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Test Shoot: Fashion/Beauty Photographer Dametreus Ward

Test shoot is a new interview series that im working on when i sit and have conversations with industry professionals. This gives me a chance to ask them questions about not only their views on the industry but how they operate individually. I look forward to bringing this to you to help further create a platform that teaches you about the industry you're looking to start/continue you're career in. Let's Begin!

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Dametreus "Meech" Ward is a Fashion/Beauty Photographer originally from Milwaukee, WI currently residing and based in Dallas, Texas.  He is the Artist and CEO of Meech213 on a mission to deliver Fashion & Beauty artistically within his portraits. It's equally important for him to provide excellent personal attention while offering a unique experience with each and every client.

I met Meech via facebook just randomly commented on an image i saw of his that i liked, we created a dialouge and i quickly found out he was a great person with a great sense of humor. He absolutely loves what he does and as creatives thats what helps us vibe together. I reached out to ask him about an interview and he happily obliged andthis is what i asked him.

 

Syranno: What is the relationship between you and fashion photography? What keeps it thriving and spicy? 

Meech: Well for me the relationship is very tight, this has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a couple years now. I’ve taken a lot of time to actually study the craft and i'm still learning everyday. For me it's the traveling that helps keep it thriving and spicy. My creativeness opens up more because I’m exposed to more that I’ve never seen and, it challenges me as well to be more creative in my work. Fashion and beauty can be done in so many ways and I think that’s the beauty of it because everyone is different in their individual art form.

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S: Was there ever a moment where you and fashion photography weren't seeing eye to eye?

M: When I first began photography I would say shooting fashion and not understanding made me rethink if this was for me. Granted, I wasn’t working with stylists or anything but the fact that the final outcome wasn’t what I had imagined made me rethink whether or not this was the right direction.

 

S:  Revisiting your past work what is the most significant change that you have seen?

M: When I look back at my work I think having a team would be the most significant change. I’ve noticed how important it is to have a great team when working on projects. A good makeup artist, stylist, hairstylist, model, photographer can really set the tonal difference in what the outcome will be.

 

S: Lets change gears a bit, what is the most common misconception that models have when dealing with photographers?

M: Haha, I’d say that the idea that every photographers wants to have sex with them.

 

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S: Lol!! With that perception, what can us as photographers do to help turn that around?

M: I think personally if more photographers were more professional in the industry this wouldn’t be an issue. Actually, be a photographer for the art and not just to get women, that would make a huge difference.

S:. What does the term "industry standard" mean to you?

M: Industry standard for me means just the general requirements or what’s accepted in the industry.

S:. How important is "industry standard" to your current body of work?

M: For me it’s somewhat important. My reasoning Is because I like to work with different talent and for the industry that talent may not be what is desired or "in". When I have an idea I like to use whoever to execute my projects its about aesthetics and feeling.

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S: You recently were in New York City on a short residency, what is the most significant difference between your market in Texas and the market in New York City?

M: The biggest difference is that New York has more of a diverse commercial and fashion market whereas Texas is mainly commercial. New York allows me to do my fashion editorials with relaitive ease whereas Texas I’m limited.

 

S: Whats one non standard or non traditional piece of advice that you would give emerging creatives when making a decision to get into the fashion industry?

M: I would say don’t always listen to what people say when it comes to their experiences. A lot of times seasoned individuals that have been in the industry scare emerging creatives based on their personal experiences. I feel that if you’re dedicated and consistent anything can happen for you. Many will tell you that you won't make it or try to compare you to others, and that can bring certain feelings when wanting to pursue your dreams. Don’t let someone else’s failures stop you from going towards what you want.

 

S: Curveball question: If there was one thing you could create to make your workflow more efficient what would it be?

M: I would say building a solid team that takes care of scheduling and finding work. Although editing takes time I enjoy the process.

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S: How can people get in contact with you for commissioned projects?

M: Im on Instagram @Meech213 and also my website www.meech213.com.

 

 

 

 

It's me in the photos, but I don't own the photos? I'm confused..

