By Shayler Richmond
Meet Detroit native photographer, Derek Dandridge, better known as Specs. Imagine running in the same circle with Derek and Derick. Yeah, I’d be getting confused too.
Derek Jerome contributed to the birth of Derek Dandridge identifying as “Specs,” and Specs contributed to the birth of Derek Jerome’s career in photography because he gave Derek Jerome his first camera and lenses.
“If you’re doing something that’s true to you then the only thing you can do is build on what you have already started,” said Specs.
He has been seriously pursing cinematography and photography for 2 and a half years. His love for photography started as a curiosity, but he has been passionate about video production since he can remember being a kid wondering how movies were made. He would get excited and pull out a stack of DVDs just to watch the special features.
Through his experience in cinemetagraphy he has quickly learned creating music videos is not the style of cinemotgraphy for him.
"If you’re doing what you’re passionate about rather you’re a rapper or a cinematographer. I’m for it. We all have to progress in our own lane, but the type of music videos I was doing weren't for me and I didn’t feel comfortable creating them,” said Specs.
“Reaching a level of comfortability in my craft and establishing the ideas I want to push was so important because I don’t ever want to do a disservice to my community,” he continued.
Specs enjoys telling the story behind Black issues and showcasing impactful moments in Black culture rather than glorifying the the fruits of illegal or corrupt actions.
His favorite forms of photography are on location and street photography. He enjoys capturing people in their natural setting and translating their stories through the power he has found in the impact of authneticity and raw emotion.
“When a person is laughing that person is genuinely laughing. Whatever emotion captured is their genuine emotion. It’s bringing our culture to the forefront,”said Specs.
His purpose and intention is to use powerful visuals that tell a story and make people comfortable enough to communicate and solve bigger issues such as poverty, inequity in education, misrepresentation of Black culture, mismanagement of Black communities and high rates of incarceration and trumped charges for all marginalized Americans.
“I want to strike emotion whether you’re happy, sad or angry. I want my audience to feel what we feel every day in the black community," said Specs.
His longterm goal is to start nonprofit art and media centers in urban areas to provide young creatives with resources that assist in their devlopment. The centers will target impoverished areas to reduce the lack of access to resources and create a place for all ethnicities to come together and grow their talents.
“Art plays a key role in gifting us mental freedom because it is self expression and through art any emotion can be translated," said Specs. "And if you can’t paint, draw or take a picture then being in the presence of authentic art will still manage to inspire or provide a new prespective."