All images by Derrick Freske. Used with permission.
Colors often play a big part in fashion photography, and the work of Los Angeles-based Derrick Freske is dripping with them. In fact, his images are brimming with colors that bring both a youthful energy and a hypnotic vibe to his chosen genre. However, this wasn’t always how his photography looked, and it took him a while to realize that this vibrant style fit both his personality and creative vision the most. He may only be five years into his career, but he has already worked with a number of big clients — Aeropostale, Bershka, Chevrolet, Gap, Hollywood Records, and Under Armour, to name a few.
In this interview, we ask him to tell us more about his beginnings in photography, discovering the creative style he has been thriving in, and how he prepares for shoots with big clients, among other fascinating details about his career so far.
Phoblographer: Hello Derrick! Can you tell us something about yourself and what you do?
Derrick Freske: Hello everyone! My name is Derrick Freske and I am a celebrity, commercial, fashion, and lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Hmmm, and something about myself… well, if you know me personally, you know I am always smiling!
Phoblographer: How did you get into photography and discover the kind of photography and imagery that you make now?
Derrick: I’ve always been interested in art, but I first got into photography when I took a photography class in high school. Funny enough, I took it because it was the only art class I had left to take! From there, it took a lot of practice and experimenting to discover the kind of photography and imagery that I make now. If you go way back on my Instagram feed, you can see my style used to be very moody and desaturated. There was a point where I realized that this moodier style didn’t fit my personality or what I loved to create. Now, even though it is always changing, I feel my current photography style best represents me!
Phoblographer: Your portfolio shows a lot of shoots done outdoors or on location. Do you have a preference for these over studio work? Which lets you have free rein over the style or vision that you have for your projects?
Derrick: I love shooting both indoors and outdoors. I’m 50/50 when it comes to my preference! Depending on what the concept is or how I want it to be shot, I believe both indoor and outdoor locations give me free rein. All that is needed is a little creativity! On the technical side, however, I find that studio work allows me to be more creative with how I light my subjects.
Phoblographer: Bold colors and dreamy characters are major components of your portraits. How soon in your career did you become aware that it would be the main draw to your work?
Derrick: Like I said previously, my portraits didn’t always look like the way they do now. It actually took me a long time to discover my style! As I continued to improve, there was always aspects of my older work that allude to what I do now. I do feel like I fully became aware that these elements would be the main draw to my work towards the end of 2016 — 3 years into my professional career!
Phoblographer: We want to know what a typical shoot is for you, especially for big clients. What kind of preparations do you do to make sure you get the results you want?
Derrick: Not a lot of people understand what goes behind the scenes of a photographer’s life. Whenever I’m not shooting, I spend most of my day at my desk working on emails, editing, or prepping for shoots. When planning a shoot for big clients, a lot more goes into it and planning can sometimes take me hours. For a recent job I had to send emails, hop on a few phone calls, look over a project brief, location scout, organize a shot list, find an assistant to help me with lighting, organize hair/makeup/styling, and cast models. This isn’t how every client shoot is, but it gives you an idea of everything that goes on behind the scenes to make the photos you see in advertisements!
Phoblographer: What do you think is the most common misconception about fashion/lifestyle photography?
Derrick: I think one of the most common misconceptions about fashion/lifestyle photography is that you need expensive camera gear to take good photos. You’d be surprised by how often I pull out my iPhone to take photos — I’ve even posted a few on my Instagram!
Phoblographer: Where do you get the inspiration or ideas for the kind of photography that you do?
Derrick: I never really know how to answer this question because I find inspiration everywhere. However, I do think my love for sci-fi movies, animated movies, and video games heavily influences my style!
Phoblographer: How do you see your work evolving in the next few years? Is there anything else that you wish to achieve with the style and kind of photography that you do?
Derrick: Over the next few years, I see my work continuing to improve. A goal I have with my photography is to keep building my brand and celebrity portfolio. Another way I see my work evolving is to experiment more with video over the next few years. Everyone always tells me that they’d love to see my photography style translated into video.
Phoblographer: What do you consider to be the most crucial element that makes your style truly your own?
Derrick: As you mentioned earlier in this interview, I feel my use of bold colors and dreamy characters makes my style truly my own.
Phoblographer: Lastly, what would you advise those who want to develop their own approach to portrait/fashion/lifestyle photography?
Derrick: I say this to everyone who asks me this question: practice, practice, practice! I’m still learning something new every day. Photography takes time and doesn’t happen over night — I’ve been at it for over 8 years! Back when I was first starting off, I would take a new photo every day to keep improving my skills. Ask your friends or family if you can take photos of them or you can do what I did when I first started off and take self portraits. It took me a couple years of practicing before I felt comfortable charging people.