Some of the greatest photos I’ve produced have come from some of the most random of environments. Places where there is utter chaos as a result of the employment of overly organised systems. It’s very hard to get a herd of stubborn goats to follow your sign postings if they are finding it hard to understand themselves in the first place. I used to hate covering wedding celebrations in Nigeria because of this fact. There are too many instances where there are just too many people to organise. It is so difficult to predict the behaviour of each individual participant at these ceremonies. One moment you see drunken laughter; at the other corner you can see sudden outbursts of anger between servants or rage between guests and security guards.
In light of all this, how do you capture moments that make the story of the day look like it was a lovely day without distortion (i.e. including all of this chaos)? Africans have this habit of staring hard looks at people they aren’t too familiar with. These looks can be very intimidating and off-putting especially when you have put a lot of energy into finding your spot for that killer award winning shot. As you prepare to perform the click, that look of disgust is presented before you. “Scum,” a word you can hear silently. So how does one do it? What hope is there in getting work that shows that the ceremony was one to enjoy?
Well I think a lot of what has been presented in previous paragraphs have a lot to do with the issue of perspective. One has to understand that in these ceremonies there is some sort of organised chaos that exists and understanding between the participants in the ceremony. The heavy bad looks IMHO have been misinterpreted: the shouting is actually a form of clear communication with no offence or aggression intended, the so called anger really exists merely as an enforcer to keep the order in the chaos.
I’ve had to learn the hard way that the environment I am working in has it’s own code of conduct. A code that I have to relearn each time I am in Nigeria. Things work contrary to popular belief– they just don’t work in the same way as they do in other parts of the world. With this approach and perspective I employed a different approach to documenting events in Nigeria.
The image showcase below are a summary of the best shots from a recent Traditional Wedding ceremony I covered with my colleague Tunde Owolabi. You can see that in the midst of all the chaos it’s easy to take for granted the order by way of, e.g., colour codes of peoples attire. There is a lot of richness in the culture of the people. This is exemplified in the way they express themselves in all that they do.
Equipment : EOS Canon 5D, EOS Canon 1D Mk III, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L
Above, I thought I’d try a different way to photograph the Brides Attire
A former Nigerian President, General Yakubu Gowon
Two former Nigerian Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and General Yakubu Gowon
Laughing to a joke I didn’t crack!
These guys were at it again! Constantly in my way!
…and I thought I was the only one who took this stuff seriously
This shot doesn’t give the number of people who attended justice
My favourite of the bunch
Ah! There’s my camera, you got me really scared there sir
At least these guys give understand story telling
The King was in town, KSA, (King Sunny Ade)
“4 Yinks” – They all have the same name!