[Cover image shot by Adam Yafai]
While Chicago is well-known as the birthplace of countless musical talents, the Windy City has given rise to creatives of all mediums. Amidst the sea of talent is photographer Dolly Avenue, who has captured the scene from many angles. Dolly has worked with brands around Chi-Town, and continues to flourish as her work spreads throughout the city and beyond.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dolly on her background, life in Chicago, and her plans for the future:
Who is Dolly Avenue?
I am a photographer and camera assistant based in Chicago, IL. My style varies between conceptual, editorial, and street. I had a history of moving due to my family having extreme wandering feet. After living in almost over twenty or so homes, I realized that capturing images was a way for me to freeze each experience in my life to take with me to the next place. My love for still and moving image grew into creating a more romanticized version of what I captured. I enjoy creating scenes and different depictions of people, mostly due to wanting to romanticize various parts of myself and my own life.
How’s life in Chicago?
Moving out to Chicago to attend art school has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has been extremely rewarding. I am very fortunate to have come across such incredibly talented people, but also experience so many humbling opportunities. Deep dish pizza and a variety of places to go is another good reason. The cold winter, however, is not!
How did you get started with photography? Was there a moment when you realized it was something you wanted to pursue long-term?
I was influenced by some local photographers at the age of fifteen. I was asked to model on a shoot (something I’ve never done before) and the process was to go out in the middle of nowhere in a car – trespass, scope around, and shoot whatever looked pleasing to the eye. I would say that was a turning point for me. I never understood why I never could stick to a routine in terms of holding a job with a consistent schedule. When I was younger I could never really stay in one place and had to always go out from morning to night. I am also a shortcut type of person. I wanted to take a shortcut in the way our society works. Photography allowed me to explore and continue to have a fast-paced and ever-changing environment that basically fed my soul.
You’re also working with Chicago brand Odds Make Evens— how did this partnership come about/what made you gravitate towards the brand?
I partner with several brands in Chicago, but what drew me in is definitely Rickey Pearson’s spirit. I came across his clothing brand and I wanted to try my hand at photographing his work. He’s very talented and has a unique way of designing. To me, it’s very clean cut but also not. I consider his work high-fashion streetwear. He hasn’t shared his new work publicly yet. I am excited. It’s been a great collaborative effort. He’s an idealistic person and very hard working. It’s very difficult to find people who are genuine and have the best interest in you. When you find something rare, it’s important to hold onto it.
Having lived in so many regions, where is the next place you’d like to travel? Why?
I’ve developed an obsession with being constantly on the go. Traveling is always on my agenda in any form of transportation. I’ve been in the city for several years now, so I wouldn’t mind changing the scenery to someplace more green.
What’s next on the agenda?
I was riding in an Uber Carpool and a creative in the industry left me with this advice, “Make sure to always have another project in line.” To answer your question, there’s always something next on my agenda. At the moment I’m working on a project with Closed Sessions x Remy Martin, as well as two special showcases that will be happening in Chicago in the next month or so. I’ve been more in tune with the fashion and music scene as of lately. I hope to constantly create content.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself somewhere sunny where I can go from the big city to quiet small town. I can’t give up the busy lifestyle or the calm of the simple life.
Any dream collaborations?
My dream collaboration would be with graphic designer, Jessica Walsh. I admire her altogether from her creative work, personal work, and style. She is always working to improve her art, but also finds time to nurture her passion with personal projects such as the widely known project called, “40 Days of Dating.” Her personality is strikingly similar to mine: someone completely engulfed in her career yet has so much love to give.
What advice do you have for the aspiring photographers and creatives out there?
The best advice I can share to any creative is to always create content. The more you create the more you figure out your niche. Creating everyday keeps you accountable, always motivated, and challenges yourself to take your art to the next step. I was in a period where I knew that I wasn’t creating the work I loved. I started shooting every single day until I found my style and not only did I develop my style, but creating and sharing content has brought me opportunities from companies and creatives that happened to stumble upon my work.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Share the work you love. Otherwise you’ll be accepting work that you’re not passionate about. What is art without a passion for it?