In this unfiltered interview with Visuals By J.O.D founder Dami Fawehinmi, we tackle the realities of navigating the photography sector as a young woman and top tips for those just starting out on their photography journey.
How long have you been doing photography and why did you start?
I started photography when I was quite young about 7 years old. Before we moved to Essex we lived in Southwark and as a lot of my cousins lived in London too, we’d do a lot of trips around the city and have a couple of disposable cameras. I was never really patient when I was little but for some reason, I could wait for the images to be developed, it was fun to see all the photos I took and hang them up on the fridge or my bedroom wall (which I still do). I hated maths and wasn’t a big fan of science but anything creative such as art and writing I always loved so soon photography became a part of that.
What was your first camera and how long did you have it for?
Technically, my first camera(s) were disposable, but my first digital camera was a little pink Sony camera and I had it for years. As it was so small, I was able to take it with me everywhere, soon enough I started collecting SD cards and having thousands of photos taken by me saved onto the home computer. Yet eventually and sadly, like most technology the camera wasn’t as good as it used to be, it suddenly stopped working on a school trip and I was gutted, one because I was away from my family for the first time on a week away and two because the camera had meant so much to me. We tried to get it fixed but as it was quite old, the repair was more than it was worth.
How would you describe your style of photography and how has this developed over time?
I’d describe it as story-telling, I’ve always been obsessed with unique narratives in books and connecting with their characters, so I love implementing that into my photography by shooting in different places, getting to know the people I’m working with and mainly just capturing the moment. At the end of the day it’s being able to look back at all that went into every photo I’ve taken from day one and all the meaning behind it.
What type of projects do you most enjoy working on and why?
I really enjoy the more personal projects, this summer I provided some photography for Diva Magazine’s Instagram page a lifestyle magazine for lesbian and bisexual womXn. As it was pride festival season and I was going to Black Pride I took some photography of the people there, just being themselves, embracing themselves and I loved it. Shoots an environments where people can be who they want without scrutiny I believe always create the best images, because to me, there’s nothing more beautiful than looking at the photography after the shoot and seeing them happy and free. These are the best projects.
How do you go about acquiring your clientele?
Sometimes I’m referred to clients by friends and family, people I network with, I tag photography pages on Instagram and this can help share your name and also advertisement online helps too.
Have you found any difficulty navigating the industry as a woman?
I haven’t but that doesn’t mean the reality of the experiences of other women in the industry doesn’t exist. Although I’ve been doing photography for a long time, I’ve only recently turned it into a business and knew that with any business venture there would be up and downs in the future so it’s best to have a support group who can help you through it. I saw a post from the founder of UK Black Female photographers or UKBFTOG Jemella and since then I’ve been aided by some amazing Black womXn within the community. There are regular meet ups and a brilliant Facebook page that offers a lot of help and support, I’m so grateful I found out about it.
How do you begin your photography journey on a low budget?
Look for scholarships and grants for photographers there’s a lot out there that goes unclaimed, saving up, buying second hand gear off eBay and also watch photography hack videos on YouTube they’re brilliant.
Where are you favourite outdoor locations to shoot?
In my university city of Newcastle, I’ve been there for over three months and there’s still so many places I haven’t been to. When going out with friends you’ll often take a route you haven’t before and start making a location memo of possible locations to shoot at which always keeps it exciting. For me my favourite place is the Quayside, you can walk alongside the River Tyne and take pictures of their beautiful bridges, also the sun sets perfectly around there so for golden hour photography it’s great.
What is the one thing about your journey that has surprised you?
That it could become a career one day. When I was little, I didn’t know any famous photographers, I saw people at weddings and parties with a lot of photography gear, but I always assumed that wasn’t their main job. As I got older, I found people who were full time photographers, some travelling the world, some opening up studios in their homes and all doing something I never thought was possible. The thought of becoming a full-time photographer after university is exciting but I’d also like to combine it with another love such as writing or PR.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue photography?
Just. Go. For. It. Photography is so massive there’s a section for everyone whether that’s dog photography or wedding photography, wildlife etc. Life is honestly too short to wonder if you should start so just jump in! Find a support group of photographers that enjoy a similar type of photography to you or are like you, follow your favourite photographers on Instagram they often give really good tips and lastly make use of design apps like Pinterest you can get so much inspiration and plan so many shoots.
You have to create a photography starter pack with just 3 items, which will you pick and why?
My camera, 128GB SD card and a spare battery. While these are the camera basics and there’s so many more things you can have like an external flash, reflectors, a portable background, different lenses etc but while shooting but the basics here are necessities…otherwise you literally can’t shoot. Also having a massive memory card and extra battery means I could have a beautiful time and shoot all day.
Finally, what projects are you working on that we should be looking out for?
For 2019 I really want to try experiment with photography styles I haven’t done before, I’ve re-downloaded Pinterest just so I can plan them out and I can’t wait to see what happens.