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A decade in photos: Deanna Dent

ASU photographer and videographer Deanna Dent looks back at her favorite photos — and how photography has changed over 10 years


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December 27, 2019

It's the end of another year, but more importantly it's the end of a decade.

It's fun to consider how much has changed in 10 years. It means something special to me because I began my professional career after graduating in 2009 so where I am today, working at ASU as a photographer and videographer, is very different than where I was in 2010, which was in Sudan.

I've had several years to develop the work I do, and I thought it would be fun to include a photograph from each year — not necessarily the "best" photo but ones that mean something to me. Also, I've included a look back at how photography is different today. 

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    2010: I spent a year teaching English in Sudan and was invited to many weddings, and they could take anywhere from four to seven days. One time a student told me it was nearby and I ended up hours away in a village for six days, which at first made me angry, but getting to spend time preparing the party meant the celebration was all that much more fun. 

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2011: I started the first year of my Peace Corps in the village of Samuteba. Amaama Mpoyo and others in the village were preparing bricks and would invite me to learn. I thought I had some kind of idea of what life would be like, but it was all wrong; I still believe Americans have the luxury of divorcing physical labor from the basic maintenance of life.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2012: After my first year in Zambia, during a measles vaccination program, all the first-graders were marched out in a line to be vaccinated. It seemed extreme, but measles outbreaks were common with families moving back and forth to the Democratic Republic of Congo into Zambia. It made more sense as my service continued; we had three students pass from malaria and measles.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2013: After more than two years in Zambia, coming home to the U.S. was strange. I got my first smartphone (hi, Instagram) and streaming service (hi, Netflix) and had an extreme amount of free time since I didn't have to draw water or start a fire to cook. The hardest part though was adjusting to a culture where you have to be "online and responsive" nearly all the time.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2014: I had been back a little over a year and was shooting events and photojournalistic assignments, but it was different every day, every weekend, and I felt like I had to say yes to every assignment. But occasionally I could find time to do personal events that mattered to me.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2015: This was my last year freelancing and when I started at ASU. I chose this photo because my family is Colombian and when we would go to visit we'd generally stay in Bogota or Honda where they're from, so the chance to explore locations like San Agustin, Medellin and finally Pasto for the Fiesta de los Blancos y Negros was just so neat. 

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2016: I find shooting Pat's Run fun because every year is slightly different; even this photo is unique because the race no longer starts facing Tempe Town Lake, so you can never get this beautiful reflected light of the State Farm building. 

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2017: This was one of the first few shoots where we created a location and had volunteer models. It was a learning experience on how to direct a situation and manipulate sometimes tight and difficult spaces at ASU to make a good photo.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2018: We do so many different assignments, but I love when we work with the Binational Arts Residency. It began in 2015 with the idea of connecting cultural communities in the Sonoran Desert with issues of social justice and identity through art, and the talent that Mary Stephens brings to Arizona is really unique.

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2019: This year has had many portraits, so I thought I'd include my favorite portrait of one of my favorite subjects, Neal Lester. Professors like Lester are so valuable for the work they do in our community and the conversations they engage, and it felt like an accomplishment to get some of Lester's personality in what could have been a traditional headshot. 

    Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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    2010 vs. now

    Your go-to camera and gear:

    2010: Canon 5D (photo only) with a Canon 28mm F2.8 prime and lots of 2GB and 4GB compact flash cards. My portable hard drive was maybe 256GB.

    Now: Canon 5D Mark IV — with log — and the Canon 24-70mm F2.8. Several 64GB cards and always fully charged batteries.

    How do you shoot? Manual, shutter priority, aperture priority or fully automatic?

    2010: Manual but messed up exposures constantly.

    Now: Manual but mess up only occasionally.

    Types of assignments you shoot:

    2010: Photojournalism — ranging from portraits and sports events to portraits. 

    Now: Portraits primarily and some event photography.

    Your favorite music to edit to:

    2010: Probably Kanye, Black Eyed Peas, Bebe and Cabas.

    Now: Here's my Spotify playlist

    Where do you find interesting photo content?

    2010: APAD (A Photo A Day) website and just listservs in general, Lens blog, Sports shooter. Also fellow photographers' blogs, I was totally addicted to these.

    Now: Definitely sites like womenphotograph.com, nativeagency.org, diversify.photo and technical blogs like PetaPixel for photo and video. For creative content I love Instagram and accounts like @everydayafrica or @everydaylatinamerica (there are so many) that allow you to find different and unique photographers from around the world. 

    What instantly make you feel more relaxed?

    2010: Nothing, just pure anxiety thinking I'm going to mess up a photograph, spell a name incorrectly on captions or fail to find fast-enough Wi-Fi to deliver.

    Now: Instant relaxation comes from knowing I have minimum three charged batteries, 10 high-speed cards (SD and Compact Flash), a hard drive and a fully charged laptop.

    What does your workflow look like?

    2010: Use Mac finder window to choose my favorite JPEGs (no RAWs because of space limitations) and open in Photoshop. Color edit and write a caption and then save with names like best_07 or favoriteone_02 or Thisistheone_04. I delivered through burned CDs or sending one photo per email until they were all delivered.

    Now: I use the software Photomechanic to cull my take, then batch-rename RAW files to YYYYMMDDAssignmentName_001. I apply basic captions and metada to the RAW files and import into Lightroom. I can apply filters or batch-edit a take and then export into JPEGs and finish my captions in Photomechanic before delivering through Photoshelter or Dropbox. 

    Social media of choice:

    2010: Facebook and Twitter.

    Now: Instagram and VCSO.

    Your favorite photographers (even though all photographers are awesome):

    2010: Lynsey Addario, James Nachtwey, Damon Winters and pretty much every photographer because they all felt cooler than me.

    Now: Love my local photographers. I've seen enough people drop in and make a quick, great photo and leave. It's a very different thing to stay in a community, do it justice and also produce compelling images. Some personal favorites locally on Instagram: @nickoza, @photochowder, @noemipossible, @ashponders, @hawthornephotos and @caitlin_oh.

    What do you want to do when you grow up?

    2010: Be a photographer who gets paid.

    Now: Be retired and still take photos.

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