Lakin Ogunbanwo’s portraits hide more than they reveal. Focusing on hidden or obscured faces, his photographs beg the question: do we know anything at all about the person standing right in front of us?
Born in Lagos, Ogunbanwo studied Law in Nigeria and the UK before delving into photography in 2012. His career switch proved successful, with his photographs now featured in publications as the New York Times, i-D, GQ and Riposte.
“I honestly didn’t choose photography, photography chose me,” said the Nigerian artist in an interview with Vogue. “I’ve always liked images (even growing up and for as long as I’ve remembered I’ve always had a camera) and the first time it occurred to me that I could use a camera to produce a distinct feeling was when I made portraits of my sisters.”
In his latest series “e wá wo mi” (which translates to “come look at me”) he focuses on Nigerian bridal traditions, capturing women from Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani tribes wearing complicated (and striking) outfits.
“This series is my first time using women as subjects,” he admitted. “I am very aware of this as a man, and prefer to engage with this work fully as an outsider. It is important to note that this is an expansion on existing forms of womanhood and femininity, and not a way of defining. I can be inspired by women, and femininity, but I am not seeking to say who has access to this, or what this is.”
“I also do not think the contemporary African women is properly represented,” he added. “Africa is a huge continent, with so many different cultures, and ways of being a woman — there are so many ways of just being a Nigerian women that are shown in this series.”
Check out some of his awe-inspiring portraits, as featured on his Instagram page.