Sources of light: photographs by Adam Dean


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Every once in a while as I’m reading the New York Times front page news, I’ll notice a photograph in an article that jumps out as more-artistic than most news photos. This past Sunday’s paper had a story about China upending the global economic order, and this picture grabbed my attention:

photo of a chinese worker by Adam Dean
Photograph by Adam Dean for the New York Times

I like this image for the composition and interior light source; despite the view of three workers in a vast landscape with blue-ridged mountains in the background, the eye is immediately drawn to the intense light coming out of a large steel tube in which the foremost worker is welding. But even with the focus here, the eye can’t rest on just the welder – there’s an ambiguous machine to the left, spray paint can-sized debris (I’m not sure what they are) all over the ground in the lower right corner, and the beauty of the mountains and near-sunset light in the background – or is it sunrise? There’s a lot to look at here.

When I did a search to see what other news photographs Mr. Dean had taken, I found this gem … it’s a photo of a dock worker using a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel, which was included in a story that Dean photographed for National Geographic. It’s another example of an image where the light source sets the tone for the whole picture. I’d frame and hang this one on a wall, if I could.

Adam Dean photograph on overfishing for National Geographic
Photograph by Adam Dean for National Geographic

Adam Dean is a freelance photographer who works primarily between Bangkok and Beijing, and he is represented by Panos Pictures, which is a photo agency specializing in global social issues. You can learn more about Adam Dean and see more of his work at his website here.

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