Hailing from Ikere-Ekiti State, but living in Lagos, Stephen Tayo has a knack for telling authentic stories through his vivid photography. Looking at Nigeria through his lens, you don’t just get a sun-soaked snapshot of everyday life in the heart of West Africa, you gain a deeper understanding of the culture. From IBEJI, his series exploring how twins are sacred in Yoruba culture (“the most exciting thing” he’s worked on, he says), or his ongoing assignment capturing the beauty of geles, intricate women’s headwraps tied for special occasions.
“My inspiration is from understanding my roots,” Tayo says, and his work is imbued with a powerful clarity that comes from being proud of your heritage – he sees and reveres the beauty of small details others might miss. Tayo has brought his vision of Lagos to the world, shooting fashion and rock music fans for the New York Times, festival style for Dazed, and street style for Vogue. For his current project, Tayo is documenting the city’s drag subculture – a sensitive subject in Nigeria, where LGBTQ+ rights are not recognised and there are no legal protections against discrimination.