Octagon Rooms

The Impact of Photography on society and telling the African Story

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by The Moderator 1 Comment

Tayo: For me, I think that the younger generation now have people to look up to. There was a time when you could never tell your parent you wanted to be a photographer. But the rise of photographers has beamed a light on the industry and opened it up to the younger generation.


Solomon: I think it has impacted a lot. Photography has evolved to be a big deal in recent times, photographers are now in the limelight with the likes of Bayo Omoboriwo, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, TY Bello, also, in the aspect of documenting and preservation and telling of our stories.


Mo:  I think mostly it has created a viable industry for the youth and also opens up an avenue for self expression and community development.



Gideon: Photography has changed a whole lot. People without a sense of livelihood have moved from Zero to Heroes.


The Octagon: As mentioned in the intro… “Regardless of the growth in the number of photographers, the African story is still not being told as it should and brands still look to foreign online stock stores to purchase images.” Do you agree? Please give reasons for your answer.


Tayo: I agree. Telling the African story is a project that requires money, time and dedication. How many of the lots of photographers we have today are documentary photographers? Most people are are into events then maybe fashion. I am currently working on a project that is about telling the Nigerian story from the Nigerian perspective and I believe that if we can do that successfully, it will drive more people to look at the area of documentary photography. I also know someone that tried to started an image bank in 2013 or so. I doubt it’s still on now because there are no contributors. Before such thing can work, one will need lots and lots of contributors. A lot of time is required to curate such content. Lots and lots of thought and time.


Tokunbo:  Not enough yet. Easily, the most dominant genres of photography in Nigeria at present are wedding and portraiture. Whereas, the most impactful genre on any society should be documentary and photo-journalism because they tell a people’s true story. Sadly, in Nigeria, this is presently an underdeveloped area.


Gideon: Tayo, you’re correct. Most photographers do events just to make ends meet thereby neglecting other genre of photography.


Gideon: It’s indeed alarming how difficult it is to find stock images of Africa and Africans online. I will advise that we look into this area


Okolo: But its not impossible.


Gideon: Yes it’s not impossible. Another thing photographers need to know is that, they should never be afraid to share with others. I know of someone who refused exhibiting because he believed his images are of superior quality over the other exhibitors.


Mo: I think our community hasn’t matured to that stage yet. Of course that has a lot to do with our economic disadvantages, in the sense that earning a living is a priority for most and not building a viable career. But that will happen naturally with time and awareness.



The Octagon: What would be a better means of achieving this …. exhibitions, photo repositories, photo documentaries or simply being part of the news channels?


Mo:  All that and more, just general awareness and an outlet that supports such innovation. We need to be more self aware, Nigerians need to understand that life is not happening to them, but for them. Being aware allows us to tell truths rather than self truths, in the end story telling is all about truths.


Okolo: I believe innovation and inventions move in the direction of profits and not the other way around.


Damilola: More than all these things, I think we, as Nigerians, need to critically think about stories that we want to tell of ourselves. More than showing our work, is the quality of work we want to show, in terms of the story (how well does it serve us) and in terms on delivery (how best can we present our stories). The world generally has a one story perspective of Nigeria (cliche stories) and I think that the onus is on us as Nigerian photographers to change the narrative with our weapon.


The Octagon: As we round up this discussion, can we please share what the top 2 challenges are for Nigerian photographers and what in our opinion would help us better tell our story.


Damilola: A while ago when I started photography, (I’d always wanted to be a documentary photographer if I ever got to do it) I used to think that shooting that woman on the street with no place to rest her head, the suffering boys etc is what documentary photography was about but I found out much later that it wasn’t anything close to it – I found this out through trainings I attended. It’s not enough as photographers to have the know how. I think we would do a lot better if we have a deeper understanding of how much our images mean to the world and how much we’re contributing to how we’re seen by the kind of images we make and put out. We have more and more photographers and less and less trainings to equip them with the right mindset, the right exposure etc


Gideon: 1. For Nigerian photographers to compete on a global scale, we need to start shooting with intent. Let every click of the camera be intentional towards producing an image that is real and true and not fictional. 2. No offense to those who dwell so much on post production. but if every photographer can get it right first from the camera without post production, I believe a lot can change. Let’s place value on our skill and creativity.


Damilola: One major challenge/observation that I’ve seen is that we’re jack of all trades, and we need a lot more specialization to tell better stories. When you hit a mark for so long, we break the wall.


Mo: Firstly, the tunnel vision about photography needs to be expanded upon by empowering and making aware new un-ventured sectors of photography. Secondly, we need a wider knowledge and deeper understanding of photography as a form of art, I believe it will expand the community and increase the value and integrity of photography as a career choice.


Okolo: We need to have a global perception of our craft. If not, we will not be able to make our mark in selling Africa to the world.



The Octagon: We would like to thank everyone for being a part of this discussion. A transcript of this chat will be shared on www.theoctagon.com.ng this week. Please look out for it.


Gideon:  Thanks for having us too.  It was a great time here


Damilola: It was great being on the chat. Thank you


Tayo: Thank you


Mo: Thank you

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One Response

  1. Ife says:

    I’m glad this particular conversation has addressed our photography industry as a whole. I firmly believe that the art of photography drives the passion and in turn the intent. Photographers need to invest as much time, money and energy in honing the craft as they do in trying to earn an income and identify individual purpose within it, then the quality of what is being produced will in prove.

    As far as telling our story through photography goes, we need to place a value on what is ours and appreciate it enough to want to change the narrative. Nigerians (not all) aren’t there yet but there’s hope.

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