Up-and-coming fashion model lives life in front of the lens

Up-and-coming fashion model lives life in front of the lens

Up-and-coming fashion model lives life in front of the lens
September 09
10:00 2018

Four cars pull up and wedge themselves against a chain-link fence adorned with razor wire, one of the cars slightly bumping the fence. Across the street lies a desolate underpass.

“I pass by this place on the way to work every day,” Renner Baker said. “I’ve been wanting to shoot here for a while.”

He walks to the rear of his Jeep Wrangler and opens the flap, revealing a miniature closet complete with what seems like a dozen shoes and shirts. After grabbing an item or two, he returns to the open door of his Wrangler and proceeds to strip, completely unfazed by the presence of strangers, as if he does this everyday — because he does.

Renner is a local up-and-coming model and former UNT student. His photos can be found across the Instagram pages of many local photographers and clothing brands in the Denton and Dallas-Fort Worth areas.

Renner started his modeling career by accident. He began working as a photographer’s assistant at the age of 15 and eventually it was decided that he should be in front of the camera lens instead of behind it.

“The photographer kind of noticed that I had a different look about me,” Renner said. “He eventually just asked me to do a couple of test shoots for him here and there and he posted them on his website. A couple of brands reached out to me about shooting their stuff because I have a unique face and from there, it just continued to build. Then I wanted to do it personally as well, so I was able to do my own style of modeling.”

Renner Baker poses for a brand photoshoot. Renner is known as @Rennercadebaker on Instagram and regularly collaborates with creatives in the DFW area. Omar Gonzalez

While Renner enjoys modeling and is good at it, he sees the occupation as a vehicle or means to accomplish his other goals.

“Modeling isn’t the thing I want to do forever by any means,” Renner said. “I think it’s just a step until the next adventure. I’m actually filming a short film with somebody that I made connections with through modeling, so I’m just trying to get as far as I can go. Just every creative aspect I can do.”

Renner said he does not necessarily desire to be an actor. His goals are more complex and difficult to define with labels such as “actor” or “model.”

“Johnny Depp,” Renner said. “That’s my dream job. I basically just want to be able to do creative and artistic things while sustaining myself and then on my side time do my wood projects and stuff, because I’ve always loved working with wood and carpentry.”

Renner enjoys creating hand-crafted longboards in his spare time — a favorite among UNT students. He tries to turn out a board or two every three weeks and it is just one of his many ongoing projects. Another one of Renner’s projects is an untitled short film intended to be submitted to a large North American or international film festival for 2019. The short is the brainchild of photographer and friend Thomas Massaquoi and is a dark drama loosely based on the experience of several acquaintances and their relations to drug use.

Massaquoi has always thought highly of Renner, so it is no surprise he decided to include him in the project.

“What makes Renner stand out is his lack of fear and interest to grow as a model,” Massaquoi said. “He attempts to study predecessors from other mediums to apply it in his current projects. He also has an interest in learning how projects are executed from an operational standpoint. He does not lack curiosity.”

On top of working of working on multiple shoots a week and his upcoming film project, Renner helps to organize what is described as “creative meetups” in the DFW and Denton areas. These meetups provide an opportunity for models, photographers, clothing designers, artists and even musicians to come together, collaborate and expand their network of creatives.

Juan Ramos (right) directs Octavio Arzola (left) to photograph Renner in DMKD apparel. Ramos and Arzola are used to collaborating with different creatives in Dallas. Omar Gonzalez

“We usually stay in different creative circles,” said Sage Baker, Renner’s brother and a record producer and vocalist. “But when they overlap, we always make sure to introduce each other to the right people. It’s crazy how he’s holistically focusing on modeling while I work on music, but we both show up [at] the same event [by] accident. Just goes to show how welcoming and diverse the Dallas art community is.”

Over the summer, Renner made use of his creative network and took off on a spontaneous four-day road trip with six models and four photographers in the hopes of finding some interesting shoots and making some new connections.

“We were like, we want to go on a road trip and we just said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Renner said. “So a week later we all got in cars and just started driving towards New Mexico. It was a little creative powwow in a sense, and everybody got to get some great sand shots. I made some great friends. I still keep in contact with everybody that I met on the trip personally.”

Renner specializes in product-oriented photo shoots that are often displayed on Instagram or turned into advertisements. However, his experiences are not limited to the street. Last year, he took part in a runway show and experienced a completely different side of modeling.

“Most of the time when you are on an actual photo shoot, you are just trying to be goofy and make everybody calm and natural, you know?” Renner said. “But when you are on the runway, you have to embody this different person that’s just walking around without smiling. If your ‘resting bitch face’ isn’t on, they’re like, ‘Why are you walking?’”

Renner may live in Dallas now, but that has not placed a damper on his fondness for Denton and the creative community he frequents. On Sept. 28, he will be hosting Sagfest at Backyard on Bell, where his brother Sage will also be performing. The festival will feature a mix between soft beats, indie rock, rap and R&B for the music portion, a pop-up shop featuring many local Dallas and Denton brands and a local creative meetup shortly before the show.

“I definitely have a great community in Denton,” Renner said. “That’s where I started. I was a UNT dude and then I found the fashion program and walked in the fashion show in 2017. Definitely still have huge connections in Denton — tons of fashion designers in the program that I’m best friends with still.”

Featured Image: DMKD owner, Juan Ramos, takes a photo of model Renner Baker for his business’ Instagram page. DMKD is a local streetwear brand in Dallas. Omar Gonzalez

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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