Awesome creative, Okwuchukwu Martins Dominic, popularly known as Amazing Klef, is a Nigerian photographer best known for his creative imagery. He is among the handful of Creatives in Nigeria who have worked with the crème-de-la-crème in the country and an impressive number of global and national brands. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, this Creative was raised by his Igbo parents (a trader mother and transporter father) on the streets of Ojo, Lagos. He began to carve a niche for himself in the creative industry since he was barely 18 years old using different mediums from visual art to graphic design, photography, cinematography and more. He is also well known for his catchphrase ‘AmazingOrNothing’ and he is popularly referred to as “Colour Boy” because of his creative use of colours. Amazing Klef is widely recognised for bringing a youthful and urban feel to the creative industry and he is also celebrated amongst young creatives as the pioneer of new school photography. He spoke to Siaka Momoh in Lekki Lagos. Excerpts:
Why did you go into photography?
I like to say photography found me, I have always been creative; before photography, I was a painter and visual artist and transitioned from that into different things before photography.
How did it all start?
As a younger boy, I realised I could draw and decided to pursue my flair for art by registering to learn from an artist on my street, from there I was opportune to learn how to use the computer and transitioned into graphics design. I did that for a while and after I left secondary school I decided to not pursue education at a higher level and immediately started working as a graphic designer. I later needed to learn how to take pictures to make my graphics better and that was how photography and building a creative business started.
When was your turning point?
I think the turning point for me was when I realised how much I enjoyed my newly found craft and later after a couple of years realised how successful I could be in this field of work after a series of projects.
Was there any dull moment?
Aside from the normal difficulties Nigeria as a country presents the average young individual coming from a very humble background and not having any form of financial support, I won’t say there were any dull moments because I have never been one to doubt myself. I was also raised to understand how great things take time to build and the beauty of just soaking time in, enjoying your process and growing gradually.
What is the outlook for the photo business in Nigeria in the next decade?
The business in the last ten years has grown from just the regular wait-and-get-photographs to a multi-million dollar industry and with speedily advancing technologies, the growth of social media, and the rising demand for creative content it will continue to evolve and grow.
Are you looking beyond Nigeria?
Because of Social Media, I am already an International brand but we have already started expanding our physical presence across Africa via different channels like trips, collaborations masterclasses in different countries.
You have taken photo business beyond the level the business is generally known for, what informed this strategy?
I have always not done things the way it’s done in my locality, I always look outside the country for Inspiration, learn from those who have done this before me, and see how things can be done differently and I am a firm believer that everything can be done at a bigger level.
Give a profile of the photography business. What are the various aspects of photo business?
Photography business is creating value via images in return for payment. We have so many aspects from Wedding Photography, Advertising Photography, Food Photography, Beauty Photography and an endless list of others. Photography business can be built around anything people need images for.
Which ones are you involved in?
I am a multifaceted creative, I do photography, videography, and also run a couple of other entities in the creative field majorly around creating content for brands and individuals.
As it concerns photography alone, I am mostly a Portrait and Advertising/Commercial photographer.
What expansion plan for the next 10 years?
I am looking to keep building and expanding the different entities we have already established and venturing/investing into more aspects of the creative field and outside it.
What inspires you in the business of photography?
The need to create something exceptional that will outlive me, to inspire the next generation of Nigerian/African creatives, and also to be extremely successful.
How do you rate the photography business in Nigeria and Africa?
A lot of work has to be done to get us on the same level as our counterparts outside Africa from government individual support/partnerships to general attitude toward the craft; but if you can get to a certain level in your photography career, it is a very sustainable and bankable business.
Did you train to be a photo person?
Yes, I did. You can’t become a photographer without training as the skill itself is acquired not a talent you are born with. You can naturally have a creative eye/mind but using a camera, lighting and the rest has to be learned.
Where did you train; where did you acquire the skill from?
I learned photography on the internet, 95% percent of my knowledge was acquired from reading books, YouTube, video courses, and the internet generally.
Who are your mentors?
I looked up to a lot of people while growing up most of whom were not in my line of work as I wanted to learn a lot more than just photography. I wanted to learn business, branding, and life generally but in totality, I learnt a lot from people like Rick Ross, Wizkid, Tony Elumelu, Kelechi Amadi Obi, Aham Ibeleme, Tobbinator,
What is your assessment of the business environment in Nigeria?
From my perspective in the creative industry, due to the recent success of Nigerian Music globally, many doors have opened and there is an inflow of investors and revenue in this space resulting in more opportunities for partakers.
What is your take on the ‘Japa’ syndrome that has hit Nigeria?
I have never really thought of leaving Nigeria permanently. I have travelled to some countries and I understand why some people would want to leave but I am just really comfortable and happy here. If we tackle insecurity, the economic breakdown, and poor basic infrastructure to improve the quality of life here, Nigeria will be a beautiful country.
Many small business owners complain of problem of funding. Do you see this as a challenge?
Yes, I do. Personally, not having access to the right financial support has made me abandon some ideas or has made me take a longer time to execute them. Photography/Creative equipment and needs are really expensive, so it is almost impossible to do a lot of things. But instead of letting these challenges hold me down, I have a way of making do with what I have.