Drag is more than just fantasy - it’s otherworldly.
‘Dragfiles’ is an indefinite photography project which was created by a Chicago queer couple, Bayly and Cam. Not only are these two passionate about creating art which pushes boundaries and highlights supernatural beauty, but they also celebrate the unique and fantastical Chicago drag community by using their work to drive their audiences into another dimension.
Dragfiles draws its inspiration from illustration artist, Jack Hughes. “We love minimalistic colors, crisp lines, bright tones. Every queen inspires us differently and we love seeing their personality come through each image,” says the couple.
The creative concept is still fairly new, having only been born a little over three months ago. When the two first began, they starting shooting their drag queen friends who were in need of new promo shots. However, for being so new, their work screams the type of professionalism that you would only assume has been around for many years.
Shortly after their first shoots, they were contacted left and right and it was obvious to them that there was a demand for drag photography in Chicago.
“We have come a long way and worked extremely hard in this short time to build our portfolio and client base,” the couple explains. “Even though we are new, we are extremely excited for the journey ahead!"
"Inspiration and shoot concepts are really just a collaboration with each drag artist. We first ask what look they would like to showcase and after viewing what they have lined up, we go to the drawing board and start creating a backstory for their look. We try to tell a short story behind each shoot and if possible give character development. Three pictures isn't much to tell a story but we try our best to accomplish that.”
Every single one of their color block images on their Instagram feed tells an eerie, fantastical story. At first glance you notice flashes and hughes of photographer Miles Aldridge, Barbie, Chicago The Musical and the board game ‘Clue’ mixed into their work. But their whimsical props, playful sets and their magazine-ready bright and bold larger than life images bring an incredible uniqueness to their portfolio.
“Who are they? What are they doing? Did they just murder someone?” These are some of the questions Bayly and Cam ask themselves when diving into character development.
“We then send the concepts to the drag artist and they pick their favorites and we begin the set design. Set designing is a mixture of Amazon, Home Depot and a hint of resale shops. We try to keep the sets minimal to keep from distracting from the artists. The magic really happens once the drag artist is on set and the character comes to fruition.
We wish we could say we loved every shoot equally but Naomi Smalls was really out of this world. The level of professionalism combined with the concept and design of the shoot really came across in the best way possible."
Not only do Dragfiles go the extra mile organizing each and every set, but this is what you can expect from booking a shoot with them: “After booking with us, the artist can expect a shot of alcohol, a stellar photoshoot with loud music, and a fun friendly environment.”
Now if that doesn’t sound like the perfect blend of work and play, we don’t know what is!
“Drag is seen with a lot of judgement by a lot of the world. It's often confused for something sexual. We are here to show that drag is fun, creative and most importantly an art. The time and dedication drag takes is immense. Working with the drag community has even educated us on how passionate these people are, the artistry is so broad across all performers and we love seeing how different and exquisite every person is. We hope the audience looks at our images and views these drag artists as the creative, beautiful humans that they are.”
Bayly and Cam left us with this, "Chicago’s drag scene is extremely large and close-knit. The Chicago drag community will always have our heart."
If you are in the Chicago area, or looking to travel there soon, you can hit them up on Instagram, show the couple your looks and they will assist in brainstorming a wonderously fun shoot. They love working with Queens from all over and they love experiencing new performers!
You can keep up with the Razzle and Dazzle of the Dragfiles Photography on their instagram here.