Friday, May 20, 2011


Model: Sandley Jonathas
Model:  Sandley Jonathas
This blog was originally going to be titled: “Sabotage Yourself, Not Me!” and as I thought about it, I realized that it may seem like a regurgitation of my previous blog (Self Sabotage - What Models Do Best, and in some ways it is, but now it’s coming from a different point of view.

I don’t like to do a lot of testing of models. Firstly, it doesn’t make me any true money, most often it usually isn’t anything I am going to use in my book and lastly, when doing test, as a photographer you don’t have complete control over the shoot.

Let me repeat that again. As a photographer, you don’t have complete control over the shoot.

An agency would hit me up and they will tell me what they need for a model. I comply. If I am inspired by the model, sometimes I may push their limitations and boundaries, because you see, if this is a business you REALLY want to get into, just how bad do you really want it? Most often if I can get the model to come out of themselves and push them out of their comfort zone, the agency is ultimately pleased.

When you live in a fashion capital like New York, or Paris, or London, or Japan and you are a model from some rural part of the world, you have to realize that when you come to these places it is a different ballgame when it comes to modeling. Things you may have done in let’s say Memphis or Michigan or even Philadelphia may be considered “hot” in those locations won’t hold a candle to what is happening in the real world of modeling.

A lot of would be hopefuls make the trip to the Big Apple in hopes of becoming a star and quickly realize that the thing that may have made them “hot” in their hometown means nothing to us in the big cities. There isn’t too much we haven’t seen, done or experience, so when you bring your closed minded, hillbilly ways to us to try to mold you, you allow your upbrining and beliefs to hold you back.

Let me repeat that again. You allow your upbringing and beliefs to hold you back.

So you go into a photoshoot and the well known, well established photographer says get naked, you, the model panic and reluctantly get undress. The well known, well established photographer tries to photograph you, you come across stiff, scared, nervous (for whatever preconceived reasons you may have). If you are lucky, you produce some stellar images (again, IF you are lucky). They are beautiful, they are tasteful, they blow away anything you ever shot before, and guess what you do with them? Nothing. Because you are afraid of the backlash of friends, families and loved ones (please read: Who Are You Modeling For?

So we the photographer know our job and knows what it takes to get you where you need to go, but now we can’t. Why? Because YOU are afraid to go there. Well here is a dose of reality: the next model WILL go there. The next model WILL take the necessary steps to do what needs to be done. The next model could care less what their friends, families and loved one thinks. The next model WILL book the campaign but guess what you will get?

A bus ride back to Bubblefuck USA.

Think about it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Naoumie Ekiko of Q Models

A beautiful aspiring model said to me last night “Well I am going to give this modeling thing a chance...” I had to stop him immediately. No matter what you do in life, in order to be successful, you have to give it 150% or nothing at all. It is just that simple. I don’t care if you are a model, a surgeon, or a Navy SEAL. No one can take your passion away from you and no one can make it more important than you. Remember that.

For those people who are not in the arts (be it dance, music, painting, etc.), they don’t truly understand what it is to have a driving artistic passion. They look at what we do as hobbies, or something to do to pass the time, or better yet… A phase.

It is usually met with the question of “How is that [FILL IN THE BLANK] thing coming along?” I have to give pause to such a question, because if you actually THINK about it, it really is an insult. Do you go to a doctor and say “how is that medical thing coming along?” Do you go to a lawyer and say “how is that lawyer thing coming along?” Do you go to a married person and say “how is that marriage thing coming along?” Of course not.  So why do you belittle what we do and reduce it to a “thing”? Is it the monetary aspect? If I made the salary of Bruce Weber or Steven Meisel and had billboards at the Crossroads of the World, would that make me more legit?

When I first embarked SERIOUSLY into photography, I got that question a lot and at first it didn’t bother me. I guess in their eyes, what I was doing was a hobby or side hustle. But as I proceeded to bust my ass with sleepless nights and endless hours of technical study. Learning to understand focal planes, memorizing mathematical equations that resulted in Fstops or understanding the science of light, I realized very quickly that this was not a “thing” that I was doing. It was a serious, unadulterated craft that I was partaking in and I won’t let anyone take that away from me.

