Both women are sitting, one on a chair, the other on a spread of grass. It is a kind of hierarchy, or better to say it’s the necessary order for what is being exchanged between them. The linger of a hand, the trace of a necklace. Notice care in the bulge of a carpal bone. Notice the woman below, how her eyes respond, going beyond, or agreeing to the perch of a hand on her hair—a glance at once acknowledgement and query, or if not query then amusement. Even a smile. A brilliant red blouse. Consider what effort it might take to appear effortless. Consider the luxuriance of youth. The head of the other woman, turned downwards, sums up the effort, the modicum of attention she’s put into the touch. The specificity of acquaintance women share.
Ubani Chidindu: “Absorbing, Evolving, Expressing, and Learning as I Go.”
This picture was taken in Ota, Ogun State.
I used my Canon 5D Mark III and my favourite 50mm lens. I started shooting around 4:30 pm after a rainfall: the weather was perfect, it was cloudy but still bright. The majority of my works are outdoor-based shoots that require natural lighting. The picture was taken during her hair touch-up with the hairstylist. I was able to capture that moment.
Before the model and I planned to shoot, I fell in love with her hairstyle; she had this natural sort of afro hairstyle. I wanted the photo to be simple, have a cosy feeling, and to make her hair the main subject. I was able to capture the hairstylist making some final touches to her hair—no planned pose, just the beauty of her African hair at that moment is what makes it special to me.
I experiment with moods and aesthetics, I get inspired by instrumentals to songs, the appreciation of a lot of other creative works, and my surroundings. I’m self-taught so I’m figuring it out along the way, absorbing, evolving, expressing, and learning as I go.
Mood is a major factor during the shoot but mostly during post-editing, I try to give a calm and simple feel to the pictures I take with a bit of aesthetic that captures the attention. I like the subjects (models) to feel free so they dictate sort of how the photos and ideas flow, they might be some adjustments in poses but the model is like a co-pilot during the shoot, because they give you that “in the moment” shot; in the moment spontaneous things happen that could be better than the ideas already laid out, so I like to ensure the environment and the energy when I'm shooting is very good.
Photography is self-expression, it can be a hobby, a journey to self-discovery, an outlet of feelings, a medium to tell one's stories or send a message, a photograph can evoke emotions and go a long way to inspire others. Photography is the preservation of an exact moment in time.
Two other photographs by Ubani Chidindu
For each week’s feature, I send 3 photographs to the photographer, and ask them to respond to one. Here are the 2 other photographs I selected from Ubani’s portfolio and sent to him. What do you think about any of them? You can respond as a comment below.
What to Read
I’ve been spending much of my free time browsing the archive of N. W. Thomas, the first trained anthropologist to be appointed to the post of ‘Government Anthropologist’ by the British Colonial Office. The archive—including objects, photographs, sound recordings, botanical specimens, published work and fieldnotes—is being reconsidered in a project known as [Re:]Entanglements.
Thank you for reading and sharing this feature on Ubani Chidindu. You can see more of his work on Instagram or on Darkroom.
Every week I feature one photograph and the photographer who took it. You’ll read a short narrative caption from me, and a statement from the photographer. My goal is to set up conversations with the work of early to mid-career African photographers. You can support the newsletter by asking someone—or 10 people!—to subscribe.