A chat to the ultra stylish and inspirational photographer-Dean Elliott
Who is Dean Elliott, what do you do and where are you based?
I am a pretty down to earth guy who loves to surf and spend my days soaking up the warmth of the sun on Durban’s Golden mile. I am an active person that cant sit still if there is a game of one bounce going down. My younger days were spent on South Beach in Durban which basically means that my childhood memories are that of an early 80′s California style. I also lived on the Esplanade utilizing the Harbour and Albert park as my back garden, that was fun. My teenage years were spent growing up in Seaview, which is highly recommended by the way. Currently, I am a photographer with 10 years of professional experience and i reside in Morningside, Durban. Oh, i almost forgot, I don’t like office spaces.
How would you define your style of photography?
I think my style for product photography is quite minimal, clean and somewhat precise depending on what I am photographing whether it is jewelry or consumer products. When shooting fashion on location I prefer to use as much natural light as possible, using only scrims and reflectors for slight fill in. My style for fashion in studio is quite the opposite as i use controlled lighting and my images tend to have a cleaner treatment. My influences include James Day, Christian Chaize, Mark Holthusen, Amber Gray, Jeurgen Teller, James Strack, Antoine Verglas, Jim Norton, and Peter Schafrick to name a few.
What is the difference between the fine arts photography ,which you studied, and what you do now. ?
There is a common misconception as to what “Fine Art” represents when relating to photography. The Fine Arts that I studied, generally speaking, is in reference to contemporary, conceptual Art. Perhaps the best current example that I could give is the photography by Roger Ballen. I am sure most of us have seen the videos by the South African band “Die Antwoord”. They are largely influenced and in some cases directed by Roger Ballen himself as is the latest music video for “I fink you freeky”
The photography that i do now is brand driven, and is for advertising purposes. I get commissioned by a client, normally an advertising agency to photograph product or models for their clients respective brands. I still have my own influences and produce personal work regularly. My personal work can be seen on my website alongside my commercial work.
What are you currently working on and whats in the future ?
I am always doing a project of some sort, though currently concentrating on my portfolio as it is constantly in need of updating. I have just completed a small project involving handmade knives for a very talented blacksmith based in Durban. The collectors items are sold both locally and overseas to enthusiasts. I had a specific idea for lighting and knew they would make a great subject. They will be posted on my blog soon.
In my less commercially driven work i am often running around with my Yashica “point & shoot” film camera. I like my images to have meaning and sometimes humor depending on who or what is being depicted. The images are sometimes ambiguous and are difficult to explain, though i have a personal attachment to them. I believe that photographs evoke emotions no matter what is being represented.
What advice would you give to young South African creatives looking to do what you do.?
Putting effort into something that you are passionate about will almost always have its rewards. Live in the now, how many times has the past helped you move forward? You have heard this before, take risks. Its worth it.
Where can our readers find your work?