Documentary photography in our home country of Nigeria has been dimysified into mere black and white photos of slums for Instagram.
Shamefully, this misconception greatly undervalues the importance of this photography form.
Generally one may interpret photography as a form of basically preserving memories. In extension, the art form of photography together with creativity form the greater goal for modern-day photography types.
Portrait photography, nature, wedding, editorial shoots, headshots and other forms of photography, rely on creativity and beauty in creating images.
While the same can be said of documentary photography, this photography form does not rely on beauty in conveying real life stories of real people.
Despite it’s seeming importance, documentary photography has not fully found a place of respect in the Nigerian photography field. According to documentary photographer Etin-Inyene Akpan, this may be attributed to the initial difficulty in income making this photography type is known for.
Not blaming this belief because it is in fact true, platforms like Photo Waka ng provides opportunities for budding documentary photographers.
Like all revolutions, it will be no surprise when more Nigerian documentary photographers love their photography form more. Truly, this welcome idea is refreshing. However, there still lies some problems:
The Nigerian scene while accepting documentary photography, still stubbornly executes documentary photographers now and then.
Doc photographers have recounted horrible experiences with men of the force, harassing and bullying as they carry out their art. Street touts, unfriendly residents, and scary neighbourhoods remain unforgiving for unlucky doc photographers.
It is not harmful to wonder when the Nigerian environment will fully integrate documentary photographers as we expect progress in the field.
But can Nigerians truly go beyond the cynicism associated with documentary photographers? Perhaps we will, perhaps not. One thing is for sure though, the conscious niche that is documentary photography is here to stay.
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Image Credits: Photo Waka ng, Lagos