Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Dirk Franke: The Miami Heat
Dirk Franke stylishly blends beauty, fashion and glamour into a modern exploration of sensuality and classic sex appeal
Now based out of Miami, Franke has built his life around travel. He studied cinematography in Germany before deciding that the instant gratification of photography better suited his impatient nature, especially when compared to the months and months of work spent on a film production. His decision to come back into the fold was committed and brazen.
“I became an assistant to a well-known European fashion photographer,” he recalls. “He was one of five people I selected from images I had seen in magazines. One morning, I knocked at his studio door and introduced myself as his new assistant. The poor man was shocked, but also amused, and I started working as his second assistant the following week. Two more assistant positions with fashion photographers followed during a period of about three years. When I had a feeling there was nothing more for me to learn, which was very stupid, I took a big loan, rented a studio space, sent out several hundred promos and sat in front of my phone, waiting for it to ring. It didn’t. Sitting in my studio with all of the equipment and lots of time to spare, I began testing—relentlessly. I offered my services to local model agencies, which gave me a great selection of models to work with, and I tested every possible lighting situation, camera angle and composition I could think of. Within a few months, my portfolio improved significantly, and the first local jobs started coming in. I continued testing and developing ‘my style.’ About two years later, I was asked to shoot several lingerie promotions for Gianfranco Ferré, an assignment that opened a lot of doors for me, both nationally and internationally.”
Franke credits his ability to listen to clients and translate their ideas into interesting and provocative imagery as the basis for much of his repeat business, and good word of mouth also brings him work. For promotion, Franke finds that the physical portfolio of the film days is fading away. The online portfolio is more important than anything else now, and Franke says that the software and technology that’s available to him allow him to have a selection of images culled and tailored for the specific needs of a prospective client or possible project posted to the Internet within minutes. For preemptive strikes, he uses ad placement in industry-specific publications, and occasional e-mail blasts also keep his base updated on his new work.
Franke shoots around the world, though he lives and works primarily out of Miami. One of his unique talents is how he involves his locations in the shoots, making the backgrounds just as much a character as the subjects themselves.
“The first time I came to Miami was in 1989,” he says happily. “Back then, Miami was still a sleeping beauty—it was rundown, lots of shops were boarded up, retirees were sitting outside of old, broken-down hotels, and some areas were plain dangerous. However, I had never seen a place with such beautiful light, amazing beaches, palm trees on every corner and all kinds of different architecture within just a few miles from each other—available all year-round. I’ve worked all over the world and I’ve yet to see a place that has so much to offer. I found amazing modern architecture and infinity pools in Capetown, the most fascinating beaches in the Bahamas, beautiful street scenes and cafés in Spain and France; but if you need a bit of everything, Miami is the place. Besides, I think the sky over Miami is just a shade more blue than it is anywhere else.”
It used to be that if you wanted to work in the U.S. fashion epicenters, you had to live and work out of New York or Los Angeles. This attitude has changed profoundly as portfolios are delivered online, and communication and feedback are instantaneous.
“I don’t think it really matters where you live anymore,” Franke muses. “I really enjoy the quality of life Miami offers me, and if I need to attend a meeting in New York City, I can leave my house after breakfast, be in New York City for lunch and then back for a mojito in South Beach. Our world is getting smaller every day. Between better flight connections, Internet and wireless connectivity almost everywhere, cell phones, videoconferencing and SMS, you can communicate with clients, art directors and coworkers wherever you want and whenever you need. Online portfolios and FTP transfers make it possible to present your latest work to any client around the world within minutes.”
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