Since the moment she first stepped into LUX, Dallas has become one of our favorite women. Her charming personality paired with her talent for capturing dreamy, striking, elegant images with her camera has lead to numerous collaborations and exciting projects together. As both photographer AND make-up artist, she has the unique privilege of being able to work with clients to make them look and feel their best, creating real, radiant beauty.
How did you find yourself in the world of beauty and photography?
Oh gosh, photographer and make-up artist - I’ve always been both, from when I was little, rifling through my mother's and aunt's things (my mom was a photographer and my aunt a make-up artist). It’s just been a natural trajectory throughout my life to do both things in combination with each other; to make people look their most glamorous, and to photograph them.
I’m new to Edmonton. I moved here in August 2015, most recently from Toronto, but before that Montreal and Wisconsin. I’m happy to be here and am settling in. I’m also excited to be relocating my life and business to the prairies for the foreseeable future.
Currently, my photography work breaks down to 50% portraits and 50% weddings, and most of my portraits are of women, tying in the love of beauty by providing make-up artistry to my portrait clients.
What's your role in a photo shoot?
I love being a director. I love being in power as an artist - I enjoy being the person who has a vision and I love the responsibility of the trust people put in me. Because I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve gotten better at wielding that power, that responsibility. I consider myself more of a service provider than an artist. I want to serve them and their desires to feel empowered, beautiful, and confident. I want the experience, photos aside, to energize them.
What does 'beauty' mean to you?
I’ve never considered myself to be a beautiful person. My appearance is never a big consideration in how I relate to people. I’ve always felt that being a kind person and having some degree of charisma is more integral to me. Aesthetically, I love make-up, I love colour, I love texture. And, I feel so much more comfortable meeting people when I’m wearing it - not because I feel it makes me more beautiful, but because I love the feeling of wearing it. I love helping people feel at home in their skin, their bodies and how they carry themselves. Make-up is just a tool, and doing people's makeup helps break down physical barriers and emotional barriers. It builds this sense of intimacy between me and my clients.
How do you create confidence in a woman if that’s something she struggles with in front of the camera?
These are my dream clients! I love photographing these women. I love working with people who hate being photographed and it’s my pleasure and privilege to teach them how to love it. Again it’s about listening - I know I’m talking a lot right now because I’m being interviewed - but when I’m working I’m listening. It’s why I continue to do make-up. It gives us time to get to know each other, and to talk about both the things that make them happy as well as what they hate about themselves. I’ll work on it with them. I’ll figure out how to pose them, position them - enhancing their favourite features and focusing less on the ones they dislike.
How do you translate your perception of others into how they see themselves through make-up?
Oh this excites me so much! I would say mostly it’s about listening (unless it’s editorial or commercial and I'm following a client's vision). I ask, "What do you do for your make-up everyday? What’s your favourite feature? Do you like hard clean lines or a soft and diffused look?" I’ve actually been developing a beauty look-book menu for this exact purpose. Charlotte Tilbury has developed the same system, unknowingly I was developing my own at the same, because it’s such a useful tool to bridge the gap between language visual results.
How do you work against the perception that the industries of makeup and photography digitally create unobtainable ideals and create insecurity about our appearances?
I recently gave a talk about retouching as a guest speaker in a friend's publishing class. I’m sure the students thought I was wasting their time because I spent the first half of my guest lecture talking about the ethics of retouching before I got into any demonstrations of techniques. The importance of preserving the human form - photos that show skin, shadow, pores, flaws, the actual contours of a human body - there’s great potential to how we can transform things through lighting and make-up and retouching.
But, you have to decide to take an ethical stand at a certain point. People ask me all the time if I can Photoshop them to make them skinnier and it makes me so upset. I want people to come in and talk to me, and the look we are trying to achieve is the best they can feel or look that day. I want to leave freckles visible along with anything that is permanent, scars, moles, etc. I will always do quick cleanups and remove any blemishes or dark circles. With temporary things (like breakouts or things that fade away) I have no ethical issues removing them. But everything else is a real representation of that person.
If a person looks a certain way, who am I to make a decision of how they should look?
The most common beauty mistake you see people make?
The contouring craze has gone too far - I agree with Beyoncé's makeup artist, Sir John, when he said recently, “We as a society know how to contour now, so dial it back.” I’d say anything that dramatically changes who you are - mask-like finishes, taping, extreme contouring - anything that reshapes who you are, I’m wary about.
What is a mantra you wish all your clients would embrace?
Give yourself permission to feel beautiful. Let go of the tension, enjoy the experience and embrace any positive feeling that comes up and really just let your hair down!
Now that I’m over 30, my focus is always on skin care first. I used to think, "BORING!" when I’d hear a make-up artist say that, but now I agree. It starts with exfoliating, moisturizing, and creating a good base. For daytime, I do a sheer foundation, iridescent powder to highlight the cheekbones, lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara. For a night out, I love very dark lipstick or a shimmery/smoky eye, or both. I don’t believe you have to choose one if you choose the right colours. I do love to bring the drama.
I try to do Self-Care Sundays, with an exfoliating mask and an overnight hydrating mask. I love Pura Botanicals' Overnight Watermelon mask. I exfoliate everyday and I don’t believe anyone who tells me it’s too much. I’ve also tried to do the Korean 11-step skin care, but it’s just too expensive. So, instead, I do a pre-step cleanse with an oil-based cleanser to make sure everything is gone, then I’ll use an essence or toner, followed by a light face oil for moisturizer during the day and a heavier one at night.
Very low maintenance. I have manageable hair so I’m pretty spoiled in this regard. I wash it every two days, let it air dry, and then wave it with a wand to create a soft bend. Second day waves are my favourite. The reason my routine is so simple is because I’ve recently undergone an intensive colour correction process and now try to be as gentle as possible with my hair so I can avoid further damage to still keep it long.
RMS Uncover Up / Unpowder
Chanel Red Lipstick - La Malicieuse
Benefit Benetint Lip / Cheek Stain