I remember something that my mother said when I was a teenager. “Be the best that you can possibly be, and never be ashamed.” I walk with that quote in my heart and little did she know, she planted a seed of personal excellence in my heart. Anything I decided to do in my life I did it to its fullest. When I sang, I practiced a minimum of 4 hours a day. Due to that intense training, I received a full scholarship for college and traveled the world. When I decided to become a personal trainer (yes, believe it or not), I took it to the level of Master Trainer, when I decided to pick up the camera, I decided to be the best that I could possibly be (and I am still on that journey).

If you know anyone in the arts (be it your child, loved one or friend), encourage their gifts. Never doubt their talents or ability. It can make the difference between a John Doe and a Michael Jordan.

If you’re a model, pose like Kate Moss and walk like Naomi Campbell. 
If you’re a singer, be sure to make God cry and the angels weep.
If you're an actor, deliver your lines like Lawrence Olivier and light up the screen like Elizabeth Taylor. 
If you're a dancer, glide like Gene Kelly and moonwalk like Michael Jackson. 
If you’re an artist, paint like DaVinci, and sculpt like Michaelangelo
If you’re a photographer, shoot like Avedon, and light like the sun.

But above all else. Never let ANYONE reduce your passion to a “thing.”

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The Special Greeting That Went out on Facebook

Hey everyone.  It took me a moment to gather my thoughts when it came to writing this blog, so forgive me if you find it long or boring or long overdue. 

A wise person once said, “if you want to know someone, meet their friends.” It has been a mantra that I’ve stuck by my entire adult life.

I know a lot of people. When I say a lot, I mean hundreds (possibly thousands), however, I have very very few true friends. In my cultivation of friends and loved ones, I have been blessed by God to have amazing and wonderful people in my inner group and because of them, I feel complete. Because of my completion through these people, I never desired material things to bring me happiness. An iPad would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but a call from a friend to say “I love you” is far more valuable.

The reason for this blog is simple.  I want to thank the people in my life that made my 45th (ugh) birthday the most amazing one I have ever had. To give you a little background on me, I have never really REALLY been fond of my birthday. When my family moved to New York in 1980, my father passed away the day before my 14th birthday due to the over consumption of alcohol. It was a VERY devastating time for me. We were new to New York, I had little to no friends and no one to turn to. In a time where entering my teenage years, a male (especially one of color) needs a positive male role model in their life was suddenly gone and I was then had to grow up and become a man. My father was my best friend, confidant, rock and shoulder. When he was removed from my life, I was never the same (for years). He gave me my first life’s lesson: we all will die one day. And because of that lesson, I no longer fear death. It is beyond our control.

Therefore, my birthday was never a truly joyous occasion for me. In my twenties I had my first surprise birthday party and I met that with reluctance (much apologies to the people involved with that [Kare Alford and Daryl Goodwin]) and throughout the years, my friends have learned that when it was Dallas’ birthday, don’t make a big deal. It is just another Tuesday or Wednesday, or whatever day it may have fallen on in a particular year. Because they loved me, they honored it. And because of their love, I never thought the need or want for anything. I was complete.

I have always been the solid foundation in all my friends’ lives. If anything was ever needed, they know that they can always call on me, and if I couldn’t do whatever was needed, I made it a point to make sure I can find someone, somewhere to get it done. However, when the roles were reversed, I often shunned the offers. I always took the stance of I can do this myself.

One day a friend of mine wanted to do something for me, I turned him down, he replied with tears in his eyes (and I will never forget): “you are the only person I know that can make someone feel bad when they want to do something nice for you.” It hurt me to my heart, and from that point onward, I never did that again.

So now that you have an understanding of my sick and twisted pysche, let’s fast forward to my actual birthday, which fell on a Wednesday in the year of 2011. It was the first time that I actually told myself I was not going to work. So I moved away from the camera, the Wacom tablet and from the computer and just decided to enjoy the day. It was a gorgeous day for April in New York (which was the birthday gift from Mother Nature).

As I am relishing in my day off feeling naughty, I hear a song linger through the apartment I share with my best friend, Butch Johnson.

“Thank you for being a friend,
Traveled down the road and back again
your heart is true you're a pal and a confidant
And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend.” (For those of you who don't know, it's the theme song to "Golden Girls")

The Results of That Special Greeting

As Butch entered into my room, in his arm was a wicker basket overflowing with birthday cards from around the globe. My good friend and business partner, Michael Maddox (with his magical team of supermodel helpers) commandeered Facebook and made my birthday one that I will never forget.

