Damola Akintunde is a 22-year-old Nigerian American photographer. I first met Damola in South Africa after tweeting about needing a photographer. We were both there for the summer working and ended up hanging out the next day, as well as, becoming friends. Damola shot the images for my book’s promo and is always someone I trust to capture me as I present while pushing me to also see myself in a new light. She is absolutely a photographer to watch and I can’t wait to see where her vision takes her. I know that only the best is in store.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? What do you envision for your future?
I’m Damola Akintunde. A 22-year-old Nigerian-American woman who really does the most. Photographer and creator first, but my passions also include beauty, music, holistic health, and so much more. I hope my future includes creating art that feels affirming and authentic.
What inspires you from your past?
My younger self definitely inspires me to create work I wish I saw when I was growing up.
How did you get your start in photography? Who or what inspired you?
Officially, I started my junior year of college because I was craving another artistic outlet but, I’ve always been interested in the visual arts. I didn’t consider myself a photographer right off the bat because it was just something fun and it wasn’t until I started to incorporate my psychology and anthropology knowledge into my work that I started to see how much of an art form it is.
Take us through a typical shoot with you. Do you do anything specific to capture the image or vibe you’re after? What’s your editing process like?
So, it depends on what the shoot is for but typically I do a mood board prior to
Photography and photographers can and do play such an important role in defining and reclaiming narratives. What stereotypes or narratives are you aiming to confront in your work?
I focus on the self and how that fits into the worldview of various identities. A good portion of my work incorporates self-portraiture, which allows me to reclaim agency over the monolithic narratives revolving Black womanhood.
I also try to be a tool for others to present themselves as their true selves, which may not always align with what society believes them to be.
What opportunities do you see for women and girls in photography or visual arts? What message or advice would you give millennial women trying to break into photography or better get their work out there? Any resources you can point them towards?
I feel like we’re on the right path as far as the increase in representation of women in the field but we still have a ways to go. Women of color especially have a difficult time getting recognition in these spaces. My advice is to just do the work knowing that people will see you and your passion. Also creating a portfolio that captures your creative voice is so important. Finding this creative voice takes time but will be worth it once other people value your artistry.Just do the work knowing that people will see you and your passion. Click To Tweet
What can we expect from you moving forward? How can we best be of support?
2019 is going to be full of projects that I’m incredibly excited to share. The best way to support me is to basically interact with my work, on/offline!
In the end, how do you want your story, your vision depicted? What legacy do you hope your images leave behind?
I hope my work encourages others, especially Black women to share their stories through whatever avenue they feel most connected to. I know that visibility matters so being able to inspire people to have the courage to pick up that tool to share their story is all that I can hope for.
Just for kicks:
- Favorite camera brand?
- DSLR, Mirrorless, or Film?
- DSLR but trying to get into Film this year
- Favorite photographer?
- Yagazie Emezi, she’s taught me not only that our stories matter, but also it’s very possible to share who you are beyond your work.
- Person, place, or entity you most want to shoot or shoot for?
- A collaboration with Solange and Saint Heron would bring me so much joy and happiness considering she’s one of my biggest inspirations. I have so much respect for Solange’s ability to create beautiful art that resonates with so many people but still remains personal.
- Biggest pet peeve as a photographer?
- Wow, I have so many but I find it so disrespectful when people who are highly privileged plagiarize from marginalized communities knowing they’re taking away opportunities from people who struggle to have those platforms.
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All photos: Damola Akintunde