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I want to unite Nigeria through photography – Taofeek Ibrahim

Taofeek Ibrahim Adesina (Fotonugget) is a 25-year-old award-winning documentary photographer based in Ibadan, Oyo State. A graduate of Public Administration from the Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki,…

Taofeek Ibrahim Adesina (Fotonugget) is a 25-year-old award-winning documentary photographer based in Ibadan, Oyo State.

A graduate of Public Administration from the Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, Oyo State, Adesina learnt the basics of photography at Nikon Photography School (Ibadan and Lagos).

In this interview, he shares his experiences and aspirations in the photography world.

When did you venture into photography?

My photography story started when I was in my last year in secondary school. I used to take pictures with my phones. Then, I used my Nokia C1 for my photography. I used to take sunset and sunrises, using my phone. So, digitally, that was when my photography dream started. From there, I gained admission into Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, Oyo State (formerly, the Polytechnic, Ibadan, Saki campus). I did my National Diploma and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Public Administration.

When I returned for my HND programme, I started working with the campus journalists. Then, I took pictures of events and tell stories about them.

What are your set goals in photography?

My set goals are getting to unite the country at large through my photography. You know the country is currently destabilized when it comes to peace and unity of the country; when people get to do things from different cultures, different backgrounds in the country, I would like to take pictures about them and post them for people of other cultures to read their stories. This is something that will educate. For example, there is this stereotype that people from the Northern region are basically Muslims, but that is not true. There is part of the North that are non-Muslims, where you see people going to churches.

I have an idea that has to do with ‘November For Grannies.’ This is about getting to meet old people; the older generation to learn from them. I take photographs of them and tell their stories. When I do that, people get to read about them.

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures? And how do you get inspiration?

I spend most of my time on youtube; getting to meet photographers and share ideas. When you meet different people, you get to share ideas and learn. This has always kept me pushing.

Which of your works do you consider your favourite?

The picture I considered my favourite now has to do with a picture of a young Nigerien girl and a street beggar. I was photographing a client in Ibadan, Oyo State, and she came towards our direction and begged for finance. In the process, she waited and I later photographed her with my client and the picture trended. It is something I really hold in high esteem. Getting to make people happy irrespective of the status is something that makes people talk about you as a person that wants to unite the world.

Are your parents pleased with your choice of documentary photography as a career?

My mum in particular wants all her children to have a specific skill. I have brother and sister who are into fashion designing, hair dressing; I have a sister that plays football. These are skills my mother desires in her children for us to empower ourselves. So, for me, going into photography, she really supports me with all she has. She gives me 100 percent support and she believes in my dream. She is my biggest fan.

How best do you tell stories behind each picture?

One thing is to take a picture and another thing is to tell the story behind the picture. Like the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ In that wise, when you take picture of any event, you have to tell the in-depth story about the picture. For instance, during the #EndSARS protest, there were photographers outdoor taking pictures and keeping memories. In 20 years time, these pictures would be the reference of what had happened in 2020.

So, when you take photographs and tell the story behind it, people get the deep meaning of the picture, especially lay men who are not photographers.

A number of people are taking up a career in photography, does that mean photography has become a lucrative business?

I would consider photography as a very lucrative business. The way the country is now, everybody cannot have a white-collar job. So, you need to empower yourself by learning some skills. There are graduate designers, programmers. There are different skills you could learn and photography is part of it. So, getting photography as a skill is something that will really empower you. With this skill, you are self-employed automatically. In that sense, you are helping the country in reducing the population of unemployed youths.

Do you have a special project you’re currently working on?

The special project I am currently working on is ‘Independence Day Photo Tour Ibadan.’ I have been doing that since 2018. But this time around, I want it to be a bigger event by networking people together and we move that very Independent Day; taking pictures of Ibadan and keep memory of it. Those pictures would form photographs that tell stories years to come.

I am also working on a project tagged ‘Women In Ibadan.’ This has to do with meeting self-independent women in the core Ibadan areas and telling their stories on their early lives, businesses and supporting family through their businesses. I have been doing that but it is currently on hold due to insecurity in Oyo State.

But I have done a quite number of them and it has been inspiring ladies to do something.

Tell us about the Techno Mobile award and how you feel winning it? 

I have won several awards, but the one that has actually improved my photography life was in November 2020 when I took part in a photography competition. It was across 14 countries in Africa. The contest was organised by Techno Mobile. Amongst thousands of entries, I happened to be the lucky winner of a mobile device and I was given $1,000 as a support for my photography. So, it was really helpful in purchasing some of my photography gears.

The theme of that competition was ‘Colour Your Life.’ It has to do with pictures that tell stories about a particular momentum or landmark. I was still a serving youth corps member in Kano State and saw this beautiful architectural design of a place of worship in Kano and I took the picture with my device. I worked on the picture and sent it as an entry. As a matter of fact, it was few days to the closure of the application. It was outstanding, getting to be chosen. It was a life-changing experience for me.

Who are your mentors in the industry?

My number one mentor is Mayor Otu, a photographer from the eastern part of Nigeria. I met him during Abuja photography tour in 2017 and I have been learning a lot of things from him. I have also been looking up to Kelechi Amadi Obi. I admire his works. And in telling stories about personalities, I look up to Bayo Omoboriowo, even though I have not met him physically.

What is your message to the young ones on the street?

Whatever you achieve in life in the wrong way, always bounces back. I tell people to believe in whatever they do and keep pushing. People don’t believe in themselves any longer; they want to get money in a very fast and sharp way. I am totally against it and I tell people around me that if the government cannot provide jobs for everybody, the best thing to do is to acquire skills that will help you assist yourself, your family and the country at large. Believe in what you do, keep doing what you do and in the long run, success is very certain for such a person.

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