I received cards from as far as France and Japan, well wishes from everyone and anyone on Facebook as well as birthday video greetings. The moment was so overwhelming that I had to take a moment and thank God for the people in my life and I actually took another moment to cry.

I am not a person who likes a lot of fanfare and I personally will never know HOW they pulled it off (now as I write this blog, I NOW know why I didn’t get any mail two weeks prior to my birthday). Cards came for almost two weeks after, which is why it took me so long to write this blog (I wanted to make sure I said thank you to EVERYONE).

I want to thank:

Michael Maddox (for everything!)
Ursula M. Alberto
Cristian Alexander
Vince Allen
Sanba-Naudin Babacar (all the way from France)
Zion Babb
Jayce Baron
Brian Baskins
Adi Batista
Charlotte Berry (thank you for a great lunch!)
Tonya Blowe
Mark Bower
Chris Bowie
John Brathwaite
Catherine Brown
Ella Brown
Jeff Brown
Jeremy Brown
Jordan Brown
Noah Brown
Donna Buch
Michael J. Butler
Kevin Calloway
Michael Calloway
Brendon Campbell
White Cedar (all the way from the west coast of Canada)
Kaila Charice
Kelleen Lim Chea
Pearl Chin (there is nothing like You and Haru!!!)
Iris Colburn
Stephen Cole
Lloyd Cook
DeAngelo Davis
Tina Davis
Rick Day
Cassie Dee
Sheree Devereaux
Destinee Dickerson
Melvin Diggs
Robert Dowdy
Isaisah Duckson
Lauren Dundee
Brown Family
Barbie Flores
Shae Fontaine
Terrel Fraser
FaceBook Friends
Philip Gadsden
Leo Gallo
Mother Gallo
Armond D. Goodin
“Hercules” Lamar Gordon
Rick Gore
Courtney Grant
Chris Gray (Kobe!!!!)
Cottrell Guidry (to my fellow James Baldwin fan, thank you!)
Amber Guzman
Joseph Hall
Nick Hamilton
Rich Hardt
Petra Hayek
Gretchen Hemmi (for the delicious hand delivered carrot cake)
Lendl Henderson
Justin Ceasar Hingleton (beautiful basket!)
JoAnne Hoffman
Remy Hou
Broderick Hunter (please, don't sing... just model)
Stephanie Morris Hunter
Cuffy Johnson
Butch Johnson (for suffering through it)
Tim Johnson
Willie Johnson III
Ebony Jointer (from Tokyo, Japan)
Sherian Jones
Steph Jones (loved the video!  You have a great voice!)
Claudia Jordan
Greg Konop
Russel Krus
Shelby Lackey
Jae Lamar
Nathanial Lamar
Seth London
Brandon Lucas
Manderson (of Austin Texas)
Maretini Manumalo
Goldin Martinez
Autumn McCauley
Dwight McMillian
Erica Mitte (and company)
Caroline Monteverdi
Michael Moore
Ne’Kandra Muhammed
Yusuf Myers (what a way to end the night MOJITOS!)
Eric Nagle
Megan Newberry
Morris Nuamah
Alva Page
Billy Payne
Spencer Phillips
Zenith Pimental
Esquire Quarterman
Ajaya Ram
Max Reed (the first card delivered!!!!)
Arlene Rewti
Brandon Rice
Tim Ricks
Dennis Robinson
Daniel Rogers
Mamadou Sall
Sergio Sanders
Kristine Scott
Justin Shaw
Ursula Sumler
Jimi Sweet
Dushawn Tapper
Brandon Thomas (A shout out to the most hilarious video!!!)
Nicole Thompson
Jaimes Timas
Retta Timmons (AKA NextLevel)
Cherise Trahan
Marcus Turner (I LOVE my cereal!!!!)
Carlene & Tyone (Thai)
Agu Ukaogo
Alexis Upton
Carla Walker
Andre Washington (God, if I could sing like you)
Elijah Wells (you better SING!)
Sharon White
Maria Whitjett
Ryan Wills
B.J. Williams
Ronald Williams
D’Angelo Wilson
Zack Yanni
Marlon Yates
Jennifer (of Medford Oregon)
Residents of 819 Hoffman Avenue

For anyone I could’ve possibly left out, please accept my apologies. It’s been a little overwhelming. Thank you for making my birthday a very special one.

Until next time…