Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On photo blogs

There are so many excellent photoblogs out there. The digital age has democratised talent: now anyone with internet access can themselves access way more images and image makers than any bookshop could offer. Take a look at this blog (a guy called Nils Jorgensen, snapping daily life in London). He takes an image every few days or so, and each one is pregnant with meaning and returns us to the intricate depths of the mundane.. Trouble is, if you went round taking as many snaps as he did in Nigeria you'd get yourself neck-deep in wahala.


St Antonym 4:15 pm  

He's a god among street photographers. I've dug his stuff for a couple of years now (discovered him through qB).

Such a marvellous eye.

ayoke,  5:48 pm  

"Trouble is, if you went round taking as many snaps as he did in Nigeria you'd get yourself neck-deep in wahala." Jeremy, much as I appreciate your ever effervescent readiness to criticize Nigeria (and some do have some logic to them), could you please clarify on why you'd get yourself in wahala if you went around taking as many snaps in Nigeria? I would appreciate the insight. Thanks.

St Antonym 5:54 pm  

I can't speak for Naija in general, but I can say something about doing street photography in Lagos.

You have to beware of awon boys. It's not the government that will come up to you and ask you to "donate" your cellphone and your camera.

If you don't believe me, go to Isale Eko and go and do your ethnography. Make sure you take your most expensive zoom lens with you when you go. If you wish, you can do a special series on "unemployed young men."

(All Lagosian photographers should get an award, honestly!)

Frenchman In Lagos,  7:04 pm  

Taking pictures in Lagos can be risky especially on the streets and if you are oyimbo. It depends in which area and with who you are. Outside Lagos it is usually easier.

Jeremy 8:15 pm  

Yes I speak from experience Ayoke. Its a subject from another post but I have been threatened to be beaten up on several occasions, simply for snapping photos. On the one hand, Nigerians love having their photo taken, on the other they hate it. I have yet to fully figure out the deep seated ambivalence..

Brian 9:00 am  

Those are some nice photos, and what I aspire to be able to provide some day. Have to say, I've taken photos in Nigeria, but only from the car, and only when we were not stuck in traffic (so not too often in PHC)

Anonymous,  10:55 am  

taking photos in Nigeria (especially Lagos) is not easy. I remember trying to take a picture of a rubbish mountain in surulere (this was not a sight I remember growing up in the early 80s) only for a woman to jump out of her shop saying 'if my enemies sent you tell them I have already surpass them'. I was shocked and she along with some area boys threatening to take my camera from me.
taking the kind of street photos one would like requires building relationships with your subject matter first (if you don't believe me, speak to some of the depth of field photographers). but surely this takes away the spontaneity and the fun. It is tough 'snapping' in lagos. easier in other parts of the country.

Nkem 1:02 pm  

You don't just get grief taking pictures in Lagos, but also by government officials. Lagod Island can be notoriously difficult to take pictures on. I can remember some SSS officials stopping my group of teacher and students from taking pictures in 1993.

Alaye Scoro 3:57 pm  

LOL @ Nkem , I actually have a story that tops that. A US based acquaintance of mine on making his first visit to Abuja awhile back decided that it would be a good idea to take some pictures of Aso rock and some other government buildings for his personal collection. Believe it or not when I tell you that he was actually accosted by some SSS people, thrown in jail and suffered some really harsh experiences (can't remember what exactly but it was very troubling to read).

He was so "moved" by the experience that upon his release he felt the need to send out an email to every Nigerian in his addres book (or at least it appeared like that) sharing his trauma with us. This was before blogs had become standard or else I'm sure he'd have gone as far as to start a blog just so he could share this with us.

queen of staem,  11:03 am  

nice blog

babalawo 11:03 am

tout noir 9:14 am  

The ambivalence Nigerians show towards photography might lie in deep-seated beliefs about the role of photographs. Frome experience, I know most Nigerians think photographs should present them in the best light. They need to dress up, do a special pose and smile. So-called "street photography" either puzzles or annoys them. Why take a photograph where you can't look as beautiful as possible?

On the other hand, there is the fear of juju. You know well that we Nigerians are rather superstitious. Anything we don't understand can either be explained by God or the devil. lol

These are just my theories from experience.

juju,  2:26 pm  

ha ha tout nout, i guess you are scared of juju too. No wonder we cant see ur picture on here. Ogbologgongbo

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