[Original Airing Date: July 29, 2010]


sab•o•tage   [sabuh-tahzh, sab-uhtahzh]

–verb (used with object)

1. to injure or attack by sabotage.

2. to disable, vandalize, cripple.

Throughout our lives (and this can take place in any walk of life), we as human beings want better things in our lives. Better health. Better finances. Better relationships. Better careers, etc. In order for anything to advance in a positive direction (or in the direction that you want it to go), you have to work at it. You have to nurture it and you have to make it grow, develop and mature to what you wish to have manifested as your ultimate goal.

When you were in high school and college, if you wanted good grades, you would study hard. If you wanted to excel in a particular sport, you would practice. If you wanted to excel in the arts, you would rehearse. It was just that simple. When I decided to make a conscious effort to be a professional photographer, what did I do? I kept shooting. I kept studying. I kept learning. I kept growing. (I am still growing).  I remember looking at a video clip featuring Atlanta’s own Laretta Houston (http://www.larettahouston.com/) and she said something that struck home. “You have to practice. You have to keep developing your skills.” She would sit at Barnes & Noble and read every single book pertaining to photography, retouching, etc. (and I thought I was the only crazy one). But as you can see, the bottom line is this: Anything you want, you have to work for it, you have to seek guidance from others in your field and then only can you excel in most cases.   You can’t keep shooting the same thing over and over and over again, year after year after year. 

What if you don’t want those things? What if you don’t wish to excel in your decided career paths? What if you just want to settle for mediocrity? What do you do? It’s easy; Sabotage it. It is just that simple, hence the reason for this blog. For example, you hate your job, but you don’t have the guts to quit? Sabotage it. Do a lackluster job performance, come in late – hell don’t come in at all. Watch what happens.

Time and time again, I’ve come across model hopefuls that wish to excel in the field of modeling and all the time I am constantly asked “what do I have to do to make it to the ‘next level’? What do I have to do to excel? What do I have to do to be better at my craft?” I know if I am asked this question, my professional colleagues are asked the same damn thing. I get this question on an average of approximately five times a day. Most times when a model asks me this, I have to look at their track record, their body of work and their person in order to make an educated suggestion. Sometimes it is not as simple as saying “lose weight” or “take care of your skin.” I wish it was that easy. Sometimes it’s telling a model to make better choices in who they decide to shoot with. Sometimes it’s telling a model to be patient and slow down and stop making bad decisions. Sometimes it’s telling a model not to forget where they’ve come from and whose guided them along the way.  Sometimes its telling a model to stop going against the grain and realize that professional decisions are made for their own good (not every model is a Gucci model).  Sometimes it’s teaching a model how to build long term relationships.  Sometimes it’s telling a model to stop sabotaging the people who’ve helped you along the way (see Marcus Hill and Anthony Gallo – they listened).  Sometimes it’s a simple as telling a model “you need to cut your hair.” Bottom line is a lot of hindrances a model goes through is because they are doing things to themselves and they are impeding their own advancement, because they just don’t want to listen. So when you don’t listen and don’t take the much needed suggestions given to you, guess what? You are sabotaging your own career.  Hence the title of this blog.

I’ve come across sooooooo many models that would be a lot further along in their career if they would just heed the advice of not necessarily me, per se (hell I’m just a photographer), but to take the advice of noted and well established professionals. There has been more than one occasion when a model would ask me for advice and I would give it to them, I would get the bombardment of:  “I can’t do that.” “I’m not cutting my hair.” “I’m not losing weight.” “I’m not changing my style.” “I don’t want to wear that to a casting, it will make me look gay.” “I want to keep my cornrows.” “I think I look sexy in a beard.” Oh really? If that is the case, then why the fuck aren’t you an established model? All the above remarks are actual retorts that I have received from models who are at a point in their career decided that they weren’t going anywhere and wanted to know why. When things are repeatedly brought to their attention, they don’t want to listen, therefore, they are stuck in a particular rut and they don’t know why (well maybe they do know why, but they are being to damn stubborn to admit to it).

There was a male model of color I shot a few years back from Philadelphia. He is a very handsome man. His down fall? Too burly and too much hair. He was getting local work (church fashion shows and neighborhood mall work), however, he was shooting with third-tier local photographers and this really wasn’t advancing his career. When he approached me about photographing him, my first response to him was “you got to cut that hair.” You would’ve thought I told him to cut his throat. His hair, though beautiful, was an incredible hindrance to his career advancement. Not many male models have that certain jene-se-quois to carry off a head full of hair. Some models have that magic (Google:  Paulo Pascoal), however, most males just don’t have it. When you deal with a head full of hair (especially on a model of color), you limit yourselves to the types of job that you can possibly book, and it gets even WORSE if your long hair is dated (see: dreadlocks). Nobody is looking to book you. If you want to get more work, take heed, do the necessary modifications that will need to be done in order for you to advance.

Needless to say, he bitched and complained about wanting to keep his hair, and I replied: “Don’t waste my time. You have no idea just how beautiful you are, because your features are being hidden behind a shit load of hair.” Usually when a male model has a head full of hair, it usually comes from some girl telling him that shit is cute. Yeah, it may be cute for hanging out around the way, and possibly being booked as an extra on a hip-hop video, and if you’re lucky, you may book a Jimmy Jazz advertisement, but in the mainstream fashion/modeling world, that usually doesn’t fly. So gentlemen, (and some ladies can use a major makeover hairstyle as well), if a professional in the field is giving you suggestions, take heed. It will really help in the long run. In some instances, the hair just may work. Whose to say? Ask a few professionals. If the general consensus is to change something, that should be telling you to make that change.

To make a long story short, the model did cut his hair. And once he did, people began to take notice. He began to look more like a model. We had our shoot, and people began to realize just how good looking he really was and he started to get picked up by better photographers and started picking up better gigs. He actually cut off two pounds of useless hair. He thanked me.

So ask the professionals. See what they have to say. Take notes. Listen. Actually listen and open up your mind. Take control of your careers and stop sabotaging it. You will thank the professional (and yourself) in the long run.

So ask yourself. Are you sabotaging you own career? Think about it.