We had the good fortune of connecting with Dorothy Sutton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dorothy, why did you pursue a creative career?
When I look back over my life, I think about when I first discovered the arts, or more personally, photography as a career choice. When I found out the significance and impact photography could make on those around me, I knew I had a special gift to give back. What drove me was I wanted to tell stories and have a plethora of people from different backgrounds to make personal connections to my work. For others to see, to feel and to react is my creative goal in my career. So pursuing a creative career where I get to change perspectives, be a memory keeper and use my camera as a visual microphone for societal issues; well that is the artistic path I follow and the legacy I can hopefully leave behind.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Freelance Documentary Photographer. I search for stories in the streets of communities, in systems of society and communicate through photography what is happening as history is being made. I spend long periods of time learning and researching about my subject or concept for my collection before it’s complete. Some topics I’ve covered were mental illness, poverty, the feeling of being stuck, and currently working on a project for environmental justice and sustainability called HumanxNature. I’m very proud of the work I do because it’s personal and almost everyone can see themselves in it. I believe that’s what sets me apart. I get to choose how people see my photography which can evoke emotions both comfortable and uncomfortable. The story of how I got to this point of my art journey has been interesting for me for the most part. It was as if there was this gravitational pull that indirectly led me to this destination in the art world. I look back and see all the artwork I did in high school and early college and it’s crystal clear. However one of my biggest challenges at the time was battling my current self against my future self. In the beginning I was determined not to be an artist because I had this cliche vision of “the starving artist”. Growing up in a low income, single family household you dream about making it out of poverty so I didn’t want that life as a profession because there was no security. As a hobby yes but not professionally. It wasn’t in my original plan for my future. However once I decided to let go of the stereotypes and surrendered myself to work as an artist doing documentary photography, I fell deeply in love and found my voice. I want people to know as much as I initially dismissed the plan, the plan never left. It kept calling me until I finally decided I wanted to listen. There was that moment interning at a PR firm that I realized I didn’t want to spend an entire career training and preparing for the mountain top to only find out I’ve been climbing the wrong mountain.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Orlando has its perks especially if you want more activities outside of the traditional theme park experience. There’s tons of restaurant options for meat eaters and vegans, plenty of museums to check out and trails to discover. The first few places I recommend is for the nature enthusiast. Lake Eola Park and UCF Arboretum are popular walking areas among outdoorsy individuals. Lake Eola Park is described as the Central Park of central Florida and has swan boat rides. UCF Arboretum’s/Outdoor Laboratory has guided tours with 600 different plant and tree species to learn as you stroll through miles of trails. The second place that is a must is the tropical water springs called Wekiwa Springs State Park. Wekiwa Springs is a day long trip with a bunch of water activities. To name a few, they have snorkeling, camping, paddling and geocaching as a unique wildlife treasure hunt experience. As a special bonus you can explore Wekiva Island for cabanas and adult fun events for nightlife entertainment. Next, which is my personal favorite is the food options! There are too many to choose but here are my go to spots. The East End Market food hall which houses a vegan/vegetarian restaurant called Winter Park Biscuit Company, then stop by Dochi, a Japanese mochi donut shop for a sweet treat and Domu for delicious ramen and cocktails. Literally at East End Market you can enjoy a full day of live music from local artists, shop small business vendors and find good food for any palette. To continue the food journey if you’re in spots visitors to check out in Orlando.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many women in my life past and present that I want to recognize for the love and support they’ve given from the start of my journey. First, God is good and from Him all blessings flow so I’m thankful for my spiritual guide and His divinity leading me. Second, to my heavenly ancestors for their prayers that were heard and are upon me still today. For Nana, Grandsie and MotherDear, I am their wildest dream. Next, to my Mother, a woman of faith who I saw take the challenges of life and always found a way to make it better. Thank you for your tenacity and superwoman power. To my sister, Jasmine for building a fire within me, to be a firework in the night so I and others can see the beauty and say wow. You taught me confidence and boldness as I grew. You will always be the Elsa to my Anna. Lastly, to my best friend Gemima, thank you for being the dopest hypewoman I could ever ask for and the greatest artist I could be inspired by. Thank you