Spotlight LagosPhoto Festival 2017: Francis Kokoroko
Ghanaian photographer and storyteller Francis Kokoroko earned his degree in computer science. However, after taking a photography class, he realised it was his true passion. Now an accomplished photojournalist in Accra, Kokoroko is working on documenting Ghana’s culture and social progression based on his belief that the backlog of stories on culture and social progression should be documented. In this interview with Omenka, he talks about LagosPhoto, the works he will be exhibiting and the growth of the photography industry.
Congratulations! You are one of the 36 photographers selected for this year’s edition of the LagosPhoto Festival. Can you tell us about some of the works you will be exhibiting?
I will be showing photos from Ghana’s Presidential and Parliamentary Elections of 2016. As a local, I was interested at the time in documenting the essence of the process; being much aware of existing ‘foreign’ reportage that usually seeks to portray elections on the continent as a ‘do or die’ affair; a precarious activity that could easily slip into civil war.
Keenly following the US elections at an earlier time of the same year, my fascination was the sharp contrast in the imagery that presented the process happening on both continents.
It was imperative to document my reality.
When did you first consider yourself a professional photographer?
Back in 2014, when I decided to fully commit to making photographs. I dropped everything else to explore the medium and I must admit the journey has been terrific.
You have achieved international recognition for your work which consists of staged and documentary photography. Can you tell us about your underlying philosophy?
My first encounter with photography was through family photographs and newspaper images. I draw much inspiration from my documentary work as it positions itself as the type of photography that ‘tells that truth’ – to put simply. My staged works borrow from this attribute, to create images that would have been difficult to translate otherwise. It is usually about establishing entry points using staged photographs into my mind space; that bears complex thoughts and ideas, both social and introspective.
What do you attribute to the increasing global interest in African art, as well as the rising phenomenon of art fairs all over the world?
I cannot say much about this because I am not invested in that space. It should be a good thing if the exchange is beneficial to all parties involved. What I find rather exciting is the growing access to art and the artists creating them – the Internet!
What in your opinion does the growing development of photography across Africa portend for it?
I strongly believe that Africans now possess an important mouthpiece to shape their narrative. With this tool we can dig up ‘real’ issues and have conversations critical and progressive.
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
As emerging artists, it is our responsibility to pursue excellence and advancement in our chosen fields without failing to socially engage.
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