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My pictures tell African traditional stories beyond general narratives of poverty — Taofeek Adeshina



Taofeek Ibrahim Adeshina is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller, whose photograph of a father helping his daughter wear her shoes properly during the just concluded Ileya celebrations became a social media sensation and appeared on various media platforms. ROTIMI IGE, in a recent chat with ‘SarkinFoto’, explored his passion for photography, journey so far and his future projects.

You said your mother gifted you your first camera. How did you develop interest in photography and when did she get involved?

Starting photography, for me, was more of a hobby; taking photographs of friends and family with my mobile device as early as 2015—capturing the sunrise and sunset, trying to tell stories about them. As time went on, I decided on taking it beyond just a hobby to a profession by enrolling in a Nikon photography school in Ibadan and Lagos where I learnt the basics of photography and understanding a digital camera. As at then, I was still taking pictures with my mobile device.A few months later, my mother noticed how passionate I was about photography and the zeal to push on, regardless of the tool I had. I had informed her about my first trip to Abuja for the International Photography Festival in 2017 and she knew I would be attending with ‘just my mobile device’, so she bought my first ever camera, a ‘Nikon B500’, a point-and-shoot camera, before the trip.Telling stories with photograph requires   mastery, understanding your environment, knowing how to be human before whatever you want to do, understanding the language of the people you want to tell their stories (or you get a fixer who understands the language). These always aid my storytelling skills with photography. The most difficult challenge I’ve encountered over the years are rejections by my subjects (people I intend telling their stories), losing my tools to theft (especially finding myself in a totally new environment), harassment by the policemen who always have stereotypes about ‘photo-journalist’ especially.I’m happy that photograph spoke to a lot of people and not just Nigerians-only. Documenting the Eid festival and Durbar festival has always been my niche as a documentary photographer whose focus is on African culture and traditions. The very image was shot at the Emir’s palace in Ilorin, Kwara State which has always been the custom of the good people of Ilorin to accompany the Emir and his entourage back to the palace after praying at the Eid ground. I was focusing on human faces and immediately I sighted the man in his neat northern attire bending to fix the shoe buckle of his daughter, I had to capture the moment because of how I felt at that moment, from my camera view-finder; it got to me that the very gesture from the father shows a very deep love and care he has for his daughter, not even minding how his neatly adorned northern attire would get dirty.