Elizabeth Lavin shoots Deason at his Preston Hollow home.

Media

How to Pull Off a Cover Shoot During a Pandemic, Starring Doug Deason

I am the best photo assistant working in Dallas. It's true.

Our May cover story goes online today. Written by the strapping Brantley Hargrove, it’s a profile of Doug Deason, one of the least likely people in Dallas you’d expect to be dedicating his time and treasure to criminal justice reform. Maybe that’s just my bias showing itself. Deason is a rich Republican who runs around with the Koch brothers, takes thumbs-up pics with President Trump, and enjoys spending time on his dad’s 205-foot yacht.

Speaking of his dad. Way back in 2003, I wrote about Darwin Deason and his behavior on the high seas. Let’s just say the piece wasn’t a huge hit within the Deason family. It took some convincing to get Doug to sit down with Brantley for a series of interviews. So when it came time for the photo shoot at his Preston Hollow house, I figured I should tag along with staff photographer Elizabeth Lavin and at least thank the guy for giving us some time.

Between the scheduling of the shoot and its execution, something interesting happened: a pandemic swept across the United States. The shoot happened March 23, by which point D Magazine had been working from home for 10 days. Our production process had been thrown into a tailspin. For a shoot like this, we’d normally hire a photo assistant, maybe hair and makeup, perhaps a set stylist. Some interns to look busy. We might have eight to 10 people on set. Instead it was just me and Elizabeth.

When we got to Deason’s house, he’d just finished planting some vegetables. I think it was time for tomatoes, though I wasn’t taking notes, so I can’t say for certain. He’d cleaned himself up and was ready to get to work. First, I had to race to Oak Cliff to pick up the lights that Elizabeth had forgotten to bring — but then Deason was ready to get to work.

He couldn’t have been a more cordial host and accommodating subject. We set up on a patio overlooking his pool and shot for an hour. Then we moved into his house and shot for another hour or so. In all, I think we took up about three hours of Deason’s time. Not once did he seem impatient with us or the process. We even talked a bit about that story I wrote about his dad. Water under the bridge. Or the keel. Do yachts have keels? I don’t know. If I ever get invited aboard the Apogee, I’ll have to ask. I promise to report back.

Meantime, read Brantley’s story about Deason. Maybe it will challenge some of your biases, too.

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