Magazine article New African

Nigeria's Lensman: The Lagos-Based Photographer Adolphus Opara Is One of Nigeria's Finest Young Photographers. New African Asked Him to Supply Some Images of the Country for This Nigeria at 50 Report, and Spoke to Stephen Williams about His Work

Magazine article New African

Nigeria's Lensman: The Lagos-Based Photographer Adolphus Opara Is One of Nigeria's Finest Young Photographers. New African Asked Him to Supply Some Images of the Country for This Nigeria at 50 Report, and Spoke to Stephen Williams about His Work

Article excerpt

ALTHOUGH ADOLPHUS OPARA was originally from Imo State in eastern Nigeria, he spent most of his childhood in Lagos. Having completed his studies, he worked as a curator at the Nimbus Art Centre Gallery in Lagos between 2002 and 2005 and as a result of his interaction with both local and international artists, one of whom was the photographer Douglas Kirkland, he started taking photographs. "In fact, I bought my first film camera, a Canon EOS 1000 in November 2005 and started shooting not long afterwards," he recalls. "I used the film camera for about six months, basically because I needed to discipline myself and not be carried away with the freedom of working with a digital camera."

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One of his earliest mentors was the photographer George Osodi who gave him some pointers and provided some advice, although Opara describes himself as self-taught. "All sorts of subjects interest me, provided they have a human angle," he explains. "I am always influenced by those people around me. I enjoy getting to know people and that has made most of my projects possible. My subjects could range from religious to economic and social issues!"

But Opara has not restricted himself to just photographing Lagos. With his camera he has travelled all around the country and estimates he has photographed at least 28 of Nigeria's states. "I have also photographed in neighbouring Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal," he adds. There has also been a trip to Zambia for this well-travelled lensman.

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"My images fall between reportage and artistic documentary," he says. "Later in my career, I trained as a photojournalist, but I still have an art background having worked at the Nimbus Art Centre Gallery."

I was curious to ask Opara just how he goes about working, whether he just carries a camera everywhere he goes or scouts around and then returns to snap. "Yes, very often I will scout first and then return with my cameras, but I also conceptualise new stories I want to do and then 1 look for the images for that story. Most of my projects have a storyboard to work to. …

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