Celebrating 64 years of Ghanaian independence, here are some of the country’s best young photographers, including Carlos Idun-Tawiah, David Nana Opoku Ansah, and Michael Aboya
Photographer and filmmaker Carlos Idun-Tawiah creates beautiful, pure images and films that showcase his mission to preserve his native culture.
Captivating shots and films are heavily influenced by Ghana's rich archival and fashion photography pioneered by the likes of James Banor. Carlos champions not only his Ghanian culture but also tells a very unique African story.
His passionate documentation of Black life across the continent and diaspora stretches out, photographing Michaela Coel, Naomi Campbell, and more. Carlos’ “Obaasima” work, a collaboration shoot with a group of creatives in Accra and a sequel of Sunday School’s “Hair Appointment” led by Josef Adamu, reflects his stunning point of view. The project was conceptualised when he decided to unpack the cultural roots of African hair braiding and threading, after reading a publication describing hair braiding as a "coronavirus hairstyle" Idun-Tawiah felt emboldened to release the true narrative, going beyond beauty into true African history.
At the heart of his work is a mission to document the ever-changing landscapes of Black life, and Black beauty in all of its forms, from hairstyles to overlooked hypercommunities.
The passion for travel meets the expansive filmmaking art of David Boanuh, a Ghanaian filmmaker. He picked up a camera to film a video for a class project as a student in Ashesi. He filmed his short documentary during a visit to London to see his brother To Be Ghanaian In London, shot in the summer of 2018. The short film explores the Ghanaian identity from a diaspora perspective, snapping commutes to work, nights out, and jubilant weddings in stunning vignettes. His A Conversation With series follows young, talented people from across the African continent, shadowing them through their favourite places and activities, and tracing their origin stories, beliefs, and passions. In a stunning career moment, he was also a director of photography for the Ghana locations of Beyoncé’s Black is King.
David has moved beyond filmmaking to co-found Beautiful Stories; a production agency primarily aimed at picking up on what the media fails to, telling beautiful stories that portray the span and reality of his motherland and Africa, a land full of resilient people with a sense of community. One of the agency’s most recent works is a short film that highlights the Northern part of Ghana, exploring family and community.
DAVID NANA OPOKU ANSAH
Born and bred in the heart of Ghana, Accra, David Nana Opoku Ansah is telling beautiful stories with his poetic images and deftly captures the unconventional. The new aesthetics of African-ness and community are ever-present in all things. His work Area Boys & Brotherhood lenses a Ghanaian community of young boys growing up together in harmony. David draws inspiration from people like Alec Soth, Deana Lawson, Tyler Mitchell, and Alex Webb.
Ansah also photographed the rapidly iconic GUCCI × Manju collaboration that reimagined the legendary Jackie 1961 bag. The project is based on the genderlessness of Ghanian pronouns, beautifully translated into striking images that challenge gender stereotypes with beautiful fluidity, tapping into incisive nuances of Ghanian culture.
David N.O Ansah is truly a native son, ever telling beautiful stories and poetry rich in his culture, wherever the light takes him. “Freedom to me means being able to live and explore freely without rules set by society,” he tells Dazed.
Self-taught photographer Fiifi Abban came to his first love, photography, after losing his banking job. With work on fashion editorial for the likes of Charlotte Mensah, Talensi Atelier, Ohene Mantse, and others, Fiifi quickly became known for vivid storytelling and narrative force. In more recent work, his Portrait of Freedom series encapsulates Black liberation and joy, and his striking portraits of Ghana’s burgeoning drill scene capture a creative community on the rise. As Fiifi tells Dazed: “I consider myself incredibly lucky to be doing what I do, and I try to share my passion for photography and the city with everyone that I work with through my lens. I’m here to inspire the new generation, that everything is possible.”
Multidisciplinary artist Joseph Abbey-Mensah creatives visual, magical manifestations under the alias Sarf Bort. Growing up with a background full of rich tradition and culture, Joseph draws inspiration from Jamestown, his community in Accra and one of the city’s oldest districts and a buzzing hub of creativity, to lens local youth culture and street style in sumptuous colours.
Bringing his unique perspective into the fashion world, Joseph works in design research and development with Cult Meraki, and has worked with various brands including Yevu Clothing and Nike to produce captivating fashion photographs. As a stylist and personal shopper too, his edge and style reverberates through the work.
Born in Jamestown, Accra, Kwame Acheampong is a passionate photographer and artist. Kwame’s work is heavily influenced by his evolving research in art and philosophy, reading poems, and literature that delves into the rich past history of Ghana, which impacts his exploration of aesthetics. With a keen eye In the near future, he hopes to expand his artistic practice into painting and sculpture.
To inspire, empower, and reach the emotions of people is the driving force behind the works of Ghana’s self-taught photographer Michael Aboya. The 25-year-old artist’s work speaks to the jubilant splendour of the everyday life of his Ghanaian people, creating powerful portraiture mixed with symbolism and creative storytelling, especially with his Songs of Freedom shoot. Michael purchased his first camera using his tuition fees. One of his most celebrated works is “Songs of Freedom”, inspired by Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and his own local community, which he shot in 2019. It was shot in Labadi, one of Ghana’s oldest neighbourhoods on the coast of Accra, and features a host of local boys from fisherman families, dancing exuberantly to another playing the violin. It reflects the power of Blackness, liberation in creativity, and the power in belonging, all conceptualised through a violin – an instrument of the soul.
NANA OFORI-ATTA ASOMANI
The 23-year-old photographer and creative director Nana Ofori-Atta Asomani has a daringly direct approach, with intricate concepts and portraiture that leans playfully into the surreal and abstract. Recently, his #Melanin series became an open call to the celebration of Black lives during the #blacklivesmatter protests. Asomani works across fashion and music, lensing the likes of Kayso, Tribe Of God, Yung D3mz, Safi Label, Dj Krept, and Asi. “Freedom to me means being about to create without restraints or judgment when it comes to my works,” Asomani tells Dazed.
PRINCE GYASI NYANTAKYI
25-year-old Ghana-based visual artist Prince Gyasi started his journey by telling visual stories with his iPhone lens. Prince documents visual stories that touch on the celebration of childhood, fatherhood, motherhood, and hope for the marginalised in society. By capturing images that have a distinct aesthetic, juxtaposing hyper vibrant colours with Blackness, he celebrates and accentuates the African skin. In telling aesthetic stories embellished with thought-provoking themes, he has become a household name, not just in his home country, but across the globe. As well as narrative photography, he has shot top African industry players like Burna Boy.
Sackitey Tesa Mate-Kodjo initially started capturing images upon counsel from his friend and peer Nana Yaw Oduro, moving from mobile photography to shooting with DSLRs quickly. His portraits are prop-heavy, with an escapist, serene quality, all while highlighting social issues. His Yesterday’s Shopping project, for example, sees models dressed in discarded items and trash, as a reflection on capitalist consumerism, fleeting trends, and the environment. He exceeds his creative boundaries with a unique creative process that includes sketching of shoot ideas, deconstructing old props into new ones like using plastic items and fabrics, and personally styling his muses to create that perfect Sackitey masterpiece.