Meet Chollette, He’s Much More Than a Photographer

Photo of Chollette next to his own artwork. Captured by Jasmine King

Photo of Chollette next to his own artwork. Captured by Jasmine King

Orel Jordan Chollette, better known as just Chollete, is a thriving video producer and photographer. He had just got back into Chicago after filming in Mexico when I was able to catch him for this amazing interview. I’ve been shooting with Chollete for some years now and I have always been impressed with his consistency, rapid career growth, and incredible talent. Talking with Chollette today was so much fun, he really inspired me to never give up on my dreams and aspirations. Check out the interview and photos he let me take of him using his own camera!


What made you want to pursue a career in photography?

It first started with my love for movies. In high school I wasn’t interested in anything math or science related, but any time we had a chance to make something visual or watch films in class I really enjoyed that. When I went home I would make videos on my laptop, teaching myself how to create short films for youtube. While all of my friends were going to school for business, and law, etc.. I realized how much I loved film and I decided to follow my passion, so I studied film production for 4 years at Columbia College Chicago. I crept into doing photography from first doing film. My first camera took great videos and amazing photos as well , so I learned both and that’s how I grew into photography.

What motivates you?

photography and video can be a lot of hard work and a lot of hours editing, but what motivates me the most is just seeing the clients expression when they see their photos or final music video and share it. That great feeling of completion on a project, it gives you a high and motivation to make more projects. I’m always so inspired by my friends work, popular movies, tv shows, etc… so I’m constantly looking at visuals to find different ways to bring my own ideas to life.

What other areas of creativity are you interested in?

Besides visuals? I am really in love with music. Music was my first art. I actually played the violin from 4th grade until I graduated high school, so for about 9 years, and I was pretty good at it. I played at my own HS graduation. I had private lessons and everything. I loved being in an orchestra. My mom bought me a keyboard when I was young and I recently bought an electric  guitar, so now I play on those. It’s just fun to create something that has nothing to do with my main hustle, which is visuals. It’s my own little secret, it’s not something I share, I don’t really play for people. It’s just something I can do to express myself and learn, with no pressure. We all need a hobby.

What are some of the obstacles you encountered and still encounter on your journey to success?

One of my main obstacles is learning how to be my own boss and learning how to manage projects. With projects coming in more frequently and getting bigger, I need to think bigger and take care of myself, as far as knowing how to approach different projects and learning how to incorporate my team in those projects. I never want to spread myself too thin. Learning how to manage a heavy load is what I deal with everyday as far as obstacles.

What sets you apart from others in your field?

Versatility. It’s hard to pinpoint my strengths in visuals, and I never limit myself to one type . I think what makes me different is that I’ll take on all types of projects and I can perform in all of them and they excite me! Just not being locked in to one visual genre is what sets me apart from everyone else.

What are 3 things you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a career in photography or film?

Know your worth. Know that you can create phenomenal work at the highest level, and you should present that in a way where you talk confidently about your projects and your art form, and your ability to deliver a project. Some people are so incredibly talented but timid when it comes to breaking out of their comfort zone. No project is too big for you, but you have to believe in you before you expect anyone else to.

Do not compare yourself to others. You can be inspired by someone’s work, but don’t look at their work, and then compare your work, and then feel bad about yours. You can’t look at someone who’s been in the game for 20 years and feel crappy when you only just started, that’s suppose to happen, you’re suppose to start somewhere. Be inspired by people and understand that you can get to that level with hard work, but don’t be discouraged by people’s success.

Challenge yourself. There are a lot of projects that will come your way or opportunities that you may have never touched before or you don’t know how to do it, but still just do it. You’ll learn, and every time you do something outside of your comfort zone and it challenges you, you’ll grow as an artist and a person. Never limit yourself to doing just one thing. Artists are not one thing, people are not one thing. Definitely expand yourself and use all of your skills.

What projects are you working on now?

At this moment there are definitely a lot of music videos in pre-production, so lots of music videos. Then I’m also starting up an event for Chollette called “Shoot with Chollette and Friends”. It’s basically where I’ll be renting out different warehouses, or cool venues and spaces, and I’ll be inviting a ton of models and photographers and we’ll all kind of just have a shooting party. It’ll be like a great experience for people to get photos, shoot, do videos, meet people, and all just be in a creative environment to be inspired by each other. That’s my little secret that I’m definitely planning and I’m wishing the best for it.

What are some of your long term goals?

My long term goal is to be a video production company that is able to give people their dream projects to the point where it’s no longer just me, but a large team of visual artists and producers. I want it to be a place where people come to get the resources they need to create their dream projects


Listen to the live interview below!

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