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Thursday, November 5, 2009

D. Blanks sets the record straight! Don't be fooled by the imposters!

For those of you that missed the “Alter Ego” party this past weekend at Posh Lounge downtown you certainly missed a treat. Costumes ranged from everything from priests, to sexy nurses, to Playboy Bunnies.

The event was hosted by nationally reknown photographer, Derek Blanks who was recently featured on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I was able to catch up with Derek’s alter ego, D. Blanks outside of Posh Lounge for an exclusive interview. He talks about the differences between his two alter egos, how the “Alter Ego” photo phenomenon got started, and he warns people to not be fooled by photographers that are attempting to duplicate what he made so popular today.

A.D.: Tell me the difference between Derek Blanks and D. Blanks

DB: Well, ok. Derek Blanks is the laid back photographer, that’s easy going, humble person. And then D. Blanks is the celebrity photographer that has his shades on at the club….

(Both Laugh)

A.D.: Well I’m standing here with D. Blanks!

DB: Right, Right. (He’s) not as easy to approach, but you know, he’s cool too.

A.D. Ok. Well tell us some of the people that you’ve worked with.

DB: I’ve had the pleasure of working with celebrities such as Usher, Ciara, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Tisha Campbell, Ludacris….just to name a few.

A.D.: Lot of people. So tell me how the whole alter ego thing got started. Let’s make everything clear, you were the originator of this, right?

D.B. Right!

A.D.: So nobody can come and claim, “No I was doing this before.” You were the originator, you put the trademark on the alter ego thing…How did it all come about?

D.B.: Right well you know, I am the originator of actual interaction between the two alters. It’s been done before but not how I’ve approached it. It’s been done before on like (America’s Next) Top Model shows and stuff like that, but there’s never been any interaction. It’s always been kind of copy paste,cut paste where there’s one subject on the left and one on the right. So after “Daughters of Man” which is a portrait of successful African American women and their fathers, I thought it would be cool to do my very own project….So I thought it’d be cool since I built up the clientelle of celebrities, to approach them about doing the alter egos. So, I approached the celebrities one by one, they gravitated to it and I thought it’d be different because people are intrigued by celebrities. So I thought it would be really cool to show the alter of that celebrity. So I started the project about two years ago, and I had a reveal in Atlanta and that happened to be the day that T.I. was released on house arrest so he decided to come by. So actually when he came by everybody came by and supported. It was on the blogs the following day. So it was great press for the project and it kind of build and build. In the meantime, I’ve worked with Nene from “The Real Housewives.” And she was so thrilled with her images, that I thought it would be a cool project to ask the ladies to do it, and also for it to be televised. So I thought it’d be excellent publicity.

A.D.: So the way that it looks on t.v. is that they all did it together. That’s not how it went?

D.B.: Well, they did it together, but I went and shot NeNe previously, where we kind of gave her a new look. I brought in the glam squad and we just did new publicity photos for her. So I thought it’d be a good idea to include all the ladies, so NeNe approached all the ladies. So originally I shot solo shots of Nene and then decided to do alter egos of all of them.

A.D.: O.K. And why did you decide to choose NeNe…Or how did NeNe become the director of everything?

D.B.: Well you know t.v. has it’s way of editing so I just let NeNe play on that. But you know, we actually came up with the ideas together and she coached the ladies on the set which was really helpful. But I had already planned their glam squads, hair and makeup and wardrobe stylists before hand. So it made it that much easier for NeNe to direct them on set and a lot of things she said, I actually agreed with. So she was a good help on set, I’m not gonna lie about that. But I’m just grateful that she gave me the opportunity to bring it to the “Housewives” cause it took the exposure of the project to whole ‘nother level.

A.D.: And what has the response been like since the show, cause you were already established before. But I know the show just pushed you out there into the mainstream past Atlanta……..

D.B.: Response has been great. Immediately after the show, we had about 100 emails and phone calls and anytime the show repeated throughout the week, we could tell cause we had numerous emails and phone calls. So everybody want an alter ego, and it’s kind of cool to be the originator of it because now I’m seeing knockoffs all over the country people are doing alter egos and the thing is, they may be able to do it now but I’m really the trendsetter for the project. And there are several knockoffs like the Louis (Vuitton) knockoffs, but you always know the difference.

A.D.: You know photographers are going to be biting you.

D.B. Right.

A.D. So what projects do you have coming up that you want to let people know about and how can people get in contact with you?

D.B.: I just finished Bebe and CeCe (Winans) their first album probably in about 15 years. I did Mo’Nique for Uptown Magazine. And the promo photos for her show as well as Monica’s show. I also did Monica for Upscale Magazine as well as Black Hair Sophisticate’s. I’m working with Jermaine Dupri’s artist and I’m the personal photographer for Jennifer Hudson just did her baby announcements photos which were published in People Magazine.

A.D. You did those?

D.B. Yeah

A.D. We have those on our website ( actually….

D.B. O.K. that’s whats up. So I’ve been blessed to build relationships with these certain clients and pick them up as personal clients like Jennifer Hudson, I’m her personal photographer, Monica and several other celebrities want to work with me and I’m blessed and honored to be a part.

For more information on Dblanks:

(As interviewed by Adrienne Donnell-republished in


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