Event: Start Up Step Up London Launch

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Earlier this week, I was invited to attend an early morning event to launch a new business program at City Hall called Start Up Step Up London. It is a program that is part of the London Growth Hub and is supported by the Mayor of London, hence it being launched at City Hall.

I bet you are wondering as a photographer, why am I attending such an event to do with business if I wasn’t there to take pictures? And the answer is pretty simple – networking.

In the summer, around July, I attend a workshop on ‘Start Your Own Business’ run by Visionnaires. It was a 4-day workshop held at The College of Haringey Enfield and North East London (CONEL) at their Tottenham campus. The best part of this workshop other than the information I gathered in those four days is that it was FREE. Who doesn’t like free stuff especially if they are there to help you grow? Not me!

By attending this workshop, I was introduced to Pablo Lloyd OBE, the CEO and co-founder of Visionnaires and the person who ran the workshop. Also on the first and last day, we were joined by Robert who runs a business consulting firm, DDR Learning. Also, during one of the workshop sessions, Pablo invited a guest speaker, David Barker, the UK’s first internet entrepreneur in 1994 to give us his life story in business.

I am telling you all this not only to let you know that I am really working on making my brand/business as a photographer work but also to give you an idea as to how I got invited to the launch event I mentioned above. It was through the connections I built by attending the workshop.

The premise of the programme is to help individuals who want to go into business in the hope of becoming self-employed and successful in business by giving training, workshops, a mentor or coach and space to get started or continue to grow. As a creative, I know only too well the challenges I have had just getting my photography business up and running and I believe initiatives like this are the way forward.

I tried to see if I could get a video that was shown at the launch for Start Up Step Up London, but I wasn’t successful. I might include it here at a later date once it is shared online. In the meantime, please check this one out where Paulo talks about how and why he started Visionnaires.

 

I wasn’t there to take pictures during the event as I just wanted to be in the moment. In the end, I only managed to capture one of myself on the balcony with Tower Bridge in the background and a video showing the beautiful skyline of London on a nice sunny autumn day and another video of the space where the event took place.

As I was leaving, I got to speak to one of the security guys whilst I was waiting for my lift. I told him how amazing I thought the building is and he went on to tell me its green credentials as part of the legacy of the Mayor of London with recycled water being used for flushing the toilets and solar panels, which are part of the design of the building, that generate electricity used in there. And then, my lift came and I bid him a good day.

If you want to find out more about Start Up Step Up London, please click here and all the best in starting your own business.

#StartUpStepUpLondon

Exhibition: Get Up, Stand Up Now

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Multigraph 023 (Larry Achiampong) by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard
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Exhibition Entrance via West Wing of Somerset House
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Colourful corridor
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Floor detail of corridor
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‘Whenever I Hang’ – Poem by Grace Nichols
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Exhibition visitor looking at a glass cabinet display of artefacts collected over the years by Zak Ové’s father, Horace Ové
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‘Icepick, 2002’ by Satch Hoyt with audio of hair being combed by wooden, plastic and metal Afro picks
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Listen boxes were dotted around the space with various music spanning 50 years. This one was playing ‘Empire Road (1978)’ by Matumbi
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‘James Baldwin, 1983’ by Horace Ové
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‘Warm Broad Glow, 2005’ by Glenn Ligon
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‘Hair Relaxer, 2007-2008’ by David Hammons
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Warning sign at the entrance to one of the rooms.
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‘The Enigma of Arrival in 4 Sections. Section 1: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, 2017’ by Cosmo Whyte
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Detail of ‘The Enigma of Arrival in 4 Sections. Section 1: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, 2017’ by Cosmo Whyte
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‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Metal sculpture in the space – ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Grace Wales Bonner’s friends Dennis Okwera and Wilson Oryema photographed by Lord Snowdon in her second collection Malik
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‘Woke, 2016’ by Sanford Biggers
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‘Michelle Barnase – Soul II Soul Jacket, 1989 and Jazzie’s Groove Cane, 1990’ by Jazzie B
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‘A Great Day in Hip-Hop, Harlem, New York, 1998’ by Gordon Parks
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‘The Barber’s Chair and Clippers, 2017’ by Faisal Abdu’allah
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‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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Detail of ‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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Do not touch the artwork – detail of ‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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T-shirt on sale at the exhibition store – this one made me chuckle.

I almost didn’t go to this exhibition. I had a pretty intense migraine for a few days and the last thing I needed was a ton of information being introduced to my already hurting head. If it wasn’t for my friends insisting, I would have easily stayed at home regretting my decision.

