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Cardiff Character: Dean Coombes

Everyone knows the expression; a photo speaks a thousand words. But for a local photographer, a photo has the power to truly showcase everything Cardiff has to offer.

For the last two years 30-year-old Dean Coombes has developed a platform that showcases the very best of Cardiff culture. The now self-employed owner of Awesome Cardiff, covers everything from festivals, to performing arts and even large sporting events. Over its short existence his company has developed a strong following of over 5,000 likes on Facebook with an estimated reach of 97, 000 people. All of which he has done completely independently.

Dean Capturing images of the Cardiff Christmas market

Dean capturing images of the Cardiff Christmas market

Showing off

“I’m fairly handy with a camera and have been doing photography for about six years,” he said. “I started Awesome Cardiff in April 2013 and it was my goal to go around to as many events as I could, taking pictures and showing them off in detail.” He explained how when he takes a picture his goal is for the photo to tell a story and allow a viewer to really get the sense of an event.  

His passion for this venture is undeniable. Only minutes into our conversation he had pulled out his laptop and shown all the events he had covered. But unlike many other photographers, he did not focus on his skill as a photographer but was more enthused at the range of events happening in Cardiff. He repeated many times though our conversation that there were just so many exciting things going on, right here in the capital.

When Dean founded Awesome Cardiff his original goal was to increase tourism in the Capital. But what he has found is that the company has become a useful service for those living in the city. He explained that, “We have become a service that provides information of what is happening in Cardiff.” The platform currently advertises up-and-coming events as well as providing coverage so people can re-live the experience when they get back home.

Cultural changes

When we got talking about Cardiff culture, without hesitation Dean claimed that, “There is a massive change happening in the city. I know Cardiff like the back of my hand and I have seen it change over the years.” He admitted that,  “I’m probably old-fashioned because I remember things. But it is important we remember where we came from and embrace how it has changed.” The change to which he is referring is how Cardiff once industry lead past has now made way for a city that leans more on the arts.

A picture that showcases how much the bay has changed over the years

A picture that showcases how much the Bay has changed over the years

It is for this reason Dean is using Awesome Cardiff to educate his audience on the ways the city has changed. One issue that he is particularly passionate about is the future of the Coal Exchange. Talking about the history of the building, he explained why it was so important that it was remembered, “The Coal Exchange used to be a massive power house. There are so many great stories behind that building that helped shaped Cardiff today.”  

Dean hopes that Awesome Cardiff will become more of a hub for Cardiff culture. But perhaps more ambitiously, he hopes his company will catalyse discussion on how “we can embrace Cardiff’s past and integrate it with more modern culture.”