Location: Beijing, China
Adam Dean is a freelance photographer based in Beijing, China. Dean’s editorial clients include The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Rolling Stone Magazine, Stern, Smithsonian magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and The Telegraph Magazine. In 2011 he was the recipient of The Sony Emerging Photographer Award. He has won first place prizes from Pictures of the Year International (POYI), NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Prix International de la Photographie, as well as multiple awards from Days Japan Photojournalism Award, Sony World Photography Award, PDN Annual and The Press Photographer’s Year. His work has been shown at Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan and exhibited worldwide.
I taught myself photography, then went to the university in Dalian in China. I was on an exchange program from the University of Bolton in the UK. At that time, I was pursing a Master’s Degree in Photojournalism.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Patience. Also, it takes time to make good images.
What was your first photography job?
I was commissioned by Reuters as a stringer to get images of North Korea from a speedboat on the Yalu River. The Yalu in northeast China defines the border between China and North Korea. This was in 2006, and at the time, North Korea had first tested their nuclear bomb. Shooting from the boat in the river was the only way to get photographs from North Korea as they weren’t allowing photojournalists into the country.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Keep shooting as much as you can. Work on your own projects, and take advantage of the Internet to look at the great photojournalism work that’s out there to help develop your eye. Some websites I suggest are TIME LightBox, The New Yorker, Photobooth, The New York Times Lens Blog, Panos Pictures, VII and Magnum—all highlight some of the best work out there.
What inspires you about photography?
For me, it’s the stories that I’m working on at any particular time that inspire me.
What makes you go out and shoot?
Sadly, I shoot less for myself these days because I’m quite busy with assignments, but I still get excited when working on a story that engages me.
What do you like best about the whole process?
I love meeting people and witnessing historic events. My work takes me to places and events that are in the process of making history. It’s my job to interpret and share those events with the world.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
I use Canon cameras and lenses. I have a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Canon EF 24mm ƒ/1.4L II USM, EF 35mm ƒ/1.4L USM, EF 50mm ƒ/1.2L USM and EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 L USM.
What do you think it takes to be successful in today’s challenging and competitive marketplace?
As a photojournalist, you’re judged solely on your work and your portfolio, so it really comes down to being able to make great images. You have to be able to do that in difficult situations. Most photographers and almost all photojournalists are self-employed and work as contractors or for fees, so you also have to understand marketing and how to promote your work and get it seen.
To see more of Adam Dean’s work, go to www.adamdean.net.