by Damilola Ayo-Vaughan
The days are getting shorter, the nights chillier — summer has finally come to an end.
Whether you got a summer job, travelled to new places, partied on the streets of Notting Hill during carnival, or felt under the weather, summer throws different experiences at us like no other season. Summer 2018 was no different, as such we asked six photographers to reflect on their summer, sharing images they took that captured it.
My summer represented new experiences as well as taking a different approach to my photography. New experiences for me are an opportunity to see my surroundings in a different perspective. A trip to Morocco allowed me to see a culture where religion is very valuable and respected. Shockingly I wasn’t too interested in faces and straight forward imagery, instead solid blocks of colour, shadows, lines and looking down.
Alongside this, was my first carnival experience. I’ve always loved the idea of photographing people without the subject knowing because you see more of that person’s character.
Both of these experiences have changed the way I photograph and my perspective of the scenery around me.
For me summer is about vibrancy and warmth. It’s about the laughter of vacations and the smiles of freedom. The summer of 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria has been a packed one. Full of projects and timeless creations and the special thing is that they are all created by the new generation.
The youth are changing so many things in the industry and breaking all conditioning and barriers surrounding the art scene in Lagos. It brings hope for a better future.
This image symbolizes not just the new in the old but also that the youth can still be embedded in our roots but in our own way.
Summer for me entails a freeing of the mind and body from its baser instincts of survival - from the cold and the night. I’m very closed off and introspective in the colder months and come alive once the Sun appears.
Although I’m still young I feel like this is the ebb and flow of my creative process and this image encapsulates the emotion and feeling of being present in that process.
This summer wasn’t good to me at all. It started out quite good, travelling out to countries I’d never been to, spending time with old and new friends. Then at some point everything went downhill, as someone who’s spent years struggling with depression, I still haven’t gotten used to the coming and going of depressive episodes and the summer of 2018 has given me one of my worst ones yet.
This summer has seen me dissociate beyond compare, my being breaking off into different facets of who I am, all the different parts at war with each other, my mind and my body being the battleground. I wanted to show that in an image some way and so I created a series of images, all expressing the different moods, emotions and feelings, I happened to be filtering through.
This photograph in particular, although somewhat gaudy, over edited and over saturated, it’s a clear representation of my physical and mental dissociation. The many faces representing the multiple sides of me, all the same person, but then again not the same. The gun representing the war within me and the impending decision of having to kill all these other sides of myself, to find who I really am.
I know this image will be quite different from anyone else’s, the blood red, the glowing eyes. This isn’t imagery you usually associate with summer, but, my summer has been anything but the norm.
Over summer, I worked on an exciting part of my long-term project on exploring Christianity in Nigerian cities. My chosen image comes from this project and I chose it for two reasons: it belongs to a project that is very dear to my heart and that became one of the highlights of my summer; the image is a reflection of where I am right now in my life – on the cusp of a revolution. This summer has been a doorway ushering me into a new, more mature and more focused mindset. Like the three people in the photo, I feel like I’m entering the garden of the fruits of all my labour from these past couple of years.
This summer more than ever, I learnt how life is all about how you choose to perceive it and forced myself into the habit of letting go, accepting the cards life has dealt me and appreciating each day as it came. I felt a helium balloon, going where the wind blows, was the perfect symbol for this.
I also chose to focus on one subject in a large space as most self-discovery happens while spending time with yourself, in moments of self-reflection, ignoring the hectic world around you. I used light and airy tones similar to those of a fantasy emphasising the feeling of being in and creating, in your mind, a wold of your own.
Over the last few months, I’ve learnt a lot about different cultures spending large amounts of my time travelling, exploring, documenting and experiencing new things; whilst also learning a lot about myself and how to navigate life. I feel this series best embodied my summer – a summer of discovery and growth.