Behind the lens: A conversation with photographer Frank Have Mercy

Frank Have Mercy is a Los Angeles-based designer, author, photographer, musician and film director. At first look, it’s apparent that every piece of art created by him is derived from the mind of someone who both knows and understands their creative voice. He serves as the focus of this week’s Behind the Lens feature.

On a scale of 1-10, how close are you to reaching your maximum potential as an artist (with 10 being the highest).


Describe the moment that you knew photography was your life’s calling. 

I don’t think photography is my life calling. It just gave me an outlet to express myself freely. The moment I knew it provided me with freedom was when I was able to access qualities of life I never thought were possible. My life calling is to help and inspire people. Anything that allows me to do that, I am grateful for.

What were the steps that were taken to get you from the initial dream to becoming an accomplished professional?

Being fearless, persistence and practice.

Who has been your greatest teacher? 

My mother is the greatest teacher I will ever have in life. That will never change.

All images by Frank Have Mercy.

Who has served as some as your greatest creative inspirations outside of other photographers? 

Elon Musk, Travis Scott, Dr. Sebi, Kanye West, and my peers.

How important is it to study the greats? 

It’s extremely important — sometimes the answers you’re searching for, are within their stories.

Rank these in order of importance, while describing your rankings: Technical proficiency, clarity of vision, personal project investment. 

Clarity of vision — vision is imperative. Without that, you don’t have an identity. Personal project investment — if you don’t invest in yourself, no one will. Technical proficiency — this can be learned by anyone, so it’s the least important part of being a creative to me.

All images by Frank Have Mercy.

In what ways do you ensure connection with your subject? 

As long as I am inspired by it, I know that I am connected. I don’t indulge in anything that I don’t feel connected to.

What is one passion project that you are looking to pursue in the future? 

Designing a museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

All images by Frank Have Mercy.

Have you felt personally impacted by the fact that you are a minority among working photographers? 

Yes, of course. Being a minority in any situation is very unique and has ups and downs. The best thing to do is embrace it.

What advice would you have for aspiring photographers, specifically people of color? 

I would tell them to never conform to the industry! Even when they feel like they are alone. There is always success on the other side of the struggle.

You can find out more about this talented photographer at

DeWayne Rogers
DeWayne Rogers

I write. I create. I take photos. In my spare time, I'm also a part-time super-hero. Go figure.

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