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Meet the photographer hiding his subjects from view

Oladimeji ‘Oladimeg’ Odunsi is a visual artist and photographer from Nigeria who now resides in Canada. While Odunsi shoots portraits and creates contents for brands, his recent  photography project, ‘The Unseen,’ explores an interest in the way we interpret photographs. “I noticed that when some viewers look at a photo, they tend to judge the picture just by the beauty of the subject. I thought, what if the subjects were partially concealed or not really visible for viewers to see? How would people feel?” Odunsi found that he could instead draw their attention to other details of the photograph. Odunsi is one to watch: his first solo show, showcased this body of work at The Sussex Contemporary Gallery in Ottawa, Canada in November 2017.

Here we speak with Ondunsi about his project and why it is important for one to see beyond asubject in an image.

How did you first get into photography?

I became interested in photography at a time in my life where I had more questions than answers. It was the medium that I used to escape what I was experiencing at the time. It all started with coming across various inspiring images online, then I started shooting with my phone. I was then able to purchase a camera after sometime. It’s a decision I don’t regret because, thanks to photography, I’ve met and collaborated with a lot of great people. It has also become a way for me to convey my thoughts, emotions and visions out for people without saying much – which is amazing, as I’m a pretty reserved person.

What inspired your most recent body of work?

What inspired ‘The Unseen’ was pretty simple. Some audiences form judgements about a photo by the beauty of its subject because they have the perception that the more beautiful a subject is, the better the photo. The idea of the project was to create a subversive relationship between an unseen subject and the audience while drawing close attention to the process – emotions, poses, outfits and location. It’s all these details that make a great photo, not just physical beauty. This is the reason why the faces of the subjects are partially covered or hidden to convey this message better.

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How does “The Unseen” series challenge the way we see typically experience a photograph?

The Unseen series challenges the way we typically see a photograph because, as an audience or viewer, it makes you think of the photographic process of each photo and not just the final image. It also gives insight into what concept or idea the artist envisioned at the time they were creating, the mood of the subject and so on, which allows the audience to see beyond the final image.

What do you hope viewers will take away from your photos instead?

I hope the viewers are able to see beyond the surface of the photographs, take in other aspects of the photograph and also appreciate the finest detail of the images.

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What kind of emotions do you hope to elicit through these photos?  What do you hope to reveal through these photos?

I want the photos to elicit emotions such as curiosity, excitement and, most importantly, appreciation. I hope to reveal that the physical or facial beauty of subjects are not the only form of art in a photo- a lot goes in to making a photo what it is.

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Any exciting projects planned for 2018?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed but I’m sure 2018 is going to be a great year.

Love this? Follow Oladimeg Odunsi on Instagram here.

For more from our WGSN Youth Editor, follow Sara here.

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