Meet David Plakke

Founder of David Plakke Media, NYC based fine-arts/commercial photographer & videographer, former faculty member: William James College, Western Michigan University and Rutgers University.

Storytelling tip

If you are interested in documenting your life, research documentary photography. If you are more interested in the visual arts as metaphor, research fine-art photography. If you are more philosophical, research conception arts. When you find an artist or branch of photography that interests you, study the artist and the artist’s work. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Look at what’s been done before, learn, and then apply the ‘technique’ through your own personal vision.

Q: What’s your connection to ALS?

A: When I taught saxophone lessons many years ago, one of my first students was named Vinny. His father had ALS. Vinny and I became close and he accompanied me during photo shoots and in my studio. I even had dinner with his family once a week after each of our lessons. I remain close to him and his family to this day.

Q: What led you to become a photographer?

A: Both my mother and father were musicians, but my father was an avid amateur photographer – I’d have to give him credit for my love of the visual arts.

Q: How do you express yourself through art and photography?

A: There is no separation between who I am and the work I do. When I’m not working professionally, I’m working on my own personal projects. The arts define who I am!

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

A: I would say 90% of any successful artist-photographer is their personality. Choose what type of photography you are interested in and see how that plays into your personality. If you’re introverted, you may want to try a “quieter” photography, such as still life. If you are more outgoing and enjoy human contact, try portraiture.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: The best advice I’ve ever received came from Perry Robinson, who is an award-winning clarinet player – I had the great fortune to perform with him many times on stage. When I expressed my fear of failure to him, Perry said, “Maestro. Just remember that if you play a bad note, you’re only one-half step away from the right note.” Now, that fine line between success and failure gets applied daily in all of my creative endeavors.

Q: How do you think photography can impact the world?

A: Photography is sewn into the fabric of everyone’s life: Facebook, Instagram, and all other types of social media use photography as source material. Everyone has a camera with the capacity for still and moving images right in their pockets, and they use it to record important social events.

Q: How many photos have you taken?

A: It’s impossible to say how many photos I’ve taken in my lifetime! This week, I had two commercial shoots – I took more than 2600 shots during the first shoot and more than 650 during the second. You do the math! :)

Q: What’s the most inspiring or unique project you’ve ever done?

A: One of my projects that has touched so many people is titled, “Speaking Visually: A Blind Aesthetic.” For this project, I collaborated with a person who has been blind since birth. He used my Widelux 140 degree panoramic camera, which represented my visual reality, while I used an audiocassette tape, which represented his sensory navigation tool.

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