KURENG DAPEL: SPREADING PHOTOACTIVISM IN AFRICA WITH FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY December 26, 2020 – Posted in: photography, Showcase – Tags: Nigerian photographer, Underwater photography
I sold books at bus parks, worked as a laborer at a building site, drove a bulldozer. What have I not done before? I once attended a teenagers’ event where the speaker spoke extensively about being industrious. He said everyone was born with a talent. It didn’t sink well with me. After the event, I met him and argued that I didn’t have any talent. He didn’t seem to agree with me but advised I should keep doing everything my hands finds to do until I discover my talent. After looking around of what my possible talent could be, photography didn’t seem to be one of it. The funny thing is that my father was a photographer though. I was born in his old age. Never did I think I was ever going to inherit photography from him.
One day, I was gifted a camera. Prior to the gifting, I met a young man that introduced me to a group of young people called Jos Christian Mission International (JCMI) in Plateau state. There, I became a volunteer and worked in their media team. It was at that point that I began to fall in love with photography. Coincidentally, I also began playing around with Photoshop. I would shoot a person standing on a rock and put the image on water. It was such fun. In time, Youtube became my friend. I watched lots of videos that helped brush my talent the more. It was during an event in JCMI that I got the gift of a camera and there started the road to my world of photography.
Ironically, when I initially started photography, people took me more seriously than I ever took myself. I went into shooting models, documentary and wedding coverage. Though I was doing all these out of passion, gradually, money became a motivation for me on many levels.
Then came the underwater shoot in 2016 that launched me to bigger platforms. It was done at the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi. The picture got me an award. My intent for taking that picture was to reaffirm that the North East Nigeria was not a war zone. With that narrative attached to that picture, the picture went viral. I took another chance and went further to take another underwater shot with zero Photoshop. It won another award, African Photo Award. It gave me the opportunity to travel to Tanzania. It was there in Tanzania that I was able to define myself and the path to take in photography. As much as I would take other pictures but I wanted most of my pictures to depict the strength of motherhood. I had a project in Kenya where Rich Allela and I wanted to bring to limelight the African legendary queens like Mekatilili of Kenya. It was featured on CNN.
As strange as it might sound, I have had times of burn outs, doubts especially when you see the creativity on social media. But there is this part of me that always reminds me I went into photography for fun and money and not for competition. Despite how far I have gone, just like most photographers, we are sometimes faced with the issue of under pricing. Come to think of it, it’s gradually getting better. To give back to the society, I hold a master class where young photographers are given the right direction in their journey.
Apart from being a photographer, I see myself a digital content creator, media consultant and a fine art photographer whose work will be featured in Vogue magazine someday.