So, I gave myself a pep talk that morning and made my way to Somerset House where it was being held. I took a ten-minute stroll from Holborn Station convincing myself that I needed the fresh air and it was worth it. As I approached Somerset House from The Strand, on the facade was Multigraph 023 of artist Larry Achiampong that was shot by fellow artist and filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Seeing this I knew I was in for a treat. Ok, truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect.

Side note: I loved what Larry said when he showed his mum his portrait on the facade of Somerset House.

“Waited a while to show mum this image (shot by @iainandjane 🙏🏿) which is at the front of @somersethouse via Strand.
We cried
We talked about the cleaning jobs we did in the area years ago
We hugged
Mum talked about legacy, about the importance of (the kids and others) seeing black faces in this way….. about coming to this country with nothing, but now feeling like she’d gained something”

The skies were grey and the fountains at the courtyard were on. It was hard not to miss the entrance to the exhibition which was colourful against the grey exterior of the building. As soon as I made my way in, I purchased my ticket and had it scanned. The lady at the entrance handed it back to me and said start from the left side of the space and immediately I was hit by a very colourful corridor that made me stop in my tracks. Very Instagrammable and memorable. I could tell that the exhibition curator Zak Ové wanted the visitors to be left with a lasting impression from the get-go. How could you miss all that colour and pomp?

From poetry, photographs, sculptures, fabrics, music, video, film, etc., anything you can think of that can be exhibited in an art exhibition was there. Zak Ové did an amazing job curating this show. A glimpse on Black creativity spanning over 50 years. I have just a few shared photographs I managed to take whilst in the space and they don’t do the experience justice.

Also, I honestly thought the exhibition would be in the whole of Somerset House, but it was only on the West Wing of the building. I was low-key disappointed, but all that disappointment faded as there was plenty to see. Everywhere you looked you were drawn to what was being displayed. The experience was definitely multi-sensory. From the floors to the windows, even the skirting boards were carefully curated and thought out to bring the colourful nature of black art and creativity. The whole space was just a sculpture on its own. I loved it.

The poem ‘Wherever They Hang’ by Grace Nichols and ‘Before’ by Selena Nwulu are my favourites. This coming from a person who hardly reads poetry. As an immigrant, they just resonated with me.

Despite my migraine, I experienced Get Out, Stand Up Now for hours that I didn’t even notice the time pass by. I am glad that I did see it before it ended and that I bought the catalogue from the show.

If you are reading this before the 15th of September and are in London, please go and see it. I highly recommend it.
Tickets are £12.50 for adults / £9.50 concessions. Children under 12 go free.

The exhibition has ended now!

#GetUpStandUpNow

 

Personal: My Top 3 Resources as a Photography Student

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It is that time of the year again – back to school season.

My little ones went back this week and if you do not know already, I am still at University. I will be going back towards the end of this month to start the second and final year of my MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism.

I want to share with you my top 3 resources that have helped me in my journey as a photographer even before I became a student and now moving forward as I try to build my brand as a photographer beyond the confines of an institution. So here goes!

#1: Libraries 

The Library at the university campus is really well stocked with books, magazines, journals and media like CDs and DVDs. If I want to do any research for a project I am working on, that is the first place I would go to for the resources I require. When I am working towards a deadline, I would rather stay in the library to get my work done than at home. One good thing is that once the term progresses, the library is open 24hrs. This has really helped me avoid carrying books home and instead, I stay in the library until I get most of the work done by accessing any research material that I require off the shelves.

And, I will still have access even after I graduate as alumni.

For anything Africa related, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Library is a really good resource. At the moment I have access via SCONUL which is a scheme that gives students and academics the use of libraries at other universities other than their own.

If you are not a student, you can access several libraries across London to do your research. A few libraries that I can recommend for photographers are the British Library, The National Art Library located at The V&A and Stuart Hall Library as these libraries are much better resourced as compared to your local council library which is still a good place to start. All libraries are free to access, but you will have to check their websites for opening times and details of how to access some of their catalogue of resources.

#2: Museums / Galleries

Visiting museums and galleries is always a good idea. I find looking at historical and contemporary artwork a good way of stimulating my way of how I see things and visualise how I would do it if it was my project. I try as much as possible to see not only photography related work but also sculpture, paintings, installations etc. when I visit these places.

This year alone I have visited Somerset House during Photo London, V&A Museum of Childhood with my kids over summer, Tate Modern, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, to name a few.

As the saying goes,

Variety is the spice of life.

Also, this is one way to exercise physically and mentally whilst at the same time try as much as possible to involve my kids.

#3: Websites and Social Media

This one is kind of an obvious one. Photographic websites and social media platforms are my go-to places for inspiration. When it comes to social media, Instagram is my preferred choice to see what others are doing in terms of their creativity and you can also engage with people if you like their work. It is a really nifty way of networking with other creatives from around the world.

