Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Couple in Brooklyn

Second blog in the month of September and the month isn’t even at the half way mark. This is pretty good for me. Fashion Week is about to wind down in a couple of days, so that means shortly thereafter, I will be back into full-swing again. Nice vacation (if you want to call it that).

The reason for this blog (which is another one geared totally to photographers) is about what we do as it pertains to the industry. When it comes to working (be it a bus driver, a pastry chef, a teacher or a judge), we do one of two things. We either provide a service, or we provide goods. In some instances, we provide both.

And photographers, that is we do, we provide a service (photography) and lastly goods (photographs).

So what separates you from the next photographer? What makes a client decide to shoot with you instead of going to a competitor, and lastly, what makes that client become a repeat customer? The bottom line is: YOU.

My friend and world renowned runway coach Michael Maddox said something to me one time that he tells models all the time and it’s stuck with me: “get it right the first time and they will come back.”

If you provide shoddy service, and a substandard product, trust me, they will not come back. It’s the simple difference of going to a restaurant and in Restaurant A you have to always ask for water, and in Restaurant B, your glass is never empty. Guess which restaurant will get the repeat patronage? It’s the little things and attention to detail that will keep the client coming back.

I had a client come to me a few years ago for a photoshoot. She never had a photoshoot before, and it was a treat to herself. I provided hair, makeup, styling and of course photography. All she had to do was come through, relax and have a good time.

Even prior to shooting, I gave her the information of my crew so they can get her prepped for whatever items she may need, so when time came for her photo shoot, she walked into the studio as if it were a party and she was the guest of honor. In all, she received “The Dallas Experience.” To this very day she says “I’ve never had a photoshoot like that in my entire life. When you are served filet mignon, how the hell can you go back to baloney?” When people ask her my rate, they balk, and she replies every single time: “you get what you pay for.”

And it made me think.  That is what I have that separates me from the next photographer and that is what separates the good photographers from the great photographers and ultimately, that is what keeps them coming back.

It doesn’t matter if you produce stellar images, but the experience was awful. By the end of the day, the only thing the client will remember is the bad experience. If you produce a stellar product AND give them an experience that they can remember, they will do two things:

1. Become a repeat customer; and
2. Tell others about their experience with you

And in the end, that is what you want.

It doesn’t matter if I shoot a model, a family portrait or a corporate executive. They come to me to have their photograph taken, they leave me having had an experience.

That is ultimately what you provide as a photographer: an experience.

Always make it a good one.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Model:  Kate Moss
Photographer:  Mario Testino

My first blog for September, my dear readers. The air is getting that nice little crisp feel. School is about to start and before you know it, we will have little children running along the streets screaming “trick or treat.” I love the fall. It’s the start of the new fashion season. I have my September issue of Vogue and admiring the work Anna Wintour has put together for the upcoming fashion year (by the way, Kate Moss must’ve made a pact with the devil, she looks AMAZING on the cover), and in a few days, New York’s Fashion Week will be upon us. I can’t wait.

When Fashion Week comes around it is honestly a rest period for me. I am not one of the photographers that frequent the events. I am certainly not a runway photographer. I like to sit at home, tune in to the Fashion Network from the privacy of my home (in between bouts of retouching) and recap the day’s events.

Today’s blog, however, isn’t about Fashion or New York’s Fashion Week. It is about the rights and wrongs of a model’s portfolio.

In previous blogs, I’ve discussed the importance of choosing the right photographer, the importance of not being a photowhore, and lastly understanding yourself as it pertains to branding. Today we will discuss the importance of your hardbook portfolio and why.

When people actually see my book for the first time, they marvel at the fact that I don’t have a lot of men in my book. What I mean by that is this: if you Google me, or look at my photography on Facebook, lots of times it is inundated with scantily clad men, in various states of undress, most often wet, most often in various forms of sexual arousal. So upon meeting me, they open my book and are amazed that none of those images are in my hardbook portfolio. Then they asked why.

“I am a primarily a beauty and fashion photographer, shooting these guys do not benefit my book.”

I will repeat that. Shooting these guys do not benefit my book (however, it does benefit THEIRS).  If you learn nothing else today, being a model, when you decide to shoot with a photographer, how does that benefit YOU?

As I stated before, there should be a handful of reasons why you should shoot with any photographer during your modeling career.

A. Portfolio building

B. Magazine submission

C. Work related (commercial usage, campaigns, etc.)

D. Payment

E. Development

There are lots of times I have come across models’ portfolios and I see beautiful artistic work, where the model is not featured, their face is hidden, or the model just isn’t showcased properly. The first question I always ask is this: “What was this shot for?” If your answer is “I shot it for my book.” Then you need some serious evaluation.

Your portfolio is a representation of you. It should always show you in the best possible light. Your book should be photograph after photograph after photograph of photographic wonder based on you. A lot of models have this undying need to want to do couples shoots. Why? Does it benefit your book? Unless it’s going to be used for something, it is honestly useless to you. What if the other model is better looking than you? What if the other model is more dynamic than you? What if other the model is awful? All of these factors play in the aspect of bringing down your modeling stock. Therefore, is it honestly worth it?

There will be times when a photographer may want to do some “over the top work” with you. Outrageous costumes, dramatic lighting, “avant-garde” makeup. The photos are fabulous – but for the photographer. This won’t benefit your book, unless, of course, it is going to be used for something, so when the question comes up “what was this shot for?” you can proudly give the answer. So can you see where this is going?

There will be times when you will have shoots, and your agent will not use at all. You may like them, they may be hot, but they may not be a good photographic representation of you, or it may not be a “look” in which the agent wants to market you. So therefore, these photos will not benefit you.

If you were to look at a photographer’s portfolio, every single image in that book should be there to showcase THEIR work, THEIR lighting, THEIR concepts, THEIR angles, THEIR photographic prowess, because the bottom line is, they are trying to get booked. So the next time you see me and get a chance to look at my portfolio, now you will know the reason why my book is not filled with a bunch of naked male models.

Because it didn’t benefit my book. Think about it.