painterArtist and photographer, Kelechi Amadi, joined other creative artists to celebrate World Photography Day, which occurs on August 19th each year.
This year’s Pandemic Lockdown Through the Lens celebration was held in Lagos in partnership with an NGO working with the welfare and educational needs of teenagers, Project LEAD.
The lockdown was imposed due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and during that time many people are said to have learned the skill of photography.
The week-long event, which began August 19-26, 2022, according to Bankers Adda, an online resource, will be marked to celebrate the tremendous growth of the photography industry.
Banker Adda explained: “World Photography Day aims to motivate the young generation to choose photography as a career option. Photography brings out the talent and creativity that sometimes remain hidden and not known about. There are many subjects to learn about, such as: wildlife photography, nature photography, etc. World Photography Day 2022 can be celebrated by taking your best photo and posting it on Instagram with the hashtag #WorldPhotographyDay.”
Hosted by Project LEAD, the event brought together established photographers, YouTubers, content creators, chandlers, chefs and other creative minds to teach teens the benefits of photography and how to make a living as a creative photographer.
At the event, Amadi, describing what photography is, explained that it is “a means by which stories, ideas, places, experiences and moments are captured and preserved as memories”.
He also noted that photography is one of the means to learn about history and other facts related to the past.
“The moments are captured and remain immortal for generations. Photography is a means of expressing one’s emotions and personal expression. There is a famous saying that is rightly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes photos convey a feeling better than words.
“The photographer is a priest and a first impression changer,” he added.
He also noted that for many, photography had evolved from a hobby or passion into something that enabled them to make a living and earn a living.
“Since the early 19th century, the photographic industry has evolved and achieved milestones. Today, due to advances in camera technology, digital photography has replaced all older versions of photography,” noted Amadi.
Amadi, who also serves as Kelechi Amadi Studios’ chief executive officer, noted in an interview titled “Creativity Through the Lens,” hosted by Project LEAD founder Amaka Amalu, that he faced stiff opposition from the family and friends when he decided to venture into art.
Amadi said: “I studied law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Right is a minimum requirement in my house. I come from a family of lawyers. So my family couldn’t understand when I told them that I wanted to be an artist after law school and law school. They thought I was crazy.
“I later understood that her resistance came from a place of love and understanding. They didn’t want me to fail at what I was doing. Knowing this, I made sure my academics didn’t suffer. I came out with a second grade (Upper Division) in law from UNN and they were proud of me.
“They even encouraged me to join a law firm while I was a part-time painter and artist, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t see myself in a lawsuit or the company representing the law. I didn’t imagine it, no matter how I tried.”
Speaking about the importance of photography for him, he said: “I like to call myself a storyteller. Photography itself is a means to an end. The end is to tell stories. It’s one of the visual acts. I started dealing with fine arts at a young age. As a child I drew a lot. I was absolutely obsessed with Marvel Comics. Iron Man and Spiderman and others were all my heroes.
“I began to see the relationship between the world of fantasy and the real world. The cars on their streets didn’t look like what we see now. Yesterday’s fantasies are now today’s realities,” he said.
On his journey into art, Amadi said that he made portraits for his classmates at universities on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
“When I was in school I started using my skills because I couldn’t stop drawing. I started doing portraits at school because I loved doing it.
“The first time someone tried to give me money, I was amazed why they wanted to pay me to have fun and do what I love. I began to see that when you offer people value, they feel obligated to give you something. I can now remember charging three times what others were charging.
“But I haven’t gotten that brave. Me and some friends got together and started Shaka Zulu. By my senior year, De-Zulu had become a big brand. I figured I just had to do well, and I figured I’d be fine. But I had to leave Umuahia for Lagos.
“Lagos has a healthy arts industry. Bruce Onabrakpeya and the like were already here and they were people I looked up to as a young creative. It wasn’t easy because a lot of people didn’t understand what I was doing. People wondered how I was supposed to make a living just painting. After a while I added photography and after a while I co-founded Depth of Field,” he added.
Amadi explained that Depth of Field is a collective of Nigerian photographers, artists and painters.
