The Magazine Issue X: The Forgotten Photographer - Page 41

There's quite a backstory associated here, but it seems to be presented in a tangible way for viewers to take something away. What message(s) do you hope to convey, and what have your reactions been thus far?

Nigeria’s economy is massive. It’s hard to explain the scale of the country or the importance of its economic might. As a photographer, I wanted to visualise that enormity and significance. One way to do that is through showing weddings with thousands of guests.

Originally, I had wanted to photograph rich weddings and poor weddings and have the difference in the images show a stratified economy. Now that I’ve done that, when I show the pictures to people who aren’t familiar with Nigeria or with Africa, they say, these pictures or upper class weddings are great, but where are the poor weddings??

No matter how much money people in Nigeria have, they get dressed up and spend all they can on wedding day. Everyone looks so put together that for outsiders who can only see poverty in a village or in an image of a child with a bloated belly, it doesn’t make sense that many of the people in my images are in fact poor or working class.

At first I felt frustrated and like I was failing as a photographer trying to communicate a message. But, it isn’t about my agenda: it’s about showing the world around me as it is. Some of the images clearly communicate class differences, but I also now see the project as an opportunity to reflect on a moment of convergence. The rich and poor live vastly different lives in a country with as much wealth and inequality as Nigeria, but on wedding day, everyone feels good and looks even better.

The reception has been great. After I went to my first couple of weddings in Lagos, I knew I was on to something, but I had no idea where it would go. Many people complain about how media consumers have short attention spans and want specific kinds of stories, but it’s been exciting to me to see that when we offer up a different kind of narrative, people are hungry for it.

For more on Glenna's work, visit her website here.

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