October Photographer of the Month: Lola Akinmade
As our wandering educators know, we are always trying to feature artists and writers in a variety of ways. One of the best things about publishing Wandering Educators is finding the coolest new (and talented) people. This month's Photographer of the Month is just one of those very cool and talented people, and I am honored to introduce her - Lola Akinmade. She is an extraordinary photographer, a painter, a cartoonist, a writer, and the Editor of Matador Goods. Matador Goods is part of the Matador Network, the world’s first interactive magazine. Matador Network is an excellent resource that’s cutting edge and continually reinventing itself.
New citizen, Baltimore, Maryland
Lola is Nigerian-born, and has several degrees. Her work has appeared on National Geographic Traveler's Intelligent Travel and National Geographic's Your Shot. SHe's also contributed to many travel sites, including Travel Channel's World Hum, Sherman's Travel, GoNOMAD, The Away Network, Transitions Abroad, and of course the Matador Network.
Lola is also involved with several NGOs, including World Hope International and CHIEF.
As you can see, Lola has her hand in quite a few pots - and is doing it all remarkably.
What attracted me to Lola's photography is her search for humanity, her views of travel, and her excellent eye for composition and color. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Lola - she's an amazing woman. Here's what she had to say...
WE: How did you get interested in photography?
LA: As a painter, I’d initially gotten into photography as a way of capturing beautiful landscapes and scenery during my travels so I could paint them in oil on canvas later. Then I gradually noticed that the additional step of transforming them into something else was no longer mandatory.
Bored women, Nigeria
WE: How long have you been a photographer?
LA: I didn’t seriously get into photography until just two years ago. I’d always had film-based point and shoot cameras until I bought my first SLR camera which was a refurbished Minolta. Since then, it’s been a process of trial, error, and growth as I slowly began to hone the body language I needed to connect with people during my travels. Last month, my reliable Nikon D40 was replaced with a gift of a Nikon D300 so I’m looking forward to more exciting photography.
Jumping for joy, Oxford, England
WE: What is your favorite place to photograph? Subject?
LA: I love people. I love capturing the lighter side of human emotion – elation, joy, humor, faith, hope, peace, love, etc – in vibrant, vivid color. There are tons of amazing photographers out there who capture raw, primal human emotion which helps educate and enlighten us about the world. And then there are photographers who paint people as just overly-processed, black and white caricatures of sorrow, suffering, and immerse pain, which sometimes dehumanizes people.
Even in the darkest of times, there are always those fleeting moments of absolute faith, hope and happiness in our lives.
Those moments are what I love to capture when photographing people.
Kids sitting on cow, Cambodia
WE: How difficult is it to take film on travels? Or does one really need to be all digital?
LA: After returning from an exciting trip to Scandinavia, covering Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, I couldn’t wait to get the pictures developed. A couple days later, all I remember was staring in horror when blank prints were handed back to me. Seven rolls of film had been damaged by the x-ray machine at the airport. Since then, I haven’t touched film and now carry a Nikon Digital SLR (DSLR) camera on my travels. Nothing against film-based photography, but digital cameras are a lot more convenient for travel photography.
Kings Palace, Cambodia
WE: Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
LA: Sensitivity to cultural norms is key when photographing people. In 2000, a Japanese tourist was killed - by a mob in a Guatemalan market for photographing children. Always secure the parent’s or guardian’s permission first before approaching their children. Some Middle Eastern countries are highly protective of their women so use caution when approaching women in burhkas.
Elder, Takeo, Cambodia
Here are links to a couple articles I’ve written regarding photographing people
Travel Photography: Connecting with People
More articles - http://akinmade.com/articles/
Villager, Krang Yaw, Cambodia
Mommy's boy, Cambodia
Nigerian Wedding, Sweden
WE: What other projects are you involved with?
LA: I love working with NGOs. I’ve traveled with World Hope International - to Nicaragua and Cambodia as a volunteer photojournalist, documenting their ongoing projects and writing observatory pieces. I hope to volunteer a lot more with them.
Community Health Information Education Forum (C.H.I.E.F) - is a very small, grassroots NGO in Nigeria that promotes grassroots health development, HIV/AIDS awareness, and the empowerment of women. I volunteer as their webmaster and photojournalist.
Attending class, Krang Yaw, Cambodia
Election, Krang Yaw, Cambodia
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
LA: Put the camera down once in a while. Interact and engage with locals during your travels. Some experiences need to remain within your heart and soul and not always commemorated in pictures.
Villager, Krang Yaw, Cambodia
Brothers, Krang Yaw, Cambodia
WE: Thanks so much, Lola! Your photos and work are very inspiring.
For more information, please see: http://lolaakinmade.com/
For her comic strip, called “Office Supplies – The Comic” (which centers around everyday office supplies and their take on life), please see http://www.officesuppliescomic.com
To purchase her photographs, please leave a note for her on the guestbook of her site.
Young Girl, Cambodia
All photos courtesy and copyright of Lola Akinmade.