It Started with Hashtag
Original link to the article on The DePaulia Website: here
It was noon on Sunday, April 3, 2016. He packed a horn-shaped mug, monopod, bag of camera filters, and IPhone chargers into his backpack. He plugged his headphones in and adjusted his Canon T3i around his neck. He ran his hand through his well-groomed gold hair as he stepped on the Brown Line train towards the Loop. It took about 15 minutes. He looked up searching for the tallest building and the moment he stepped off the train. A quick left turn on Adams Street, he entered a garage building, he shot a quick glanced at the security guard and headed straight for the elevator. The best spots borderline trespassing but it is the thrill that urban photographers strive for. “12th floor,” he said as he looked through the viewfinder when the door opened again. It’s time to shoot.
For freshman Kyler “Ky” Lotte, a Digital Cinema student at DePaul University, it simply started with a hashtag. It all started back in February. Lotte noticed an Instagram page called Urban Aisle that features street photography from all over the world. He started to use the tag. Jason Shields, the founder of Urban Aisle, noticed his work and invited him to join. “He steps aside and observes,” Shields said. “He captures what is going on behind the lenses, unlike most who I had worked with, he doesn’t rush to the front and look for his or her picture to be taken.”
It started around 2013. He received his first camera, a Canon T3i. Before the hide and seek with the guards, macrophotography was what began his journey. It presented a new set of eyes to look at familiar environment, even if it was in his backyard in Boulder, Colo., it could be the bug on the flower petal or the small pebble beside. “He is very much about capturing the beauty. He is always ready to look good for pictures himself and the same thing can be said about his shot composition,” said Connor Brown, a classmate of his. “That’s why his work is always esthetically pleasing.”
Then there was capturing the movement; actually, movement happened before the photography. He was 11 when he watched his older brother and neighbor dance and do street shows. It was first tutting (an urban dance style), then breakdancing and then choreography Hip Hop. “He looks like he should be singing but he is dancing. His dance is fluid and passionate. He is one funky dude from Colorado,” said Patrick Sarmiento, his roommate for next year.
Lotte saw an opportunity to redefine himself in Chicago, to push himself forward in each of his passions. “Back home, they know me so well. I can see their progress versus my progress,” he said. “Here, not everyone knows my flaws yet and I can put up that false barrier a little bit and make a new name for myself.” A new environment may be intimating but home can sometimes be even more terrifying.
Sometimes he feels like he is spread so thin and hard to focus on just himself. “This might sound funny but I have to create an understanding with each aspects of my life. I will be writing a paper for hours and hours and I will have a conversation with myself say, ‘hey, you need to go dance,’” he said. “I will use photography and dance as a therapy.”
Marc Menet, an adjunct professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media, said, “He has both the artistic and technical proficiency. Usually people only have one or another.” In class, he always showed high energy and willingness to go out of his way to help other students. “Rather than using existing works of others, he chose to have himself filmed while dancing and through edits, he created this abstract work that was really memorable.”
The elevator door opened, he headed straight to corner of the rooftop where he can overlook the CTA tracks. With half of his body hanging over the edge, he started snapping. “You guys are not supposed to be here,” the security guard yelled. “I saw your head dangling right in front of the security camera. You guys have to leave.”
“I am sorry. We will leave now,” said Lotte. “I think this is my first time being caught.”
Kyler Lotte (303-720-0379)
Connor Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Patrick Sarmiento (email@example.com)
Jason Shields (608-294-7865)
Marc Menet (firstname.lastname@example.org)