A few days ago I was staring at a picture taken by the brilliant Mark Webber, and I found that I was lost in its beautiful misrepresentation, it was one which was taken in 1992, a young Somali mother, frail and thin with a shadow of a child on her back, the backdrop spoke of famine and disease, flies swarmed around both her and her baby. I must have been staring for at least 15 minutes because when I finally found myself I was thinking about war and famine stricken countries in the world and the great number of casualties that would have been lost, from the great depression right till this point. I found that the picture gave a strange sense of people, long dead and beneath the ground. That woman would be dead now, and her child too, they couldn’t have lasted very long.
It was then that I began to understand the very power of a single picture, it could give life to the dead, the Somali woman and her baby are most likely dead, but their image is lodged in my mind, forever. As an upcoming photographer so far I have tried to take pictures worth taking, those that are out of the ordinary and have the power to be memorable. Whenever I hold up my lens, I seek to create lasting memories and register whatever form of matter I take as inextinguishable. I have often spent several hours looking at historical pictures on Twitter (There is an account @HistoricalPics) , and each time I am amazed that figures that have long exited this earthly world stare right back at me, their presence is as real as it would be if they were lying on my bed with me. Although my area of expertise is more abstract, I have learnt to embrace all forms of photography, they all have parallel command over the mind and the aesthetic senses. As an appeal to beauty, I have as much as possible tried to restrain from the evil of “Editing”, because it distorts the natural order of things. I was walking on a street last year, the weather was damp and a light drizzle preceding a heavy downpour, it was the type of rain that was steady, yet not drenching, and so I could stroll and experience the somewhat deserted city. The first thing I noticed was a puddle of rain water which was lodged between bricks on the floor, what it reminded me of was myself as a toddler walking in the streets after a heavy rain, I would look out for this puddles and deliberately trod in them. For several minutes I stood staring at this puddle, coupled with the smell of the rain, I felt like I was a misbehaving child again stepping into water puddles and getting my shoes wet. I brought out my camera and took the picture.
The best pictures taken are a purge of sudden emotion, an abstract picture taken is more like a representation of the soul; my own pictures have such meanings which have led me to give oblique and most often confusing captions which only I understand. But being a pioneer for the abstract, I was narrow minded for a long time in my belief that no other form was as convincing and self evading. The legendary Glenna Gordon led me to bask in my rigid ideals. She discovered a powerful new form of unconventional photography, after over 200 school girls were kidnapped. Preceding that was a fresh new project she did on Nigerian weddings where she captured the joy and intensity of these events better than I had ever seen in my life. Her dissidence from the photographing of empty classrooms and the wreckage of the terrorists left in their wake was mind blowing. She spent the next couple months gathering the belongings of the girls, their abandoned uniforms, their textbooks, and pens and photographing each one of them with assiduous care. It was uncanny yet a welcoming stance to the mystery behind the incarceration of the girls. For the first time after a lengthy period of speculation behind the identity of the girls, it was as though we could finally see the girls and feel their physical presence. It was a way of mourning them yet still celebrating their various legacies. The abstractness of her work was a major contributing factor to the photo project I did last year which I deemed fit to title “The Campus and its senses”. It was a recollection of my experiences from living on unfamiliar grounds and my struggles to maintain my own sanity. In committing myself to the community of photographers, I have learnt that the beauty of a picture lies not only in its latent core, but its aesthetic delivery. As such I have sought to create pictures that outreach their limits, photography beyond photography itself. At first, I was amazed at how easily I could take a picture and give it meaning to represent the yearnings of my soul, but with time, it gave me the feeling that the viewer was being robbed of his own eccentric significance. So in creating meaning, I seek for it not to be so unconventional as to apply only to a variegated sect. Photography and sentiment are inseparable, it is almost impossible for one to exist without the other. Whether I’m photographing a slum in Congo, or a paradise in Fiji, the same constant of emotions must exist, even if it is a sharp contrast of each other. The intricacies of this very art are boundless. The backdrop, the light at the correct elevation, the crowd in accordance with the message, the loveliness of the climate, the poetic frenzy of the participants. All have to merge to form a coherent whole. In photography, you pay for everything, the lens, the batteries, your camera, only the light is free. I often use my photos in my write ups, because they tilt in line with my titles. As a means to preserving long lasting memories, there is no tool more powerful. The much celebrated Ernest Withers spent the most part of the 60’s travelling with Martin Luther King and capturing his fiery speeches and solemn marches against Black segregation and the push for racial equality. His pictures were a documentation of the life and legacy of Martin Luther, his personal life and occasional controversies; he provided a platform by which future generations could appreciate the life of a legend. I came across one of the photos which he shot at the Washington March in 1963, it was during the speech of the day, arguably MLK’s most famous which has been popularly dubbed “I Have A Dream”. I will never forget that photograph because I could feel the passion and force of the picture. A middle aged Martin Luther raised his hand with authority over a packed Washington square of almost fifty thousand people, mouth wide open in proclamation of those famous words of his. All of a sudden I was part of the experience, I could feel the sweltering heat of that very afternoon, and the hope of better world were people are not judged by the “Colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. It was as though the picture gave me the permission to oppose white supremacy, yet still rejoice in Gothic architecture. The command of an image over the mind/soul is unwavering, photography remembers legends, exalts traditions, and appreciates courage. It gives evidence to the intangible and on more than one occasion, strokes condescending egos. In personifying photography, its distinct qualities are its latent energies and quiet revelation, its thoughtfulness and the power to be memorable. But more remarkable, is photography as a door to the soul.