BY ADINAWA ADJAGBODJOU
This week I featured Drake Hackney, photographer and visual storyteller, whose incredible work has captured stunning images, including those of our very own Pavé The Way models! Read below about his passion for photography, and how he continues to shape his craft!
Can you just start by telling me who you are anD what has brought you to where you are today?
My name is Drake Hackney. I’m from Southern Utah originally. I was born and raised in a small town in Southern Utah called Moab, Utah. So I don’t know if you’ve seen Utah license plates, but the plates that have the big orange arch, that’s where I’m from. I did two years at the University of Utah and then I came out here to just pursue photography in general.
Visual Storytelling has always been something that I’ve been interested in but I do remember experiencing the traditional feelings of “is this something that is viable as a career?” I had tried college and never found a major that really clicked with me. I was always brought back to the elements of visual storytelling that I always enjoyed.
In terms of what has gotten me here? Following what feels right even though it can be daunting to want to be an artist. It has been difficult and I am sure that it will continue to be so but a lot of happiness can be found in the journey of pursuing your passion.
What has been one of your favorite projects and why?
It depends. I tend to lean a bit more towards technicality in terms of my approach to photography. So there are some sets of images that I love because I think they’re technically very sound and clean and I’m like “yes, I nailed that one!”
But in terms of creatively fulfilling, I did a beauty editorial for a small magazine in Los Angeles, “The Bandit Series” on my Instagram. I particularly enjoyed that one because it was a really fun shoot and it was one with a more technical light setup. I think telling stories with light has always been something that I enjoyed. And so I think blending that and creating characters with light is interesting. The experience is really made better when I work with a great model. In this case, our model was non-binary and they brought a very interesting presence to the shoot. They really incorporated their own persona and gave it a very androgynous vibe. There was also the aspect of using the light to tell the story of the character that the model was embodying which was really fun.
So is there a project that you have in mind, that you would just love to do one day?
I’d love to do a fashion campaign. I’ve always loved Dior, Prada, Miu Miu and Jimmy Choo and I would absolutely love to do a shoot for them. I just love it. There’s something about advertising for some of those larger companies that’s really exciting. Even if you look back to the Avedon, Steven Klein, and Merton Marcus years, who were doing stuff in the nineties, those “luxury” brands really sell a vision which is so interesting because their campaigns from that time frame act as a time capsule. I think those brands have a really good way of knowing the identity of a time period and making the energy in all of their work very unique, even if they’re only a year apart. To be trusted to tell a visual story for a brand that large would be really interesting. Especially now that things are becoming more diverse, it’s really important to be able to create imagery that has such a large purpose.
When you were younger and maybe you didn’t know that you were a storyteller yet, how did you discover that or explore that? Or what were the things that made you really realize that that’s what you loved?
That’s the thing, I didn’t really get into photos until like my sophomore year of high school, which is kind of late. I mean, I hear a lot of really great artists talk about how they always had a camera in their hands and that really wasn’t me. And I’ve thought about this a lot and when I look back, I recognize little moments such as my love for clothing, fashion, and people. When I was little, I remember I would subconsciously go by the magazine counter at our local grocery store and flip through them. I think throughout your life, seeds of the person you’re going to become are embedded in you. I mean, I can still picture Vogue covers and stuff that came out when I was 10 or so. I have images in my mind that I can visualize clearly even though I couldn’t tell you who took them. I think the interesting thing about visual storytelling is that there are so many references that stick in your mind. I think what everyone is “meant to do” is forged in moments like these.