Dragan Andic is the name but you can address him as the the97. The young visionary has yet to enter his 20’s and is already thriving in an industry where many successful predecessors are at least half a decade older than him. The 18 year old creative has learned how to take control of visual media and make the city his playground with versatility and edge. Photography was never the97’s go to, in fact, as an adolescent, the97 focused on his athletic capabilities, competitively playing soccer full-time was a passion that unfortunately went left field after a serious knee injury that took him out of his element. This is where he’d realize his ability to create and utilize photography as an outlet for self-expression; Andic, who’s love for the city’s moody vibe helped him create a signature style within his work is becoming highly noticed on social media platforms and by his peers.

For the97, photography is more than a hobby, this is a gift bringing his dreams to fruition. Most notably known for his work based within urban photography, the97 has worked with some of Toronto’s most important names shaping the music industry; from Roy Woods, to Drew Howard all the way to Ca$tro Guapo he’s checked off some of the city’s favourite artists on his resume. In the midst of several lowkey projects, he gave up some time to step out from behind the lens to tell RegalChiz where the journey all began and where he plans on going.

An exclusive feature with up and coming creative director and photographer the97

 

RC: Without putting yourself into one basket how would your style of work? Your niche appears to be working closely with the rap/hip-hop scene. What about urban culture peaked your interest to work with some of Toronto’s up and coming influential names?

the97: My style is simple, it’s crafted to tell a story. This ranges from various stories about the city and the many talented people in it. This extends to one of my main interests and that is music. It’s more so a form of storytelling than photography. In Toronto we’re known for our dark and emotional music that the rest of the world has become very familiar with. When I take these photos of various artists I want them to feel what they hear in their music. This is their home, this is their setting and they each contribute their talents in their unique way.

RC: Your style is definitely clean cut and it’s interesting you’ve worked to format something that reflects a storyline and the culture developing behind Toronto, with that being said, how do you stray away from being generic/basic as a photographer in the flood of up and coming “urban” photographers?

the97: Being unique in photography requires you to offer your audience glimpses of the unexpected. I like to bring my viewers into the world of artists and their personalities. I consider everything from their wardrobe to the location when we plan out a shoot. Ideas are endless when it comes to urban photography, I think I’ve found my niche and how I tell each artist’s story. Eventually, I plan on expanding the way I tell these stories with more curated shoots.

RC: Are there photographers you look to as mentors and inspirations in the city?

the97: My biggest inspiration from the start has been Visionelie. His work has inspired me since day one.

RC: You’ve had the chance to work with some of the most important names shaping the city, a lot of people are interested in the music but that doesn’t necessarily mean their favourite artists are going to give them the time of day to shoot with them. How did you find yourself working with some of Toronto’s urban royalty?

the97: A lot of that has to do with the kind of person I am. First off, I consider a lot of these people very good friends. We’ve built relationships over the past year and I think that is probably one of the most important aspects of what I do. I support my friends and if we both see an opportunity to put out a great piece of creative material, everything usually happens organically.

RC: It seems that as of right now you cater to personal shoots with artists/ street photography, do you see yourself branching off to do larger scale projects any time soon (ex. concerts/festivals etc)?

the97: Eventually I would love to branch out and begin working on tour photography. I think that would be my next step to capturing the intimate stories behind some of favourite artists. I’m working hard towards that and I plan on making that a reality soon enough.

RC: You’ve come quite a far way in a short amount of time. What is your hope for the future as a creative?

the97: My hope for the future is to continue growing as a creative, there is no limit to where you can take something you’re passionate about, if you put the effort in, you can accomplish just about anything.

As the97 continues to work on new assignments and scale the photography industry, you can find him in a number of other creative markets. This summer is full of new pieces from the multifaceted creator and you can keep up with him via Twitter or IG for more.