“It’s okay to do what you love and not compromise who you are. You set a new standard, and when you do that you make a new cool, and people will attach themselves to it.”
Dennis Belton jr is the multi-talented creative force behind Belton Media Group -- a Detroit-based media company responsible Creative Directing and photography branding of some of your favorite artists and brands and Non Profit Organizations such as Derrick Coleman Elite Foundation including OBA ROWLAND, Marlon XXIII, Clothing companies Born Rich Apparel, Harper Ray Accessories and University of Michigan Wolverines Football team
Find out more about his career, his inspiration, and his passions?
Dennis' experiences growing up on the west side of Detroit have helped define who he is as a man -- but it was his experience at Southfield High School that flipped his creative switch. There, he was surrounded by budding talent, by the future legends of our generation; people like Lawerence Lamont, and Erika Hayes. As he watched his peers hone their crafts, Dennis also began developing his talents through his radio and audiovisual class. After high school, he continued polishing his radio, video, and photography skills at Specs Howard School of Media and Arts. Once he graduated, he was able to really start making his dreams a reality.
Unable to find a job doing what he loved, and sure that he didn't want to go to the news caster route, Dennis began shooting weddings around the city at age 19. During this time, he also was on the slow grind to build the right relationships and brand for himself. Friends from the like of Richard Carter, Gillian Bradley, Ajohna Bryant and Richard Brown, Ray Carter introduced him to people in the city of Detroit putting him in better position to get his work out here. Dennis began going to the radio stations and doing concert photography to get his name out here along with a lot of test photo shoots with models. As his relationships grew, Dennis created and branded companies leading to a domino effect, opening a ton of doors for the Belton Media Group head honcho. He went on to create and brand websites and many more.
Belton Media Group Team Members are - Brittany Garner @BeatsbyBritt, Rae Evans @Sunnnnnny, Mike Wilson Mikewil__, Dave Braden @Dave2x_ and Shay Hardison @_shaysphotography
Dennis is most proud of his work of city of Detroit. As an Detroit Native, his blood, sweat, and tears have helped build brands into powerhouses brands.
STAYING TRUE TO HIMSELF
During our interview, we were touched by Dennis' commitment to positivity.
"People sell out their art to fit in, but I won't compromise my art. I stand for something with my photography. I'm not gonna tell people what to do, or that something's right or wrong; but I won't do certain shoots. I'm willing to miss out on money because I stand by something with my brand. I want all of my work to be something that people can look up to in a positive way.
So many people have sacrificed who they are to keep up an image and end up doing something bad; something that's not even in their heart to do, because they're genuinely good at heart. But they do it just for Instagram, just to keep up with their image. Knowing what they're doing isn't right, just to keep their image alive and not keep what's in their heart alive.
It's okay to do what you love and not compromise who you are. You set a new standard, and when you do that, you make a new cool and people attach themselves to it.
Though it's not always easy, Dennis' family and following motivate him to maintain his positive spirit.
"I'm a work in progress. It can be a struggle. Sometimes you may feel played, misrepresented, or overlooked, and that can be frustrating. But when people are following you, you have to be selective because they're watching you. You don't want to be a bad influence. You won't always be Motivated but you always have to be Discipline
Aside from that, I'm just a reflection of my grandparents and all things they showed and taught me. My grandfather taught me how to treat a woman by the way he treated by grandmother. So now I have to reflect all the things they've taught me. Belton Media Group represents my family. It's our name. I know that anything I do will reflect on all of us, so I can't be out here doing crazy stuff. I'm representing my whole family."
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
While his name being on Belton Media Group is enough to keep Dennis inspired, it is far from his only inspiration. He sees it as his baby and credits the work he does for the brand as influencing him to go even harder for Belton Media Group.
"If I'm gonna work 20 hours for someone else's last name, why wouldn't I go 30 hours for my own?"
But more than anything, Dennis is inspired by Detroit and the feeling our city has given to him, his peers, and our community as a whole.
"I'm inspired by the city. All the pain we felt as a city, that inspires me. Capturing it visually and telling the story of the pain that we're all going through. Showing genuinely good people, showing the art. Showing the people here who are really talented. I keep my camera going to show the city, to show that art. They don't show that to us, so If I don't do that -- If I don't show that -- I won't be doing the city justice."
Dennis wants to show our generation and the next generation that Detroit is the place where we can win, where we can be successful.
"i want people to look at my pictures and say 'Dang, that was in Detroit though.' You know, we all go out to LA and New York to make it. But then we all go there, and it's just Detroit all over again because we're all there. And then LA comes here. They come here to shoot the Transformers movie -- we go out there. They come here to shoot 4 Brothers -- but we go out there. They come here to shoot the second Transformers movie, and we're STILL going out there.
The competition in LA is a whole different ball game. Here, our competition is us within ourselves. We fight each other. [In LA] their competition is fighting real competition. They fighting people from all over the world. You can compete at a high level, but what's your real chance of winning there? Whereas we stay here, our chance of winning is just uniting with each other. We all can come together here and win.
We don't know it, but Detroit is New York. My Detroit players -- gators -- all of that. That's DETROIT. All the music gets sampled from Hitsville and that's on the Boulevard, but we go to LA to get our deals. We go everywhere else, but they don't know Michael Jackson made his hits here. He got it from here. He set all that in motion here, and took Detroit on fire. There's so much history here. People don't know Martin Luther King did his 'I Have a Dream' speech here first -- they don't even know it. And that's why I feel like I have to step my game up and do more short documentaries showing that. Showing that was here, because when i was younger i didn't know. No one told me. And the people that did know didn't share that because they didn't want to be seen as lame, or sacrifice their image because it wasn't "cool" to say it. Then they said "oh I thought you knew", but how would we know if you aren't sharing that knowledge?"
THE BELTON LEGACY
Dennis wants to continue to grow his talents and business, but his greatest goal is to touch the lives those around him in a positive, lasting way.
"I really want to create so many millionaires, where everyone's family can be set for the future. I want to be successful, so that [my mentee] Mike can be successful and take care of his family. I want people to be slaves to their art, not to their jobs. I want to have movies directed under Belton Media Group so that I can put on the people that are under me. For example, if I'm directing a movie, all the photography associated with it will come from my people, because I want to put everyone on.
I really just want to reinvent the wheel, but use the work legends already put in. All of the legends have created the blueprint and I want to update, refresh it, and make it my own."
Good leadership is essential.
"I don't ever feel like I'll outgrow my team. If I do, that means I did something wrong. That means I'm not a good leader.
What's are his keys to success?
"You have to be willing to fail in public. People want to be great, but everyone that's achieved greatness has been willing to fail in public. I'm willing to fail -- fashion-wise, with my photography, workwise. Period. You may suck for a while, but be consistent. Be consistent with that grind. You have to stay committed to what you're doing no matter what people say to you or what they think about you.
You also have to keep relationships going. It's a character thing. Doing things for people and not thinking you're owed anything.Not expecting to have hand-outs given to you. Help other people. I want to put people in the position to shoot their shot. When you keep good relationship going and you're happy for other people, it exudes from you. That's success."
My mentors include
Joe Chapman - he changed my life, he gave me the edge to believe in my own name and work hard for my own name verses making somebody else last name rich.
Tim Ferguson - He's plays a big role in directing me to elevate to a new level guiding me in a crazy world where it's tough to trust people. He's the reason I put position my brand in different positions.