Our Stories: They Tried to Downgrade My Image, Now I Upgrade People’s Image for a Living – Dean Bartley

In this installment of Our Stories, photographer and multi-media entrepreneur, Dean Bartley shares how negative labels helped him to succeed. For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience…this is Our Stories!

The perception that children of single-parent homes in Jamaica, particularly those living in remote areas or underprivileged communities may not attain as many qualifications and higher standards of living in comparison to children of two-parent households is still prominent. While the struggle presents some real and unjust circumstances that line the journey to achieve success, there are more than a handful of trailblazing Jamaicans from humble beginnings who can justify that anything is possible with the right attitude and mindset.  

Meet Dean Bartley – Photographer and Multimedia Entrepreneur

He can relate to harsh labels that are thrown at young boys who grow up without the active presence of their father. However, when we caught up with him for a little chat, Dean explained how he used the negative labels to fuel his mission, upgrade his qualifications and image, and establish a business to manage the images of young professionals and corporate brands.

1.What is the name of your company?
I named my company after myself Dean Bartley.

2. Why did you name your company after yourself?
Well, to be honest, I thought what better name to give something than your own… Growing up not many people thought I could do certain things so it made me want to make a name for myself.

3. Why did you think that people looked down on you?
Growing up people did not expect much from me. For Instance when I was doing the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) the people close to me expected me to go to a school that was below average. They were surprised when I had passed for Jamaica College (JC). They did not expect me to do as good as someone who was more privileged. I did not grow up with my father in my life. Actually, he was there until I was about five years old but I don’t remember him. My father left me, my mother and my brother and I grew up seeing my mother work two to three jobs to take care of us and send us to school. So seeing the kind of work that she placed in me over the years drove me to make her more proud and it is also one of my joys.

4. When did you realize that you loved photography?
It started in University. I attend the University of the West Indies (UWI). I actually studied IT and I have always been the creative type, I have always wanted to create things. I guess that mixture kind of brought me to where I am now. There was a photography club at UWI but I lived far from school and I could not afford a camera so I had to place that on the back burner. I was not looking at photography when I left school but I was saving blindly for something and at that point, I met some friends from JC and we came up with a plan for an outsourcing company. One of my friends and I also came up with the idea to buy a camera but the idea of multiple persons sharing a camera did not really sit well with me so I saved up and bought my own. It was a DSLR that I had bought during a Black Friday deal and had a friend overseas bring it down from the United States for me about two years ago. I watched Youtube videos on photography and that helped me to create something for myself and helped me to build my passion for it.

5. What services does your company offer?
Well, my company offers photography, graphic design, website design and videography but so far we are focused on photography and web design. Most of my clients are startup companies. My slogan is “Let me upgrade your image” and when I say image it is not necessarily your picture but in terms of your brand. I have positioned my company to help individuals and companies to do so and I have overseas client as well. The first website I built was for Ardenne High and that experience gave me the drive to do website creation. I was still at UWI when I got this opportunity but I had no idea how to build a website… someone pointed out to me the things need to get the job done and I did what that person said. From there on I realised that it was something that I loved as well as with photography I realised that it was something I liked to put a lot of time into and I also put a lot effort into it.

6.What advice would you give to young men who are ascribed negative labels based on their background?
My advice…. find what you love; put your all into it and make it something that will work for you because there is no failure unless you quit.

7. What do you hope to achieve in 5 years?
In five years I hope to be a major player in multimedia and web design. I would also hope that I will have a reputation as being one of the best in what I. In photography I plan to take landscapes of Jamaica and distribute them;  this is really an ever-evolving thing for me. At some point I hope to leave my nine to five and to take this on full time, I think I need to create something for myself because I know what I went through growing up…

Thank you for sharing your story Dean!

Follow Dean Bartley on Facebook and Instagram and check out his website.