Thursday, 13 October 2016

Telling The Africa Story Through The Lens Of His Camera, Charles Ofikhenual

Charles Ofikhenual is a pack of humour, that in a conversation with him you may only pass him off as one gunning to be a comedian. You wouldn't however, fail to notice that he loves moments, actions and timings that are common, but abnormal. Those moments to him, like every other moments, all have humour, I wouldn't agree less or more. To Charles, he is a story teller, telling the Africa story from his lens. In his words, "I am a concerned Africa story teller. I tell stories and express myself with images".

What do you describe as the Africa story being an Africa story teller? :  Africa story to me is the story of resilence, struggle, freedom, pride, culture and originality. Though we are losing some to foriegn influences right now. Basically stories of everyday life in the continent, how we go about our daily lifes and also how we manage our identity as human. Especially in Nigeria where I am based at the moment, were we the 'citizen of today' can not connect to our roots due to maybe yesterday's error. We tend to create our own identity base just on current happenings, trends and relevancies.   

Talking about yesterday's errors, what exactly do you mean? :  I mean selfish decisions made 'yesterday just for yesterday' by yesterday's citizens, political game played on our history education.   

So, how do those errors relate to your photography, since you're more into street photography? : Because the street has become the stage where all this come to play, it reflect all this decision. And as a concerned photographer, I want to be responsible for all the shots I click. And this means understanding the subjects. Those errors affect me as a person and the lens has become a way to express myself. 

With a lot of activities happening on the street, what informs the decision of which activity to capture? : First of all I am a story teller who uses the lens to express himself and tell stories, and the street has become the backdrop for some of my stories. When I am on the street, I look out for the unsual, the abnormal but common. 

Asides your desire to tell the Africa story, what else inspire your photography? : Alot of things inspire my photography, my own story as a person, empty spaces, story tellers and the un-normal (not sure of that word, but not abnormal) because I don't think there is anything like normal. When I say abnormal I mean the "unaccepted but common". 

Empty spaces? As an inspiration? : Yeah, spaces are victim of our actions, they can verify our type of person through our interaction within it. It forces me to think of time, position and relevancies. And also teach me a lesson or two about history. 

So, let's talk about the skills needed to go into photography? :  I think a good mind set and a camera is enough to tell good stories. 

What happens to training? : Yeah training is very necessary. Ok now I get you, you mean skills. A good eye, understanding of light, colours, pattern, time etc, an understanding of how camera operates, a good knowledge on the subject be it people, landscape, product etc little knowledge on post processing software and how to combine all these. 

What about photography or being a photographer do you find uninteresting? : As a 'photographer', I don't know how long I can hold the title but I will always be a story teller. And I might explore other medium in the future, I consider better to connect with people. 

Which Photographers do you consider the best in Nigeria? : I don't think there is a measurement system for it I know of, but, there are alot of photographers I admire so much and most of them have directly inspired me, the likes of Andrew Esiebo, Tom Saater, Charles Okereke, Jide Odukoya, my very good friend Micheal Kasmir and a thousand more.  
Where do you see your self in the next three years? : By 2019 i would have embarked on a trip across Africa and hopefully put out a show on a project I am working on. It's a study on influences and identity In Nigeria. Though it's more personally connected. It's an attempt to question influences like spirituality, religiousness, politics, foriegn cultures etc and how they construct our today's image-identity. And also as a victim of identity crisis, it is an attempt to unmask myself.

Do you mind sharing your battle with your identity? : Can we not talk about this for now, as i am not in the right state of mind to accomdate it. Maybe next time

What do you think of the photography industry in Nigeria? : I think we are progressing. With more art/photo galleries and organisation like Nlele, CCA, Alexander Academy and alot more others I think we are in the right direction, also with website like Snaphubr.com (Africa's stock imagery website) there are bigger opportunities for photographers here. 

Talk about being a contributor for snahubr.com, how did you get the deal and how has it been ever since? : Snaphubr.com is an easy and great way to earn decent income as a photographer. Basically, Snaphubr.com is a stock site, a digital marketplace where people can sell and buy high quality Africa images and also hire photographers. To become a contributor is very simple go to snaphubr.com, click SELL to register for free with facebook, google or email I'd, then UPLOAD images. As for me Snaphubr.com is a great avenue to make money as a photographer, because photography is not cheap at all and as  photographers we take photographs everyday and we post them on social media for free or stuck them on hard drives but the truth is, it's better generating income than just sit in our file storage cabinets. 

Your role models? : Alot of them but to mention a few; Andrew Esiebo- one of Africa greatest photographer and the most humbled soul I have ever met, my Uncle, Rev George Ehusani. And internationally Steve Mccury, Benjamin Von Wong, Devin Supertramp and a hundred more. 
Charles in some behind the scenes moment

What other areas are you most likely going to explore in the nearest future? : Cinema, Motion photography, And body performance like Dance and stage work, Theatre stage.

Your words to other budding photographers? : My last words to budding photographers is keep learning, learn the right thing from the right person, at the right time and again "there is nothing like normal". Have fun listening to Vector Tha Viper, Falz, Johny Drills, watch Akpororo and  Craze clown comedy, watch Pogba new tricks.

Images captured by Charles.
The NUT Artist

The Back of the Mind

The Fisher Man

Ramon the Apprentice, Badagry

When is your turn? When is tomorrow?



2 comments:

  1. Deep-rooted philosophy Charles. I imagine those who look deeper find much less. Identity is highly overrated - like looking into a pair of mirrors placed opposite each other. "There is no normal" - wise words!

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