Aberrant Maia

Interview with Yaw Kwakyi

Have you heard? There is a new kid on the Ghanaian creative scene and he is here to make waves. He goes by the name, Yaw Kwakyi, and he defines himself as a conceptual photographer. I (Ayeyi) had the privilege to interview him and the following conversation encapsulates what most people are curious to know about him.

Yaw Kwakyi

Photo of Yaw Kwakyi

Ayeyi: Hey Yaw. How are you coping in this season of corona?

Yaw: Lmao hmm…We’re managing. I’m just trying to think through ways I can keep my life as stable as possible. I’m not a big fan of change.

Ayeyi: I understand that. So for all the people who would be reading this, how would you describe who Yaw Kwakyi is to them?

Yaw: Well, for anyone who wants to know, Yaw Kwakyi is a sophomore at Ashesi University. He’s really nothing special, but he does hope to become a storyteller through his photography. For now though, he’s content with just being called an Ashesi student.

Ayeyi: I can see you are being modest. I know you define yourself as a conceptual photographer. Care to explain what conceptual photography is?

Yaw: Lmaooo. I’m closer to honest than I am modest, believe me. I’d best describe conceptual photography as creating content that doesn’t stick to the norm, but still tells a story, albeit in an abstract manner.

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Amenoracking (Ashesi ’23)

Ayeyi: That’s an interesting aspect of photography to branch in. Any particular reason why?

Yaw: It’s all part of my journey to find my niche because I realized that if I wanted to stand out, I’d have to put out content that would make me stand out. You can’t expect to be seen, if you wear the same colours as everyone else.

Ayeyi: Ouuu, I like that. I will probably start quoting it.

Yaw: (laughs) Yes please

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Meli (Ashesi ’20)

Ayeyi: So how long have you been a photographer?

Yaw: If I’m answering this question, the answer is mid 2019. If I’m answering the question I think you are asking, which is how long have I been taking photographs, then the answer is since 2018 because I had a camera since 2018. I only began to call myself a photographer when I realised I was actually doing something that had meaning which happens to be last year.

Ayeyi: So roughly, it has been about two years now since you started taking pictures and a little under a year of being identified by yourself as a photographer.

Yaw: Yup

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Julianne (Ashesi ’21)

Ayeyi: During this period, you must have taken quite a number of photos. If I asked you to choose your favourite, which one would it be and why?

Yaw: My favourite would be this picture. (Picture below)

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Zoe (Ashesi ’22)

Yaw: This picture is from a set titled “The Plastics” aimed at presenting the issue of plastic production through a creative’s eye. I liked that picture in particular because out of the set, it conveyed the most emotion to me; the anguish in a person who has realised they’re trapped by the weight of their own mistakes.

Ayeyi: Whoaa…I totally agree. I can feel the emotions by just looking at the picture. What camera do you usually shoot with and after taking the photos, what photo editing software do you use?

Yaw: I shoot with a Canon 1300D and 90% of the time, I work in Photoshop. There are times, though, when I edit with Lightroom (usually for event pictures)

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Afua (Ashesi ’22)

Ayeyi: It is evident that you are passionate about photography. What would you say photography means to you?

Yaw: Simply put, photography means freedom. Going off the vein of thought that says “Art is subjective,” I express many of my thoughts and moods through my concepts and/or editing. Anyone can interpret my work as they see fit, so that little window of opportunity allows me to blow off a lot of steam. I guess you could say it’s my release.

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
(From left to right) Models: Feranmi and Kofi (Ashesi ’22)

Ayeyi: Your release. An interesting perspective. As a photographer, are there any challenges you encounter?

Yaw: Lol yeah, there are quite a number, but I think the biggest is not being able to execute a shoot as you planned. Sometimes the concept looks off when you actually try to implement it, or something vital you need isn’t available. It hurts, but eventually you learn to take it in your stride and work with what you have to produce what you can.

Ayeyi: I understand how that can be frustrating. On the flip side, what would you pinpoint as the rewarding aspect of being a photographer?

Yaw: The responses from the model are the most rewarding thing of being a photographer. Their excitement makes me proud of my work, and their (potential) critique helps me improve as a photographer and a person.

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
(From left to right) Models: Zoe, Davidal and Kofi (Ashesi ’22)

Ayeyi: That is a good reward indeed. Now, you are a student at Ashesi and it is a known fact that sometimes the workload can be a bit strenuous. How are you able to balance academics and photography?

Yaw: Yie (We both laugh). Um…The most I do is to make sure that I understand that in as much as I love photography, I still need the basic skills Ashesi will provide me with. I keep impromptu shoots to the barest minimum, whilst also limiting shoots to either my free days or the weekends. It’s kind of like setting mental inhibitors to tell me that, “Okay, you’ve shot and edited for this amount of time. Do school work now, else your head will be hot.”

Ayeyi: That’s vital. So in terms of photography, how does the future look like for you?

Yaw: The future is uncertain for the most part, because I still don’t know if I want to pursue this as a full time thing, or on the side. The immediate future, however, looks pretty decent. I’ve got a lot of ideas lined up for after this quarantine period, and I’m now channeling some new-found confidence into submitting to magazines and exhibitions.

Ayeyi: Ouuu…That’s terrific! I can’t wait to see it

Yaw: Me too, chale (laughs)

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
Model: Afua (Ashesi ’22)

Ayeyi: Finally, if people want to view your works or reach you, what social media handles should they use?

Yaw: Instagram: @baffs.ipg; Twitter: @aliasbaffour; Behance: yaw kwakyi

Ayeyi: Yaw, thank you so much for talking with me. It has been an insightful and interesting conversation. I wish you the best in all your future projects.

Yaw: Thank you for agreeing to interview me as well, Ayeyi. I’m glad we had this talk.

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi

Photo shot by Yaw Kwakyi
 (From left to right) Models: Zoe and Kofi (Ashesi ’22)

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