- Written by: Mary M. Murphy
Artist Uprising Interview: Dallas Photographer Olufela Raymond
Olufela “Fela” Raymond has always had an affinity for taking photos. As a child in Nigeria, he was often found with a camera in his hands, snapping shots of his loved ones and whatever his curiosity led him to. Since then, his curiosity and love for film photography has led him to Australia, Uganda and Dallas, where he resides as a professional photographer and creative director. And yes, you can still often find him with a camera in his hands.
Although Fela's photographs are objectively striking, what makes them truly unique is the mentality behind his work. Despite our technologically-savvy age, he doesn’t focus on digital editing - he’s dedicated to keeping his photographs authentic. When you look at one of his images, you’re seeing the same moment Fela saw through his lens, unedited.
“As an artist, I have the responsibility to respond to what is happening around me,” he said. “Especially right now, it’s important to show everything in its true light, even if it’s not quite the tones and perspective we want. Maybe it’s the one we need to see.”
His authentic approach to his craft is evident in all his photographs, but especially those from his trip to Uganda. While volunteering there for a local university, he began taking pictures of the people and children he encountered.
“I saw myself in those kids,” he said. “It made it very easy for me to tell their story from their perspective and my own.”
Fela hadn’t been back to Nigeria since he was a child, and although Uganda is not his hometown, he says it became the closest thing he had to home in a very long time. While he was there, he traveled to Wanale Mountain, where he got a better glimpse of Ugandan culture.
“A majority of the population had very little clothing; the shorts and shirts they did own, tattered and worn,” Fela said. “I spoke with a few of the residents, some were wary of our presence and reason for being there, some unhesitatingly asked for money and other aid. I was shocked that a country with so many natural resources could have so many impoverished people.”
Being someone who made it out of similar situations from poverty, Fela took it upon himself to do what he could to help. He started a joint project with a local student to raise funds and bring aid and awareness to the people atop Wanale mountain - a venture that will sell art pieces and collections to tourists and art aficionados in Uganda.
During his visit, Fela supported the creation and appreciation of art in Africa by buying arts and crafts from locals. Now he’s created something that encourages others to do the same, while helping raise money for the country he captured in his photographs.
“I always love the people best when I travel,” Fela said. “Getting to know them and find the angle that best represents the way I saw them is one of my favorite things.”
How you see things, Fela says, is one of the most important parts of being a creative. That’s why he captures authentic moments that reveal the truth, and encourages others who are pursuing photography to do the same.
“Share your perspective of you how see the world,” he said. “Always remember it’s a unique perspective.”
When he’s not taking photographs, you can find Fela cooking up amazing meals or DJing as BLKDUDE.
Facebook: Fela Raymond
Website: Fela Raymond