For freshman Kyler “Ky” Lotte, a digital cinema student at DePaul, it simply started with a hashtag.
As he snuck past a security guard in a parking garage near Adams Street, Lotte bolted for the 12th floor. With him was his Canon T3i around his neck and a bag full of camera filters. Sure he was trespassing, but it’s the thrill that urban photographers like Lotte strive for.
Lotte was hooked in February. He noticed an Instagram page called #UrbanAisle 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,” Shield 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.”
Before his interest in urban photography that often inspired hide and seek with security guards, Lotte became a photographer in 2013 and specialized in macrophotography. It presented a new set of eyes to look at familiar environments, even if it was in his backyard in Boulder, Colorado. 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,” Connor Brown, a classmate of his, said. “That’s why his work is always aesthetically pleasing.”
Then there is capturing the movement. 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 choreographed 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,” Lotte 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 intimidating, but home can sometimes be even more terrifying. Sometimes he feels like he is spread so thin and it’s hard to focus on just himself.
“This might sound funny but I have to create an understanding with each aspect of my life,” Lotte said. “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,’ I will use photography and dance as a therapy.”
“He has both the artistic and technical proficiency. Usually people only have one or another,” Marc Menet, an adjunct professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media, said.
Menet said that 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,” Menet said.