Photographer Adedamola Odetara is working hard to document the LGBTQIA+ community in Lagos

“The idea that queerness comes from a broad spectrum of people of various faiths, cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, and sizes must be developed,” Adedamola says on the imperative of his ongoing photography project in Lagos.

Date
22 September 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

Lagos born-and-bred Adedamola Odetara is one of the most exciting talents in the Nigerian photography scene right now. Filled with emotive, precise, and careful captures, Adedamola’s portfolio boasts impressive refined quality. In particular, it’s his ongoing project capturing LGBTQIA+ lives in Lagos that caught our eye, only months after it was featured in Vogue Italia. “I began photographing in 2017 after attending a one-week workshop organised by Canon,” Adedamola says. “What attracted me to photography, in particular, was the ability to make timeless art, document my journey, and tell stories,” he adds. As a young burgeoning creative in Nigeria, Adedamola was fuelled by the idea of seeing his hard work published and viewed by many. “My art is mostly monochromatic,” he says on perfecting a style for himself. “I’m not bound by rules, but I like simple compositions.”

Adedamola’s survey of the queer community in Lagos feels like an authentic venture towards something that resonates with a part of himself. Much has been done before by way of capturing queer bodies in Nigeria and surrounding countries, but almost always typically captured by the voyeuristic lens of white and Western photographers – often hinging on detached ethnography. However, as a native Nigerian and local Lagos habitat himself, Adedamola’s project seeks to change that. This is a view of the inside from the inside. “An idea starts from seeing a story or potential one and just telling it,” Adedamola explains. “Sometimes it starts from me just wanting to express my current mood or document where I am at a point in life.”

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Adedamola Odetara: LGBTQI Nigeria (Copyright © Adedamola Odetara, 2021)

“People I work with, and especially those I photograph, have inspired me,” the photographer tells It’s Nice That. “I am motivated by a desire to tell stories that have an impact on both individuals and society as a whole, and that can help to bring about positive change in the world.” Adedamola is a firm believer in the power of photography as a catalyst for change, debate, and social progress. By documenting LGBTQIA+ people in Nigeria, Adedamola creates space for these bodies to tell their own stories. “I began photographing queer people in Nigeria with the objective of making an archive and sharing the stories with the rest of the world,” he says. The archive has always been an important concept in queer communities around the world, especially in areas where historical documentation of said communities are lacking due to histories of colonisation and oppressive legislation. “Queer stories and experiences are still foreign and mysterious to a vast number of the general public, and LGBT+ people still face everyday challenges,” Adedamola says. “The idea that queerness comes from a broad spectrum of people of various faiths, cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, and sizes must be developed.”

From drag queens and same-sex couples to trans women and gay activists, Adedamola has covered a vast terrain in Lagos already – and he’s still not done. “It’s an evolving process and project,” he says. As Adedamola moves forward with his one-man mission to document, archive, and portray the vibrant queer community of Lagos, he continues working on both commercial and personal projects. “Fashion season in Lagos is approaching, and it’s always my favourite time,” he says. “But for personal projects, I’m now experimenting a lot with self-portraiture.”

GalleryAdedamola Odetara: LGBTQI Nigeria (Copyright © Adedamola Odetara, 2021)

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Adedamola Odetara: LGBTQI Nigeria (Copyright © Adedamola Odetara, 2021)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in May 2020 after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

jl@itsnicethat.com

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