“It was an initiative by a well-known Nigerian photographer, Uche Iroha, top photographer, TY Bello, Amaize Ojeikere, Emeka Okereke, Zainab Balogun and Obi, which got underway after the six artists met during an art exhibition in Bamako, Mali. ” Memories Intimes D’un Nouveau Milleanaire Ives Recontres de la Photo.”
Amadi added that the group was formed with the aim of “achieving photographic excellence by meeting regularly to encourage and critique each other’s work.”
Depth of Field organized art and photo exhibitions of her work in Nigeria and abroad.
“DOF became so popular. People didn’t think creatives could work together. We exhibited together, so we started exhibiting all over the world.
“I founded Kelechi Amadi Studios at the time. I told myself that I would take the most amazing photo in all of Africa and change the face of the African continent,” he added.
Speaking of fulfillment and photography, Amadi said: “How you live your life determines whether you are fulfilled or not. Everyone is looking for happiness. Many people have died by suicide and left a lot of money. Fulfillment is the inner joy you feel from being who you are. Your fulfillment would depend on what you do when you are awake. ”
He also spoke about the importance of books and mentoring in the life of a creative artist and photographer.
“Books contain wisdom bequeathed by our ancestors. The book rimmed everything I had in my head. It had a mixture of spiritual art and oriental philosophy. In painting, you cannot master the drawing of a thing unless you become one with that thing.
“The mentoring for me was based on the knowledge passed through the books. That was in my time. Mentoring can now be done via YouTube. People can look after you remotely. I didn’t really underchallenge anyone either in painting or in photography. I was true to myself,” he added.
Returning to Nigeria, Amadi said he did not want to lose himself in the glory bestowed on the “white man”.
“I believe this is a country full of opportunities and that I would do much better here than in Europe. I felt my skills were needed more here,” he added.
Regarding the benefits of Project LEAD, Amalu noted that the initiative focuses on educating secondary school students and helping them “discover and develop their potential for future leadership.”
“This initiative arose from the need to instill leadership in the girl in her formative years by taking her through leadership lessons, putting her in the right mentors, guiding her in career and life choices, and supporting her in every way possible so that she could start with little or no challenges to wade through corporate and business life.
“In line with our early intervention slogan, we have launched several initiatives such as Project LEAD Knowledge Session, Project LEAD Teen Leadership, Project LEAD Class Stars, Project LEAD International Day of the Girl Child Annual Conference, and Project LEAD Prevarsity Internship Programme , all designed to equip our secondary school students with the necessary skills needed to excel in their academic performance and thrive in the 21st century and in a digital world.
“The main goal of the project’s LEAD Knowledge Session is to introduce young people to different career options and basically provide them with college alternatives,” she said.
Speaking of the inspiration behind the celebration, Amalu said: “We thought of celebrating World Photography Day because we see imaging playing a role in many businesses and the whole idea is to bring professionals to help young people to understand the principles of photography and also get entrepreneurs talking about how photography has impacted their business.”
She continued: “The University Academic Staff Union has been on strike for over six months. Students and high school seniors awaiting admission have been idle for so long, leading to an increase in societal vices.
“We now live in a different world where education has moved online and young people can access e-learning platforms either for free or for a fee. Fortunately, there are many online courses that can help young people find decent job opportunities,” she added.
In the second roundtable session, moderated by Chief Executive Officer, Unbranded, Ifeoluwa Gbosi, the aim was to introduce participants to the role of photography in running a successful business.
On the podium were CLAD’s Chief Executive Officer, Eva Ovbude; the founding partners, Urban and Contemporary Architects Limited, Dolapo Falola; the CEO, Iamyeychi LLC, Onyinyechi Anozie; and the CEO of Chef Benedict Culinary Experience, Chef Benedict.
The third roundtable session, titled “The Balance: 9 to 5 and Side Gig,” discussed how those in paid employment can still pursue a side hustle in photography and other creative crafts.
The session, moderated by a Stanbic IBTC Bank Customer Experience Manager, Toluwalogo Osinubi, was attended by Assistant Manager, MTN Nigeria and Creative Director, Oyerounkeh Photography, Oyeronke George; and Project Manager Akiba and Chief Chandler at The Green Wick Company, Kike Faboro, as speakers.