David Uzochukwu is a 15 year old fine art photographer from Innsbruck, Austria. Currently residing in Luxembourg, but soon planning on relocating to Brussels.
Discovering photography at the age of twelve, he immediately fell in love with the craft. Later on, he started working with conceptual photography and self-portraiture.
Using his work for self-expression, he works with bright colors and themes such as wonder and tragedy to create somber stories that are only partly rooted in reality. Most often, one single character is portrayed in natural surroundings, leading to imagery that exudes a sense of loss and loneliness. The tender atmosphere in his work connects the photographs, and can be traced back to his emotions being the main force used as inspiration.
Since 2013, 15 year old David Uzochukwu has been interviewed, featured, and published in countless magazines, and online articles, including: Photo Vogue Italia, Kwerfeldein Magazine, Five Thôt, Lost Freedom Magazine, 7Days, WatchMePivot, Rise Africa, 123 Inspiration, 121 Clicks, Boost Nu (TV Interiew), The Portfolio, Modern- Intellect, Flawless Magazine and many more. His clients include singer Ozark Henry and fashion designer Rebel Yuths.
Please join us in this inspiring interview with David. In this interview you can look forward to seeing a variety of David’s works, some before and afters, a glimpse into his creative process, and much more. Enjoy!
(note: description written from biography on daviduzochukwu.com)
How did you become interested in photography?
I started shooting with my mum’s point-and-shoot that I had somehow picked up during the holidays, I think I was eleven or twelve. Photography immediately fascinated me. I started with documenting everything around me, and then moved on to creating fine art.
Do you have any formal education in photography or are you self-taught for the most part?
I learned everything I know through going out and trying. It worked for me! I’m definitely still learning, and I know that I’ll never stop.
How would you describe your progression in photography? For example, how has completing your 52 weeks project affected the development of your work? What was the biggest lesson you learned while creating these works?
The 52 weeks project was a great motivation to keep shooting in the beginning, and I think it’s nice to be able to look back at it and see my development. But I think what made me grow the most was the 100 days project that I started this summer, even though I only kept it up for a month or so. Shooting daily was important for me, and I think it really affected my work (sounds crazy since it only was a month, but it’s true.) I’m looking forward to starting another one next summer. The biggest lesson I learned was probably that I shouldn’t take creating too serious. I have to let it come to me, try not to force it, to get results I’m satisfied with.
How important would you consider social media to be regarding the exposure of your work?
It’s everything. I wouldn’t get any exposure at all without it.
You often engage in creating beautiful self-portraiture. Why do you create self-portraits? And do you think that it’s important for every artist to experiment with self-portraiture?
Thank you! I started doing it because I didn’t have any other model, and by now it’s a very therapeutic habit. I also don’t have to fret about making anyone else suffer for my picture, which is definitely a bonus! I don’t think everyone has to do it – if you don’t want to experiment with it, then don’t. But self-portraits only had positive effects on me and on everyone else that I know is doing them, so I would definitely recommend at least trying self-portraiture once.
Your work is absolutely amazing, and many are surprised to know that you are 15 years old. Do you ever experience a stigma against you or your work because of your age? Do you ever struggle with this?
I don’t, being young has only brought me advantages until now. I’m also very happy that I have discovered photography this soon. I mean, I’ll get to spend almost my whole life with it – if that’s not amazing, what is?
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to create a photo?
Lying on the stony ground in winter, in my underwear and covered with black paint, has got to be pretty high on the list.
What inspires you?
Photographs, books and movies of course, but also passionate people, light, dreams and experiences. I’m really inspired by subtle moods and atmospheres, I think they’re the most fascinating thing to explore and recreate.
What’s on your gear list? (camera, software, etc)
A Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm 1.4, and I edit with Photoshop CS6. My older work was done with a Canon 500D.
How important is Photoshop to your work? Could we see some before/afters?
It’s very important. Without photoshop, I couldn’t bring my ideas to life. It’s not used to correct anything, but part of my creative process.
In your work you focus on “themes such as wonder and tragedy to create somber stories that are only partly rooted in reality”. How are you able to come up with such conceptually strong ideas so often? Would you say that a part of yourself goes into your work most or all of the time?
I’m not entirely sure, once inspiration hits I just do my best to scribble it all down before I forget it again 😛 Yes I would, into my personal work anyway. I like to see my pictures as an extension of myself, which sounds very cheesy and pretentious but is actually true.
What’s your proudest moment as a photographer?
My work will be exhibited for the very first time in March, at kunstkwartier Maastricht. I don’t think I can put into words how excited and proud I am.
Can you tell us about your new series titled “Shifting”?
Of course! I collaborated with the fashion designer Rebel Yuths. His clothing is inspired by african culture, and I thought it would be interesting to combine traditional african elements with northern elements and different surreal parts. I also wanted to try and see whether I could create an atmosphere spanning over multiple images.
What do you do in your free time when you’re not working on your photography?
I dance, read and travel. But in the end, all of that has something to do with photography again (discovering interesting poses, finding inspiration, scouting locations/ meeting models or people in the photographic community), so I can happily say that photography has taken over my entire life.
Is there anything (within the realms of photography or not) that you wish you were better at?
Ha, is there anything that I didn’t wish I was better at? I’m really just trying to become a better person altogether, to make myself happy.
What’s your favourite photo you’ve ever taken? (Why?)
I’d say ‘Castaway’. It was a result of some self-portrait therapy I did, completely unplanned. It’s also very personal. And producing images that are close to my heart is the most amazing thing ever anyway.
Who/What are some of your greatest influences? And who are some of your favourite photographers and/or artists?
Laura Zalenga was the reason I started taking portraits and self-portraits. Some other photographers I love are Alex Stoddard, Marwane Pallas, Kyle Thompson, Ryan Muirhead and Philip-Lorca diCorcia.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently trying to get back into shooting daily, or regularly even, but somehow life constantly seems to get in the way.
What is your creative process like? When coming up with ideas do you like to write, sketch, or create mood boards? And on average how long would you consider your process of conceptualizing, shooting, and editing to be?
I usually sketch my ideas out, to capture what they look like in my head. Conceptualizing takes around 5-20 minutes if I know where I want to go, and once I get everything I need, I start shooting. That takes anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. And editing takes between 10 minutes (rarely) and two hours (usually).
Where would you like to see yourself within the next 5-10 years?
I’d love to see myself still creating what I want to be creating, preferably surrounded by creative people and family. Eventually, I just really want to be happy, and not everyone else’s expectation.
Do you have any advice to offer us fellow photographers?
Don’t give up. Be you, and do whatever you feel like. Don’t let anyone limit you. Create freely.
Interviewed by: Angela Butler