Emmanuel Whajah is a German-born photographer, videographer, and creative director. His creative touch led him to success at a young age. Just 27-years-old, Whajah is the creative director for Keke Palmer and has worked with many other celebrities such as Les Twins, Tyga, Migos, and Rita Ora.
Kulture Hub has been following Whajah’s work over the years, and we’ve come to admire his success as a Black freelancer. Last week, Whajah was kind enough to speak with Kulture Hub. Read further to learn about the German-born photographer’s background, his goals as a creative, and more.
A dancer turned photographer and videographer
Kulture Hub: Could you tell us a little bit about how you started in your industry?
Emmanuel Whajah: Yeah, so I started, like, nine years ago, being just a hip hop dancer, and I started just shooting some videos for my dance crew back in the days. And that got very popular back in the time when we were dancing. So I got into all the hip hop competitions and won some championships.
And since then, I started to get more into video and stuff. I think that was the time when YouTube was getting more attention in the dance industry. So basically, we started doing more dance videos. And yeah, that’s how I started actually… that brought me into the music industry with other media shooting.
Kulture Hub: How do you feel that your background in dance has impacted your work as a photographer and a videographer in terms of your artistic eye?
Emmanuel Whajah: Basically, I would say, because of dancing, because you try to do something with your body and give a message out, you have the body language. So that’s almost the same way with the videography stuff and photography stuff.
So basically, trying to create something and trying to give a message out to the people with your creativity, maybe touch people emotionally, in a way and inspire or motivate them. That really helped me to even understand how to shoot people, specifically. And for me, as a dancer, working with big artists from the music industry helped me a little bit more to understand the music and how they move around, and how they stage and stuff like that.
Challenges along the way for Emmanuel Whajah
Kulture Hub: Were there any notable struggles that you encountered on your way towards success that you’d be willing to share?
Emmanuel Whajah: I think the hard part, just being successful in that area is just being consistent. Trying to network with people, but you can’t trust everybody. I think that’s the hard part.
Because when you start to reach a specific goal, and people recognize that, you know, like, from my part, working with artists, people see, “oh, cool, he’s working with artists and that model or influencer,” and people try to try to get to know you a little bit more, but not because of you… And basically, that’s [the] dark side of it. Being in the public eye.
Kulture Hub: How has COVID impacted your work in general, and has it hindered your work in any way or inspired certain projects?
Emmanuel Whajah: Actually, I didn’t really get hit by the COVID situation, basically, because at that time, I had a little accident before COVID even came. So, I was released from the hospital. And I think two, three weeks later, the whole COVID situation lockdown came up. And that was when I had the call from Keke [Palmer] because she wanted me to be a part of a media team.
So basically, that helped me a lot to be more creative and be free to create something for her. All my jobs I had at that time, I gave to other creatives because I was so busy with being the content creator of Keke Palmer… so basically, I really shared all my other jobs with other creators to help them out a little bit to get through this hard time.
Making an impact through art
Kulture Hub: Do you feel it’s important to address social issues or make social commentary through your work?
Emmanuel Whajah: I would say it’s important to stay woke… Even if you aren’t creative, it’s important to have something in your work to spread a little bit of a message out. Because for me, it’s, for example, when the whole Black Lives Matter situation came up…
I was so shocked with the whole situation. When they started to protest in Germany, I went to the event and shot the video for [all the] protests in Germany. And that video went viral without even me planning just when the whole situation in Nigeria came up…
So basically, if I have something and want to say something when something is going on in the world, I tried to be focused and tried to use it in my creative space to let people know.
Kulture Hub: What are your long-term goals as a creative? Is there a certain legacy that you’d like to leave?
Emmanuel Whajah: I would love to have my own company with a lot of talented creatives to build something great. Like, having an own Empire with all creators around the world, if possible, and just be you know, just be a role model and help other people to just be themselves.
Because I know it’s hard to be in those creative areas. Not a lot of people get the chance to do huge things. So basically, I want to be somebody who wants to help others. And that’s somewhere people can go and just be creative. Even if it’s just a school.
Kulture Hub: What do you feel is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a young creative?
Emmanuel Whajah: Oh, being humble, and just be yourself. That’s the most important thing. I think that’s the key, since I’ve been starting the whole creative part in my life. So be just been humbled and daunting. You know, don’t take things for granted. And just appreciate every moment in life. Yeah, I think that’s the most important thing, just being humbled.
And, of course, being focused and work hard, but humbleness is the most important thing. Because if you get to a point in life, with your goals, and with the whole success, people try to, you know, get lost in that kind of lane. But you got to be, you got to be as woke as you can, you gotta be careful for what’s happening around you. So you don’t fall into any temptations. So just being humble, and stay focused, I would say.
Emmanuel Whajah is leaving a mark on the creative world
Kulture Hub thanks Whajah for sharing his work and journey with us. The German-born photographer’s energy and mastery as a freelance creative is something to aspire to. We are eager to see what he will achieve next.
To learn more about Whajah, watch Kulture Hub’s YouTube video here to learn more about his brand and experience.