“You can see much more, only if you change the way you choose to see it. If you change the light source, you’ll see something different.”
It took just one photograph to decide that attending Lana Black’s Exhibition was definite.
Beyond symmetry, Tunji Lana; also known as Lana Black, explores photographs devoid of color; working with elements like tone, light and shade while perfecting the craft and developing an art form that picks subtlety over drama. Evidently, his style of photography is informed by his study of architecture and graphic design in Ukraine. Photography started as a means to get a ‘free A’ in school, as he was more interested in the grade than the business. Though he didn’t excpect to like it, he started taking pictures after the course and has been shooting professionally Since 2004. He hasn’t looked back since.
Depending on his mood, he shoots in film, savouring the joy in putting his hands to work, not dwelling so much on the lens he’s using. He does however, go digital sometimes to save time.
“I like working in the dark room and hanging the pictures when finished with the solution which is what informed the setting”
He sure loves to experiment; having started out with fashion photography, then pictures of icons and landmarks, buildings before he got bored, picked up product photography, before stepping back to develop his art in its current form.
Though he has been in Lagos for three years, ‘Lana Black is…’ was his first exhibition here, held at Terra Culture, due to its status as a popular hub of exciting African art in all forms and his desire to introduce and bring people to appreciate this kind of art. He saw the exhibition as an opportunity to see the market and learn how it works.
Habitually, he goes out, takes a walk around, sees how the environment looks to him and documents it.
“For the exhibition, I wanted not to focus on the travels, but also that you can travel within your environment, explore, and that’s what informed the Lagos pictures. I worked more on them because it’s the environment I am in at the moment.”
Addressing how difficult shooting in Lagos proves to be, this resilient photographer says he would sometimes drive really fast and just put out his camera and hope for the best, thinking “Hopefully this should give me a good shot”
Lured by his peculiar perspective on the Lekki Bridge, we were prompted to delve into what informed the Lana Black view.
“I have a thing for symmetry. I think It’s everything in its most complete form, even with humans…what you have on one side, you have on the other.”
“Mass Convergence“, a favorite piece, depicts Lagos in its truest form as a dynamic city. “It’s always moving, it’s always active, bound… it’s like on a loop. What I wanted to showcase is that a circle is a prime example of a loop that keeps going round and round… this is how Lagos is and this is how you’ll see Lagos.”
The picture was taken on Falomo Bridge, leaving Akin Adesola to climb up to Falomo.
When you’re composing sometimes, there are certain things you want to his focus on, a powerful feature. When you put too much focus on something, that is what the picture is going to transcend. I want people to create their own experiences from the work, not tell them “this is what it is” This is the style of photography that would be the Lana Black trade mark. So yes, I’m branding myself as this.
“My best is Five Past 11, it’s one of the Lekki Bridge pictures. That’s the time I took the picture, there was a lot of controversy around it and I wanted it to simulate the time I took it. I actually laid on the floor, caused a little bit of traffic. I simulated it like the face of a watch, the long and the short hand.”
The responses to his work have quite encouraging, he says, but he’d rather the people buy.
He doesn’t see himself as limited in any way, stating that his next exhibition would be much more different, but still the same style, a sort of follow up to this exhibition, perhaps towards the end of the year.
“I feel that if you want to make a difference you have to do what other people are not doing.”
The uniqueness of what Lana Black achieves with his peculiar style of photography is arguably what makes him stand out. We love how his perspective takes the mind out of the box and encourages you to look at things from another angle. Perspective after all, is everything. We look forward to more of Lana Black’s work and in the meantime, we’ll be practising looking at things in new lights. Although you might not catch us lying on the road at 11:05pm.
What do you think of Lana Black’s collection? Drop a comment below.