With regards to websites, once I see or hear of a photographer I like, I go to their website to see more of their work. Most times you will find work they haven’t shared on their social media or you find they have even shared more details to particular a project.

Anyway, here are a few photography related websites for you to check out and be inspired:

Everyday Africa

American Suburb X

BJP (British Journal of Photography)

Lens Culture

Fotoroom

Women Photograph

And there you have it, my top 3 resources for photography as a student.

Do you have any websites that are photography related that I should check out? Please share by leaving a comment with a link.

#BacktoSchoolSeason

Personal: BA 2119 | Flight of the Future Exhibition

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Disclaimer: This post BA 2119: The Flight of the Future Exhibition first appeared on Bankelele as I was asked to write a guest post in return for visiting the exhibition.

I was fortunate enough to be invited/gifted a ticket to an interactive exhibition by British Airways in collaboration with students from the Royal College of Art (RCA) at the Saatchi Gallery as they showcased the future of flying in the next 100 years.

This year, British Airways is celebrating its 100th Anniversary as being part of a predecessor company AT&T (Air Transport & Travel Ltd) and this exhibition is a celebration of that long history by looking at aviation through history via FLY, an interactive, multisensory, virtual reality experience that turns you into a time traveller from being a bird, into Leonardo Da Vinci’s studio in Florence all the way to 100 years into the future to what aviation might look like with an aircraft that is guided to land by sight as one of the possibilities of air travel.

Together with FLY, eight other concepts were showcased at the exhibition. These included:

  • AVII (AVY), which I particularly liked as a concept to improve the experience of travellers using Artifical Intelligence (AI) in collaboration with cabin crew. The idea is to submit your needs as you book your flight, for example, if you have particular dietary needs and this information is fed back to the cabin crew who in return provide personalised service throughout your flight without even you asking.
  • Another concept, TASTENATION, uses data collected from DNA and body health to 3D print food for a new multi-sensory in-flight dining experience. This idea does away with food waste as meals are prepared from scratch onto edible cutlery and plates. Yet at the same time provide the necessary nutrients whilst on the air as it prepares the body to adjust to the cuisine of the traveller’s destination.
  • In line with reducing waste, THE FUTURE OF LUGGAGE is another concept that can also be realised. The vision where travellers would travel without any luggage as they will have to upload their clothes onto a digital wardrobe together with their measurements and depending on the weather, duration of their stay, etc. and the idea that you would arrive at your destination and find a set of clothes waiting for you at the airport lounge at your destination is pretty awesome. Clothes will be made from recycled materials that at the end of your trip, you drop them off at the airport where they are recycled.

There was so much to detailing to see at this exhibition from personalised wearable seats called AIRWEAR, to flying green with AERIUM, where the air we breathe and the water that we drink whilst flying is generated through bioavionics systems integrated as part of the plane. CURIO, a hypersonic modular aircraft with zero emissions and weird seating is one I did not get. And so did AER, a shape-changing smart luggage transportation concept.

Of the concepts, I saw at the exhibition, AVII(AVY), AERIUM, TASTENATION and THE FUTURE OF LUGGAGE looked like the ones that are likely to happen in the near future leading up to 2119 with the other concepts looking very unlikely, but I could be wrong and years beyond 2119, these other concepts could be a reality for many.

All in all, it was amazing to see how history and the advancement of technology inform us of the ideas and innovations of what is yet to come.

#FlightoftheFuture

 

Personal: Selfie

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I Woke Up Like This Selfie (2019)

I am one of those photographers that does not like being in front of the camera but having said that I might as well get used to it seeing as I already have a YouTube channel.

Yes, you read that right, I do have a channel, but I haven’t uploaded a video for 9 months.

The more I watch myself, the more I see that I need to work on my presentation skills. I have never been so uncomfortable in front of the camera and continuing on this journey of putting myself out there will be a weird one.

Also, let me just go ahead and say that the reason I haven’t uploaded in months is that I was derailed by various events in the past few months, both good and bad. This made me lose my mojo to vlog, but I am slowly getting it back to it. I have this urge within me to share my journey as a mum and photographer and sometimes, a video works best.

I have a plan like I do with this blog, to hold myself accountable and post at least one video a week, but for now, I think I will start with one video every two weeks. I am yet to decide when to post. Perhaps every Friday like the blog post or Saturday, what do you think?

Photo Story will continue and my hope with this is to involve a few people as guests on my vlog. If this is something you would be willing to collaborate on, please leave a comment on this post. I would love to hear from you.

So, from September seeing as it’s a new year for school and all, I will be back on my channel with a new video.

Wish me luck as I conquer my fears one self-image and video at a time.

#BacktoSchoolMode