B. 1968, Essex, England, UK
Dean has been producing compelling visual imagery at the intersection of music, fashion and culture for the past two decades.
Since picking up a camera for Dazed & Confused in the mid 90s, his trademark positivity and creative energy has seen him become one of the UK’s leading documentarians of British subculture, an eminent portrait photographer and revered music photographer responsible for some of the most notable music imagery of the 21st century.
Dean’s work carries with it authenticity and integrity, making it the perfect conduit for brands to communicate with their audiences. He has worked with a raft of fashion brands such as Levis, Adidas and Ray Ban and outside the fashion context campaigns with Virgin, Sony Music and Universal Pictures to name but a few.
Contributing to editorial publications including The Observer Magazine, Vanity Fair, Sunday Times Magazine and a two-decade relationship with the NME highlights his willingness to engage with emerging talents as well as established subjects. Genuine interest in his subjects and how they sit as part of our cultural tapestry informs his work and produces highly stimulating imagery.
His extensive archive spans photography, film and mixed-media with each image connected by his deep commitment to the idea of personal style as a form of cultural resistance.
Originally trained as a tailor, a love of sartorial style has transpired into some of his most notable projects. Return of the Rudeboy, an immersive exhibition at Somerset House, saw an important and rarely documented subculture propelled onto the main stage at one of London’s major institutions. Imagined and organised in collaboration with creative director Harris Elliott, the six room exhibition explored the style, swagger and significance of the 21st century Rudeboys. Dean’s portraits present a global picture of the impeccable style, confidence and independence at the heart of the movement.
Compelled by a deep love for music and its potential self expression, Dean’s portraits range from underground pioneers to pop stars. He continues to build a definitive archive of those great artists whose hope, energy and theatre can transport us beyond the here and now.
As a filmmaker, Dean explores individuals and communities on the fringes of British culture. The New Faces captured the style, music and perspectives of the contemporary Mod scene, soon followed by Young Souls that showed us a new generation of dedicated Northern Soul fans united in mesmerising dance moves. In The Arena we see a poetic meditation on subculture and belonging, observing groups of family and friends coming together for UK Banger Racing. Dean’s short film Kojey Radical focuses on one of the most exciting emerging artists from the UK. This beautifully paced meditative work delves into the mind of the East London polymath at the point before he explodes into the general public’s consciousness.
In 2022 Dean presented a large and ambitious experimental project called New Perspectives. This hybrid creative concept platforms six invited musicians who had never all worked together before. Over a two day period the musical collective wrote and recorded a unique piece of music without any prior musical planning. The project illustrates Dean's expansive conceptual thinking, as well as his practical ability and repertoire as a photographer and short film director. This project highlights a new kind of situationist aspect to his work, building a framework within a project where others can create. The body of work Dean presented included photography, film, created around the project and a 12" vinyl single of the track So Pure by the collective now known as Phono 48. The exhibition took place at the Museum of Youth Culture in Shaftesbury Avenue, London. Subsequently the film has been released online and the music available for streaming on various platforms.
September 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of Wigan Casino, a programme of events and activities are scheduled for September through October to explore what this iconic club meant to people then and the continued impact on the culture of today. Dean was approached by the Wigan Council Culture, Arts & Heritage Department and asked if he would contribute his Young Souls photographic project for an exhibition 50 Years On The Soul Stays Strong. Dean agreed and also proposed creating two new unique elements of work for the exhibition.Good For The Soul is the first new element, a dynamic short film focusing on a solo Northern Soul dancer expressing himself to rare soul music.Young Souls 2023, is the second element created for the Wigan exhibition. This series of photography brings together 23 people from the current soul generation, all are part of the Northern Soul scene right now. For many of the subjects it was the first time they had met each other in real life, this connecting aspect of the project was very important to the project, a catalyst for expanding the culture. Young Souls 2023 follows the aesthetic of the original 2011 project but the subjects in this 2023 series bring the viewer right up to date highlighting how the scene has flourished.
Dean’s work crosses boundaries and is a rich celebration of culture.
2022 Awarded Fellowship Honoris Causa of the Norwich University of the Arts
2011 Presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Music Photography Award NME / NIKON
2011 For the film Young Souls Best Short Film in the Music Category Southend Film Festival
2006 Portrait Photographer of the Year at The Picture Editors' Awards
2000 For the film Strip Kinofilm 2000 Best Experimental Film
50 Years On The Soul Stays Strong 2023 (Gshow)
F*** Rooms (London, UK) 2022 (Gshow)
New Perspectives (London, UK) 2022
All Kinds Of Naughty (Essex, Kent, London, UK) 2021 (Gshow) Tour
Brixton Art Club
The Stash Gallery
Dont Walk Walk Gallery
Vital Vinyl (London, UK) 2019
Forever 27 (St. Louis, MO, USA) 2018 (GShow)
Locked In Locked On (London, UK) 2018 (Gshow)
Reverberation (London, UK) 2017
Never Turn Back (Paris, FR) 2016
Highlights (Buenos Aries, ARG) 2016 (GShow)
Never Turn Back (London, UK) 2015
Never Turn Back (Norwich, UK) 2015
Sonic (Westcliff-on-Sea, UK) 2015
Return of the Rudeboy (Tokyo, JP) 2015
Return of the Rudeboy (London, UK) 2014
21 (London, UK) 2014
Exhibition (London, UK) 2014
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Antwerp, NE) 2013 (GShow)
David Bowie is (V&A London, UK) 2013 (GShow)
Thames Delta (Westcliff, UK) 2013 (GShow)
Amy Winehouse: For You I Was A Flame (London, UK) 2013 (GShow)
Look.Hear/Young Souls (Royal Albert Hall, Uk) 2012
50 Years of British Rock (Beijing, China) 2012
Look.Hear (Leigh-on-Sea, UK) 2012
Young Souls (Brighton, UK) 2011
Young Souls (London, UK) 2011
The New Faces (Gijon, SP) 2010
The New Faces (London, UK) 2010
A Star Is Born (Essen, GER) 2009 (GShow)
Southend's Underground (Florence, IT) 2007
Southend's Underground (London, UK) 2006
Now Stand Tall (London, UK) 2006
Physical Culturist (london, UK) 2005
New Perspectives 2022 ISBN n/a
All Kinds Of Naughty 2020 Pub. Guild Publishing ISBN 978-0-9574075-1-0
Reverberation 2017 Pub. Y-Junction ISBN 978-1-9998490-0-9
One 2016 Pub. Self Pub. ISBN 978-0-9935659-0-8
Never Turn Back (London edition) 2015 Pub. Self Pub. ISBN n/a
Never Turn Back (Norfolk edition) Pub. Self Pub. ISBN n/a
Return of the Rudeboy Pub. Return of the Rudeboy ISBN 978-0-9932011-0-3
Good For The Soul (The Old WHSmith Building, Wigan, UK) 2023
New Perspectives (Museum of Youth Culture, London, UK) 2022
Kojey Radical (V&A, London, UK) 2018
Kojey Radical (The Photographers Gallery, London, UK) 2018
The Arena (V&A, London, UK) 2013
Young Souls (Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate, UK) 2013
Young Souls (100 Club, London, UK) 2011
Strip (Kino Festival, Manchester, UK) 2000
Adidas, Bvlgari, Levis, Ray-Ban, Sunspel, Virgin, BBC, Channel 4, Fred Perry, Vanity Fair, The Observer Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, NME, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, XL Recordings, to name only a few…
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Portrait of Dean Chalkley on this page by Gideon Marshall