Fashion photographer David Urbanke brings artistry to his work with A-listers

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Our first portrait of the artist David Urbanke as a young man came in 2011 when he was a teen photographer navigating the world of fashion photography.

Eyewitness News Reporter Sandy Kenyon said watching the progress of Urbanke has been one of the biggest joys of his 19 years on the job.

“I had dreams, but to have someone like you see them, it helped validate me a lot,” Urbanke said. “It helped give me a push and drive.”

Urbanke moved to the city while still a minor. Five years later, he was on Fashion Avenue shooting for W.W.D.

He shot Michael B. Jordan for Esquire, and Kerry Washington to promote her own line of jewelry. They would be the first of many stars to shine in front of his camera.

“It’s just about keeping them comfortable and making them know that I’m there to portray them how they want to be seen,” Urbanke said.

He was able to get Jada Pinkett Smith to show her softer side in just 10 minutes.

“There was just a trust right away,” Urbanke said. “And, at the last moment, I turned off all the lights I had set up, and just how her with window light, and I think that also added to the intimacy.”

A grin from Rupert Grint gave Urbanke encouragement. He was clearly making progress, but his campaign for Google was a game-changer.

Bright colors had come to distinguish his work, but he’d never seen it that size before.

“It felt like I’ve worked really hard at this for many years, and it felt like an assurance I was on the right path,” he said.

“What was the secret to launching your career at 16 and getting to where you are now?” Kenyon asked.

“You know this industry you get put down a lot. There’s a lot of criticism. There’s a lot of rejection, and I think you just have to believe in yourself and believe that you’re good enough and that if you create work that you feel is your best, that opportunities will come and the right ones will find you,” Urbanke said.

Luck, it has been said is “where preparation meets opportunity,” and let’s add one more word: patience. Urbanke was so young when he started. The photographer said he now felt unworthy and suffered from what’s called, “imposter syndrome.” But, he kept going and kept taking pictures until success finally came.

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