“It’s about you, not the camera”
Nigerian photographer Badè Fuwa is a relative newcomer to the world of photography and only picked up a camera around two years ago. Nonetheless, his portfolio is both mature and extensive and is a testament to his years studying and working in fashion.
Photography helped Fuwa process the tremendous grief he felt at the loss of his mother when he was at a young age. He tells DIYP more about how he channelled his grief into his art and created this immense body of work in such a short time.
DIYP: Can you tell us a little about you, your photography, and how you started?
Badè: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where I still live and work. I came from a small family where everything was done with so much love and chaos. One of the things I valued so much about my childhood was the love of my mother. Losing her in my early twenties really affected me as a person.
It made me see the world differently, it made me see people differently. That’s what pushed me towards photography, to express that grief, that pain. I think that was what got me started in photography.
DIYP: Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any recurring themes in your photography?
Badè: I find inspiration from stories about my past, present, and things that affect me. It’s the things I think about…memories sometimes, or it could be a dream. I find inspiration in just being alive as a person, but generally, I am drawn to beauty.
DIYP: You say that you’re inspired by beauty, can you elaborate on your interpretation of beauty? Is it different from the conventional concept that we are all used to seeing in fashion magazines for example?
Badè: The first time I actually got the concept of what beauty was, was when I saw my mom doing her chemotherapy session. I think during her second session, her hair began to fall out, and I just had to be strong for her to show that she was a really beautiful person and make her feel happy. It made me realize that the things we usually consider beautiful, like hair and body size, are unimportant.
Although my mother was sick, I could just see her for what she really was. So nowadays, when I see women, I see them for what they really are. My mother taught me to be kind to everybody, to always show love and not to be judgmental towards people.
I try not to judge the beauty of a person. I try to remove the conventional way people see beauty and express it in my personal story.
DIYP: How has your experience in fashion influenced your photography?
Badè: My experience in fashion made me pay attention to details in my photography. It made me realize that everything is important, and needless things can actually distract you from the focus of the image.
So one of the things I learned while in fashion school was that. And to me, I think it’s actually very helpful.
DIYP: What do you like to photograph the most? If you could only shoot one subject for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Badè: It would probably be a tree or a lonely house. A very old abandoned house like the old houses we have here. Or maybe an abandoned train or an abandoned graveyard. Things that have been left alone are things I really would love to photograph.
DIYP: That’s interesting that you’re drawn to photographing abandoned places, do you see any parallels with your current work on grief?
Badè: I feel like how we were born into this world, each of us is going to die alone. Even when I see friends, I still feel very much alone. When I say abandoned places, it could be a dog alone in the living room, for example. Just the way we value things as humans, other than the idea of craving for attention and love.
So it’s just why I just feel drawn to those things, because it is a similar experience for my own personal life, since I’ve lost my mom, I just feel kind of alone.
DIYP: What challenges have you experienced on your road to becoming a photographer?
Badè: My first photography session was an outside shoot in Lagos, Nigeria, and I got beat up by the local police. And since then I just had this crazy inspiration. You have to be on your A-game anytime you’re shooting outdoors in Lagos, Nigeria because anything can happen at any point.
You have to be very careful, and very vigilant, so it’s really challenging just shooting outdoors in Lagos. It is always very calm doing indoor shoots because you’re in control of everything. But outside, though, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control people.
DIYP: How important is the technical aspect of photography in your work? What advice would you have for anyone at the beginning of their photography journey who may not have access to all the equipment and most expensive cameras and lighting?
Badè: It’s not about the camera. I remember starting photography by experimenting with my phone. I realized that I loved taking pictures. I didn’t even know then that I would be a photographer. I was going to use photography as a medium to express myself for my own personal story. I always say it’s not about the camera, it’s about the story itself.
Most times, I just do a little bit of switching of settings in the camera, and I’m good to go. There are a lot of things I don’t know about how my canon works currently. I started with the Canon 450D and I used it to the point until it just stopped working.
It’s about the person behind the camera, what you see, what you’re trying to express, what you’re trying to show people.
DIYP: What are you excited about doing next? Do you have any new projects/photographic plans in the near future?
Badè: I think for this first year, there’s been a lot of grief in my work. There’s been a lot of self-isolation to produce great work, and it’s helped me, like therapy, to self-reflect. It helped me a lot.
So now I think I want to be able to go out there and bond with people more. I just really want to create more with different people. Not just what’s in my head but to share people’s stories.
DIYP: Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Badè: I’m just thankful. I feel like somebody will read this, hear my story and see my images, and maybe it will make an impact on somebody someday, who knows?
I’m trying to leave something behind, and not for monetary reasons. It’s just me as a person, my personal projects, a chance to tell my story and express myself.
DIYP: Each week, we ask a question from another photographer. This one is from landscape photographer Paco Farero:
Is talent born or created?
Badè: I think that you should just do your best. Whatever you have in mind that you want to do, just go do it. If you find that it’s not for you, it’s just going to be a journey to lead you to what was really meant for you.
If you want to go fish, become a fisherman, and you never know what will come from that. You might end up being a Navy SEAL. Anything might happen, and it’s just the road to the next road in your life.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe