Akinlolu Aguda Pelumi is a Nigerian born, U.S.-based amateur photographer currently based in Trenton and Newark, NJ. Akinlolu shoots both professionally as a photojournalist and leisurely as a fine-art and portrait photographer. The following profile interview is a self-made conversation by the artist on his background and future endeavors.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. I was born and raised in Lagos state, Nigeria, until around the age of sixteen when I moved to the United states to begin work on my college education. Artisitcally, many of the skills I have learned in relation to photography or design, I have learned in the United states, I guess because of the opportunities and tools I have found available around me. With writing, however, I started writing in Nigeria. I used to write songs I’d hope to one day record when I get to college but that never happened. Perhaps it’s for a later time. I did not write a lot of poems, but when I did, they would be either super long and complicated, or very short and still complicated. I used a lot of metaphors to avoid directly calling names or addressing my personal issues. So how did you get into photography? It was a gradual process. Growing up in Nigeria, I never considered photography to be an art, and even if I did, going through a science track in secondary school, I never once considered interest in the visual art. I also was never good at drawing so it just wasn’t going to happen! When I got my first Iphone, it was like in 2013 and it was like my first phone with an a decent camera; I would take a lot of photos on the road, when I’m bored, or just things I observed in general. I was quite observant then and I would always see things and think, I like that, or that looks good. But even then I never considered myself a photographer, let alone an artist. I just took a lot of photos on my Iphone.
Was there a moment when you realized, “wow, I take so many photos, I should probably take more” ? Actually, I believe so. It was probably in 2015 during the summer time. I was looking for a job and was considering a stint assisting in a photography studio just because it was something to do. I had to put a portfolio together and so I scrolled through my gallery with all these photos and looking for the best ones to upload. I did some research on the various types of photography so I can have some different categories of stuff on there. That part was eye opening. I noticed that I had a lot of photos that would be considered abstract photography or fine-art photography in the photography world. There were some that were architectural and many of them were landscape photographs. But yeah, not a lot of people in my photos, not even a lot of friends or family. So I thought I’d probably be better off if I applied to an estate photography studio or something and take interior photos.
Did you get the job? No. I suck at getting a job.
What has been your approach to art and photography so far? Well, at first, as I said earlier, it was just me shooting photos, and recording my observations. That is still what I do. I think that is what all photographers do. Recently, I have been experimenting with allowing a lot of happenstance into my photographs and produced work. I have been experimenting with the idea that many great photographs are neither planned nor very much intentional. So I do these by going through old photos of bushes or forest areas and finding ones with interesting or odd compositions and try to transform them into new things like in Color Forests. With taking photos on the street, for me, it has become a combination of my mind and the supposed freewill of my hand and camera lense as I try not to look into the lense when I shoot. I see something that might make a great photo and I hope my zoom, shooting settings and camera angle gets it right. The second part to this process is going back and sorting through the photos to find the ones I thinks are the most successful. So in a way, you can say I perform my photography as director and full-time sorter and editor. The actual capture is left up to chance.
What about your art? You started with digital paintings, you’re making illustrations now? Yes. I dabble in everything so I never really know what I will get unto next. I mean there are about fifteen different things I know I want to be, I just never know which I will take on next.
Ideally, what is next for you? I am still at a learning phase at this point, so I expect to continue learning as much as I can. Ideally, what is next for me is to take on more opportunities to exhibit, network, and gain as much knowledge and connections as I can to benefit me in the long run.