College for Creative Studies: Photography


John Urbanek

John Urbanek Photography (Detroit)

Owner/freelance commercial and editorial photographer

In both his professional and personal work, John Urbanek's signature is discovering and presenting intriguing stories in a single frame.

From fashion shoots at yacht clubs to editorials on skate culture in the streets to bringing out the inner beauty of car seats, Urbanek uses his camera to catch the interesting experiences in life that often go unnoticed. Being able to get just the right shot has garnered him an impressive client list across multiple industries and an intriguing portfolio of editorial work.

“My goal with any project is to create a connection," said Urbanek. "To invite viewers to be part of a moment instead of just a spectator. I want to capture moments that take people out of their comfort zones and show objects in ways they aren’t naturally seen."

Recently, Urbanek has been shooting lifestyle and product photography, everything from pickles to Lamborghinis, for local and national advertisers and agencies. He was awarded at the 2012 D show for his partnership with Team Detroit on an innovative Ford Mustang project for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition that ran in print and digital.

“I’m constantly researching which agencies are picking up new clients," he said. "I make sure to keep them updated on my latest work. Knocking on doors can be tough, but if you are persistent it will build into a relationship and clients who will continue to hire you.”

On the personal side, Urbanek just completed Submerged, a series that he started a few years ago. He injected paint and pigments into water and shot them using a high speed strobe and special macro lens. The result are intricately detailed clouds that people "see different things in."

“The series was picked up by and,” said Urbanek. “Design42day featured them in a digital show in Milan. It was a success!”

In the future, Urbanek sees himself branching into video work and has been working on documentary film projects and online video. He is currently renovating a home in Detroit's Indian Village and can offer clients studio space in the heart of Detroit's creative renaissance.

To view Urbanek’s work, check out