Derrick Freske is a photographer based in Los Angeles known for his dreamy portraits. At a young age, Derrick has already had the opportunity to shoot for clients such as Chevy and Airbnb, to name a few. We had a chance to sit down with Derrick and learn more about his career thus far.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you first get into photography and what has your journey been like from first picking up a camera to now?
My name is Derrick Freske, and I first picked up a camera my sophomore year of high school. I’ve been fascinated by the arts my entire life. Throughout my academic career, I made sure I had at least one art class a semester on my schedule. That was until I thought I took them all. My sophomore year of high school, I realized my school offered a photography class. Photography seemed a little intimidating to me at first since I hadn’t dabbled much in the digital arts at the time. Little did I know then, that class would morph into a full-time career. Where I’m from [Michigan], it’s not normal to pursue a career in the arts.
At one point, you actually took a break from photography. What caused the break?
I was very passionate about photography throughout my high school career. I, however, always felt like my counselors and teachers, excluding my art teachers, were pushing me to pursue a more “practical” career. From there, I decided to explore the technical side of the arts: Architecture.
I went to school for architecture in Detroit. You don’t know self-discipline and sleep deprivation until you go to school for Architecture. My freshman year of college, I soon learned that I had to put all my time into my school work and take a break from photography. During this break, I also disappeared from Instagram for a while. I didn’t pick up my camera again until the middle of my junior year. Once I decided to start posting again and getting back in the groove of things, my account started to take off, companies were reaching out wanting to work with me, and I realized how much I missed photography. Photography influenced my decision to visit LA the summer after my third year of college and well, I never came back.
Some of your clients have found you through social media. How important do you think it is for artists in this day and age to really focus on growing a social media following, especially if they want to make a career out of their craft?
Social media may not be the only way to make a career out of photography, but I do feel like it is an effective way in this day and age to get your art noticed. Besides word of mouth, almost all of my clients have found me through Instagram. It’s because of Instagram I get to have a voice and get to do what I love every single day.
What do you think are the pros and cons of social media and its importance in a photography career?
Higher chance of getting your art noticed by the general public and clients.
Finding like-minded people to collaborate and make art with.
We live in an age where everyone and everything is easier to connect with. It’s crazy to see who or what social media can connect you with.
Growing a fan base that is excited to see your art.
Instant feedback about your photography.
Society brainwashes everyone, including clients, into thinking that if you don’t have a large following, you’re not as good as someone with a large following.
A lot of work from photographers on social media is expected for free in exchange for a product you may or may not want.
So, you’ve done work for some big commercial clients. What has it been like working for clients such as Peerspace, Bershka, and Chevy, to name a few? Also, how is it different for you to work with a commercial client versus a concept shoot with your friends?
Commercial photography is very rewarding, in my opinion. It’s so amazing to see your work published in magazines, used as advertisements, or posted on the companies social media. Working with a commercial client is usually very different than doing a concept shoot with your friends. Photoshoot with your friends are necessary and they prep your portfolio to show clients what you are capable of.
Every client is different, but most commercial shoots, you are given a direction. If a company really likes me, and I’ve had this happen before, they gave me a general direction and the rest is in my creative control.
What advice do you have for people who are starting out in any artform looking to make it a career?
Practice, practice, practice! I would come home after school almost every single day and practice my photography skills. Heck, I’ve been doing this for 6 years and I’m still learning! Nothing, however, is more rewarding than looking at your photos from when you first started to how much it evolves years later.
What skills do you think are important for photographers, particularly ones who want to do portraits and fashion/lifestyle work, besides for taking photos and editing images?
My number one thing, I’d say is to make your model(s) comfortable. The more comfortable your model, the better the shoot is going to be. I find some of my best shoots are with some of my closest friends.
As for working with clients, a big thing I have learned is that you have to learn to have a business mindset.
If you could shoot any 3 people, dead or alive, who would it be?
- Emma Watson
- Dua Lipa
- Marilyn Monroe
How has it been seeing your brand evolve and how do you hope to build it in the future?
My photography style is heavily focused on color, reflective materials, and shine. Lately, I’ve been taking my brand even further and incorporating it into my personal fashion. I go to stores thinking, “This is shiny. My photography is shiny.” I shop a lot for my photo shoots and if I ever see anything that I feel would look good in a shoot, I’ll typically get it. I even own metallic shoes!
I would have never expected my brand to be where it’s at now five years ago, so I’m excited to see how I build my brand into the future.
What is your dream shoot?
I get asked this question a lot, but I’m still not sure what it would be. All I do is that it would be Derrick Freske paradise - colorful, metallic, shiny, and lots of lights and neon.
What are your biggest goals over the next 5 years?
Five years is a long time. So much has happened in the last year, I can’t even imagine where I’ll be in the next five! Photography is, and always will be, my number one, but I would say my number one goal is to experiment more with how I can translate my photography style into other artistic mediums. I would love to try and take my photography style into film, which is what so many people have been suggesting I do.