Instagram has been a godsend for photographers aiming to build a strong fan base. Locally, DTX Street has established itself as one of leading homegrown brands on the social media site.
It’s operated by three multigenre creatives: Missy Monoxide, High Vis and Vu Tuan. They go by these names because DTX Street became popular by doing semi-illegal and outright illegal photography that included a great deal of trespassing and "gaining access" to buildings via unconventional methods. Collectively among DTX Street and the trio’s individual accounts, they’ve built an Instagram following of more than 45,000 people.
Monoxide and Vis founded DTX Street in January 2016. They’re a husband-and-wife team who both do graphic design and photography.
Their specialty was capturing stunning views of downtown Dallas from the rooftops of apartment buildings, skyscrapers and even construction cranes. That style remains the foundation of the brand, but it’s become much more. They’ve monetized their social media presence by creating visual content for corporations, generating ad revenue, producing videos and managing social media.
Their agenda has always been about more than personal gain. DTX Street has fostered a growing movement of young photographers looking to advance their careers. It's produced DIY gallery shows to help up-and-commers and created an ongoing series of specialized networking events called Insta Meets.
The DTX Street network has comprised primarily male photographers. To ensure that the movement remains all-inclusive, Monoxide started DTX Women to focus on the empowerment of female creatives.
“I first got the idea after we were a year into the creation of DTX Street,” Monoxide says. “We had just finished our first gallery show, and I kept telling people I wanted to start something separate geared toward women. I would always find a reason not to move forward with it. I’d wake up and be like today is the day and still wouldn’t work on it. I have awful anxiety, and I’m not always the best at working through it. At that point in my life, I was feeling kind of low, and I didn’t think anyone would care [about me starting DTX Women], so it was easy to give in to that negativity and be afraid.”
She says an impromptu announcement she made on Instagram Live about her plans to launch DTX Women forced her follow through. She says the feedback and support she received from women she'd never met and those who were already fans of DTX Street helped motivated her.
“I would talk to people and they’d tell me things like DTX Street is cool, but it’s all street photography," she says. "My work is never going to get featured because I do weddings. Many of them felt like their work couldn’t compete with pictures of people hanging off ledges and doing stunts. I realized they all felt the same way I did."
Monoxide assembled a team of photographers to work as curators and ambassadors for DTX Women, including Alexandria Norado, who was featured in the Observer's “10 Dallas Portrait Photographers You Should Be Following." To broaden their reach, Monoxide decided that DTX Women would work to increase exposure for all styles of photography, as well as makeup artists, stylists, fashion designers and bloggers.
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DTX Women hosted its biggest event to date, Culture Street Gala, on April 28 at Elevated Relief studios in downtown Dallas. The event featured the work of 16 artists and photographers, including a few male DTX Street affiliates. Although advancing the careers of female creatives is at the forefront, Monoxide wants to encourage support and collaboration from male counterparts.
“I very much welcome the support of men," she says. "This isn’t just about women; it’s about all of us. It makes a difference because it shows as men that you all can come together and not be afraid to be supportive of women. We’re your sisters, your mothers, your girlfriends. … We represent all the women in your life. By you being there, you’re helping someone achieve their dreams. It’s just like every other guy that wakes up one day and thinks I want to work for myself. I have a talent, and I want to take it somewhere. We’re no different than guys when it comes to that."
DTX Women is in the planning stages of organizing workshops that will focus on helping creatives monetize their crafts, improve photography techniques and grow social media presence.
“That’s really what we want to do is be ambassadors for our community," Monoxide says. "The DTX network that we’ve built is so loyal, so loving, it almost makes me get emotional when I talk about. The love we get from our community is really what fuels us. It makes us strive to do bigger and better things. We love our city, and we just want to bring creative people together.”