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Interview: Derek Blanks [ American Celebrity Photographer,Illustrator,Director And Producer] Covers OTSM’S Entertainment And Lifestyle Issue.

18:50:00 Linda Bella 0 Comments

Derek Blanks is a talent unlike others who share his craft. Respected media brands like CoverGirl, ESSENCE, BET Networks, and Sony Music Entertainment, to name a few, frequently seek him for iconic campaigns and cover shoots while celebrities’ request him exclusively for personal photo sessions including the Alter Ego, as made popular by NeNe Leakes of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Hello Derek, thank you for taking the time to talk to us! We’d love to hear a little more about your background in photography and how you got started in the field.
I’ve always had a love for art and being creative. Most people don’t know that I didn’t start out doing photography. I’ve been drawing since I’ve been able to write. I was introduced to painting in the 7th grade through private painting lesson that my dad paid for. And I attended the Academic and Performing Arts Complex in Jackson, MS from 3rd grade through my senior year. I always knew I wanted to be an artist for a living. From high school, I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art. So I’ve been doing some form of art almost all of my life.
My first celebrity job was shooting the red carpet for the Ludacris Foundation. I guess it was a success because shortly after they hired me to shoot for his “Tantra” energy drink. I was extremely nervous, but I worked past my nerves and did the job. Ludacris made it easy for me because he was really cool and easy to shoot. 

When working with celebrities, is there a specific protocol that takes place when you get booked for the shoot?
Typically they’ll call or text me and I’ll have my assistant or my mom, who is the business manager at my studio, work out the logistics and the money side of things. If it’s a commercial job or something coming from a record label, I’ll let my agent handle the specifics.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?
I honestly have so many moments that have been pivotal to my career that I really wouldn’t be able to pick just one. If I had to name one shoot that I was really excited about, I would have to say shooting Gabrielle Douglas for the cover of Essence Magazine right after her Olympic win, was pretty big for me.

You’ve really worked with a lot of artists and entertainers as well. What is it like photographing celebrities and also designing the Photos?
I treat all my clients like celebrities so I look at it the same.  I try to make them comfortable because if they’re comfortable, it will show in their images. As far as designing, I have a graphic design background as well. My first job out of college was as a graphic designer so it’s pretty easy to put it all together. With technology evolving every day, my job gets easier and easier to do.


What are your latest and Upcoming Projects?
I’m most known as a photographer, but I’m also a director.  I just completed a commercial for G-Technology drives. I have a few video projects in the pipeline coming up. I’m doing a power shoot and a few test shoots in Los Angeles. I try to do about 3 or 4 power shoots and at least 2 to 3 photography workshops in Atlanta each year.

What advice would you give aspiring Photographers, Graphic Designers, and People wishing to excel in the Photography and creative design Industry? 
Do what you love. Don’t do something because of the money it can potentially give you. If you do what you love, eventually the money will follow. Once you’ve developed what it is that you would like to do, always be willing to learn more about it. Growth can only help you.


What was the most surreal moment you ever experienced during a photography shoot?
I was shooting Chaka Khan and the studio caught on fire. It was totally unexpected, however, she was so professional, she continued to pose. She had a great attitude about the situation. That’s a moment I’ll never forget. She even jokes with me about her being so hot that she caused the fire.


 Lol ! Yes she is Definitely Hot!! So What inspired your previous Project “Alter-Egos”?
Digital manipulation has always been interesting to me. Wanting to merge my photography and drawing/editing component of my art was something that I saw as a welcomed challenge.

What is your favorite lighting modifier ?
I don’t have a favorite modifier. I try to figure out innovative ways to light things so that I don’t have to use modifiers. I use non-traditional forms of lighting like shooting through blinds or a cut-out piece of board that I created. I think that’s what sets my work apart from other photographers.


Where do you visualize yourself in 6years?
I’m starting to delve into television now so in 6yrs, I can definitely see me directing movies.

What inspires and motivates you daily?
Everything from billboards, magazine ads, walking down the street, etc. Really anything visual inspires me.

What’s your philosophy about life?
Life is short and you have to try to accomplish all your hopes, dreams and goals or you’ll later regret it.

Visit Derek Blanks Official Website To View More Of His Wonderful Works
Do Not Copy, Download Or Distribute Any Of The Images In This Feature, All Images Are The Copyright Work Of Derek Blanks.

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