Viewfinder Journals: Nolis Anderson

Introduce yourself?
– I’m Nolis Anderson, photographer from the South Side of Chicago.

How did you fall in love with photography?
– Being in the creative scene for majority of my life I’ve tried many of ways to express myself artistically (hence the guitar in my house i’ve never used) photography was just the one that stuck. The one that I never got tired of doing. The aspect of it is still very cool to me until this day.


(This is probably one of my favorite sports shots. I had the opportunity to do a creative takeover with Nike Chicago about a year ago and this shot was just the one that pointed out to me.)

Graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and being in the medical field for a couple years, how was that transition into becoming a full time artist and any advice for young people thinking to do the same?
– It was a complete accident actually. I was in the middle of looking for another pharmacy job but while I was unemployed I got back into photography. One thing led to another and I ended up being in a position where I can support myself on my photography. To kids looking to do the same just know that it is not easy at all. Takes a lot of skill, a lot of luck, and a lot of dedication in order to survive the freelance world. But although I don’t make anywhere near as much money as I used to, the free time I have to experience the great things in life (friend, traveling, your health) are all worth it.


(This was my first ever photo exhibit and the outcome was more than I could have ever imagined. That show always reminds me of where I am and how much further I can go in life with my photography.)

What inspired your photo exhibit SCARS?
– Scars was a 4 month project I had been working on. This was the quote that represented the show, “We have all been damaged, but it’s the scars left behind that make us who we are.” While I was starting the project, one of my good friends Dj Timbuck2 (RIP) just passed away and I think it really helped inspire the creation of this gallery event. Scars was a visualization of how I see people dealing with things and over time using those mistakes to grow and become a better person. The show was a huge turnout.

What are some of your most memorable shoots?
– my most memorable shoot is probably the Thank You Obama Lookbook I did with JoeFreshGoods and Chance The Rapper. Just because it was one of my most recent shoots and also the response was so huge and not what I expected at all.


( I got a chance to shoot Barack Obama’s farewell speech and this was the shot that spoke to me the most. The photo of him standing in front of the american flag with his family, face in the shadows waving goodbye to the people that he worked 8 hard years for. It was a very intense and emotional night. Something I will never forget and an opportunity I am very grateful for.)

As we look through your photos, it is amazing to see how you transform a normal moment during a day into something magical. What inspires you to take these location-based photos?
– I always want to take advantages of the privileges that are available to me. If I travel somewhere I just want to make sure I have a memorable moment for me to remember it by. My first time ever on a plane was 21. So I still get excited when I travel.

As a photographer, collaboration must be a big part of your process. How was working with other artist like JoeFreshGoods, Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and etc?
– Working with them were great but at the same time very natural. I’ve known Joe for majority of my adult life and Chance since he was in high school passing out his 5Day mixtape. The city has gotten a bit closer and I’m just happy to see Chicago transitioning to that from how things used to be. (a.k.a haterville)


( Magnificent Coloring Day. I only took one shot that night because I knew nothing else would top this. I thought the scene really encompassed the vision of what MCD was all about.)

Earlier you mentioned the creative community in Chicago, can you talk about the impact this community had on you as an artist and why it is important to be working with a team and people you love?
– It’s always good to have a circle of friends that you can compete with and inspire each other to grow off of. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Anything we can look forward to in the future?
– I never really know what’s ahead of me in the freelance world. I have a few album covers that I’ve shot that are scheduled to be released. I’ll also be in Paris next month, more for a vacation but I’m sure I’ll shoot something out there.

For more information on Nolis, make sure to check out his site here.
Follow Nolis on Twitter and Instagram.

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