August 18, 2016

“Everyone has a story and everyone is working on something. If we don’t tell our own story, the sum of life as we’ve known it, who will? And what other stories are worth telling?”

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DYLAN HOLLINGSWORTH // Photojournalist. Storyteller. Filmmaker. Based in Dallas, TX.

Hi! Steph here. When people ask me how I got into photography I tell them that photography found me and I found myself because of photography. It’s been 10 years since a camera made its way into my hands. I remember the beginning like it was yesterday. I think back on artists that I looked to for inspiration at the time and why they stuck out to me. I craved authenticity, raw imagery…people with stories that were stripped down to their core. I didn’t want fake or filtered. I wanted to FEEL something when I saw a photograph.

I have a soft spot for this human being that you are about to meet. Almost a decade ago I stumbled upon Dylan online. I was instantly drawn to him & his ability to tell stories that captivate. There was something about the look in his eyes that made me feel that he had so much to share with the world. Up until this point in my life I had never experienced that. There weren’t many pictures of Dylan on social media but I loved that I could learn about him by seeing images that he had taken. He pours his entire heart and soul into everything he does. I didn’t know much but what I did know was I had this intense desire burning inside of me…I wanted to meet people and hear/share their stories. He obviously had no idea at the time but he helped shape me as an artist. Recently I got to tell him this face to face. After a long time comin’…there I was in my photo studio and in walked Dylan. We embraced and it felt familiar. Timing is everything and people come into your life right when they’re supposed to. These portraits of Dylan are so special to me. As I was photographing him I asked him to continue talking with me. That’s the first time I had ever done that during a session. Some of my favorite shots are of him right there in his element…sharing his heart with me.

1. Where do you live?

Born and raised in Kaufman, Texas but have lived most of my adult life in East Dallas, Lower Greenville area.

2. Tell us a little bit about what you spend most of your days doing and how you feel like it is promoting love in the world.

Over the past few years most of my efforts have been centered around documenting the lives of others and telling small stories about those lives to any who will listen. I’ve always been interested in those deeper gnawing questions and how others answer them- who we are, what we’re supposed to do while we’re here etc. The burden of these questions is often relieved in having folks to share them with. Community. Relationship. Engaging with people who are having or have had similar experiences and are willing to share how they got over. When I meet someone and they say something that echoes around and resonates within me, I always feel like there’s a good chance that someone else might benefit from that thing as well. So I record them and share them from simple platforms like social media. Many of us spend a lot of time on these sites but there also seems to be a vacuum of ideas that matter, enrich and empower there. There also exists there an unprecedented access to people that aren’t having these experiences and are confined to certain communities and ideologies. Because my work and efforts take me to really diverse and seemingly unrelated pockets of humanity, I feel like I’m able to offer glimpses into peoples and modalities of being that some won’t otherwise intersect with. There’s something about highlighting the commonality of the human experience that feels right and necessary to me, especially in these times. But to those who already understand ideas like this, ideas of universality, this probably seems like child’s play.

I also help drug addicts get sober and find a new way to live. You ever come across someone who is done for good and for all and is willing to go to any lengths to get better, send them my way. We have a large community of folks who have survived a living hell to find much of heaven on Earth. Always room for one more at the table.

3. What is one thing that someone did for you over the years that really sticks out to you?

I’ve been loved on and helped along by far too many people to mention and it’s safe to say that I am who I am because somebody loved me. I think the idea is to keep that tradition alive.

I’ll tell you one though, outside of family and immediate community. In 2013, my friend Maureen gave me a year’s worth of plane tickets. I was able to get out and chase stories in a lot of places and it opened a lot of doors for me and the work I aim to do. I’ll never be able to repay her sufficiently and it was one of the most unnecessary and selfless gifts I’ve ever been given.

4. Why do you think it is import to be your authentic self?

A special lady I know says that “everyone has a story and everyone is working on something.” If we don’t tell our own story, the sum of life as we’ve known it, who will? And what other stories are worth telling? The most beautiful thing someone can say, do or create is something that reflects their examined, cultivated and innermost self. You know that when you see it. You know that person is offering something genuine and personal in a world where most merely offer that which is profitable, popular and socially safe. Now perhaps even greater that this is when our offerings speak not only to our unique experience but also to the broader human experience. So much of the writing, art, photography that i come across has a subjective ambiguity to it. My favorite is that which is accessible and useful to the layman/woman. I’m trying to carve out a path where I do this but also make a living as well. Still figuring that one out.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone if you knew that today was going to be your last day to live?

Every day when I drop my girls off at school I tell them to have fun, learn something new and to help someone. I’d probably say something along those lines.

6. What is one thing that has gotten you through when you’ve hit rock bottom?

I’ve been there a few times and likely will again. Don’t nobody leave here without singing the blues. I remember in another season of my life I got sent away for a few years. We find so much of our identity in our homes, families, friends, occupations, social status, possessions etc. When those and our ability to self-determine are gone, who are we then? What choices remain? Roundabout the time that was happening to me I found a book by Victor Frankl called Man’s Search For Meaning. It served me well then and continues to. Every human being should read it but the takeaways are that it is our will to search for meaning within our suffering that give us the meaning that all human beings desire. And that we can experience that meaning in any set of circumstances. I learned that when I was in a place most folks wouldn’t ever wanna visit. And adopting that attitude is how I got over.

7. What kind of person do you want to be remembered as when you pass away?

What we find and share here lives on further than we can fathom. If you think about it our present consciousness, while altered by our personal experiences, is also a recollection of things that others came to know long ago. Someone who came before learned something useful and passed it to someone else, who wrestled with and studied it and passed it to another and so on, up until the present day. In this order, those who came before live on through us when we allow those fragments to be a part of us and craft them into something worth passing on to those up around the bend. This is probably the closest thing to immortality that can be witnessed in this life. I guess i’d like to be remembered as having been a small part of that. Follow Dylan HERE.

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