Emmanuel in a Conversation with Jumoke on her project “Photo 4 U”

Posted: November 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Photo 4 U project II, Abuja (by Jumoke Sanwo)

Emmanuel Iduma: So basically I’ll like to know what your project is about, what you will like to do, simply.

Jumoke Sanwo: My personal project is called ‘Photo for you’ and it is basically me going around photographing people and also having them have a copy of the photograph taken. Because, usually when you go out on this kind of project you find that you photograph people but then you leave them and they don’t have any copy or any image to remember the process. So, what this project is all about is just about sharing instant images with people and I am doing this by using a Polaroid camera which is like an instant camera. The plan is actually to take people with the instant camera first and after that is developed I take them afterward with the digital camera holding the picture that was taken with the instant camera. And this will probably be the pictures that I will showcase for exhibitions or things later, but at the same time sharing the image by giving them a copy of the picture that was taken.

So I started the project on 8 November by going around; I went to a village called Durumi, and it is a village in Abuja where there are predominantly workers, mechanics, food vendors, farmers, and things like that. I started the project with them, because I intend to do 45 pictures which depict our journey. It is like 45 pictures, 45 people on this trip.

I got two subjects today. The first person I photographed was a mechanic who repairs tricyles, what we call ‘NAPEP’ (Keke NAPEP). I approached him and told him that I would like to photograph him and he obliged me. I did first a Polaroid of him after which I had him pose for a digital shot of that and as I was doing this, this lady (second subject) saw what I was doing and approached me and asked me what I was trying to do. I explained to her what the project was about and she said she’ll like to pose as well. I took her on.

Seriously, the effect was amazing; I actually wish I wanted to do a lot more because every other person was interested in being photographed. Unfortunately, because I have limited exposures to work with I just told them that I will take their photos using a digital camera and just showed them the picture. So that basically is it.

Photo 4 U project I, Abuja (by Jumoke Sanwo)

Emmanuel Iduma: I am equally interested in where this project is going. One of the things that is interesting to me is that this is a trip across certain parts of Africa – I mean the trip that is instigating this project or the trip in which you will be fulfilling this project. At the end of our journey, when you’ve given 45 people these pictures, what kind of thing do you think will be happening in this space called Africa as regards those people? If you had the luxury of giving a million people these pictures, what do you think you would have achieved? And then, what do you think is the lesson we can learn from this project as a group of people who exist within this space?

Jumoke Sanwo: What I think I will achieve from this project is that [I hope that] by this simple action, I have made this person a happier person. I just realize that in life simple things make people happy, things that you don’t even think that matter… And I think that if I had the opportunity to do a million pictures it is, first of all, for history. If they look at the pictures taken over a couple of years, there is a record that this guy existed at some point in Abuja, in Durumi village, and he was a mechanic.

Secondly, what I intend to do is to tell a story of Africa, but I am not exploiting this people. I am not making them look malnourished, I am just taking photographs of them and giving them their pictures. It is just a simple thing. I hope that, yeah, if possible, I will like to do more of this. You will realize that across the continent – which is where we are getting to at the end of 45 days – we are all the same.

Photo 4 U Project V, Abuja (by Jumoke Sanwo)
Photo 4 U Project IV, Abuja (by Jumoke Sanwo)

You can refer to Jumoke’s blog for a more intimate and detailed take on her subjects during the  Invisible Borders road trip : jumokeshotme.blogspot.com

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