Guest Star: "Nicki Minaj Is So Great W/ Those Facial Expressions"

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010 8:00AM

Written by SOHH for Derick G

[Flashing Lights: Miami-based photographer Derick G speaks on being Young Money/Cash Money's go-to camera guy and banking on a career behind-the-lens.]

My relationship with Young Money developed from the "Money To Blow" music video shoot. I was on the set doing behind-the-scenes shots for Universal and a mutual friend of mind which is also a mentor and the director of the video, Gil Green. I took this one shot of Baby and his daughter throwing money at the camera and he liked it.

After taking that shot, Baby invited me to the studio with a couple friends. I later got called in to shoot something else for them and it was [for] Lil Wayne's 27th birthday party. That's when he got that million dollar watch and the cake with all the diamonds on it. That was the first official job that I got hired for through Cash Money.

That same exact day, I did a video of them with the cake but they didn't know I was shooting the video. I pretty much surprised them with the footage and when Baby saw it, he freaked out and loved the quality. They loved how I put pictures in the video and just the overall quality so the same day, Baby asked me, "Do you have a passport? Do you want to go to Europe with us?" Ever since then, I've been riding with them.

I started the whole Derick G brand and I have about three people that I work with constantly. I'll do different jobs and spread them out if I got different clients. But most of my big clients and celebrities, I do on my own. Some artists are comfortable with having me around and I don't like to overwhelm them with bringing two or three other photographers with me. So it depends on the venue and client whether or not I bring people with me, but 90% of the time, it'll just be me.

I've been shooting stuff behind the scenes for the last four years and four years ago, blogs weren't what they were today. I would post pictures up on MySpace and Facebook and I didn't really know how to work the blogs. I come from the car show days. Cars are my life. The way I started getting all of these behind the scenes photos is because I used to provide cars for different movies, music videos and commercials. I would bring a camera with me, always, to take photos of the cars on-set. Gil Green pretty much told me not to just focus on cars and take more behind-the-scenes shots, so that's pretty much how I really got started.

When you first start off, you get put on to these photo shoots through an entourage member or somebody's righthand man. But after time, when people start to see you're serious and about your sh*t, then the relationship starts to build. It's cool when an artist says, 'here's my number, call me for a photo shoot.' Most of the artists I deal with, except two or three, I have their direct contact.

I like to take candid shots. Those are shots that a photo shoot could never set up. [No matter] how much money you have in the world, you could never set that up. The cool thing about a candid shot is that you can never take the same exact shot twice. For example, if I could sit down with God and have an opportunity to go and take pictures from war and come home alive, I would go and do that because you would get such amazing images. I'm not for war or violence, but capturing life in front of your eyes is amazing.

With a male artist, especially a hip-hop artist, even if they make an ugly face at the camera, it's not even about them being attractive or not, it's about capturing the moment. When it comes to a female artist, you have to be more sensitive. Nicki Minaj is so great with those facial expressions when she changes to a different personality. She's dope to shoot. Shanell aka SNL is more mellow and deep. Her shots are also very simple because she has long expressions and those long nails so you can really capture her. I've shot other female artists where they get so into it that it's hard to take good shots.

I have 19 other clients like Converse and for different events, I might just have one of my guys go and cover it. I have a little bit of a creative team and they are all creative in their own sense, so 2011, I'm going to introduce the world to them.

Check out some of Derick G's work below:

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Be sure to check back tomorrow for Flashing Light's next featured photographer, Garry "Prophecy" Sun discussing his path as "the rapping paparazzi".

Derick G is an established photographer who has made a name for himself around the Miami area, capturing shots of T-Pain, Pitbull, Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Shanell aka SNL and more. To learn more about D.G., just click here.

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