What's the story you’re trying to tell? Do you actually think I can help you?” Because yeah, I can shoot. That's easy, but this is a collaboration between your story and my tools.”
Q: How did you get started in photography?
I was a curious university student that needed to make money. I started shooting in clubs because I discovered that you could. Everybody was looking for a photographer to capture nights out but there were no photographers. So it was a case of supply and demand. I was just like, there is an opportunity here - I can learn photography on YouTube. That's how I started quite literally. I shot every other day for the next two years at university. In my third year, I started to take things a little bit more seriously, decided to diversify my content and start to shoot editorial stuff.
Q: You've grown a lot since the days of shooting at university. How do you approach your subjects now? Whether it be an editorial or a more intimate, personal kind of shoot?
I don’t do everything. I think a good photographer is defined by his own style. I say no to a lot of things and I probably say yes to about 1% of the stuff that comes my way. That's mostly because I only want to work on projects that are telling the stories that I want to tell, or I do my own. I'm very picky and selective.
When it comes to approaching the model/story, I try to have a meeting or a call with them and ask, “Okay, what's the vision? What are you trying to create? What's the story you’re trying to tell? Do you actually think I can help you?” Because yeah, I can shoot. That's easy, but this is a collaboration between your story and my tools.” So, I want to get it right. I really care about that kind of client experience, bringing them along for their story to be told. It’s a very open, transparent process with lots of conversation.
My photography involves consultation – I give them a bit of my expertise and then we create the project. That's my journey of artistic creation.
Q: What’s the biggest deciding factor that makes you want to work on a project?
For me, it’s always the story of a founder, much more than the project itself.
I tend to work with a lot of smaller businesses, even though I've worked with huge brands. If it's a small-scale brand and they really have a vision and the photography or the marketing is essential to telling that story and helping them to the next step, I'll say yes to it because that's how I was helped.
It connects with my heart personally. If somebody is passionate about the work, and this is literally something that is in the way of them telling that story, then I will reduce any costs. and find a way to make it happen within my schedule. A beautiful story should be shared.
Q: What’s a recent project you've worked on that you've really enjoyed?
A friend of mine has got a women’s clothing brand called The Label Muse and she makes everyday wearable. I actually ended up investing in the business both fiscally and non-fiscally. I just loved the story. I thought she was a great designer, but she needed marketing since she had no experience. So, I invested both cash and myself as a photographer. I helped direct her on a business front as well as on the artistic front. I’ve been involved since launch and a new collection also just launched.
Q: What is your biggest motivation now as a more seasoned photographer?
I want to be a shareholder in every project that I create, much rather than be the kind of photographer that does a bunch of work and forgets. That's the experience of a photographer - we create something, and it just goes into the world. Whereas I want to be a godfather to my work. I want to be able to see how it goes. I want to watch it be used. I want to be connected to that process.
Q: What's a challenge that you believe affects you and other photographers that there needs to be a solution for?
It's what's been addressed at Cotta, which is a community. I think many photographers are doing it by themselves on an educational front specifically. There is more knowledge that could be shared. Education, plus a high level of community.
Q: What value do you think Cotta will bring you as a creative, but also the wider community?
As a photographer and as somebody who values visual arts, it'll give me access to a place to be recognized. Also, to have a portfolio on Cotta that is credible.
It can give new life to my old work, which is something I think is essential. I'm not as passionate of a photographer as somebody else might go out and take pictures all day. I don't do that. But there are moments when I do, and those pictures would end up stuck on a hard drive forever. Whereas, if they can tell a story or help somebody else craft a story for their business and that will ultimately fulfil something I truly care about. Cotta will help me reach those access points, which I may not be able to - in my current life - research and find out.
Q: What more can we look forward to from you?
I couldn’t even tell you; life moves at a hundred miles per hour!
I think you would just have to wait and see because that's the nature of it - it's very last minute. But I want to share more of my own stories in some sort of visual format.
I've helped share lots of stories, but I think it'll be important one day to be able to share where I come from, my home and my journey.
Q: Where is ‘home’?
Nigeria. Born in Lagos but lived in Port Harcourt. It's interesting. I would love one day to travel back and visually tell that story of where I came from.