Amplifying Black Voices: Idara Ekpoh
Nasdaq is proud to celebrate Black History Month by extending its digital series, Amplifying Black Voices, a multimedia retrospective featuring works of art and photography documenting Black life.
We recently spoke with Idara Ekpoh, a first-generation Nigerian-American woman, portrait photographer and all-around visual storyteller currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. Soon after pursuing photography in 2016, the mission of her photography was to create art that is going to celebrate and amplify Black voices. She is currently working on an ongoing project, “Self Portrait Sunday,” which captures her personal narrative. Idara is also a member of Black Women Photographers, a group aiming to disrupt the notion that it is difficult to discover and commission Black creatives.
Tell us about your background and how you made your way to photography.
My name is Idara Ekpoh, and I am a Portrait Photographer and all-around Visual Storyteller currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. My journey with photography started in January of 2016, which was my senior year of college. After I was able to convince my mother to purchase my first camera (Canon Rebel SL1), I started taking graduation photos for a few of my friends. This was a way for me to get comfortable with capturing others. From this point, I spent time trying to figure out my style of photography and what exactly I wanted to capture. I went from grad photos to events to portrait sessions to even shooting my first wedding. Even though I loved being able to connect with people through photography, I felt there was more that I wanted to do with my work. That’s when I shifted my focus to storytelling and capturing the stories of those around me. I went back home to Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria in 2018 with my camera, and this was the first time I realized that photography can be used as a tool to tell the unique stories around you.
What kind of themes and stories do you explore through your visuals?
The mission of my photography is to create art that is going to celebrate and amplify Black voices. As a first-generation Nigerian-American woman, I have always been interested in the topic of identity, and this is what I use as a theme behind the stories I explore with my visuals. I use photography as a medium for me to not only tell my own story but also to empower and bring visibility to the voices of those within my community. I also love to focus on color in my work. I think that color theory can be used to tell the story you want to tell. That’s something that I have been working to incorporate a lot more recently.
Through which perspective are we seeing your visuals?
You’re seeing my visuals through the perspective of how I view the world and those around me. What I love about photography is that you are able to capture people or things in the way that you view them. It’s a way to take what’s in your head or what you think about someone and capture that in a photograph in the best way that you can.
Please choose one piece to share digitally and tell us why you are sharing this piece and what you hope the viewer takes away.
I’d like to share one of my self-portraits from my ongoing project, “Self Portrait Sunday.” This was a project that I started while being in Quarantine. Every week I would challenge myself to take a new self-portrait every Sunday. Not only did this challenge me as a photographer, but it allowed me to explore my identity. As photographers, I think that we often are always documenting other people/stories, and sometimes we miss our own. That’s what makes this project so special is that I captured myself in the ways I see who I am. That’s the beauty of self-portraiture -- you control your own narrative.
In your opinion, what is the best way for allies to help amplify Black voices?
I believe the best way for allies to help amplify Black Voices is through creating space within their platforms, their organizations, etc., for us to come and share our stories. I always think that the best thing allies can do is to listen to the voices that they are aiming to amplify, so use the privilege that you have to create space for us so we can share our stories.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
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