Leaving Banking job for Photography isn’t a small decision but for Philip Agbese ,he delved into photography after having enough of Banking and the zeal to follow his father’s footsteps made him to switch professions.Read his recent interview with Daily Trust.
Philip Agbese Jnr. is a Benue born professional photographer with a degree in Business Management from the University of Jos. Having worked as an accountant and banker, he delved into photography after having enough of banking.
Acquiring his first camera from his father in the early 90s, Philip shares his experience making the switch which has taken him around Africa, Europe and Asia.
What were your dreams, growing up?
I have worn different hats at different stages of my life. When I was much younger, one of my first dreams was to be a pilot. I soon gave that up for medicine because I wanted to affect lives and make the world a better place. My plans back then included the best level of education my parents could afford and then eventually becoming a major entrepreneur who would leave his own mark on the sands of time business wise in this country and beyond.
How did photography start for you?
The camera was one of my father’s most prized possessions then. I took one look at it and my love with photography began. The fascination that came with capturing time or freezing time in an image soon became for me a consuming passion. I realized that photography offered me a medium to share and communicate with the world around me, permitting me an avenue to express myself through the preservation of important events and people in my life. I began to devote quite a lot of attention to what was then a hobby not knowing back then that it would one day direct the course of my entire life. I found myself documenting marriages, birthdays, holidays etc. discovering that the images I captured revealed various forms of human emotions like joy, wonder, sorrow and sympathy and grief which were quite fascinating to me.
Are there themes or messages you intend for your works to treat?
Yes, every photograph has a message behind it whether it is obvious or subtle. I have discovered that photographs have the ability to grab attention, the power to invoke deep feelings and speak directly to our emotions. Photography, for me, is a complex and fascinating language which permits me to tell stories of what happens around me through the lenses of my camera. It is a timeline of our lives, our stories which we can share with others, there are always different messages on display in pictures which we tend to capture, to give those who were not there at the moment the privilege of still enjoying, whatever emotions or story we were involved in at the period in time.
What are they and why have you chosen these areas?
The underlying themes behind my work are mostly cultural and the revelation of beauty, in that order. My intentions are to preserve moments in time as they occur, creating pictures people will revisit over and over again. The events I document are ephemeral and so I try to memorialize them in photographs so that they can be cherished and relived. I am enthralled with light and seek to manipulate it to the best advantage, whether in a natural or artificial form. The cultural aspect of my work tries to connote in the viewer, notions of tradition present as well as lost, the evolution of time and the importance and power of preservation.
What’s your take on the state of photography as an art in Nigeria?
Photography in Nigeria in general is still evolving and the artistic side of photography, what I would term conceptual photography, is slowly beginning to gain grounds as one of the forms of art. Before this time, emphasis was placed more on paintings, sculpting, pottery etc. as the traditional forms of art. Photography back then was used more for event documentation purposes such as weddings, corporate events and parties, funerals, naming ceremonies and the like. But in recent times, photography has come into its own as you can find conceptual photography taking root in the country with photography exhibitions occurring with more frequency within and outside the country.