By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ron Jenkins
From swimsuits to bridal couture, professional photographer Dixie Dixon globe-trots for her job. When she’s not working, she hangs her hat in Fort Worth.
D ixie Dixon got her first camera at the age of 12 from her father, but she has a marching band tuba player to thank for literally pushing her into a photography career.
After the Houston native got run over by her high school bandmate on the football field, she decided to join the yearbook staff instead.
“I got to take shots of the sports teams and loved it,” says Dixon. “I was a bit of an introvert, and it really helped me come out of my shell.”
Dixon eventually left Houston to attend TCU’s Neeley School of Business in Fort Worth with a focus on entrepreneurship and majored in art and photography. “I always was drawn to fashion,” says Dixon. “I remember looking at magazines and seeing those amazing Guess ads with the incredible shots of the models. I thought about being a fashion designer, but realized I wasn’t very good at the sewing part.”
Part of her process as a photographer is creating “vision” boards to help bring her projects and her dreams to reality. These consist of images — torn from magazines, typically — that express whom she wants to work with and what she wants to accomplish. Determined to break into the world of fashion photography, she researched internships between her junior and senior years in college and earned a spot with famous London lensman Jeff Licata. “It really opened my eyes to what might be possible,” says Dixon.
We met Dixon very early in her career when she was freelancing for a small publication in Parker County. She eventually did two fashion shoots for 360 West, exhibiting her talent for bringing out the best in the models and merging our vision with her own.
Her big break, however, came via the HDNet travel and adventure television show Get Out. Dixon filled her passport with trips to Spain, Brazil, Germany, Prague and Puerto Rico, among others, to photograph swimwear models. “What an adventure that was,” says Dixon. “We had beautiful locations and incredible talent to work with. In Ibiza, I really was inspired by the gorgeous light and how important that was to making great photographs.”
She never looked back.
Not only did her portfolio grow, but she also won an industry contest that led to an introduction with the marketing director of Nikon. “That first camera my dad gave me was a Nikon, which I still have, so it seemed like I was coming full circle,” says Dixon. She is now a Nikon ambassador for fashion, lifestyle and commercial photography, which means she gets access to the latest and greatest equipment as well as the opportunity to speak at seminars and trade shows.
“I really love sharing stories and knowledge with not only fellow professionals but those just getting started in the business. I never get tired of talking about what I do for a living, because I love it so much.”
Every speaking engagement or photography conference could lead to a job, and Dixon uses existing opportunities to create new ones. She met supermodel Kathy Ireland through one such event and eventually collaborated with her on a 2017 photo shoot for Nikon as well as others. In turn, Ireland wrote the forward for Dixon’s book, Fashion & Lifestyle Photography, also released that year. Ireland traveled to Texas for the book launch at a red-carpet event at Fort Worth Camera, a retail shop with exhibit space and photo studios that Dixon uses occasionally.
Today, Dixon counts among her clients such fashion brands as Rock & Roll Denim and Dallas-based designer Nha Khanh. Commercial clients range from financial institutions to product manufacturers. She recently worked with the newly opened Hotel Drover in Fort Worth, the city she calls home. “I thought I would end up in New York or Los Angeles, but I have everything I need here,” says Dixon. “Plus, a lot of my clients are based in Dallas or enjoy traveling to Texas for photo shoots. Personally, I love the wide open spaces and locations like the Stockyards.”
She’s doing more video work, including directing. “I credit Red Sanders of Red Productions in Fort Worth for giving me my first job,” says Dixon. “There’s so much more involved: music, audio. But I definitely enjoy the challenge.” (To see her still and video work, go to dixiedixon.com.)
And while she’s involved in everything from location scouting to finding the perfect dog for a photo shoot, she is also quick to acknowledge that it takes a team to make these projects come to life, including a producer, lighting technician, hair and makeup artists and more. “My parents are very supportive, too. My mom photographed me for my first headshots when I was getting started, and she’s the one who suggested wearing a hat when I was thinking about some sort of signature style to set me apart.” Today, it’s rare that you see Dixon without a chapeau; she even travels with several.
When she’s not on the road for work, she’s editing and doing office work and all the other nonglamorous tasks that come with running a business. But she’s rarely without her cameras, as she loves doing personal photography projects when she has a little time off.
“Sometimes I’ll jet off to somewhere exotic. Or I’ll check with the local modeling agencies to see if they have any girls who need portfolio work. Then we get together and have fun.”