Thinking outside the box and breaking the technical constraints of popular norms found on social media is what David Blaq’s fashion photography is all about. This Canon Creative loves expressing his creative genius and making his dreams come to life with the help of others, through collaboration.
Here’s what he had to say about his work and the climate South African photographers find themselves in.
Your Instagram profile is filled with high fashion photos, what has your favorite shoot been so far?
Thank you, it’s actually pleasing when that’s the reaction from the viewer’s perspective because I constructed it to have that feeling.
My favorite shoot was a campaign I did a few weeks ago. For a brand called Bvck Elemnt. I started my journey with Bvck Elemnt in 2018. He wanted to do a collaborative journey with me and I agreed because his brand is so avant garde and I was trying to get into that type of photography. Our first shoot together was extremely technical and challenging. It was a lot of work, one image took about two hours, cleaning mirrors, resizing mirrors… But I enjoyed it. It’s one of my favorite shoots because of the work put in.
Your photos are mainly brightly lit, with only one moody shot. Why this deviation from your normal style?
There’s a certain mood I’m trying to sell at the moment, because of the reconstruction of my Instagram. Right now I’m working on a very dreamy mood, something that can emotionally connect with my viewers. Something that isn’t just a like, where they want to know more about me. I’m trying to win people over with an effortless process. Once my profile is filled with the moody, contrasted feel I’ll start adding my very provocative fashion content. I have quite a lot of photos, about 60%, that is not on my Instagram, because I took down everything recently to rework my profile to sell my more provocative, “Eurocentric” content.
If you look at this picture and it’s visual communication, it has a very dreamy theme, which matches the black and white feel on the profile. It works very well in the arrangement and that’s the reason for the deviation.
With your re-branding endeavor, have you changed up any of your equipment?
It actually turns out that I gave away my 550D a year and a half ago and I started switching between a 750D and a 5D Mark III. So, I’ve been alternating them between the types of gigs that I get.
Why did you give your 550D away?
I gave it to someone that needed it more than I did. And, besides the fact that the 550D was a mistake of a camera, it had a 7D sensor and I had a whole lot of fun with it. I was always shocked at how the 550D would produce such good magic, but as soon as my hands touched the 5D I was blown away and I couldn’t go back to the 550D. I made my choice and stuck with the 5D until I found the 750D
Do you use the same lens on both the 5D and the 750D? Or a standard lens with each?
The standard lens with the 750 doesn’t really fit on the 5D, because of the mounts, but with the 5D I use a 35mm and the 50mm. With the 750 I use the standard, the 35mm and the 50mm. I hardly use a zoom lens.
Most portrait and fashion photographers like the zoom to create more depth of field, so you like keeping the background in focus? How did you get the depth of field on the lips?
I’m not a person that adapts to popular ideas. What matters for me is the end goal and what happens at the end. Because most of the images on social media, whether they’re technical or creative, they have some sort of assimilation in terms of how the end product looks, assimilating to a certain technical vibe. For me, whatever comes in the birth of my genius, I go ahead with it and that becomes how my images are. I never give the technical aspect of it much thought, it’s about making my ideas come to life. Whether it’s depth of field or lighting, as long as my ideas come to life in a David Blaq kind of way.
With the lips the depth of field was created because I was very close to the subject, so automatically it was going to blur out the background, also because of the f-stop I was using and she was quite a distance from the background.
Do you have any final words for aspiring photographers?
Technicality is not the only way to go, creativity is a big part of it. It puts us at the forefront of whatever else is happening with the rest of the world. It makes us compete on a global scale, because portraits and fashion are not the only thing we are capable of.
Photographers, especially black photographers, try out different types of photography, there are companies and big agencies that actually want these types of creatives, who focus on different types of photography, not just fashion. The finite space, architecture and product photography are all very empty, so go for that. The irresistible appeal of individualism is a very important factor. We need to start competing globally instead of acclimatizing to what is hyped up on social media, that’s not the only way to go.
Creativity is something that we need to work on, because we don’t lack, we’re just accustomed to very popular ideas and we fail to make our own genius ideas come alive, because we’re scared of looking very different when we go out of the technical norm. Sometimes, when you look at the European sphere, technicality is not even considered, it’s creative. The reason for that is because that’s what’s important to them, so the narrative should be changed in South Africa. Photographers must look at the creative and collaborative spaces, which are very shaky because of egos. Let’s work toward collaborating more, building each other creatively, so we can push the creative business forward. Creativity is what’s going to put us at the forefront of what’s happening in the rest of the world.