October 22, 2010

It has been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and I do believe that this statement is oh so true, yet as I reflect over Celebrity Photographer Derek Blanks photos the pictures seem to be worth so much more. His photos are so stunning words can't even come to mind because you are simply speechless.
I recently caught up Mr. Blanks to get to know a little bit about the man behind the lens and share with my readers. It was interesting that I discovered that Derek actually has a background in illustration. "I used my photography for reference when I would do my illustrations for paintings", explains Derek. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Maryland Institute College of Art implicates that Derek is as intelligent as he is talented and was going to take the world of photography and art completely by storm!
It was his move to Atlanta where his photographer work would take center stage. "I started being creative, doing my shoots with models", Derek says. People started taking notice of his creativeness and Derek immediately began to blossom. Jazza Pha, owner of Sho Nuff Records, took notice........."They really just wanted somebody different and creative that was based in Atlanta", he explains. This landed him the opportunity to work with recording artist such as Cherish and Lloyd. It was meeting a author where even more doors would began to open for him. "I also met a young lady by the name of Rachel Vassel who was at the time starting a book entitled "Daughters of Men", Derek begins to explain. "Its a coffee table book about successful African American women and their fathers", he states. The book started of as local project until a publisher became involved. The publisher felt that the book needed a celebrity influence....."I didn't think anything of it", Derek states. It was only a week later that several celebrities were confirmed....recording artist Brandy Norwood, Selena Williams, Tracy Edmonds, Yolonda Adams, Tisha Campbell, and Lisa Raye just to name a few were among the selected women. This is were Derek learned how to get "the shot" quickly, which is something that he is now known for. "Each interview was set in 30 minute intervals, so it got me shooting fast and getting the shot quickly. Celebrities shoot all the time so they don't really enjoy drawn out shoots", Derek explains. As I stated this is what became his signature and help elevate him up because he is able to secure a great shot in a reasonable amount of time. It was also his involvement with the book, which became a photo essay book, that expanded his clientele. Many of the women reached out to Derek to take there own personal photos. "The relationships kinda grew and grew and I reached back out to these same clients about doing alter egos", Derek says. Alter Egos would also grow into what would become his signature.
Of Course anybody that is a fan of Derek Blanks is very familiar with his alter ego photos. These photos are simply AMAZING and some have very deep meanings behind them. His celebrity clients on every project become works of PHOTOGRAPHIC ART. Clients have included..........Blair Underwood, Cast of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta", Chaka Khan, Eva Pigford, Taraji P. Henson, Hill Harper, and Melanie Fiona just name a few.
My favorite, by far, is the one that features recording artist Michelle Williams.

This shows that Mr. Blanks is truly a genius!!!!

So with Derek being so known for his Alter Ego's it was only fitting that I found out what his Alter Ego would be! "I think my Alter Ego would be Over-the-Top, not easy to work with, a "Divo" or whatever, demanding where everything has to be his way", Derek says. He explains how on set he is easy to work with and easy to get along which is a personality trait that was conveyed through our conversation. "That would be interesting. We need to see that, the world needs to see that really soon", I explain.  Just as interesting as his own Alter Ego is his inspiration behind these photographs. "I thought about the old episodes of Top Model where Eva and Toccara were on there and their competition was an Alter Ego and thinking of a creative way to make it my own. Make it more interactive where its not so cookie cutter, one person on the left and one person on the right, where the interaction is between the subject.....its like how did he do that", Derek explains. "Celebrities are kinda two dimensional in most peoples eyes, where if we made them three dimensional and actually you could see a piece of that celebrity as far as what they consider to be their alter ego. Their fans would love to see something like that. So I kinda ran with that concept", Derek continues. A concept that has created a mass following among leading names in the entertainment industry and the likes.

Currently Derek is working on merging his foundation in arts (illustration and paintings) with his photography to create one-of-kind personal pieces, which I'm sure will yield it's own cult following and be another great success. In the near future we can see Derek collab with artists like T-Pain and Nikki Minaj and continue to build his brand!
Derek Blanks describes his personal style as "Fashionable Casual" and with his incredible talent, mellow attitude, and trendsetting work, like fashion, I'm sure this pace will definitely take him to the highest level in his career.

Check Derek Blanks out at:

PS. Hopefully you will get to see a Alter Ego of RyanChristopher done by Derek Blanks in the near future, now that would be SICK!!


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  1. Derek Blanks is like no other in the industry. His creativity is ingenius! Learning more about the man behind the lens gave his fans that much more to appreciate. Great article. Thanks

  2. This is AWESOME!! For years we have been marveled by the work of Derek Blanks and no one has interviewed him other than Mo'nique. Every pic that Derek Blanks has created always tells a story they everone can relate to. His work is IMMACULATE and always FLAWLESS. It's always great when u have a photographer that is very passionate about his work. Everyone in the fashion/music/entertainment industry should def work with him. Hopefully one day I'll have the opportunity as well (keeping my fingers crossed as I type).

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