What’s going on man introduce yourself
Hey everyone! My name is Dennis Elliott. I’m a 21-year-old Content Creator for Havas. (Ad Agency)
When did you first start getting into art?
I’d say I’ve always been involved with some type of creative medium. Unfortunately, I tried a ton of arts, but couldn’t commit. Early on I was first interested into drawing and illustration, from that I transitioned into Poetry and Spoken Word. I fell out of all of those and then got into dancing and choreography. I then fell out of that as well. My Jr year of high school I ended up transferring schools. When I got into my new school, right away I met a kid with a camera. After hanging with him and admiring the craft of photography, I decided to finally save up some money from a job I was working and I bought my first camera. I fell in love with photography ever since.
Lets discuss your style for a bit… majority of your photos you tend to incorporate dark tones. Why do you prefer dark tones
For me, that’s what I’m more drawn to. I believe dark and moody tones within photos have more drama in them and that’s the kind of story I want to tell.
You recently had your first Gallery show on May 20th. How was that experience for you?
That was an amazing experience. I’m very thankful for everyone who helped contribute to putting the show together. It was a lot of work; it probably took around 2-3 months. My friend Evan Brown came to my friends and I about doing a gallery show and then my coworker Sam Fitzgerald approached about doing a gallery show around the same time. It ended up being perfect timing. Sam really took initiative and handled the needs of the gallery to make it happen. The best part about the show was being able to see all of my closest friends and so many different people in the same spot together for the exact same reason. I’m not one into creating New Years Goals, but my goal for the year was to have a Gallery show. I wanted a gallery show because I wanted to finally print my work and put it on display for everyone to see. I wanted to be able to connect with the people and that’s exactly what I did. Over 1000 people ended up coming out; this was by far my favorite night of the year.
For college you attended Devry and graduated with a degree in graphic multimedia design. Why did you decide to attend Devry?
Earlier I stated in High School I transferred schools. My Jr year of High School I ended up transferring to Devry University Advantage Academy. “Advantage Academy enables qualified students in Chicago, Columbus, and Decatur, GA, to take college courses—and earn an associate degree in Network Systems Administration or Web Graphic Design—while still in high school.” Once I finished High School with my Associates degree, it felt right to just finish the last two years at Devry.
How was your college experience?
College was worth it, although I definitely did get burned out. While attending Devry is when I really started to invest a lot of my time in Photography. College helped me become a better-rounded artist as I began taking classes on film and graphic design. The Graphic design background is really helping me out in my agency work now when it comes to my compositions. I don’t believe my degree necessarily got me a job, but I do know it’s a good thing to have to fall back on.
While in college you were able to intern for Havas. Back in January you got a full time position as a Content Creator at Havas. What was your intern experience like? How did you transition into your full time position?
That internship was a critical point in my career. I was in Minnesota for a trip and when I was getting back, I was seeing some of my friends who worked at Havas post about the internship. I ended up giving it a shot and winning a spot. I ended up taking a break from school to do this internship. While in this internship I met so many creative people and attended so many creative workshops. Honestly, the first month into my internship may have been the hardest month I’ve ever faced. There were 7 interns, and I was the only one with no advertising experience, but that didn’t stop me. I eventually got grounded and continued moving forward. It took me a bit to find the direction I wanted to go, but once I did, I realized that this was something I was going to be good at.
After the internship ended around May-June, I knew that this was the agency I wanted to work for. In June I finally graduated college and begun freelancing for six months. During those six months I made sure to always show my face to the people at Havas. I would always go to all of their events. I made sure that I was one that they couldn’t forget about. December of 2015, I ended up going on a trip to New York and Miami. In Miami I ended up bumping into Jason Peterson and went to his workshop for Leica. At that point I felt like Jason realized I was serious about working for Havas. Two weeks later after that trip I ended up freelancing for Havas. Not even a month later I was then hired as a Content Creator. Really have no clue if the Miami trip had anything to do with me getting hired, but thats my theory..
How has it been working here at Havas alongside many great artists?
Honestly, it’s been great. Havas is a great place to learn and grow, I’m very thankful to be here. I’m continuing to gain experience and learn new things every day, whether it’s with cameras, advertising, or using certain elements to build my personal brand. Every time I talk to Jason I’m learning something new. Craig, Chuck, Danny, Ryan, these guys are big inspirations to me, and I’m glad to be able to work alongside them. There is a ton of great energy happening here.
In January 2015 you had 3k followers, fast forward to December 2015 you shot all the way up to 44k. What strategy did you implement and how much work did you have to put in to achieve those followers?
For me, I think it came due to my love and involvement with the Instagram community. I made sure to always be out shooting, meeting new people, attending instameets and creative events. I always had content to post. I remember I was posting 3 photos a day for a long time. Looking back on it, for a year and a half I was consistently putting out brand new content every day. I made sure to be active. People would take me more seriously when they saw me being consistent. Around May-June I remember going from 8k to 20k in 2-3 weeks. Eventually people just caught onto what I was doing. A big part in helping me gain those followers was when I began to find my style. One other thing I did was travel to other cities and meet new people that really helped as well.
You have been able to work with plenty of different brands. Which one has been your favorite so far? Also, when you work with these brands are you given full creative control?
I’m currently working with a company called PARLAY and they have been my favorite. They’re super down for any ideas for my friends and I have to push their content out. SPG was pretty cool to do work for, I was able to shoot Bastille in New York through them which was awesome. Bucketfeet was another cool company to work with; those are some very good dudes over there.
What advice do you have for any artists trying to get into photography?
Get into it! Dive into it! Swim in it drown in it. That’s exactly what I did. It may be a huge whirl to dive into at first, but that’s okay, eventually you’ll figure it all out. Don’t ever be scared or hesitate, just continue improving. I also suggest getting a solid first camera. My first camera was a Nikon d5100 and I recommend that to any beginner.
What advice do you have for any photographers trying to brand themselves?
In order to brand yourself, one must create their own distinct style. But to find your own style you have to experiment. I promise you that you will not progress unless you experiment. Experimenting is the key to finding yourself. Also, consistency is key. If you shoot and post often eventually the people will catch on. Something you are passionate about, you should always look to be consistent.
What has photography taught you about life throughout the years?
Man, where do I even begin, photography has taught me so much. I ‘m a kid from the southside of Chicago, and that’s where I spent majority of my life. I think I may have only gone downtown a couple times. After getting into photography I really begun to explore my city. There’s so much to see in this world and without Photography I may have not seen some of the beautiful spots this world has to offer. I’m super thankful to see other parts of this world. I cannot wait to explore new places like New Zealand or Paris to create and connect with the people over there.
How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I’m really just looking to continue to evolve. I want to continue to link up and create with more brands. I don’t want to half ass anything ever again. Things are going to happen and you have to be flexible, but I want to put everything I can into every project I tackle. My next goal is to make an art installation that everyone could enjoy.
Written By: Nicholas Rud
Dennis is extremely inspiring i can relate to everything he said esp the part about trying different arts before finally finding photography. I feel the same.
You’re so cool! I don’t think I’ve truly read something like this before. So good to find someone with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!