Chancelor Humphrey Q&A: On "Keeping Pittsburgh Dope"

One of the best parts of working at Schoolhouse is getting to partner with inspiring individuals along the way. From artists to makers, potters, and chefs – we met so many talented people while visiting the Steel City last Fall. So, as a celebration to creative expression, we thought we’d kick off the new year by featuring an inspiring Pittsburgh-native whose style and aesthetic we admire. 

With a keen eye for street style and the photo skills to back it up, Chancelor Humphrey is the creative behind the camera for Instagram account “Keep Pittsburgh Dope.” Capturing the spirit of the Steel City, Chancelor started “KPD” to feature the unique people that live in it. From hosting events to partnering with other creatives, through hard work and the power of social media, Chance’s self-made career continues to grow. A talented photographer, radio personality, and entrepreneur, we caught up with Chancelor to learn more about his design ethos, creative process, and the origins behind “KPD.” 



How long have you been in your home and how did you find it?

“I’ve been at The Pennsylvanian for about a year now. I reached out to them to collaborate on a partnership. I would live there rent-free and promote the residence on social media. So, I didn’t find my place in a typical fashion, but I really love living there. It's been a great partnership.”


How would you describe your personal style, and how does that translate into designing your home?

“I would say my style is minimal with clean, subtle accessories. I usually wear black - my watch, bracelet, and even my tattoos compliment my minimal style very well. My aesthetic translates seamlessly into home designing. I like my space to be simple and straightforward. All I need are some great prints on the wall and a few everyday necessities.”



Tell us a bit about your background – when did you begin taking lifestyle photos? Have you always been drawn to photography? 

“My love for photography actually came out of necessity. In 2012, I used to run a blog. I had a small team of writers and photographers, but the photographers would always bail on me. So, I decided to get my own camera and fell in love with shooting! In 2014, I ended the blog and started ‘Keep Pittsburgh Dope’ where I started photographing the people of Pittsburgh.”


How did the name “Keep Pittsburgh Dope” come about?

“It came from a show titled ‘Portlandia,’ A comedy show on IFC. I was watching the opening credits where they show real footage from Portland, Oregon. There was a wall that caught my eye. It said, ‘Keep Portland Weird,’ and I loved that. So, I just replaced the last two words with ‘Pittsburgh’ and ‘dope.’”



You also have a background in radio. How does your experience in the industry correlate to your photography?

 “I think it’s definitely taught me how to talk to people - especially for my type of photography. I often have to approach complete strangers and ask for their picture without coming across as creepy! So, I know my radio background has given me a little edge.”


What’s it like to be a photographer in Pittsburgh? Is there a strong community of artists or is it defined more by independent artisans?

“It’s amazing, and I’m not exaggerating! There is definitely a strong creative community here. I always see different collaborations, whether it be projects, events, art shows, etc. We all have our personal goals, but also want to see everyone else win because it builds up the city.”




What does your creative process look like from start to finish?

“Once I’ve established my subject, I immediately hit the web or social media for references. I take those references and put my creative flavor on it. Once the photo shoot is complete, I set the mood in the apartment with some candles or music, and I begin to edit.”


What’s the most difficult aspect of working as a creative professional?

“I would say time management and staying motivated. I don’t have a boss to answer to, and I don’t have a specific time I have to be at work. So, I 100% have to hold myself accountable to get everything done. That can be tough, but I feel I’m mastering my mind to push through when I'm not being as disciplined as I should be.”


Finally, what are some projects on the horizon for you?

“I have a few photography projects coming up for the last part of 2019 and going into 2020. But my main focus is really just getting better as a radio personality. I have the rush hour slot on WAMO 100.1 FM, 3-7 pm. So, I want to do my best for the people listening.”




Photography by Chancelor Humphrey