Deji Dada (b. 1993)
What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?
People, architecture, landscapes, festivals and sneakers.
Describe your photographic style.
I always struggle to describe my photographic style. To be honest, I don’t think I really can. If anything, my style pertains to whatever catches my eye – be it a serene landscape or an unsymmetrical beauty spot on a face. I love film photography. I find it exciting to put an idea on a roll and have to wait until it gets developed to see how the idea actually comes out. I like to think of the waiting aspect as the ‘green light’ at the end of Daisy’s dock.
Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?
Photography has sprouted so many different avenues in my life; from shooting for fun, to shooting for guest-list to see my favourite local and international musicians perform, to co-founding a South African online magazine, Our Friends. Amidst all of this, becoming an influence in the lives of friends and acquaintances. I’ve found that strutting through your favoured medium can help plant a seed in another person’s mind. This can enable them to create some kind of cultured turbulence through the use of their favoured medium.
Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a shot, and your approach to a new body of work?
I quite enjoy shooting familiar things; objects or people as if it’s my first time doing so. I like to throw away any form of experience I might have as I feel it may limit me. Perspective generally plays a large role in a photographer’s viewpoint but I feel it can be limiting too. I don’t think there is a right way to take a ‘good photo’. It’s not always necessarily all about the way perspective plays out in the photo, it’s how you feel while you’re taking the photo. I don’t have a certain technique to get my artistic point across, it all comes to mind in the moment. Thus, perspective plays a continuously changing role in my photography.
Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?
Photography is my side-chick. It’s given me a platform to make money whilst having fun and testing how far my creative boundaries go. If I’m not shooting, I’m working full-time at a business incubator called Awethu Project or co-managing Our Friends.
What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock.
My first camera was a Sony Cybershot which belonged to my mother. My sister and I used to bounce it between each other, then I moved on to a little compact SLR, an Olympus E-PL1, followed by a Canon Rebel T2i. I now spend my time with a Canon EOS 300, Nikkormat FT2 and a Voigtlander Vitoret DR.
Growth is important for any artistic craft. How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your work?
Progress is a key motivator for me. Looking back at where I’ve come from and attempting to be mindful of where I thought I would be really encourages me. Being surrounded by innovative creatives who are continuously pushing past the threshold also encourages me. I just wish to tell stories and envelop others’ imaginations.
What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.
I started shooting with film when I truly started taking photography seriously. Dennis Auburn‘s work really captivates and sets off bursts of colour in my mind. Cary Fagan is another photographer that has always been able to inspire the way I see inanimate objects. A few other photographers that occasionally make me feel like putting my camera down forever include; Savannah Van der Niet, Erez Avissar, Duran Levinson, Nikki Zakkas, Andile Buka and Roman Spillman.
What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)
I quite enjoy blogging, hoarding sneakers and spending time with friends and family. I also seem to spend quite a bit of my time exploring the internet in search of music I can send to my friends in order to maintain long distant relationships.
Any tips for aspiring film photographers?
Understand what you’re shooting and why you’re shooting it. Be able to get people to see exactly what you see. Never be fully content of your work so you can always strive to improve it.
What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?
At the moment I’m looking at collaborating with a couple photographers around both South Africa and America. (Once completely formalised you’ll be the first to know!) I will be travelling to New York in April and attempting to photograph the city in ways that aren’t generic to the general Manhattan-infatuated human being.
Do you have a specific series or body of work that sums up your portfolio best?
If I had to choose a word that sums up my portfolio best it would be ‘disjointed’. I can’t help but love taking photos of everything. I feel as though every photographer has their own personal way of expressing themselves – I like things. However, I do try to look for an ease, minimalism and depth of feelings to create the sensation of cosiness in the human eye.
All photos by Deji Dada
DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.