In a bid to inspire boldness in budding photographers and aspiring street artists so that they can find focus and create a professional niche for themselves, a group of photographers led by a 24-year-old documentary photographer, Eti-Inyene Akpan, took to the streets of Lagos for a photo walk, to exhibit professionalism in photography and encourage others by using pictures to tell stories of peculiar places in Lagos.
The two-day walk across areas in Lagos was his way of inspiring boldness in budding photographers and pushing them to overcome their fears and allow their creativity free reign.
Akpan’s dream of a photo walk was born out of a vision to highlight the challenges faced by documentary photographers in Nigeria based on his experiences and concerns raised by fellow budding street photographers. He decided it was time for the naissance of Photo Waka; a platform basically focused on delivering boldness to the street artists by taking professionals round the nooks and crannies of Lagos to serve as inspiration to others.
“It’s my first time organizing a street photowalk and we already have more than 50 participants on board and more are still begging to join because I had to push it online that registration has closed. It was a free photo walk and so many people told me to come to their locations in different states around the nation. So, we plan of doing it nationwide by God’s grace,” he said.
The photo walk which took place between July 7 and 8 was initially planned for ten participants, but under 24 hours, more than 60 people had signed up for the adventure of Photo Waka and a the willingness to brave the streets of Lagos.
The photo walk had the trappings of an adventure as heavy rains did not allow the participants gather at the scheduled location for takeoff and the walk consequently started from different locations before moving to the main location which had already raised concerns from social media followers and fellow photographers who felt the Oshodi metropolis, famous for its ruggedness, was no place for an army of novice photographers.
But Eti-Inyene didn’t bulging, Oshodi had been intentionally selected by the Photo Waka team for its richness in content: a place full of history told and untold. Convening at the famous Oshodi bridge, the first Photo Waka team dispersed to capture with their lenses, the stories their eyes meant to be heard by the world.
The success of the premier edition of Photo Waka according to Eti-Inyene, will be concluded by the exhibition of photos taken by the participants with their permission and Eti-Inyene is determined to leave his photography army with a emphatic and important magma: communication.
Recounting a skin-crawling experience with about zehn marijuana-smoking youths while trying to capture a unique picture of the famous Third Mainland Bridge, Eti-Inyene would credit his ease with these youths to communication. According to him, the fears most street photographers experience is triggered by stereotypical stories of a community and people in general.
“Communication however, with a prospective subject, gives room for ease, flow of the histoire and sincerity of the photo shots. With the ear-warming magma, the Photo Waka participants pushed into the streets of Oshodi: fearlessly, and with the insatiable thirst for discovering stories in a community full of mysteries, past, present and future,’ he explained.
Testimonies is already flooding in from participants, thanking Eti-Inyene and the Photo Waka team for the photo walks experience as well as the life lessons in communication and inter-personal relationship. And since the intention behind the exercise focuses on giving back to the community, the proceeds will go to charity: spreading the love of story-telling, attention to details, kindness and the search for humanity to the community.
The photo walk had sponsors like Cool Cane Juice which supplied participants with sugarcane juice during the walk while they also had cup cakes from a cake company and bottled water from another sponsor just to make their experience interesting while Eti-Inyene had logistic support from another photographer, Grace Okogwu
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