#Spotlight: Paula Abu

Meet Paula, February’s Creative I the spotlight. She is a 20 year old Nigerian born London photographer also known as narcography and creative director of Filmore’s Floor.

Here’s what happened when she spoke to IndustryMe about her creative journey and more.

What would you say are the most important lessons you’ve learned since you began your photography journey?

I would say I’ve really learned how to find the balance between patience and just straight up demanding attention. A lot of the time as artists we sit around waiting for our work to be discovered and we allow the lack of discovery to discourage us and have us actually forget to do the leg work that being discovered entails. You have to send your work where you want it to be seen and even before that you have to actually produce work consistently while making sure you’re consistently improving.
Narcography shots 2018
I figured pretty early that if I kept flooding everyone’s timeline with my photos, eventually people have to pay attention. And it’s starting to work. Also with this job, I meet and speak to so many new people on a daily basis and it’s almost alarming how different everybody is. Learning how to work effectively with all sorts of people and finding ways to stand my ground or speak up when I’m not happy about something or just say no without feeling like a b*tch or feeling like I have to sugar coat things has been a real journey for me. I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out.  

Being a self-taught photographer what are your main sources of information when it comes to developing your skills?

Youtube, asking other photographers, doing crash courses here and there and then some more YouTube. Information is always a few clicks away, it’s a shame more people don’t maximise it. 

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

A toss between when the magazine I shot ‘The Floor’ sold out, when Notion Magazine published some of my work, being selected as a winner for a photography competition with Puma & Kyra TV, being selected as one of the 100 influential young black creatives by The Dots UK and when Janelle Monáe liked one of my photos. 

What camera would you recommend for someone just starting out?

Every photographer will have a different answer because it depends on the type of learner you are. I’m the type of person who likes to jump straight into the deep end and figure it out later so I only used my first camera, a Canon 700D for a few months before I switched it out for the way more complicated 5D Mark II. But I would recommend the Canon 700D or the Canon 80D as a good starting point, both great quality and straight forward to use.

What is your favourite editing software and why?

Adobe Lightroom by far because it just gets the job done so simply. I love how much I can achieve on Photoshop but it’s got so many buttons, I still find it quite hard to do a basic colour grade there although I still use it quite often especially for more ‘special effect’ editing. Luminar is also an underrated editing software and it’s much cheaper (in the long run) than the two I mentioned above. 
The floor magazine first issue

How does shooting for a magazine differ from street photography for example?

Not much difference to me personally, although you do have to think about how the image is going to feel physically in someone’s hand rather than just on their phone and that was something I kept in mind when trying to come up with the creative direction for the shoots. But I’ve come to learn that if you focus on the person rather than your surroundings more with magazine stuff then the rest tends to fall into place. 

What has it been like working with polydor records?

I work for some of their artists who essentially pay me through their label. Shooting studio sessions and behind the scenes for music making is honestly a dream come true, music is and will always be my first love and the most important art form to me as my love for film and photography stemmed from there so it’s an amazing job to have and I get to meet people who’s music I’ve loved for a while on a random Tuesday. However working for bigger institutions comes with bigger issues like constantly chasing down invoices for work you did over 2 months ago and it’s frustrating in that aspect to be honest. 

Who are some the of the brands you hope to work with this year?

I really really want to work with Nike this year also ASOS, Supreme and a really long list of models and musicians that I would love to shoot with/for as well. 

How to do you balance your time between bookings and your degree?

To me it’s about knowing when it’s time to prioritise one over the other. I just wrapped up some exams so I picked up my camera for the first time on the 19th of Jan since the 29th of December. Now that my course has relaxed a bit I can focus more energy into shooting. I also tend to bump my price up when My course is more demanding so it either scares people away or makes my time more valuable which is a win win for me. I just have to remind myself not to say yes to everything but also remember that photography is the dream and I have to give it everything if I really want it. 

What are you most excited about for 2019?

Meeting more people, getting bigger opportunities and signing even bigger contracts. It’s already off to a great start and I pray to keep the momentum going. 

Any final shoutouts or plugs?

Shoutout to everyone that shows me love and support constantly all over social media, I struggle to articulate it properly or actually display excitement because I’m too gangsta for all that emotion but it means a whole lot to me and I’m extremely grateful. Thanking God always, this is all his doing and thank you guys for featuring me! 
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