The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI student and SCOPE general manager bridges arts community to campus

University of Iowa senior Cat Dooley looks back on her start and stresses the importance of marketing oneself, as she advises and paves the way for future photographers.
Isabella Tisdale
Iowa senior Cat Dooley poses for a portrait at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, April 22, 2024.

After meeting friends involved in SCOPE, a student organization that brings well-known artists and music-based concerts and events to the University of Iowa, Cat Dooley decided to join her sophomore year.

Now as a senior graduating this May and the General Manager of SCOPE, Dooley expanded her portfolio to concert photography.

Growing up in Des Moines, Dooley started getting serious with photography at 15 years old. What once started as photoshoots of her friends in parking garages eventually stemmed into taking senior photos of her classmates and taking the high school sports team photos.

When Dooley joined SCOPE, she asked if she could be involved with its concert photography, and they agreed. Slowly, she was able to cultivate her love for photography into a business. Bands began to ask her to take pictures and she started building up a portfolio. She has since worked with big names such as NLE Choppa, Swae Lee, and Tobi Lou.

“There are so many things that you can do, and you can find at the UI that will serve you,” Dooley said. “Don’t be afraid to seek new friends, new resources, and new spaces.”

Arriving at the UI, Dooley knew she wanted to hone her creative skills at school. A double major in Cinema and Art, one such creative outlet she’s been passionate about is photography.

While working with SCOPE, she was able to volunteer with the Englert Theatre, where she made a connection with the marketing team and eventually secured a position at the Englert.

“It originally started as an internship. Then eventually it turned into a part-time position that will continue after I graduate in May,” Dooley said. “Through that, I get to take a lot of photos and create a lot of content for ‘Englert Presents’ shows, ‘Track Zero’ shows, and ‘Mission Creek Festival’.”

Dooley has curated a community of photographers within SCOPE where she encourages them to network and market themselves as she did to land her position at the Englert.

“I met [Dooley] when I joined SCOPE last fall,” SCOPE member Abbie McLaren said. “As SCOPE went along, she would have opportunities for photography, so I got to know her better by that.”

The first photography opportunity Dooley presented was the 2023 Homecoming Show featuring headlining artist and rapper Swae Lee. Every year, SCOPE puts on a large concert with a notable headlining artist during the event. In the past, these artists have included Sir Chloe, Black Pumas, and Lizzo, among several others.

Shortly after that, McLaren reached out to Dooley to see if there were any other opportunities in the area for photography. Dooley was able to connect her with other events and people in the community, leading McLaren to work on events, such as Mission Creek.

“I want to bring other, younger photographers into the scene and give them opportunities and connections,” Dooley said. “I want to help them network themselves and get into the scene because I know it can be pretty scary to put yourself out there.”

Dooley’s hopes for the future of SCOPE have already begun to materialize. Members like McLaren have already learned from the example Dooley set.

“I am not a person that loves to network, and [Dooley] has been great in helping me meet people in the community,” McLaren said. “She has introduced me to staff she works with at the Englert Theater. She’s been a great resource, there is never any competition even though we are doing the same thing.”

Since her sophomore year, Dooley said she has learned a lot about how to conduct herself as an artist. Her experience offers wisdom for future and present SCOPE members; Dooley is often asked for advice, a request she happily fulfills.

“Just ask, the worst they can say is no. If there is an event that you want to take photos at or maybe you want to get started, just ask your friends to model for you or go to Gabe’s and ask artists if they want their pictures taken,” Dooley said. “Once you feel confident and have a portfolio started, you just keep go

Dooley’s college journey — and all that materialized as a result of her efforts — is not only a testament to her mindset but what can come from opening yourself up to opportunities and creating connections throughout the community. Rejection is scary, Dooley said, but from her perspective, it is always worth it.

“I try to encourage others to ask the right questions, ask the right people, and just take a chance. Everyone is feeling as awkward and scared as you so just put yourself out there and be yourself,” Dooley said. “You will attract the right crowd and right people [with that attitude]. College is so massive, there are so many things that you can do and you can find that will serve you.”

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About the Contributor
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.