What’s going on, go ahead and introduce yourself
Hello everyone, my name is Blake Pleasant. I’m a 24-year-old street/portrait/documentary photographer based out of Chicago. I’m also finishing up my SR year of college at Depaul, where I study advertising and graphic design.
How was your life growing up?
Growing up was a bit dysfunctional, but I always remembered growing up happy.
You consider yourself a creative individual, explain what being creative means to you?
To me, creativity is a mindset, a lifestyle, and a way of thinking. It encompasses so much that anyone you ask is probably going to have a different answer.
When did you first start finding your creative talents?
At a young age I wouldn’t have identified myself as a creative. Now that I have found my creative outlet to express myself, I can go back in time and look at my childhood and see that I have always been creative. For me, I just needed time to believe that creatives can make it in this world; we can make our own future and be happy with what it is we do. I really began to identify as a creative once I began my transition from majoring into International Studies to Advertising.
Upon graduating high school as the student’s top leader, you decided to attend University of South Carolina, to pursue a career in Advertising. How was your school experience at SC?
My experience at SC was bitter sweet. I left abruptly after personal reasons, but I’m still thankful for the experience I was able to have there. I still talk to some of my old college buddy’s and have no doubt we will be friends for a long time.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Advertising?
I had been studying International studies for a year and it just wasn’t the fit for me. I realized I was looking for a profession that wasn’t so black and white. I needed a career that was more creative and not heavily dependent on theories. I wanted something more tangible, and to me that was advertising. One day, my step dad and I sat down in the living room. He began to blindly read off to me a bunch of major descriptions from USC’s website, and he read this one description, which ended up being advertising, and I immediately knew that this was made for me. Shortly after I begun to make this choice to pursue advertising, I met my great mentor Perianne who played a huge influence on me to pursue this cutthroat, yet rewarding industry.
While attending South Carolina, you found your passion for photography. Were you always interested in Photography, or how did you find an interest to take up that medium?
Growing up I always had a digital camera. I was a gear geek. I liked having nice technology. I really developed an interest for photography though my sophomore year of College, where I decided to take a Digital Photography elective class. That class taught me basic camera skills and changed my life forever. In that class it was revealed to me that I had a special eye for the world around me, in ways that most people don’t.
You now attend Depaul, how has the transition been?
It’s been difficult academically. College is not really meant for people like me, or I’d say creative people in general. As creatives, we are very independent and learn things hands on. Depaul is a business school first, and now looking back I wish I had picked a school with a more creative environment. However, Depaul has taught me how to teach myself things, such as, building my portfolio without the help of school and necessary resources. Above all, going to a business school with an art perspective has forced me to persevere in my creative pursuit without the help of others.
How has Chicago helped inspire your creative talents and photography?
Photography for me has pushed me to discover places in the city. As a pretty anxious person, I feel like I can find my place in this big city and share it with others to inspire them. The architecture and diverse cultures that Chicago has to offer plays a huge influence on my work as well
As I look at your work, I tend to see a lot of film photography as well. Film photography over the years has begun to become a dying medium. What do you like most about shooting film?
That it is dying. I hate when older people put down younger photographers based on the fact that they’ve never shot film. Another reason I enjoy shooting film is because you cannot match film. I used to apply a bunch of film emulators to my digital images, when I transitioned into shooting film, I realized first hand you can’t replicate the range and look of film photography digitally. I also like the fact that film photography is timeless, it’s simple, and to me, it’s more fun. Shooting film also helps improve your compositional techniques and reaction time, which is very important to me in street and portrait photography.
Over the years we have seen Instagram become a huge outlet for Photographers. How do you think Social media/Instagram has begun to hurt or help the progression of photography?
I think if you’re not on social media as a photographer in this generation, you do not exist. It’s either you adapt to these new technologies or you fight it and your work will dwindle to the lesser audiences. By embracing these technologies and learning to brand yourself online, you will start to become a recognized photographer. The downside of social media is that it can also cheapen your work. There’s a weird balance you need to find between over sharing and using it to your benefit in the long run.
How important is the editing process in photography?
I process all of my images. If clients want to see unedited images, I will not give them to them. I believe it cheapens our work, and it’s not a level playing field for others to judge your work without it being processed correctly. I do think there’s a point where processing can ruin images though and there are also times where it can make or establish the style in an image. Editing takes patience and a lot of time, but I personally think over editing has begun to take over this medium.
What’s one piece of advice you can give for anyone looking to get involved with photography?
The single most important thing I’ve learned over this past year is to always have your camera with you, every single minute, hour, and day. I can’t tell you how much it has done for my photography in the past six months. I was embarrassed at first to constantly carry my camera everywhere, but then I learned to just own it, it became part of my daily outfit. As a photographer you’ll never have the same opportunity to catch the same photo twice. You either take the shot when you see it, or it’s going to disappear. Do you really want to miss a lifetime opportunity?
Written By: Nicholas Rud