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Roderick Ejuetami Talks Inspirations, Full-Circle Moments, and Resilience

Capturing the iconic moments of huge names like Tems, Davido, and Wizkid, Roderick Ejuetami is an inventive visual artist and entrepreneur from Delta State, Nigeria. Roderick's ability to create inimitable aesthetics for his clients has paved a way for him in industries such as music and fashion. His ability to creative direct and produce images that effortlessly tell the unknown stories of some of the industry's biggest names is unique and inspiring. We spoke with Roderick about his inspirations, full-circle moments, and what it takes to make it in the world of photography.



Let's talk about your roots. Where are you from, and how did your hometown inspire you as a creative?

I'm from Delta State, Nigeria. I was born in Lagos. The person I am is definitely super tied to Delta State. It definitely inspired me. I love Nigeria. I love Africa. I wouldn't want to be from anywhere else. I really believe in the continent and my country. I feel like being from there has made me someone who never really takes no for an answer in terms of chasing the life I want. It has made me a person who is always ready to keep moving and looking for a way forward. I am always thankful for whatever I get. I am just very grateful and feel very prepared due to where I am from.


How did your photography career begin?

So I was two years into studying biochemistry, and I then found photography while spending time with my friends. I started off with photography casually at the club, just taking photos of my friends and playing around. I decided that it was something that I really enjoyed, and I started doing it more. When I finished school, I moved back to Lagos, and then I put my biochemistry degree aside and went into the industry with a camera I borrowed from my brother. I had a friend who was a hype man. I would just follow him around and document him until I started meeting other people to take photos of. I started moving from one job to another, and then I found the music industry. Then, I decided that I wanted to truly take the craft seriously and immerse myself in the music industry. Afrobeats was just becoming global at the time. It's been in Africa for so long, but it was finally going out to the world. I felt like I needed to use my photography as a visual language of my own to amplify the growth of Afrobeats.


Elliot Hensford ©

What would you say the most challenging thing to learn was when you started your photography career?

In all of it, I feel like the business aspect of photography was the hardest thing to learn. It took me a while to learn about this. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was confident in saying that it was my business and that everyone needs to treat it like a business. People thought they could get free photos all of the time or that I could come to stop by for free occasions. It took me a while because I am a person who likes to give. But I had to learn it, and I'm happy that I learned it early! I needed to treat my business like a business.


Another thing I had to learn was that different businesses work in different ways. The fashion industry dynamics are different from most other industries. The music industry has its own dynamic. They all have different dynamics. So, I had to learn how to exist in all of those different spaces. I was doing this as my only job. I needed to survive, so I had to really push myself to learn.


The last huge thing I had to learn was how to make sure I was branding myself. I wanted to be branded as this editorial photographer who is ready for magazine covers and high-end jobs. But my catalog is mostly music and events. So, I've had to work on branding and owning those two identities.


What photographers and other forms of artists inspire you and your work?

I feel like I get a lot of my inspiration from music. When I was starting off, my go-to photographers for inspiration were Jonathan Mannion and Chi Modu. Those guys are great. Chi Modu is known for documenting Tupac, Dre, and other big artists at the time. Jonathan documented the New York scene. I drew a lot of inspiration from them.


I was also really intrigued by filmmakers back then as well. I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Western art while working on creating an aesthetic back in Lagos. I actually got to meet Jonathon Mannion, and we made a connection which was really cool.


In terms of music, I was inspired by what Wizkid was doing at the time. He did big things. He really opened the door for Afrobeats into the world because Drake featured him at the time. He was a big cultural inspiration to me.


What would you say your favorite shoots have been so far?

One of my favorites was shooting Tems for the first time ever. It felt really special to me because I could visually direct it how I wanted. At that time, we weren't a team yet — it was just our first shoot. So, the fact that they trusted me enough to do the visual direction felt really good. I knew I needed to make sure that I delivered because I felt so trusted. It was a very special shoot, and I love how the photos came out.


Along with Tems, working with Davido for the first time was really good too. Shooting him was so different from working with Tems, obviously. But, I took the challenge to figure out how I could shoot him in the most quiet and gentle way possible. I had to really connect with him to figure out how to do the best work.


Those two are my favorites, but I've had a lot of special shoots throughout time.


What advice would you give someone who is eager to start their photography and creative direction career?

I would advise them to stay confident in their abilities, let God lead, and understand that the journey is very important. You also need to understand why you have chosen to work in photography and keep that close to your heart. Remain steadfast, always.


Talk about the projects that you are currently working on.

I am currently working on debuting my first solo exhibition, which I plan to have in Lagos. More information is coming soon. I also have DEEDS Magazine running well!


Elliot Hensford ©

Keep up with Roderick and all of his work on Instagram @deeds_art.

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