One of the most amazing things about photography is how it has the power to give us a glimpse of everyday life in places we’ve never been to. It’s the main element that drives photojournalists and documentary photographers to search for compelling stories to translate into visual narratives. Photojournalist August Udoh may just be one of many who have documented his hometown in Nigeria, but his portrait set, aptly named Everyday People, is an emotive introduction to the characters of his everyday life.
August Udoh’s subjects may not be celebrities, and their backdrops may not be scenic, but he gives each of them a dignified space in his documentary work. The goal is reminiscent of Richard Avedon’s approach in putting together his famous In The American West. Like Avedon, August has been choosing ordinary people with a certain character and story to grace his frames. However, in true documentary style, he photographs them in their “natural habitat”, making use of their surrounds to paint a picture of who they are, what they do, and what every day looks like for them.
Another detail that reminds me of Avedon is August’s choice to photograph his Everyday People in a formal style that you typically see in high profile portraits and fashion editorials. His photos give an impression of a dramatic yet professional treatment that you don’t typically see in a documentary work. I find that both interesting and refreshing.
Looking beyond Everyday People, a similar set called Ordinary People is equally interesting with the same formal style and emotive tone. The characters are also interesting, and some don’t look that ordinary at all. By capturing their colorful and stately attire, compelling expressions, and sometimes dramatic backdrops, August has not only done well to paint us a picture of his Nigerian hometown, but his work is also a testament to him making good use of a clear affinity for photojournalism and documentary photography.