Q&A with Nigerian photographer Michael Odusanya of ‘In Lagos’
Lagos - centre of excellence, city of hustle.
For those of us who’ve either lived in or visited the hubbub that is the former capital of Nigeria, we all know that Lagos is a grimy and gritty place where, daily, just about everyone is struggling and hustling to survive in some way amidst the contrast of crumbling infrastructure and on-going new developments. But despite this quotidian routine of hustle and bustle, Lagos is anything but mundane. It’s a one-of-a-kind incredibly diverse city that is home to Nigerians from all around the country, as well as other Africans from neighbouring states, that has a unique atmosphere not found any where else.
InLagos is a collection of images that captures this reality in all its different forms, as seen by part-time Lagos-based Nigerian photographer Michael Odusanya.
Here he opens up about his feelings on life in Lagos through a lens:
In about 5 sentences or less, briefly tell us about who you are, where you live and are from, and what it is that you do:
I live in Lagos Nigeria where I currently work as a designer / developer in an advertising agency- I’m Nigerian but I essentially behave like a citizen of the whole world.
How, and when, did your relationship with photography begin?
Most of us like cameras and pictures for some reason. I got my first DSLR in 2010 and studied a bit to understand the fundamentals of photography. I never want to be a pro but then I wanted to shoot manual. Photography soon became another creative outlet for me and now I shoot with the convenience of a 50mm lens and carry my camera almost everywhere.
What was it that made you decide to concentrate on urban photography - specifically photographing life on the streets of Lagos?
Lagos. Sometimes we ignore the extra-ordinary details in the most ordinary place or in the interactions of people and these places. But you know - art like nature will happen nonetheless – whether or not it will be noticed.
Initially I was taking pictures with my iphone - I’d be on the road or driving and I’ll see a moment I had to capture. I was beginning to allow myself see the details and beauty in my environment. Lagos is where I am hence Inlagos.
You have a very specific and unique style of photography. Many of your photographs seem to have an almost grey-ish haze over them, and there often seems to be some distance between you and the individuals in your photos. How well do you think your photographs represent what it is that you wish to portray through them?
Inlagos.tumblr.com has evolved and has generally affected itself and my photography. Things are the way they are - but I now want my art to - as art can - inspire or exalt the ordinary by showing more dimensions to or an amplification of the same thing. You know - like it appears in music, the movies, architecture, fashion etc. None of my photos are planned and I shoot from a distance leaving objects oblivious.
Usually I stop when I feel something special about the photo - and then hope people can feel the same thing too – or something more.
What is/are the most rewarding or challenging things about photographing Lagos?
I have noticed that Nigerians abroad who haven’t been home in a while connect with these photos. I’m very glad about that.
I’m also excited that I’m able to contribute original content to the internet. There aren’t any challenges really - it is only a pet project that I’m passionate about.
Lastly, since you’re out and about quite a bit in Lagos, could you share some of your favourite places in the city with us?
I like the early morning view - approaching the island before descending the 3mb - one can see the whole thing spread out - from Lagos mainland to Lekki to the sand and then back to the water.
The view standing on the pedestrian bridge in Ojota is timeless. It looks like historical Lagos and today’s Lagos at the same time, looking towards Maryland or the opposite direction - Ikorodu.
Under the Marina bridge there is graffiti, most likely done by dwellers, that I would love to capture. Goodness! The things written on those pillars.
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