The Future Awards Africa Prize for Photography endowed by Canon
Chidi ‘Lex ash’ Ashimole (27)
To understand Chidi ‘Lexash’ Ashimole transition into photography is to watch grace in motion. Since he went professional in 2014, Ashimole has concerned himself only with improvement in photography, challenging himself by working in various conditions and mediums and experimenting with documentary photography, fashion photography, product photography and as at 2018, Wedding photography.
In 2018, his efforts were rewarded with co-sign by some of the most respected fashion magazines working today. He was invited by the Guaranty Trust Bank Fashion Weekend to photograph mega star Burnaboy for their 2018 magazine and also shot editorials on androgyny for Blanck Digital Magazine. His work includes editorials for some of the country’s most innovative design labels and most interesting celebrities. With all of this access and recognition, Ashimole remains unfazed, choosing instead to let his work find its own voice in the rabble of amateur and professional photography we are bombarded with.
Ashimole’s work as a retoucher has also been recognized by global photographer platform VSCO cam, and his photography presets have become an underground collector’s item among emerging fashion photographers. There’s much for Ashimole to achieve, which is impressive considering the ground he has already managed to cover in such a short time.
Tope ‘Tope-Horpload’ Adenola (29)
Because of the very competitive nature of creative disciplines, it is quite common to find creators hoard their experiences, skills and equipment and downplay their failures to project a false aura of invulnerability. Tope ‘Horpload’ Adenola has no such compulsions. He has dedicated his career as a photographer introducing photography as a medium of expression to new audiences through mentorship, physical training and virtual workshops.
But that doesn’t mean Adenola’s career as a professional portrait photographer is suffering in any way. On the contrary, Adenola has become one of the most coveted photographers in the country, especially renowned for his lavish staging for wedding and portrait photography. His clientele includes Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Ice Prince and Mo’Cheddah, Munachi Abii, Ric Hassani and Big Brother 3 finalists Khloe and Alex. He has also expanded into videography and graphic design to allow him properly curate the perfect photographic experience for his clients.
Tope ‘Horpload’ Adenola cares about expanding the community of photography and advocates for skill sharing among working photographers. He believes the sky is big enough for everyone.
Fati Abubakar (32)
“Documentation of African stories is very important. We need to capture African present-day realities,” she says. “We are losing our cultures to modernity. Hence, we also have to preserve our heritage. Millennials have been introduced to new forms of culture and those are slowly erasing old traditions. And that is disturbing.”
This is how Fatima Abubakar explains her motivation for embracing photography as a medium of expression. She was one of the vanguard of female photographers who picked up their cameras and went towards the fighting when the rest of Nigeria fled from the terrorized Borno State, eager to ignore the chaos altogether. Abubakar took it upon herself to show that even in the heart of the violence, the humanity of the crisis worst-hit victims remained intact, and even thrived. This was the inspiration behind her personal photography project “Bits of Borno”, that showcases Abubakar’s home state in the wake of the destruction from Boko Haram and documents the stories of victims, survivors, former captives and their families. It has become an invaluable resource in understanding the day to day living situation in a highly destabilized region and offers hope for restitution.
Abubakar uses her camera to preserve the culture and history of Nigeria’s town and cities, choosing to show an unbiased viewing of these cities, and highlight problems at the community level through her photography. If the medium’s true purpose to reveal to us our true selves, Abubakar has become its biggest champion.
Damilola Onafuwa (27)
Not everyone is convinced that documentary photographer isn’t played out. Even the masters of the genre have come under fire in recent times for their ‘biased’ reporting of several impoverished regions and their unaddressed biases when they turn their cameras on ‘subjects’. Damilola Onafuwa, a Nigerian photographer with a focus on travel and documentary photographer has contemplated this through his work, his entire professional career.
As an in-demand documentary photographer regularly contracted by multi-national companies, Onafuwa’s work is often detached from the lived realities and focused on projecting the image the clients demand, but his excellent eye for a perfect shot and his professionalism have kept him in the employ of these firms. But he also has a distinct point of view which he has privately explored, working for a few months to compile is the first solo exhibition, Angels Among Men, a documentary series that highlights the pervasive but unique problems persons living with Albinism have to deal with in Nigeria.
He is a documentary photographer who has worked for different multi-national companies and countries across Africa. His brand of photography highlights often overlooked aspects of human lives, and in line with this, he held his first exhibition titled “Angels Among Men” which showcases the lives of albinos in Nigeria.
Onafuwa’s preoccupation with capturing and understanding the human condition through photography has solidified his position as a creative to watch and take him across the world. That’s the power of true talent.
Emmanuel Oyeleke (30)
There are few Nigerian photographers as decorated as Emmanuel Oyeleke. This is a direct consequence of his excellent work ethic, his commitment to personal and professional growth and his willingness to impart knowledge to others through mentorship and education. Oyeleke has the rare privilege of being an official photographer for the GTB Food and Drink Festival and the GTB Fashion Weekend, while also co-ordinating masterclasses on photography for the organization in Lagos and Abuja, reaching about 200 photography enthusiast in each region.
Oyeleke’s professional portfolio is just as impressive counting just about every major magazine in the country, editorials for some of the country’s most distinguished designers including Deola Sagoe, Ejiro Amos Tafiri Chidinma Obairi, Keem Harun, Meena, Grey Velvet, Orange Culture and Alter Ego Lagos. He also is a master as beauty photography collaborating with major Nigerian owned beauty brands Zaron Cosmetics, BMPro, Tao Cosmetics to name a few.
Oyeleke organizes masterclasses and workshops in partnership with non-profits across the country and continues to preach the gospel of photography as a tool for empowering youths and imparting knowledge.