photographer & artist tamara dean

Tamara Dean graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a degree in design. But she focussed on photography and has worked with the Sydney Morning Herald since 2001. The following year she was accepted into Oculi, a photographic collective. Tamara has exhibited with several galleries. Her most recent show was with the Tim Olsen Gallery. The works above are from the exhibition "This too shall pass" at Charles Hewitt Gallery. Tamara won the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture in 2011. She also was awarded first prize in Sydney Life: Art and About in 2009 and highly commended in the Moran Contemporary Photography Prize the same year.

Which five words best describe you? Passionately romantic, intimate, pragmatic and honest.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began my career as a photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald 10 years ago. My passion was for personal documentary projects where I spent time photographing people intimately within their environments. In 2002 I was accepted into the Australian photographic collective Oculi on the strength of these personal works. I worked on many series including documenting squatters, friends and motherhood to name but a few. My work has always tended to reflect what is happening in my life and so a sense of integrity and intimacy has always been fundamental to my approach and style.
About six years ago my work took a completely different direction whereby I moved into constructing my images rather than working in the field of documentary photography. I sought out gallery representation which led to a number of solo shows, 'Ritualism', 'This too Shall Pass' and 'Divine Rites' with Charles Hewitt Gallery, and 'Only Human' with James Makin Gallery. My work is now represented by Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I have learnt to be directive in my work but to always allow room for my subject or the environment in which I am working to bring something unexpected into the image.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Finding a way to be both an artist and a mother.
What’s been your best decision? To pursue the huge change of direction in my work six years ago.
Who inspires you? Women. My mother, my sisters, my friends. The people I choose to photograph.
What are you passionate about? Life, relationships, the natural world, beauty, honesty.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My grandfather... and John William Waterhouse.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to spend time in Russia and Turkey.
What are you reading? I have recently finished reading a book by David Sedaris, When you are engulfed in flames.

images courtesy of tamara dean

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