome and even hurtful for those of us who have made this an actual livelihood of producing consistent, quality images. We put in the time, the effort, the love, the passion, the hours and the money. When we set a particular rate it is because we have proven track records. If a model comes to me and says “I need photographic images that will help me get signed.” I know what to produce for them time and time again. If a client comes to me and says “I want to shoot like a Revlon campaign” they need not say more, I know what to give them. When a person says “I need actor’s headshots not model’s headshots” I know EXACTLY

It took me almost three years of studying and learning my craft before I even thought I was worthy enough to start charging for my services. It takes a lot more than just pointing your camera at a model and clicking away before you could (or should) call yourself a professional photographer. I’ve seen countless “newbies” come on to the scene and say “Yes, I am just as good as Dallas and I don’t charge as much.” Oh yeah? I have YET to say I can shoot like any of my peers or contemporaries (which I am constantly compared to other photographers – I get that), but I am not going to brag I am just as good or better than the next guy. You came to me for a product, either you’re going to like me or you’re not. You’re going to pay my rate or you won’t, but I will not have to brag about my work. I am at a point of my career, I don’t have to.

So to all you so-called photographers: Learn your craft. Master your artistry. Stop bragging. Get to a place where you are producing quality images (time and time and time again). Stop taking money from unsuspecting models and producing substandard work.

So, shut the fuck up and let your work speak for itself.


  1. ABSOLUTELY!!!! Agree..same holds true to "models"!! There is a difference from some one who like to take "model pics" (such as myself) and someone who actually wants to become a model, studies modeling and the craft thereof, i.e. the hours and hours of magazines, training, mentoring &maintaining a healthy diet & working out! Then you have those that eat whatever they want throw some nice clothes on (some that dont fit) and pose for a camera...sometimes in the bathroom (LOL), on top of a cars or something crazy!! Photograpghy is an ART, its a gift that you have to MASTER in order to become successful! As an aspiring photographer you have to believe in and KNOW what you are trying to capture...and if you dont think its something that you could put in a magazine, billboard or somehing to that effect you PROBABLY should be photographing it..:)!! In my opinion Thanks for this blog think its a WONDERFUL IDEA!

  2. good start. now make it a habit to post weekly

  3. Great blog, Dallas.
    Glad to see you back on the blogging scene lol.
    Looking forward to future reads.

  4. Amen Brother preach... Let them know

  5. always nice to read your thoughts STAR!!! keep keeping on DJL

  6. Bravo Dallas. As a long time fan of your work I've seen the progress you've made and am proud of the work you do. Doing great work trumps talking about it as I posted in an old blog post and I try to live by that. People will recognize. I am constantly referring young artists to your website so they can "see how it's done". Glad to see you blogging...I look forward to reading and seeing more amazing images.