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.

Viewfinders Journal: Halemah Ibrahim

Introduce yourself?
– Hi, I’m Halemah, I come from a little town in Illinois called Burbank. Lived there most of my life. I spent some years living in Palestine as a child and go back every few summers. I have a B.A. in Psychology from UIC, as well as some post graduate classes from Columbia College Chicago in Film and Video.

How was living in Palestine? What impact did it have in your artistry?
-Living in Palestine was where my childhood started, I was 5. I was exposed to a life in a village, with valleys and hills as well as plenty of cousins, aunts and uncles. We all work together to get our food on the table. We whip the olives from the trees, to get the olive oil, plant the fruit trees and vegetable seeds. I would always steal pomegranates from our backyard garden, but shortly would get caught by my grandmother. Besides the unforgettable adventures, I was exposed to checkpoints, rerouting to a longer road to get to a relative’s house. A ten minute ride would now be an hour. I experienced tear gas while shopping for our Eid Holiday in the city, banging on our doors at 3 am where occupiers look for your male cousins was common. This all came together as I was trying to decide what to do as a career. I Ultimately wanted to make short films about my experiences from this other corner of the world. I wanted to explore other corners around the world, who was like me, and what kind of places exist besides this one that I was living in. I was very aware that I was different than many of my classmates ever since coming back to the U.S. in the 5th grade. I didn’t know how to express myself for a long time or if people would understand my perspective. Taking photos is the easiest way for me to let out my view.

(A view from across my fathers home in the valley of his village in Palestine.)

How did you fall in love with photography?
– I fell in love with photography junior year in high school (2001). I needed an elective, and wanted a hands-on class. I was curious and eager to learn the process that allows a past moment to be frozen and then later developed to be shown in a present time. It was some sort of magic.

How does photography help you tell your story?
– I articulate my thoughts with visuals. It’s how I speak my feelings, or an emotion. I try and push someone’s focus on something particular in a photo to see if they see what I see. To share a connection of some sort.

(My family and I took a long ride to Jerusalem on a very hot summer day. I had a span of one minute to shoot something I wanted, since my family members were looking for shaded areas to rest as they were walking swiftly through the Old City and I didn’t want to lose them. It was fairly empty and I saw the space and historic architecture that I loved. Along came a young girl in the frame without notice, and I loved it even more. For me, It was a symbol for all the innocent children who live in conflicted parts of the world that just want to run and have a happy memory.)

As a Palestinian-Muslim-American Woman why is it important to tell your story?
– It’s an uncomfortable time in today’s political age for people who share the same background as I do. I am human before anything else and that’s how I look at the individuals I meet in the world that we all share. I know I am a woman who just wants to take some photographs and learn the art form to the extent of producing something unique. I just happen to have a rich middle eastern culture that I grew up with as well as practice my freedom of religion.

(The daughter of one of my cousins in Palestine observes me while I’m observing her at her home. I like how the sunset colors are giving her a shadow. I was fairly new to using my digital camera when I last went to visit.)

You talk about today’s political climate, as an artist and a human being, what are your advices to other muslim artists trying to live out their lives during this heightened era of islamophobia?
– The most important thing that I can think of right now for others as well as myself is to have confidence in the love you have for your art or craft. It’s tough out there, but that’s ok. You will be let down, but there will always be someone else somewhere willing to help you. Don’t be afraid to express your ideas but also take constructive criticism to produce meaningful results. Reach out to people you want to collaborate with, even if it’s not something you normally do. Don’t do the usual. Use your unique background to add a rarity to the art world or muggle world that people don’t expect to see. Most certainly they haven’t seen enough of us 🙂

Processed with VSCO with nc preset
(I love the natural movement of humans, their body language, their expressions. I don’t like it when things are too staged when photographing a person. I was watching a sunset in Stone Mountain Georgia and along came a young group of boys interacting with each other in their natural element blocking my view to my advantage.)

Anything exciting we can look forward to in the future?
– There are so many avenues in the photography world that I have yet to explore. I’m hoping to go back to Palestine and get a series going. I’ll also be traveling to the West Coast in April to get some landscape shots of Death Valley. It’s been on my list for a while!

For more information on Halemah, make sure to follow her on instagram!


​Portrait of JASSIEUO photo credit: @exquisite_eye (Bree) ​

Introduce yourself?
– I’m JASSIEUO. My full name is Jasmine and I’m a photographer/creative. Originally from Detroit, I’ve been shooting for about 6 years. I recently moved to LA from Chicago and I work mostly on portraits, fashion look books, editorials and occasionally I am dabbling in video.

Being from Detroit and moving from Chicago to LA, what kind of impact did these cities leave on you and your artistry?
– Being from Detroit and making these moves has been the best decision for my creative process. Detroit was very safe, but I learned my work ethic there. Chicago was a great experience and challenge for me because I learned how to manage my time on top of creating a unique aesthetic in the process of developing my work as an artist and growing my audience.
LA has brought a mental adjustment for me and I’m still in the process of this chapter, so we’ll see how things pan out from here. Overall, the surroundings of each city has given me a greater outlook on not just my work, but my day to day life as well.

How did you fall in love with photography?
– I believe it was a long love process. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and I didn’t really exercise the craft until my last year in high school. I guess the love started there and it became super serious after attending a semester at Columbia College.

How was that transition of leaving school to becoming a full-time artist?
– Leaving School and becoming a full time artist wasn’t easy at first. I didn’t finish college, which now I’m glad that I didn’t haha. At the time it was very defeating, but it did give me the drive to continue. I knew I could manage to still fulfill my dreams regardless of a piece of paper. It takes more work and a lot more dedication, but it is possible.

I really love the powerful representation of Woman in your work, especially Woman of Color. Why is representation so important and how does it shape your art?
– I was raised by women. The amount of women in my family is a lot larger than men. I didn’t realize until recently that because of that, I am drawn to capturing women. I see strength in powerful women, yet we are still soft and compassionate when we want to be. I love the range we can give both in front of the camera and behind it.

What are some obstacles you faced being a Woman in an industry that is still dominated with males? How can we combat and push back and any advice for Woman who are aspiring to do the same and chase their dreams?
– Being in a male dominated industry bothered me a lot more when I first started photography. There were only men I could go to for advice on shooting or how exactly things worked. However, there are more and more women in the field and I’m loving everything about us having a chance to showcase our views as women. I appreciate the sisterhood amongst female photographers. We root for one another. Women aspiring to be photographers should just pick up a camera. Let your eye wander and go after what you desire from this field. We have more power than we know.

Visually, the first thing I noticed was the diversity of texture and color you had in your images and how the combinations of that with your model help create a story. What is your creative process like and where do you draw inspiration?
– My process starts with color, I’ve been forcefully incorporating blues into my palettes. From there I normally browse Pinterest to express my inspiration to the team and bounce ideas off their minds as well. It really was just a trial of risk and error, making lots of room for mistakes because they work for me oddly haha.

Many artists use multiple mediums to tell their stories, what other art forms do you use in your artistic practice?
– I’ve been issuing video lately and I want to dive more into that, I’ve also painted in the past.

From working with artists like Jamila Woods and Mick Jenkins to collaborating with Nike and VSCO, what more can we look forward to in the future?
– A larger scale of things is soon to come.

For more information on JASSIEUO, check out her site here.
Follow JASSIEUO on Twitter and Instagram!