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Nigerian photography sets a new standard for intensity and Blackness

Nigerian photography and the country’s photographers stand alone in their intense and honest elements. African photography in general teems with realism and an unabashed desire to thwart norms.

Just 5.3 thousand miles from New York, lies the biggest city in Africa: Lagos. The former capital of the beautiful country of Nigeria.

The city has been recognized as “Africa’s Big Apple” and, just like New York City, it, therefore, has some supremely talented photographers people need to be aware of.

From the problematic oil spills and the flooding shantytowns of Lagos to the finest street fashion and faces of the country, these Nigerian photographers are capturing the soul of Nigeria with their lenses.

Thankfully social media and the internet allows these Nigerian and African photographers to share their views with the rest of the world.

Gorge Osodi

Osodi worked as a news photographer for The Comet, a Nigerian newspaper, before joining the Associated Press News Agency in 2001.

After two years of focusing on photojournalists, he undertook his dream of becoming an artist. Then, in 2003 he started shooting oil spills in the oil-rich delta region of the Niger River.

For years, the place has been embedded in conflict and corruption. Thus, Osodi’s work has brought global awareness to the vulnerability of these places. His work, therefore, communicates the realities of the country, from detrimental pollution effects to the magic and beauty of the country’s culture.

Ade Adekola

Ade is a Nigerian-born architect that has used photography to further develop a visual language. In fact, she is a self-taught photographer distinguished for her experimental and innovative forms in exploring the medium.

“To me, capture represents 5% of the effort. The balance of 95% of the effort is probably is the cognitive idea. Trying to figure out how to execute it, what is the best way to turn it into a visual narrative. How to make it a cohesive body of work. And then the balance would be experimenting on a particular visual language.”

Ade Adekola, Visual Collaborative Interview 2019

Furthermore, she has taken Nigerian-inspired art to international markets, pushing the boundaries of how traditional art is perceived.

Mixing numerous disciplines including architecture, writing, and entrepreneurship, Adekola is not only publicly acclaimed but she is also an inspiration for all African photographers and female creatives.

Lakin Ogubanwo

Unlike Osodi, Lakin Ogubando took different paths with his artistry. He, in fact, chose law as his original field of study. Only after taking several pictures of his younger sister, he realized his passion and skill for photography.

He is now also one of the most distinguished Nigerian photographers walking.

Ogubanwo is a self-taught African photographer who got formally trained in the Spéos Photography Institute in Paris. The 32-year-old photographer has since been issued in a number of recognized magazines including Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and, The New York Times.

Andrew Esiebo

Interested in the urbanization of Nigeria, Andrew Esiebo began his career as a photographer documenting such development. His Nigerian photography work quickly turned to point out social issues such as sexuality, gender politics, football, popular culture, migration, and spirituality.

Throughout his career, Esiebo has won multiple awards, also including the Musee du Quai Branly Artistic creation prize.

His work is also internationally recognized, with exhibitions at the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil,  Dakar Biennial in Senegal, Biennale Cuvee, Linz, Austria, Photoquai biennial in France, Guangzhou Triennial in China, and many more.

Esiebo has also published his work in multiple books and magazines like The New York Times, Time Out Nigeria, CNN Africa, etc.

Why is Nigerian photography so special?

Nigerian photographers lean into the difficult topics, and thus the difficult visuals. African photographers in general understand the honesty a photograph can present.

Nigerian photography is humbly aware of its faults and circumstances.

It is not just what Nigeria offers to its people, but also what these talented and prestigious Nigerian photographers can offer to the rest of the creative world. Beautiful pictures to inspire, and thus, transcend what we know about photography.