The Ambassador Series: Titilayo Ayangade - Chicago
Hi Titilayo! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Titilayo (Titi for short), a 25-year-old cellist and portrait/editorial photographer. I spend as much time as possible traveling, but I currently live in Chicago with my husband Max. I’ve lived all of my life in the midwest but San Francisco will become our new home in 2018! I love exploring new things and my guilty pleasures are bad jokes and oversized glasses of wine with friends.
When did you become interested in photography and how did you make it your career?
My interest in photography blossomed in my Freshman year of college. I was borrowing my uncle's camera and as a test he asked me to take portraits of his Boy Scout troop. The pictures were terrible but I was hooked and started asking my friends to set up shoots with me. I was very lucky to be a cellist because musicians always need headshots and that connection opened many doors. I decided to make photography part of my dual career because it allows me so much creative flexibility and fulfillment. My main interest lies in working with people. I think that it is challenging and rewarding to photograph people because you must showcase their personality in a limited amount of time.
You're a classically trained cellist! When and how did you start playing?
I’ve been playing cello for 20 years! Thanks to my mom I started in Kindergarten. I wish I had a more profound reason but I chose the instrument because I thought it sounded better than the violins and I could sit down while playing. Cello has been a lifelong passion for me and when I look back over the years I am proud of how far I’ve come. In classical music there is a documented lack of diversity and I have been made acutely aware of this. I hold a Bachelors of Music from the conservatory at University of Cincinnati and while I was in school I was one of maybe 10 people of color in my major. It is one of my dreams to help diversify the field in any way that I can including doing outreach work with younger people so that they know they aren't alone.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I have quite a long list of ladies that I find inspiring. Just a few are Cindy Sherman, Solange, Sisilia Piring, Ebonee Davis and, of course, all of my awesome friends.
What makes you passionate about the work you do?
My passion for the work that I do stems from the freedom I find in it. As a cellist I have the opportunity to create my own career path. As a photographer I can wake up and shoot a personal project of any kind on any given day. The creative possibilities can be overwhelming at times, but that is when I do my best work. I’m all about living an authentic life which to me means answering truthfully to yourself. I find it very difficult to create when I’m not being true to myself.
Why did you want to become a Glossary ambassador?
I stumbled on the Glossary Instagram page about 7 months ago. The support and beautiful images I saw there inspired me in such a way that I knew I had to become part of the team. The Glossary is full of women who uplift each other while slaying their own doubts. I love seeing all the strong women in so many creative fields!
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
Chicago is a treasure trove of amazing places! I’ve lived here for 3 ½ years and lived in 4 different neighborhoods. In my opinion there is nothing better than a summer evening spent on a rooftop and my all time favorite is The Robey Hotel. I also love Parson's Chicken, Best Intentions and Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association for outdoor spaces. My favorite small businesses are Penelope’s, The Brown Elephant, Kokorokoko Vintage, Festive Collective, Gather, and Humboldt House. A couple of my favorite restaurants would be Pub Royale, Green Street Smoked Meats, Ramen- San, Firecakes Donuts, Ada St. and Beatrix.