Embracing the Strength in Vulnerability with Niyi Okeowo

I love observing society and kind of infusing it into my work, how people behave and relate with each other.

A portrait of Ifeoma Nwobu  © Niyi Okeowo

Photography portrays people and their surroundings as they are in the photographer's eye, and serves as a way to tell stories to the viewer. If you have been paying attention, you have probably already seen Niyi's work everywhere as some of the most influential artists, creatives, and musicians have been in front of his lens over the past few years. Niyi Okeowo, born Okeowo Adeniyi Mohammed, gave a few moments of his time to answer the Seven Foto Questions.

[I was] raised by grandparents who were willing to let me be myself and explore different interests early on. I am inspired by society and human interactions, I love observing society and kind of infusing it into my work, how people behave and relate with each other. Also inspired by emotions, which is why my favorite types of photography are Documentary and Portraiture.

A portrait of Ambrose Tjark  © Niyi Okeowo


When and how did you start taking photos?

Sometime around 2009 with my mum's camera (can't remember the brand), but it was a point and shoot camera with zoom features. Mostly out of curiosity and boredom.



This is a part of Seven Foto Questions, a series of interviews with photographers answering the same questions about how they each came into their craft.




What is your favorite photo, and the story behind it?

Back when I used to shoot for Guardian Life in 2016, I was asked to shoot [Burna Boy] and it was very exciting and spontaneous, but for some odd reason, we were still missing our main cover shot. Like 1hr and 30mins into the shoot, he got a call from Ooni of Ife or someone on that level (can't really remember, but I know the person was a high-ranking member of royalty) and while he was on the call, our stylist Henry Uduku suggested I take pictures of him while he was on the phone, and it turned out to be one of the best images I ever shot. You could already see traces of the person he would turn out to be 3 years later.

Burna Boy for Guardian Life  © Niyi Okeowo

What do you want to convey with your photographs?

Emotions.. I am really big on showing human emotions in my portraits, I want people to predict what my subject was feeling when I was shooting them. I love showing vulnerability too, I believe there is strength in being vulnerable, especially in front of a camera.


Can you use one theme to describe your work?

Intentional.


What do you consider a “good” photo?

50% Storytelling / Context + 50% Composition / Framing.


If there is one thing you want your audience to know about you, what would it be?

I am very sentimental.



All photos by © Niyi Okeowo