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The ‘unravelling of self’ with Segun Sani-Kabir, Kunle Laniyan

Photography, a universal language, means different things to different people. For some, it’s documentation; for others, it’s artistic expression. For these two seasoned photographers, it…

Photography, a universal language, means different things to different people. For some, it’s documentation; for others, it’s artistic expression. For these two seasoned photographers, it embodies balance, self-reflection, and relentless pursuit, Daily Trust on Sunday writes.


The beauty of walking into an exhibition is that you never know what to expect or what emotions you’d be forced to walk out of the room with. With art and images, you are bound to go on a journey of expression and conviction within yourself.

When I walked into Segun and Kunle’s exhibition, it was as though I was given a blank space to create my own thoughts because of how the room was designed.  The bare white walls with the exhibited photos hanging on them created an illusion that allowed you to focus deeply on the portrait in front of you.

I got around to asking both creatives what photography meant to them. Segun started by saying, “Photography to me is all about “balance”. For photos, we balance light & shadows (neither of them can exist without each other) to get that perfect picture.

“It’s very similar to the concept of YING & YANG, growing up, I realised you can’t do everything and be everywhere, you always need to find that balance to make it work.”

the exhibition


For Kunle, he explained that “photography is a powerful medium that captures moments, emotions, and stories, connecting people beyond language through visual storytelling.”

According to both creatives, the inspiration for their latest exhibition comes from a deep well of self-reflection. “Myself and Kunle have over seven years of experience in the photo industry,” Segun explained.

“We’ve experienced different phases—both positive and negative—throughout our careers. These images tell a story of self-reflection and the different phases we’ve gone through as creatives.”

The co-creator of the exhibition, Kunle Laniyan, said, “The exhibition ‘Unravelling of Self’ was inspired by the idea of self-discovery, introspection, and the journey towards understanding one’s own identity. It explores themes of growth, reflection, and personal transformation.”

As I moved around the room, digesting and exploring what each portrait was saying to me, I was hit with a wave of thoughts when I came across one of the portraits titled “Relentless”.

The portrait had a man screaming out loud while being covered with a nylon bag over his head. It reminded of me of days where all I wanted to do was scream out loud but had to maintain composure. It was clear that I had resonated so much with this portrait and surprisingly, this was one of Segun’s favourites.

Speaking on the thought process of the photo, Segun said, “among the number of evocative pieces, one work stands out, ‘Relentless’. Passion is not enough; you have to be relentless enough to pursue your dreams,”

“We all have that phase where we become fully functioning adults with responsibilities. I’ve wanted to quit many times, but because of my passion and the creative community I have, there’s always that pursuit of self-growth which has made me resilient to whatever I come face to face with.”

For Kunle, the piece that resonates most is ‘The Uprising’. He said, “This piece depicts inner strength, resilience, and the courage to stand up against adversity. The story behind it explores the power of resilience in the face of challenges and the growth that comes from facing and overcoming obstacles.

Like I said earlier, art and images are bound to evoke emotions and I was sure that everyone who had walked into the room had been confronted with one emotion or the other. Nonetheless, that is the experience Segun and Kunle were looking to create.

Speaking on what emotions they thought to evoke with this exhibition, Segun said, “My aim is to show everyone that we all go through the same struggles. We all have our highs and lows, but at the end of everything, there’s light at the end of the tunnel as long as you’re consistent and intentional.”

Kunle also emphasized the theme of community over competition. “Through my photographs, I aim to convey the message of collaboration, support, and unity among individuals. I hope the audience takes away a sense of solidarity, the importance of working together towards common goals, and the beauty of relationships built on trust and mutual respect.”

Putting together an exhibition was not without its challenges, Segun and Kunle both narrated how issues like the perfect space, limited resources and photo selection posed as challenges while trying to set up the exhibition.

According to Segun, “The first major challenge we faced was getting a space for the exhibition. But with the help of the creative community, we were able to get a space within our budget. The second challenge was selecting the images for the exhibition. We collaborated with an art curator to help with the selection process, which made everything seamless.”

“We also researched cost-effective options for printing and promotion and explored sponsorship opportunities and partnerships to cover expenses. With the help of mentors, peers, and art enthusiasts, we carefully considered the emotional and storytelling aspects of each image to effectively convey the intended message.” Kunle added.

The exhibition was coming to an end and as the creatives bid their audience goodbye, words of advice were shared for fellow photographers who are seeking to make a name for themselves.

For those looking to carve out their own niche in photography, the advice is clear and concise: “Keep shooting,” Segun said.

“When you’re consistent and intentional with your work and decisions, success and growth will always follow. Keep shooting, keep creating, keep showing up even when it doesn’t make sense. That is the fastest way to find your style.”

Kunle also offered additional guidance using the acronym LENS. He explained,

*LEARN: Study various photography genres, techniques, and styles. Experiment with different lighting, compositions, angles, and subjects to discover what resonates with you.

*EXPLORE: Seek inspiration from art, literature, nature, and everyday life. Incorporate those influences into your work.

*NETWORK: Attend workshops, exhibitions, and photography events to learn from others and expand your knowledge.

*SHOOT: Continuously practice and hone your skills. Capture moments that inspire you. The more you shoot, the more you learn about your preferences and strengths as a photographer.

By combining these elements, aspiring photographers can gradually cultivate a distinctive style and voice that reflects their individuality and artistic vision.


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