Our weekly Spotlight series is a close up look at the talented people using Format websites to showcase their work. This week, we interview fashion and portrait photographer Djeneba Aduayom.
Drawing on her background as a professional dancer, Djeneba Aduayom’s portrait photography is characterized by a keen sense of motion and balance. Whether shooting fashion editorials or futuristic fine art photography, Aduayom’s images always show a real connection between the photographer and her subjects.
On her photography website, Aduayom uses Format’s Slate theme for a clean layout that allows her to highlight standout photos. With separate galleries for her art, editorial, and portrait photography, Aduayom’s website is easy to explore.
Aduayom was recently signed by Galerie Number 8, whose photographer roster includes rising talents like David Uzochukwu and Campbell Addy. She’s currently preparing for exhibitions in Ethiopia and France later this year. We got in touch to find out more about her journey from dance to photography.
How did you first get into photography?
Photography actually came as a surprise to me. I was touring the world as a dancer until an accident forced me to have a hip and knee surgery, stopping my career abruptly. After the initial shock and heartbreak, I had to find a way to express myself in an artistic manner and a way to connect with people. While I was recovering I started to shoot anything that would catch my eye with my point and shoot, and rapidly developed an addiction for photography. Soon enough I bought myself a good camera and good lenses and literally from that day onward I have not been bored nor looked back. I am completely self-taught.
How does your background in dance influence your work?
I think my background has a lot to do with the way I shoot. First of all, dancing is expressing feelings with movement. I am able to take people out of their comfort zone and to help them express a feeling using movement. They have to trust me and when they do, it creates a beautiful synergy between them and I, and a real connection. I love that part. I use stillness too in some of my photographs, but even then, there is always a breath or a little more than just standing completely still.
You mention on your website that your French, Italian and African heritage influences your work. How do these cultures inspire your photography?
Well, I have lived in many places, like Africa, Europe, and the USA. I was very much raised as a citizen of the world rather than a specific race or one specific culture, since I come from three various cultures. And so I take a little bit of every culture and mix it together when I take my photographs.
I would like to create an imagery that is more like a visual poetry where the viewer would see and feel the images. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one box.
How do you use your website to support your creative work?
My website allows people a little peek into what I do. I use it like a looking through a window without a curtain on a house. It is like a world of images people can dive into, and it serves as a portfolio at times.
Tell us about a recent shoot you did that stood out to you.
I recently shot an editorial for Beautiful Blood, and as always I want to deliver messages within my images in a non-conflictual manner. I love working with connection and diversity. This time I worked with two dancers from LA Dance Project, and they are from very different backgrounds but their connection was so strong. It was beautiful to see how, in reality, we all should be able to connect regardless of where we come from.
Society and cultures seem to define boundaries and limitation between human beings. These beliefs become obsolete within art where people actually want to work with others’ different backgrounds, creating connections and bringing strength to each other.
Name two artists or photographers we should be following.
Patricia Zhou and David Adrian
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