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Derek Blanks (born November 5, 1977) is an American photographer, illustrator, director and producer.

Early Life Edit

Derek Blanks was born in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the middle twin of three siblings.[1]

Blanks attended Murrah High School in Jackson, MS enrolled in APAC: The Academic and Performing Arts Complex open to eligible student’s grades 4-12.

In 2000, Blanks graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD[2] whereas he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. Upon graduation, Blanks worked in commercial design, illustration and freelance photography through work with The Baltimore Sun[3] and illustrated children's book,“Up in the Learning Tree” published by Lee & Low Books.[3]

Career Edit

Blanks entered into lifestyle and fashion Photography by developing a portfolio with works published by Essence, BET Networks, Sony Music Entertainment, Reach Media Inc. and Ebony.

Alter-Ego Series Edit

In 2009, Blanks collaborated with NeNe Leakes by photographing the cast of Real Housewives of Atlanta for his Alter Ego portrait series.[4] Blanks photographed several more celebrities for the series including Chaka Khan, Taraji P. Henson, Blair Underwood, Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, Rockmond Dunbar, Hill Harper, Faith Evans, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Brandy, Boris Kodjoe, Terrell Owens, Angela Bassett, Cover Girl, Nicole Ari Parker, Mike Epps, Eva Marcille, Akon, Cedric The Entertainer, Columbus Short, and more.[5][6]

Print and Advertising Edit

In October 2011, Blanks became a cover and features photographer for, Essence. Derek Blanks/ESSENCE covers include Wendy Williams: The Girl Friends Issue,Angela Bassett: Black Women In Hollywood 2011; features include 2011 Do Right Men featuring Amare Stoudemire, A Few Good Men: The Cast of Red Tails, Don Lemon: Transparent and Black Women in Hollywood 2011 featuring Viola Davis, Loretta Devine and Amber Riley of Glee. Other Blanks images have graced the covers and pages of BillboardMaximPeopleEbonyLife & StylePEOPLE en EspanolUptownJetModern LuxuryRunwayUpscale and more.

Blanks has photographed print and advertising campaigns for BET Networks including The Mo'Nique Show, The Game (Season 4 and 5), Let’s Stay Together (Season 1 and 2), College Hill: Atlanta and Miami, Baldwin Hills, Reed Between The Lines, Toya: A Family Affair, Family Crews, Monica: Still Standing and Tiny and Toya. Additional print campaigns include WeTv’s Braxton Family Values and Mary Mary.[7]

Directing Edit

In late 2011, Blanks began transitioning into the world of video with his directorial music video debut featuring America's Next Top Model contestant Dominique Reighard[8] and "Charades" by Chrisette Michele from "Audrey Hepburn: An Audio Visual Presentation", “Party or Go Home” by Trina Braxton.

Album Credits and Examples of Work Edit

  • BeBe and CeCe Winans- Still
  • CeCe Winans-For Always: The Best of CeCe Winans
  • CeCe Winans-Songs of Emotional Healing
  • Ciara- Fantasy Ride
  • Deitrick Haddon- Church on the Moon
  • Dondria- Dondria vs. Phatffat
  • Donell Jones-Lyrics
  • Faith Evans-Something About Faith
  • Fantasia- Back to Me
  • Juanita Bynum-The Diary of Juanita Bynum
  • Kelly Price- Kelly
  • Kelly Rowland- Here I Am
  • Keyshia Cole - Woman to Woman
  • Lalah Hathaway- Where It All Begins
  • LaShun Pace-Reborn
  • Ledisi- Pieces of Me
  • Mary Mary- Go Get It
  • Monica- New Life
  • PJ Morton-Walk Alone
  • Richard Smallwood- With Vision…Promises
  • Ruben Studdard- Letters from Birmingham
  • Sheri Jones-Moffett-Renewed
  • SWV- I Missed Us
  • T-Pain-Revolver
  • Tamela Mann-The Master Plan
  • Tedd Winn-Balance
  • Alter Ego Portrait Series[9]
  • Real Housewives of Atlanta Alter Ego Portraits[10]
  • The Insider (TV Series) Extreme Makeovers[11]
  • Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon[12]
  • Melanie Fiona Alter Ego shoot[13]
  • Michelle Williams Alter Ego shoot
  • Kelly Rowland album cover shoot for Here I Am (Kelly Rowland album)[14]
  • Amber Riley in Essence Magazine[15]