Derek Blanks is probably the most recognizable photographer in the southeast. His name has become synonymous with the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” for his numerous appearances and there are few urban celebs who haven’t graced his lens. The former art student has been applying his artistic gift to models and celebs for over a decade and as he plans to take his career to the next level he turned the camera on himself for a shoot titled, “Built for This.” Blanks interpretation of himself as the vessel that brings visual subjects to life. The photos showing camera lenses, a keyboard and electrical outlets as a part of his physicality are striking and no doubt will have fans talking. Derek’s interpretation of his skillset is right on point as he recently nabbed two stellar awards for his visual interpretation of former subjects.
“I started out drawing and doing visual art. When I started taking pictures I would infuse that into my work, I wanted my pictures to look like art,” he says about what sets his work apart from other photographers.
Blanks was spot-on with his intention as his “alter ego” series became wildly popular several years ago. Blanks’ interpretation of his subjects and creating to conflicting images from the same subject became all the rave.
“I would get inspired [by] conversations with the client. The goal was to find polar opposites within the same subject and bring that to life,” Blanks explains.
The alter ego portraits of Rockmond Dunbar in a limo robbing himself, Chaka Khan as herself and as a nun, and Brandy turning on herself were legendary in his collection.
Besides his alter ego collection, Blanks ventured into directing music videos. His first endeavor was R&B trio SWV for their comeback single. His intent was to shoot a visually appealing video that would capture the vocal legends in their best light. He enjoyed directing and in true Derek Blanks fashion soon became one of the most in-demand video directors in the area. “I enjoyed the challenge and again trying to create something signature with videos the way I did with photography. I wanted viewers to be able to see a frame and recognize it was a Derek Blanks video because of the shot,” Blanks says.
Blanks has been given the compliment of being able to bring beauty out of every subject. He has been commissioned by music labels, television studios and commercial brands to create photographs that resemble art. He has put his touch on music videos and created a niche market for himself. Blanks says the next phase of his career is in movies and television. He is looking forward to bringing his signature touch to the big screen. After winning a stellar award for best video of the year for Tina Campbell’s “We Livin” and best recorded music packaging of the year for his work with Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s “Heart, Passion and Pursuit” album, there’s no doubt Blanks will be striking gold on the big screen soon.