acha Dean Bïyan is like an ever-shifting image inside a kaleidoscope — part
writer, part photographer, part artist, part explorer, part entrepreneur — the picture reshuffles frequently as he moves with ease between disparate worlds.
As a photographer, Bïyan shows us the gamut of "us", the human race. From bare skin and bones in the fashion industry to bare-bones existence in the rainforest, from high-heeled supermodels to barefoot shamans, from gurus to gangsters, from high tech to no tech, from superficial to supernatural, the objects of his focus come in all shapes and forms.
It’s the unfolding of our life stories that Bïyan is after — the eloquence of a chance encounter captured with a well-timed click of the shutter, or the monologue of a scene composed and executed with intent. To date, he counts eighty eight countries stamped in his Canadian passport. Recognizing no borders, he brings the world to us with its many ways and contradictions. A seeming contradiction himself, he leaves us convinced there is no "one" way in which to live,
BY NATALIA KLYUEVA
ïyan was born on October 1, 1967 and spent his formative years in Montréal,
followed by stints in New York City, Paris and Los Angeles where he cultivated an interest in photography, music and art. A self-taught photographer, he began experimenting with cameras, film and darkroom techniques at an early age. Yet it wasn't until age thirty four that he became a professional photographer.
It all began at a nightclub.
During his high school sophomore year, he was hired to deejay and photograph the parties at a local club. Sneaking out of his parents’ house at night, he hauled a milk crate filled with records to what he still jokingly calls his dream job. As he alternated between the turntables and camera, he was tapping into ideas he hadn't even thought of yet. The blending of images and music later became the hallmark of his fashion photography.
Despite an itinerant adolescence, Bïyan never put down his camera. Although he followed in his father's footsteps and received a Master’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, he continued honing his skills as a photographer. Even while he pursued a career in the aerospace industry, pioneering new technologies on commercial and private jets, he was moonlighting as a photographer, shooting the occasional catalog or fashion editorial until, at last, the big clients came calling.
Bïyan's editorial images have appeared most notably in GQ, Details, Maxim, Vogue, and Marie Claire. He has shot advertising campaigns for Lexus, Diesel, Adidas, Absolut and The Gap among others, as well as documentaries for PBS and the Discovery Channel, and music videos for Sony Music.
In 2006, Bïyan revisited his deejaying roots, collaborating with the German house music label, Dessous Recordings, on two albums, Skin Is In and Eccentris Vibes. Both were spawned by the popularity of his fashion photography website, Eccentris.com, which was considered groundbreaking during the Flash era. It won numerous awards — including the Communication Arts Interactive Annual design award — for its seamless fusion of photography, audio, video and motion graphics.
WEST PAPUA, 2004
ïyan became inseparable from his camera, entranced and driven by
its story-telling power. He photographed voraciously, often retreating from the concrete jungle he called home to the rainforest jungles, sometimes for months on end, to capture the untold life stories of cultures a world apart from the one he inhabited.
In these remote locations, despite being fluid in five languages, Bïyan was devoid of his linguistic ability, and free from the stronghold of his identity. He became attuned to his senses, at one with the camera. As he peered into the very root of humanity through the lens, he found himself peering into his own soul — a humble invitation he couldn’t easily solicit in the familiar modern world.
These trips gradually guided Bïyan to a better understanding and respect for our planet. Taking longer and longer leaves of absence from commercial photography, he self-financed his explorations into the wild. He became a pilgrim of the Earth, sustaining exercises in self-deprivation as he forged deeper and deeper into the jungles, the plains, the deserts and the mountains of the world.
Bïyan amassed an extensive collection of images that offers a rare and intimate look into the lives of various indigenous communities — some which no longer exist. These images have been exhibited in international galleries and museum shows in São Paulo, Florence, Barcelona, Paris and Los Angeles, and were compiled in his fine art book, Spiritus Mundi, published in 2005. In April, 2022, a selection of his work was exhibited at the Decentral Art Pavilion during the 59th Venice Art Biennale.
Bïyan is also the author of the book Eccentris, published in 2012, which is a retrospective of his work in fashion and advertising. He is currently working on his third book, A World Apart — a broader compendium of images, and a synthesis of stories and observations spanning over thirty years of traveling deep and wide.
Meanwhile, the kaleidoscope keeps turning...▪️