IMAGEs of Distress

06 Jan 2013

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A Lagos-based outfit seeks to bring succour to Kogi State flood victims through photography. Okechukwu Uwaezuoke reports

First, there was the flood disaster. It had swooped on unsuspecting communities. Among these were communities in Kogi, a state cradling the confluence of Nigeria’s two arterial waterways. With horror, they had watched their lives change. From safe distances, bemused Nigerians tried to wring coherence from it all. Moved to pathos, a collective that calls itself Orbit Imagery began to spin ideas. How could it, through photography, draw the world’s attention to the plight of these distressed communities?

Then, there was the high-wattage idea. Nothing would engrave the plight of these people in the public’s consciousness like photography! The photography agency therefore opts for a photo-documentary, titled Things We Lost in the Flood. “It takes us, in detail, with the use of strong story-telling images, through the various vicinities ...and also through schools and other nearby institutions that were later converted into campsites for the displaced,” explains its managing director/CEO, Ayobami Macaulay.

The outfit’s senior photographer, Augustine Udoh, spent three weeks scouring through about 20 campsites with his camera. His mission: document the challenges they are facing. These challenges include feeding, healthcare, accommodation and clothing, among others. But the path to their rehabilitation promises to be stony and thorny as well as beset with setbacks.

The documentary’s title draws its inspiration from the lamentations of the victims. But then, not all that was lost in the flood could be replaced. This, everyone knows. For this reason, Orbit Imagery “went ahead to document their strife and try to pass along their desperate cries for help.” The idea is to feature these documentary photographs in a two-pronged exhibition – “first as an event and then as an open exhibition in various public locations across Lagos State”.

But that would not be the end of the story. The organisers hope to follow up with further documentation of these “resilient people” taking delivery of relief materials and beginning their path to rehabilitation. Obviously, the planned exhibition targets a segment of financially-endowed concerned individuals, representatives of both the private and public corporate bodies. The organisers hope that they “will in one way or the other garner support for the cause”.

“A subsequent, but open exhibition will be held in public spaces in order to sensitise concerned individuals and other government and corporate bodies that could not be reached for one reason or the other and also to support any online or regular media campaign that will be staged if necessary, urging people to donate funds, food or old clothes as a means of contributing to the relief effort,” the organisers further explain.

The proposed private exhibition, scheduled to hold in a yet-to-be disclosed date in the first quarter of this year, will be followed immediately by a public version of it. Through the charity event, this Lagos-based photography agency also hopes to burnish its respectable credentials in both photography and entertainment sector. During its three-year existence, it has focused on fashion and beauty, portraiture, music, documentaries and life photography. “With a strong business advisory and photography base provided by vastly experienced individuals in our ranks we are constantly in search of opportunities to grow and take longer strides that will help in redefining the idea of photography in Nigeria, and take it from a budding industry to a more professional and globally recognised entity.”

Ayobami, a Babcock University graduate of business administration, is no neophyte in the finance world. His path had led through the banking, stock-broking and real estate terrains. He has so far steered the course of Orbit Imagery towards its dreams. With him as the outfit’s Director of Strategy and Business Development is Joseph Edgar. Edgar’s 15 years of experience in banking also led him through the trust services subsector in banks like Magnum Trust Bank, NAL Asset Management and Trust Limited and Habib Bank (now Keystone Bank), amongst others. The MSc political science holder from the University of Lagos, who is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, has previously worked as the executive director and Chief Wealth Officer of BGL Asset Management Limited. He was also the BGL’s Chief Marketing Officer (West) as well as its deputy managing director.

The two other directors, who are also photographers, are Somto Ikenna Obi and Augustine Victor Udoh. Both men have made enviable strides in photography. Obi, also a Babcock University graduate, has understudied the works of his more experienced colleagues and thus honed not only his skills but also his understanding of the medium. Udoh, who followed the footprints of a renowned Nigerian photographer Mubarak Adegunwa, has similarly gained a lot of insight in the profession.

Tags: Life and Style, Arts and Review, Featured, IMAGEs of Distress

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