Before becoming Nigeria’s veteran documentary filmmaker in the footage he is today, ‘Dayo Adedayo started out as a social event, then a portrait photographer capturing weddings, events, big societal wigs to boredom and the desire to challenge negative images and narratives about Nigeria. directed him towards the vocation of his life.
Eighteen years after his plunge into documentary photography, he has published fifteen photo books on Nigeria and several states, including his two bestsellers Nigeria 2.0 and Yoruba Proverbs, and soon photo books on Abuja and Rivers State, among others. .
His work has taken him through 774 local governments and over 50 countries. Its images are watermarked on the Nigeria ePassport and adorn the 2014 N100 banknote produced to mark Nigeria’s centenary.
What is documentary photography?
Documentary photography is the act of documenting a particular subject. You might want to document a day in your life and have someone follow you through the day to document it. Maybe I want to go and document the life of a rabbit. Usually this involves documenting a particular topic. We use it to chronicle things or events, or an environment, that are relevant.
We all take photos, but while it’s just a photo while you’re taking it, tomorrow it’s not a photo anymore, it’s a document because it can be used in court. For example, maybe you and I are together now and someone is taking our random picture. Your photos have what’s called metadata, which shows the time, date and day, etc., the photo was taken. And this can be viewed even in our mobile phone. A year later, someone says that Dayo committed a murder at this exact moment when we were together, when I was not at the place where the murder took place. This photo is now evidence that will be presented in court, the metadata of which will be investigated as evidence that Dayo was not at the scene of the murder. You see, it is no longer an image but a document. This is what documentary photography does. It is about recording events and documenting problems. Instead of using the word document, we use the word recording. So I register Nigeria.
Tools for documentary photography include education. I am an advocate for education. No matter what you do for a living, try to get an education (or training on the subject). Even if you are new to photography, try to educate yourself on the subject. Don’t say, “I can take pictures, so I’m a photographer now.” No. “Once you are trained in your art or craft, it’s a whole different ball game. And the way you would create what you do will be different. All you need is your own. brain.
The second tool is read. Read, read and read. There can never be too much reading. Reading broadens your mind, broadens your horizon, and allows you to see things from different angles.
What are the opportunities inherent in documentary photography?
The opportunities are huge, because we haven’t even started to scratch the surface of documentary photography opportunities. For example, typical Nigerian cuisine, culture, etc., these are things that we can document or record photographically. The only problem there is the capital to do the work, because no one will give you the money to do it and create a body of work. Unfortunately, people take a photo or two and call it documentary photography. You have to have a corpus or a serious corpus to show that you are at the level of a documentary photograph. But the most difficult aspect is the outflow of capital to do the job. Because while you are doing this you have to figure out how to feed yourself and take care of your logistics. Where it will come from, I don’t know. I’m no expert in trading, but you have to find a way to do what you have to do.
How are Nigerians positioned to take advantage of these opportunities?
You can do whatever is legal to make money. You can become a worker, bus driver, or taxi driver just to raise capital. You don’t have to do anything fishy to get started. Let me put it this way, most people who shout “No, jobs” are unemployable. There are so many jobs available, but you can’t find the right people to do them. There are opportunities in the construction industry right now, but people don’t want to get their hands dirty. But people don’t want to get their hands dirty, they think life is a piece of cake where you can make money easily. Get your hands dirty doing a legitimate job or job to make money and once you’ve done that you’ve got your story. We all have our stories of struggles to tell. We are not all born with silver spoons. Go out and get your money rightfully. Because everything you do in life will come back to haunt you. If you do something illegal it will come back to haunt you. It is then that you will know that there is karma.
With the capital in hand, the next step is to get the equipment and training. Thank goodness for the technology. The current generation of Nigerians are very lucky. We weren’t so lucky. They have the Internet and YouTube to search for whatever they want. Anything you want to do, you can get it on the Internet. Then get the equipment. And you don’t have to get the best. It’s like buying a pot for N1million and another for N1000. If you can’t cook, your N1million casserole cannot cook for you. And you don’t have to get the best, because it’s not your camera that takes the picture, but your brain. It’s the images you put into the camera that help you get what you’re looking for.