Blending photography and graphic design - #MemberSpotlight

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Freelance photographer Dean Dorat has a particularly distinctive style. As a creative who was used to playing around with all sorts of portraits, words, signs, shots from the street and other types of creations, her work has always been incredibly 'graphic'. When she moved to photography as a career, her influences carried over.

Today, Dean still enjoys blending the art of photography with the careful composition of graphic design, resulting in some of the fascinating works that you can see above and below. A skilled photographer in any kind of context, Dean is expert in showcasing the most creative side of things, capturing creativity and artistry with colourful pictures or incredibly human stories.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Dean's own creative process, her interests, her story and what she hopes for the future of creativity all around the world.


How did you get into the industry?

I studied photography in Paris at l’Ecole des Gobelins, then after a few years of freelancing I set base in London where I worked both as a photographer and graphic designer. I started working for Contagious ltd, in 2005, being the sole designer and AD on their quarterly magazine. We won 4 awards for Best Cover and Best designed B2B magazine. In 2013 I decided to step away to focus more on photography. I’ve always used to mix photography and graphic design.

Before I had access to a computer I used to mix different images (portraits, words, signs, shot on the street…) onto one print, exposing different negatives in one go and revealing them with a brush. The result was very graphic. I exhibited this series a few times back in Paris. Then I moved onto a computer and started creating similar images through Photoshop, still mixing words, signs, graphics with faces. 

The work I am focusing on today through the Moonchild series (in the header image above) is a resonance of this early work I produced. Mixing images, composing with different elements. My work has always been influenced by graphic artists and illustrators.


Where are you based now and who do you work for?

After having lived 15 years in London I am now based in Paris, my hometown. I work as a freelance photographer, for various clients.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would probably be dedicating my time to alternative therapies, focusing on people, helping them feel better.


Can you explain your creative process?

What I am drawn to in photography are faces, the emotions that emanate from a person, in one look, one posture. In my Beautiful Game series, I deliberately used a 50mm so I could be close to each person I shot. Because I needed to feel the core of their emotions, through the games displayed on TV. I could have never captured those emotions in that way if I had stayed far away from them, shooting with a zoom lens. I would have become a voyeur, and I wanted to be part of their world. I was right in the heart of the action. 

Whether I am asked to shoot portraits or to document an event I am naturally always focusing on the expression in people’s eyes. I am very sensitive to whatever they express. It’s like being able to feel who they are, through their face. And I love capturing that moment when they let go for a minute and become true to themselves. 

In my new series “Moonchild”, I’m back to my first love which is composing photos with various graphic elements. The face is my starting point and from it I make up a world that the expression of the person featured inspires me. As I explain in the description of the series, it’s all about the essence of their being that inspires me. Through these compositions I am trying to translate the poetry these faces tell me, like an allegory of the soul. 


Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I have a list!

  • Irving Penn
  • Sally Mann
  • JM Basquiat
  • Lindbergh
  • Hartung
  • Saul Leiter
  • Diane Arbus
  • Aykut Aydoğdu
  • Noma Bar
  • Sophie Verbeek and Tashi Mannox, both for their outstanding calligraphy work 

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

A client that has no boundaries, someone who would choose freedom before safety. A client that listens to his heart and soul. 


How has technology affected the way you work?

Technology has allowed me to let my creativity express itself. With a camera and a computer and its limitless applications I can translate what I feel. 

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Look, listen and breathe.


What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

Having won these awards for Contagious Ltd. To be the Behind the Scenes official photographer at various Paul Smith’s shows. 

How do you recharge away from the office?

I recharge when I immerse myself in nature. I need the city for the inspiration it brings, but I need nature to feed my creative process. One goes with the other. The city is the seed, nature is the womb…


What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Be true to yourself. Never doubt your potential and don’t let the work of others underestimate yourself. We are all different. Our respective talents can’t be compared to one another. If you believe in what you do and if creating is your way of expression then you will always find the right path to walk on and let it guide you to where you should be. 

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I’d speak mostly for the French industry, now that I can compare with the British industry. France is a nest of hidden talents but people here rely so much on degrees or reputation that they forget to look at the obvious. They need to be bolder, crazier and look outside the box.


Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Creative Market: a great platform to shop from for images and fonts

Pinterest: for the inspiration it brings

DPhoto: I use this platform to archive my photography and share my series with clients.



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