Fine Art Portraits for Drag Performers
August 17, 2023
David Franco is a versatile photographer who works full-time as an events photographer for LA County while also running a fine art portrait studio. Franco has a particular passion for photographing drag performers, who have a diverse and often punk-rock aesthetic. (Scroll through to see examples of Franco's drag portraiture.)
David Franco is a Master-accredited photographer with The Portrait Masters and winner of the Black and White Category in the last round of the PMAs. He is based in Los Angeles, California, where he runs his portrait studio in addition to being employed as an events photographer for LA County. This week, he joined host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about both photography careers and his passion for making fine art portraits of drag performers.
Franco came to photography from graphic design, having received his bachelor’s degree in the field. While working for several tech and commercial companies, Franco experienced being on photo shoots. Deciding he would like to get into shooting as well, he bought his first camera and cut his teeth on nature shots and landscapes. He became involved in The Portrait System community and took Felix Kunze’s lighting courses, which influenced his moody portrait lighting style. Then, shortly after getting laid off from a tech job, a friend sent him a listing for a salaried position with the LA County Board of Supervisors. Franco got the job, and so gets to spend his days traversing the vast Los Angeles County covering all kinds of events. From the Women’s March to homelessness to new hotels to surfers and hand-shaking events, he’s there, bringing his artistic, portrait maker’s eye to bear.
In addition to all the added inspiration Franco receives from the wide variety of subjects he daily shoots, Franco also has used his salaried position to build his fine art portrait studio business. He caters to all kinds of people, promising to bring out what is unique in each person. It is no wonder then that Franco is drawn to create fine art portraits for members of the drag community, where individual expression is heightened to a performative degree.
Drag performers are such creative people that they frequently change their styles. Franco is considering creating a monthly portrait subscription for drag performers that would make it financially accessible for them to come to his studio frequently to document all the many transformations they create in their images and personas.
The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message.