After Dancing Left Their Eyeshttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/nk1.jpg?fit=1920%2C1440&ssl=119201440Nnebuifé KwubéiNnebuifé Kwubéihttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/kwubeireal.jpg?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
Much of Issue 11’s look, including its cover, is the work of young photographer Nnebuifé Kwubéi, a student in Benin City, Nigeria. He is proof that photography is made from the artist behind the camera, and not the camera itself. His gallery below, entitled ‘News From Home’, is a stunning reflection of human emotion portrayed in rich blacks and grays. The poses, settings, and expressions linger in a state of haunting nuance, beauty, and desperation.
We spoke briefly with Nnebuifé about his creative process:
B: What was your first camera and how did you acquire it?
N: I have never used a camera. I started taking pictures with a Lenovo phone I got in my second year in school. I switched to a Tecno Camon last year. I’m using an IPhone now.
B: What inspired you to take up photography?
N: I stumbled upon the works of Ayobami Ogungbe on Instagram. He did an amazing project with his phone during his service year and that inspired me to start taking photographs with my phone. I’ve been using my phone ever since.
B: What kind of gear do you use now?
N: I use an iPhone 6s and patterned fabrics.
B: Your style is very distinctive. How did it evolve and how would you describe it?
N: I am interested in black and white photography. I study the works of other black and white photographers and learn from them. As to the question of how my style evolved, I can’t really say. Every time I have a collaboration or a shoot, I try different things. It’s sometimes unconscious. I guess it’s from the people I study. I like August Udoh’s photographs. I learn from his page. Ayobami Ogungbe is my friend now and I love his works. He has taught me a lot. Jonathan Chambalain is a photographer I admire. I follow a lot of photographers. I learn from them. Somehow, I unconsciously merge what I learn with what I read and I guess that’s what people see as my style. I’m really grateful to the photographers that put their works out there. It’s a big platform for young photographers like myself to learn from.
B: Light and shadow are prominent in your work, as is texture. Is there a particular technique you employ to get the effect you desire?
N: Natural light is the best light. I shoot in semi closed spaces with openings for light to enter. I also shoot in the afternoon. 12pm-3pm. When the sun is usually bright. I use fabrics sometimes. I have been really lucky to have good models that indulge me in my imaginations. I’m grateful for them.
B: This gallery in particular is a remarkable reflection on African life and culture. Talk to us about this collection. What do you want people to see in it? What does it mean to you?
N: All my photographs are deeply rooted in my environment. The people around me and their stories. I’m a story teller. I want people to first of all understand that you can do a lot from the small things you have and then, there’s the matter of art in every form you can imagine. I want people to see the stories of the humans I meet everyday. My photographs mean a lot to me. The thing about the series in this publication is that I did most of them when I wasn’t sure if I could call myself a photographer or not. I’m sure of what I am now but these photographs started the process.
B: Whose work has influenced you or whose work do you admire?
N: Ayobami Ogungbe influenced my work. He still influences them. I study August Udoh’s photographs. I met Chibuike Uzoma in school and he handed me one of his portfolios. It was an honor for me. He taught me a lot. Kamnelechukwu and Charles Merit are wonderful photographers. I’ve been studying their works too.