Photographer named ‘Trailblazer of the Year’

Michael Tortorich
Photographer Tate Tullier celebrates after being named the 2009 Trailblazer of the Year.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tate Tullier, a photographer from Gonzales, was named the 2009 Trailblazer of the Year, Purple Communicatons announced.

The Gonzales-based photographer, who graduated from St. Amant High and Gallaudet University, topped 10 national finalists for the “Dream Bigger” award.

Purple, which is a text and video relay and on-site interpreting services company, honored Tullier Oct. 17 during a gala held in the nation’s capital. More than 850 people attended, while some 21,000 viewed the gala online.

“You have to take the hard knocks all the way to the top,” Tullier signed in his Dream Bigger video.

Dream Bigger recognizes ten trailblazers in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities by celebrating accomplisments and advancements.

Each of the ten nominees won $1,000 cash prizes for the non-profit organizations of their choice.

Tullier received the largest number of votes. His $10,000 in prize money goes toward the Louisiana School for the Deaf, a Baton Rouge-based school that serves more than 500 deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Tullier also won an all-expense-paid vacation to the destination of his choice.

“I am overwhelmed and overjoyed that so many in the deaf community saw something special in me and selected me as their winner,” Tullier said.

He described the outpouring of support he has received from the community as “amazing.”

He said he wants to challenge deaf youth to “reach for their goals, dream bigger and know that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.”

Tullier, 31, is married to Sarah DesHotels Tullier. He graduated from St. Amant High in 1996 and from Galludet University in 2003, where he studied photography and studio art.

Over the years he has become a prominent professional photographer, shooting “brides, kids and other living things,” as he points out on his Facebook profile.

Tullier pursued a photography career in New York City after graduating from Gallaudet, though his inspiration to be a photographer dates back to when he was just a young boy.

After returning to Louisiana in 2005, his photography business has flourished through a combination of online and “word of hand” marketing in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

A world of opportunities began to open for him once he put his work online. His confidence grew as he found himself working on a variety of assignments around the world.

“Tate is a true creative inspiration for both the deaf and hearing community. His passion for finding the beauty in life is a trait we can all benefit from,” said Brandon Arthur, vice president of marketing communications for Purple Communications. “Purple is proud to honor his talents and to donate the $10,000 to the Louisiana School for the Deaf. We hope these proceeds will help to inspire the deaf youth of tomorrow, strengthening their passions and offering them the opportunity to succeed.”

Purple also honored Tullier June 21 at the Baton Rouge Marriott. The event featured former Miss Deaf America Lauren Teruel Ridloff as master of ceremonies.

Shown from left are Purple Communications CEO?Dan Luis, Trailblazer of the Year Tate Tullier and Vice President of Marketing Communications for Purple Communications Brandon Arthur during the check presentation for the Louisiana School for the Deaf.