My name is Donavan Freberg and I’m a Los Angeles based portrait photographer specializing in personality driven headshots for working actors, models and musicians.
I shot my first picture in the summer of 1977, the same year that two of my favorite movies came out, Star Wars and Annie Hall.
I was six, and the camera was the Polaroid SX-70.
I can still remember the soft brown leather that smelled like an old wallet and the shiny round shutter release button that was the color of a freshly washed fire engine. I’ll never forget that camera and the way it felt to watch the little picture develop before my eyes. It was my first taste of magic. My father told me the story of how the camera was invented by a man named Land and how he had gotten the idea from his little girl who asked why the film lab couldn’t go inside the camera. Thank god for little children and brave geniuses.
Seven years later, on my thirteenth birthday, I was given a Nikon with a 50mm lens and six rolls of Kodachrome.
I’ve been clicking ever since.
Photography is second nature to me. It combines everything I love most in life and gives me the greatest superpower in the world; the ability to stop time dead in its tracks. Most of all, I love wedding photography because it involves cake and champagne.
TEN FACTS ABOUT ME:
1. I wasn’t named until I was 5 years old. I was given the moniker “Donavan” by Santa Claus. In July. We kept the Christmas tree up all year long. Until that fateful yuletide summer, I was called “Baby.” I shared this name with the family dog, a freakishly small and very cute Yorkshire terrier.
2. Growing up, I received an ornately wrapped gift every single day. This pretty much continued well into my twenties. My parents said it was my “reward for waking up.” I wasn’t spoiled, I was ruined.
3. I learned how to make a hot fudge sundae from Ray Bradbury, how to shoot a sniper rifle from Princess Leia’s brother and how to make a martini from Dean Martin.
4. When I was a youngling, I met Kermit The Frog and his dad, Jim Henson. Jim smelled like powdered doughnuts and gave me a huge hug. Kermit was much greener than I had even imagined. It’s not easy, you know.
5. I wore a cape under my school uniform as a child. It was red. I also carried a purse from time to time. It was Chanel.
6. I sleep in long sleeve pajamas every night. Brooks Brothers. I’m all about thread count and monograms. I have three pairs. White, blue and pink. Before bed, I read medical textbooks and do jumping jacks. I think I’m secretly a Royal Tenenbaum. Perhaps not so secretly.
7. I always overtip waitresses, valets, doormen and other service people. Way overtip. Always. I believe that what goes around, comes around and I believe we’re all in it together.
8. I toy with the idea of being an Atheist, but I just can’t bring myself to commit to it. It feels like I have my hand on the trigger of a gun and I just can’t eat the bullet. Besides, I really dig that Jesus guy…not the right wing poster child of neo-nazi bible thumping fundamentalists, I’m talking about the rebel with a cause. The cool, compassionate, tough as a carpenters nail, long-haired rabbi who befriended the despised, healed the sick, counseled the downtrodden, hung out with tramps and hookers and did death defying magic tricks. Yeah, that guy. What a bitchin’ savior!
9. Everytime I have ever had to punch a time clock, I felt like a complete and utter failure. I’m a helper, but the minute I have to wear a corporate hat, I turn into a wilted flower begging for the freedom of an open window. Shooting your picture IS that open window and there is nothing I’d rather be doing. I absolutely love being a professional photographer and it is my goal to make that show in every picture I take. I believe we are human story books, alive with wonder and magic. It is my deepest desire to help you tell your story with my camera. To me, photography is me + you + light + play = gold. I want my photographs to make my subjects feel better about themselves. I want to tell the truth about them with my camera so they can see the truth about themselves. The truth that they are beautiful.
10. I booked my first acting gig when I was 5 and joined the Screen Actors Guild at the age of 6. I was a working actor for more than 30 years. It is the only thing I’ve done longer than photography and it will always be a part of me. I understand what it feels like to be on the other side of the camera.
11. I do not own a flash, a light meter or a tripod.
12. Rules were made to be broken.