Intellectual property is a hard pill for anyone to swallow but it is a necessary conversation to have with any client that your working with. Better yet outlining this in your contracts as photographers will skip the red tape. In reality what happens is that most people aren't aware that the rights of the images taken solely belong to the photographer and either have to be sold or licensed to you for use. I had a recent conversation with a mentor about an image he took that ended up on the billboard for a prominent school. The model contacted him and asked to purchase another photo from the set they previously shot. When her school asked for an image she gave them the one she purchased. So I know what your thinking, she purchased it right? OK so if you purchase an image at a low cost from a photographer they generally are agreed upon that you will use them for Standard licensing (i.e. social media, website, portfolio). When doing national ad campaigns, billboards or magazines the licensing and permissions change for its use. Take a look at a magazine submission guideline, it states if you are not the photographer you must get permission from the photographer or have the photographer submit the work for publication. This may seem like alot of steps but understand as photographers this is for our protection to make sure that our works aren't exploited without compensation or proper credits.

     Credit: www.ellementsmagazine.com/submission/

     Credit: www.ellementsmagazine.com/submission/

 It's super important that as a model you know the ends and outs of how it works at least on this level with photography. This way you don't set unrealistic expectations when working with photographers and vice versa we have to understand how it works with models. Standard model release forms outline exactly how we will use your images and gives your permission for us to use your images in that way. Most times unless otherwise stated we are using your images for portfolio or social media usage. When it's for publication you or your agency are made aware of that in pre shoot letter/email. So in a nut shell no, you don't own the images that the photographer takes of you that is the intellectual property of the photographer and you are not entitled to the images. I stress to ask these questions within the pre shoot this way you don't set an unrealistic expectation and you know how many images you'll recieve and expected delivery time on images. Better to be prepared and happy then unprepared and irritated, if you have any questions feel free to drop your questions below!

To Test or Not To Test...

Test shoots are a misused term but valuable creative asset, as a photographer looking to do test shoots for portfolio work is becoming increasingly difficult. I've spoken to quite a few creatives who have had bad experiences with others looking to "test". I put test in quotations because often times during the said test nothing is put together, it's more of "bring your clothes and let's shoot" it's no real organization to it. It's so simple, test shoots are developed to express creative freedoms or new methods for all participating parties. They are especially important because they help update the participants portfolio's, if these are creatives who are working for the first time it helps build relationships. Weirdly enough depending on the person or level of person you are working with, paying on the first go round may or may not impede relationship growth. Since iv'e been doing photography there is one similarity I have seen through out the years its free work disguised as a test shoot. This factor is what makes so many creatives cautious about doing test shoots with other creatives based solely upon previous experiences.

Remember the comment about "just bring your clothes", that's exactly how i used to put together test shoots. After listening and learning through webinars and assisting on set with other photographers my work flow is growing in a different direction. Just like putting together a paid shoot a call sheet and mood board are still required, pre-shoot preparation is a must; you want all participating parties on the same page.  On my call sheet I construct a time table of how I want everything to go, that way the team expectation is set and we work hard to stay on a time table. Selecting models for test shoots has become increasingly easier as I build relationships with different agencies, don't forget to include said agency in at least the mood board. Agencies are more likely to send over new faces/developmental models in need of images if you have a clear and concise vision for what you are trying to do and what you are looking to offer. In my experience and conversations with makeup artists, it seems that they get the short end of the stick. Whether it's through inexperienced and/or unprofessional photographers, they will run from the word "test". From my understanding with makeup artists the biggest struggle is receiving images back from the photographer, what we have to understand and celebrate is the importance of a makeup artist. The last thing that you want is an unhappy MUA who works with leading industry professionals not highlighting any positive points in their experience with you, not a good conversation starter.

What I've learned is that wardrobe stylist seem to be the most difficult to find, but I also feel like I may not be looking in the correct places to secure one. Wardrobe Stylist are an effective part of your team whether unpaid test or commissioned work, they double as a creative director on set and watch out for the naked eye adjustments that we as photographers may miss. Wardrobe Stylist just starting out are probably the best to seek out when building a team, i say this because building with people from the time they break ground to when the house is built is such a beautiful thing to be apart of. With being there from the start you learn the creative habits of this individual and they learn you as a creative you work in tandem. Let's not forget about the hairstylist, because without an amazing and passionate hairstylist you cannot maintain the cleanliness that is highlighted in Fashion Photography. I am not going to spend too much time on the TEAM breakdown and the importance of that, i will save that for another blog post entirely. 

The term "test" commonly disguised as "TFP" which means time for photos doesn't have to be a dirty word at all, but in order to readjust the way this word is perceived is by being better prepared. Having a team already in place for a test is a lot more ideal than trying to secure different people for every test that you do. Organize your work flow so that when you are pulling your team together for the test shoot they know that what will be put together is magic.