“I started taking an interest in photography when I was in secondary school, and soon after, my parents bought me my first camera when I was 16,” Adama Jalloh tells It’s Nice That of her beginnings as a photographer. After completing a foundation diploma in Art and Design and LCC, Adama studied Commercial Photography at Arts University Bournemouth. Graduating in 2015, a string of awards followed. “Being nominated for Foam Paul Huf and Magnum & Photo London graduate awards has helped with being approached by other platforms and part of exhibitions A New Sensation – curated by Ashleigh Kane and Grace Miceli – and British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain,” Adama says.
Unfurling the legacy of the portrait that won her the BJP Breakthrough prize from the series You fit the description, which depicts male youth likely to be stop and searched without provocation by police on the streets of London, in the two years since, Adama has continued to produce work which at its core speaks of the complex nature of British identity. “Themes such as culture, race and identity often play a role with the work that I create,” she says. “I try my best to capture moments in a truthful and genuine way – even if its something simple like running errands for your mum or seeing aunties and their kids dressed up to the nines on a Sunday for church.”
These days, Adama has learned not to analyse the reasons behind her image-making. “During the time I was at university and also after I had finished, everything I had been doing was heavily project-based and it took me a while to just photograph without thinking so much about the in-between process or the outcome of images. It was only until last summer I started really taking photographs quite candidly and allowing my images to tell a story on its own without me heavily thinking about how they need to look. Sometimes I prefer the approach of not knowing what I will be documenting, so I just walk for hours on end with my camera. I like the idea of my images giving a sense of nostalgia, so I tend to photograph people or moments that remind me of things I used to see or be around when I was younger.”
By way of introduction, Adama sent us a “selection of commissioned and personal shots of individuals or just moments that piqued my interest.” Among her clients, she now counts Clash magazine, Financial Times Weekend, The Wire, Marathon artists, Buzzfeed, LAW magazine. “Its been great having the opportunity to actually work more than once with some of these clients and them having faith in the way I shoot,” Adama observes. She’s also been busy working collaboratively “with people from different fields such as writers and designers” and setting her sights beyond the circling M25. “My work has been heavily based around London, particularly the area that I grew up in, but recently I’ve been planning small trips away from home," she says. "I’ve realised the way in which I interact or attempt to build brief relationships with people differs when I’m not in London. I’ll keep it vague but the next few months will involve me exploring different communities in places I’ll be travelling in.”