Dallas Logan: “There are two types of photographers; the kind that shoot to showcase the model and the kind that shoot to showcase themselves. Be careful which one you decide to use”
08 jun, 2011
Thank you, World of Models for having me. It is a privilege and an honor. I amimmensely flattered. My name is Dallas J. Logan and I am a commercial beauty and fashion photographer based out of New York City.
I am also a professional retoucher. I am originally from Mantazas, Cuba and my family came to the states in the early 70s and we migrated up the East Coast and settled in NY in 1980.
I’ve been into photography all my life, and I was the kid that always had a camera in my hand whenever there was a vacation, event, etc. so it turned into a natural progression towards professional photography. About five years ago, I decided to take the professional plunge and my mentor Sean Toussaint (www.seantoussaint.com) took me under his wing and taught me all the technical aspects of photography.
The first words that came out of his mouth was: “I cannot teach you photography, no one can. But I can teach you to use your camera to the best of your ability” At first I didn’t understand what he meant, but as I matured as a photographer, I NOW totally get it. It’s like any other art, a teacher can instruct you on how to use the tools of that particular trade, but the artistry itself must come from you.
I don’t have a particular style that defines me, it is constantly changing and constantly growing, but if I had to sum it up in a sentence it is an amalgamation of Herb Ritts meets Bruce Weber meets Jill Greenberg.
The digital era on photography
The advent of digital photography did a few things for the industry. I come from the world of film, so my eye tends to be different in the aspect of getting it right in camera and learning to understand light and how it works on a film medium. What digital did for a lot of people was lower the learning curve, so picking up and learning how to operate a camera is a lot less daunting than 20-30 years ago. The downfall of that is this: everyone and anyone are picking up cameras and calling themselves photographers, and it has cheapened the art and skill tremendously.
So someone may come to me for a project and when I quote my price, they may think it’s too high, but they go to John Doe who had their camera for six months and they think they are getting a deal. The plus side of digital photography is the only thing that can possibly hinder you is your own imagination. The images that can be created today could only be dreamed of 30 years ago and with a lot more ease. Mix that with videography at your finger tips, we are now blurring the lines across both mediums of still and motion photography.
Since technology is changing and growing, a lot of photographers are having to wear more than one hat. They have to be videographers, cinematographers,photographers, retouchers, graphic artists and so forth and there has been a changing of the guards over the past decade or so, and the old school photographer who first fought against digital had to hop on that bandwagon are now beginning to look at video with open arms, and I had to hop on that bandwagon as well. I am growing and evolving and learning all the aspects of cinematography as it pertains to light, sound, editing, music, etc.
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The Worldwide economic crisis affected the fashion photography?
Because of our economic climate, a lot of companies have scaled down their productions when it comes to photo shoots, learning how to do more with less, but the “better” photographers are still getting booked and are still getting paid. It hasn’t affected me at all honestly. If anything, I’ve gotten busier. I haven’t shot anything personally for myself since 2009, but I have been very busy.
Capturing the perfect moment
There is no such thing as a “perfect” picture, but what happens is when there is an image in my mind I am happy when I capture exactly how I envisioned something. A couple of years ago, I shot this beautiful Senegalese model named Bintou and all I saw her in was nothing but heavy gold jewelry (bangles, necklaces, etc.). She was willing and working with her was like photographing raindrops, her movements were fluid and every frame was beautiful. To date one of the best photo shoots I have ever had.
Working with the models: becoming one of the “go to” guys for work
I am the consummate model’s photographer. When a model books a photographer to shoot with, they have to understand that essentially we are working for them. It is our job to photograph them to the best of our ability and those photos in turn must do their job (whatever that job is). If I photograph an unsigned model and with my photos they get signed, then I did my job. If I photograph a model and they book a campaign because of those photos, then I did my job. It is very important that models realized that they shouldn’t pick photographers to shoot with because they think their work is “hot”.
Shoot with a photographer that will elevate their career. There are two types of photographers; the kind that shoot to showcase the model and the kind that shoot to showcase themselves. Be careful which one you decide to use.
With regards to models, I’ve worked with a slew of them. And the best answer I can give you about what I like most about them is their gratitude.
It has been an evolution to get to that point, because when I first started out, I was the photographer shooting for myself. I am a commercial photographer, so a lot of my work was slick, glitzy and polished and when I would go to the modeling agencies for testing, a lot of them would shy away, because my work was too polish for them (my portfolio at the time was geared to advertising firms), so I had to learn a balance of being able to shoot models simplistically without losing the essence of Dallas. Once I started doing that, I started getting flooded by the modeling agencies and the models’ careers began to take off. I quickly became one of the “go to” guys for work.
Funny/Unusual backstages moments
Early in my career, I shot a model by the name of Jazzma Kendrick and amazing statuesque model literally built like a Coca-Cola bottle. We were shooting in the West Village in New York City and I told my stylist Butch Johnson(www.styledbybutch.com) to put something on shocking her. My exact words were “I don’t care what it is, but she has to stop traffic.” He placed a meshed hoodie on her that came right below her ass cheeks and she was completely naked under it. I had her walk down 14th street in the middle of the street. Not only did she stop traffic, she almost caused a bike messenger to get hit by a bus. It was an amazing shoot that day, I am so surprised that we didn’t get stopped by the cops.
Top cool places for a shooting
I really don’t have any favorite places for shooting. I like anywhere where I can manipulate the light (natural or otherwise). I like to be able to showcase the model and I don’t need a lot of funky locations or slick backgrounds to make that happen. When it comes to my photography, I like the model to tell the story and most often it is just a white wall (or window), the model and some sort of lighting.
IMAGE worth a THOUSAND WORDS?
I had an image that I had to shoot for an adult entertainment company one time. They came to me because they wanted to “elevate” their still work and sell it as “art.” I turned them down numerous times, because even though I may shoot a lot of nudes, I don’t shoot pornographic images. Eventually the production company and I saw eye to eye and I shot one of their models. He had an interesting name chain around his neck and I asked him if the chain had any sentimental value. He said no.
I then requested that he arouse himself and wrap the necklace around his penis. It came one of the most beautiful, yet controversial photographs I have ever taken. The production company ended up using the image for their DVD cover and my agent said: “only you would know how to light a dick like that.”
An unforgettable moment
When I was teaching a lighting seminar I do called “Light Is Light” (www.lightislight.com) and a student by the name of Stacy Beaucicaut-Etienne (who is really amazing, you need to check her out) was upset because her photos weren’t coming out the way that she wanted. Now upon looking at the photograph, it was technically a perfect image as it pertains to highlights, shadows and exposure, but it wasn’t to her liking. I walked her through to get the image exactly how she liked it and she whispered, “I like it like this, but ‘they’ won’t.” I asked her who “they” were and she said people.
My reply to her was “fuck what other people think. Don’t let anyone tell you how to do YOUR art. If this is what you want as your image, than this image is perfect.” She started crying, because all the time she was shooting, she was allowing other people to put their artistic footprint on her images, and she finally realized that she didn’t have to. Once that happened, her work soared. That’s when I knew I did my job.
I am slotted to appear on a couple of television shows where I will be the featured photographer showcasing and building modeling talent.
When you’ll come to my world?
I do have to get to Brazil. I think they have some of the most AMAZINGLY beautiful human beings in the entire world. Back in 2002 I saw a movie called “City of God” and I fell in love with the Brazilian people. I had to see the movie about 4-5 times, because every time I watched it, I couldn’t get past the beauty of the people. I still can’t tell you what that movie is about.
Dallas Logan, the photographer
Building Careers… One Photograph At A Time…