My name’s Dean Askin. I’m a photographer based in Toronto, Canada. I was born and raised in the East York District, and still live there. I’ve been a professional writer and photographer in journalism and communications since 1989.
On the more artistic side, I’m also a landscape; cityscape and architecture; abstract detail; and a bit of a street photographer. I shoot what inspires me.
My interest in photography began when I received a Vivitar® 110 camera for my 17th birthday. With it, I snapped a photo of Terry Fox. That was in 1981 on Danforth Avenue. I captured a fleeting moment of Terry’s ill-fated attempt to run across Canada and raise money for cancer research. I still have that now-faded, really bad snapshot.
I think I started taking photography more seriously, and developing an eye for composition, in the late 1980s — without realizing it. I remember carefully pre-visualizing shots of the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and many other Southwest scenes on my first trip to Arizona in 1988 to visit a friend. I didn’t know I was following pre-visualization, established by Ansel Adams.
I learned photography by doing it. I’m primarily self-taught — I love to learn by doing. I never had any formal photographic training except for one semester of photography at journalism school in 1985. I developed my skills on the job.
At some outdoor shows, people have asked me whether my images are paintings or photographs. I’ll take that as a compliment. It means I’ve used light, colour and composition effectively.
In 2008, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I believe living with this common mental health condition has made me a better photographer. I’m more attune to the interesting ways that light, lines, shapes, patterns and shadows interact. I take the time to look for creative compositions and angles. I’m always looking for, or seeing, a photo.
When you’re looking for a photographer to hire for your project, it’s important to think beyond the quality of his or her images and your immediate needs. Relationships are important. Ask yourself this question: “Is this someone I want to build a long-term, ongoing relationship with?” I’m an ENFP personality type. I’m easy to work with. Developing strong relationships comes naturally to and is important to me. Let’s develop a relationship behind and in front of the lens.
People tell me I have a great eye. I don’t know whether it comes naturally. I’m just doing what I do. You be the judge.