Kojo Anim first fell in love with photography as a kid when he discovered his brother’s camera. Immediately fascinated by the flash of the light and the sound of the camera, he was eager to learn how he could capture the world around him. Now aged 22, this Ghanaian photographer is working tirelessly to show some aspects of his culture often overlooked. Always inspired by his dreams and the intent observation of the day-to-day activities of people, he believes that “everybody’s actions hold a hidden meaning or carry a secret message”.
How did you start with photography?
I started as a professional in 2017. I'm working tirelessly to show the overlooked Ghanaian culture in its complexity. My aim is to create a new world deeply rooted in the old world. I first fell in love with photography aged 10, when I saw my brother’s camera. I was curious to learn how the camera could capture what I see around me. It was even more of a pleasure experience because of the flash of the light and the sound of the camera. From that point forward, I became addicted to photography.
What motivates you in your practice, what do you aim to explore through your photography?
Photography comes naturally to me in the wildest of my dreams, moving from one scene to the other, and also through my encounters with different people and different situations. My inspiration comes from the keen and intent observation of the day-to-day activities of people. I believe that everybody’s actions hold a hidden meaning or carry a secret message which is oftentimes overlooked. Therefore, I seize opportunities and bring them to life. Sometimes during times spent alone I come up with ideas which turn out to be amazing. I just want to share them with the world so everyone sees what I see.
Who or what would you say is your greatest inspiration in your work?
I enjoy to sit down and reflect on what happens both in dream and real world. This way I soon realized my interest for the moments people go through, and what inspires them to do what they do. As I gradually became more expressive with my work, many people started noticing and appreciating my little effort and that encourages me to do more.
What do your photos tell us about everyday life in Ghana?
Photographically, Accra is a colourful city in the south of the country. It is heavily populated and very cosmopolitan. Central Accra has a well-planned layout with high buildings for business and government offices. It is choked with traffic in the morning and evening; and trading is the most popular business. Along its streets, you can see many market people, mostly women, that gracefully balance heavy, large pots on their heads. With my photos, I portray a more peaceful, simpler, beautiful layer of my community, and that includes promoting youth empowerment and how the environment lends itself to artistic creations.
Some of your latest photographs portray and explore the relationship of twins. Could you explain this on-going series a bit further?
As a twin, I have been exploring this special relationship for quite some time. Many have found it difficult to relate to twins in my community, because they have been historically viewed as a curse to the family. Unfortunately, this idea still remains nowadays within Ghanaian traditional society. As a living testimony and through my work, I share my story and show how being a twin is special and a blessing.
Would you say that nature is an influence for your work?
I consistently rely on my natural environment as a setting for my photographs. Greater Accra region has a variety of natural elements that lend themselves to beautiful photography. I enjoy a myriad of plants and flowers that naturally grow in my community and it is unfair to select just one from, but I love bold Taro leaves. I really enjoy contrasting the beautiful dark skin of models with other bright and bold coloured plants and fruits.
Could you tell us about the ideas and inspiration behind this series for ROWSE?
The series for ROWSE was photographed in Greater Accra region, in places where I go to think, meditate and envision future projects. It’s a serene area, the beach provides a peaceful, natural landscape that easily lends to beautiful photographs.
My idea was to creatively spotlight each product to enhance its colours and let the aroma set the scene and inspire the models. I really liked the plant-based scents and colours of ROWSE products, and I was delighted to see Moringa among the range of raw ingredients –it is naturally grown in Ghana and a staple for skincare and other uses thanks to its many health benefits.
You collaborate with Labour of Love, a NGO working to provide educational and healthy living resources to rural communities in Ghana. Could you tell us a bit more about their work?
My collaboration with Labour of Love is very special to me. I’m volunteering my time for this organisation as Lead Photographer, so I’m able to share my love for photography with rising young artists who share my interest for art.
Labour of Love has been working for 19 years; and over the last five years, they have seen an increase in local student enrolment by 75%. The organization hosts annual fundraisers to support students to attend school with footwear, hygienic products and school supplies. The overall goal of Labour of Love is to develop projects that enhance and provide educational resources, medical supply accessibility, and agricultural ventures that benefit the health and financial situation of all local residents.
Photography by Kojo Anim