DPP Home Profiles David Sacks - Creative Fusion

Thursday, June 14, 2007

David Sacks - Creative Fusion

David Sacks keeps his imagery fresh by seeking a balance between work that pays the bills and work that energizes the soul

With his dog as the star, the Louis Vuitton campaign was a smashing success—literally. As soon as the shoot was done, Tyler rolled over onto his back, breaking the umbrella.

The success of that campaign generated more work for Sacks with the magazine as well as served to introduce him to the greater editorial and advertising community. Today, his distinctive still-life work keeps him in demand by clients who value the unique look he brings to a project.

Sacks continues to shoot still-life campaigns, but has grown into portraiture out of a desire to expand his creative potential. He recently produced a large campaign for Quark Incorporated, the developer of the Quark design application, marking a big departure from his start in still-life photography. He found the work much more rewarding since it involved people. The ads were highly successful, running in Communication Arts, How magazine and Adweek.

What made the campaign so successful, in part, was using Craigslist for “real people” casting. For other projects, Sacks still relies on modeling agencies, of course, but the drive to experiment and push out-of-the-ordinary ideas like the Craigslist casting call helps Sacks avoid creative stagnation.


An old school friend of Sacks, Doug Hayes is president of Covenant Mercies, a nonprofit organization established for the purpose of providing aid to people facing severe adversity. The organization undertakes a variety of community rebuilding programs, both in Sacks' childhood Pennsylvania neighborhood and in Africa for children affected by AIDS.

After meeting up again after several years apart, Sacks learned what kind of work Hayes was doing and was shown the collateral materials the organization used to promote its cause. Sacks thought the materials could be improved with fresh photography and volunteered to help.

While in Uganda, Sacks met a young orphan named Sylvia, who was in poor health. Says Sacks, “In all the time that we spent with her, she never smiled. I learned that she needed a series of seven injections and some topical creams as well as oral medications. The total for all of that medication added up to only $4.50! Nothing more than what a trip to your local Starbucks would cost! I knew that if nothing was done, this little girl was going to die.”

Getting Sylvia her medication and improving her health was a life-changing experience for Sacks. He has since held several shows of his work, raising more than $70,000 in sales, all of which went toward helping the children.

“When I saw Sylvia a few years later on a return visit, she was a totally normal, healthy kid,” says Sacks. “She actually smiled. The orphans program that I take pictures for provides a place for the children to live; it provides them with food, schooling, college tuition, a savings account and medical care. To be a part of that, to see my efforts helping these children, provides me with a great sense of contentment.”

In Africa, he shoots digital with a very sparse kit—just a camera, lens and one or two strobes. Says Sacks, “I prefer to use natural light because it's so magical there.”


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