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Art, Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Charles Lawson

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Meet Charles Lawson, A 24 year old architecture student and amateur photographer from Ghana. Only 5 months after holding a DSLR camera for the first time Charles has already shown immense talent and potential. His work exudes a distinct intimacy that stimulates intrigue. What I appreciate most about his work is its simplicity that causes one to reevaluate everyday things we may take for granted.

Here’s what Charles had to say…

1. What do you think it takes to be considered professional photographer?

To be considered a professional photographer, I think you’d have to have gone through some comprehensive training with another professional, preferably a few courses, workshops. Just to make sure you know all the basics, terminology, camera settings, etc.

2. Do you consider yourself a professional photographer?

I don’t think I’d call myself a professional yet, for two reasons. One, because I haven’t had any official courses or workshops. I’ve learnt everything from observing other photographer friends, videos, books, blog articles etc. And two, because I don’t charge for any of the projects I handle. I just want to make sure I reach a certain level of quality and confidence in my abilities, to start earning money from it.

3. Who are some of you biggest influences and why?

Probably my biggest influences are a bunch of young Ghanaian photographers, whose work I find all over the web. Facebook, twitter links, blogs. My two friends, Ofoe (ofoesaysit.tumblr.com) and Awo (myblackmind.tumblr.com) will be the first two, because they taught me the basics, and got me going in this new passion of mine. Then Steven Adusei, Sefa Nkansah, Capture and Dennis Dartey, who currently rule the photography landscape in Ghana. And then a large source of inspiration is the random photography sites and blogs all over the internet.

4. What are some of your favorite techniques?

I love long exposure techniques, especially in night photography. These give light trails and blurs. They’re by far my favorite technique.

5. What are you doing (or plan to do in the future) to improve your
technique?

Practice practice practice. I try to find time every week to go for photo-walks, offer free shoots, just have some fun and add a little bit of experience. I try something new as well, as much as my equipment will allow. I check out a lot of pictures online, to see what techniques and styles I haven’t done, and I try to do those.

6. Do you go through any preparatory procedures before you do a shoot?

Apart from the technical things, like make sure I have the memory card prepped and actually in the camera (I’ve headed off without a memory card so many times) , or make sure my battery is fully charged, I also do as much internet research as possible. Just to make sure I have a few ideas
to get creative off of. The talent and creativity out there is incredible, it’s a
great resource for photography.

7. If you had to categorize your work, what genre would you place it in and
why?

I don’t think I’ll put my work in any genres at the moment, because I’ve tried quite a number of things. I’m still learning, exploring. Since I haven’t acquired any lighting or studio equipment, maybe if there’s a genre like “Natural Lighting” or “Available light”, I suppose… that’s about the only thing I can see running through all my work. That, and the fact that they’re mostly un-posed. Candid.

8. If you had the opportunity to shoot anywhere in the world without a
budget, where would you go and what would you concept be?

I’d stay in Africa. I’d explore every nook and cranny. The culture, the textures, the color all around… I’d love to do Europe and Asia as well, but Africa would come first. My concept would be to document and display African culture and beauty. There’s just so much of it.

9. Describe your best experience behind the camera so far

The very first days, exploring and learning with Ofoe and Awo. We did some fantastic light trails and light graffiti, and we handled a concert as well. The learning experience, as well as the fun and laughing and camaraderie among us. Priceless.

10. What prompted you to want to pick up a camera?

I’ve always loved those professional looking shots I saw on the internet, TV, billboards. I’ve wanted in for a long time. So an opportunity came for me to get a camera, a Rebel T3i (or Rebecca, as I call her :P) and I took it. Cost me a pretty pesewa, but it’s still one of the best decisions I ever made.

11. What does art mean to you?

I love it. I’m not very visually artistic. I write occasionally, but I’m quite terrible at drawing (awful thing for an architect to say, right? ) and painting. Photography is my artistic release, my expression, my contribution to the aesthetic world. At least, for now. I love it.

To Contact Charles: http://mon-tage-gh.tumblr.com

-Joy Otibu

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