Kubiat Oku Nnamdie ( aka Kobe or KON) is a Nigerian artist, based in Miami. His career kicked off as soon as he graduated when he was asked to shoot an s/s ’10 campaign for a local designer. He is currently involved with a project called ‘The Young Are Willing’, a project that focuses on the current creative youth that are inspired, driven, and willing. Nnamdie is also wrapping up his Pills project, which explores the pros and cons of taking pills. The project was inspired by family doctors, and the death of two close friends caused by pharmaceutical overdose. Nnamdie feels his vision is to tackle serious issues, but in a creative, playful manner. For the future he will perfect shooting in a cinematic format.
What led you to start this career path?
Belief in myself. My sister has been a model since I was seven, at the Bar Mitzvah age of thirteen I naively thought “I can do that [photograph]”.
How long have you been doing this?
Since I was thirteen years old
How far has it taken you?
Being asked by a local designer, to shoot her s/s ’10 campaign, right after my graduation date.
How did you start?
I had to learn a lot of things on my own. By going to a local Good-Will and purchasing a Samsung Maxima 20 S 30mm camera. My objective is to prove that my equipment isn’t important. Its my eye.
What are your goals?
To continue to grab more than just the viewers attention, while looking at my work.
What do you like most about photography?
The opportunity to tell a story, fantasy or real. Truth or a lie.
What is it like for you being on set?
I used to design my own sets, I don’t enjoy working in a studio anymore. Too many people and I prefer working outside of four walls.
What do you feel this has given to you/taken from you?
Not always working in a studio, has given me more opportunity to form a stronger connection with my subject or project I’m shooting. Most people feel pressure in a studio, and first meetings have to be organic and not forced.
What are you doing that is different or that you want to be recognized for?
I’m a photographer that has been painting as long as I’ve been photographing. Highlighting my photographs was a choice. I create installations and I’m a performance artist. I would like to be recognized for being a Nigerian based artist that doesn’t take himself to seriously and isn’t affiliated with email scams or airplane bombings. I care about the garments that I shoot. Most photographers that shoot fashion don’t give a shit, or care to know about the designer. Having a great love and respect for fashion, I can allow myself to be inspired by a sculptured silhouette Nina Ricci gown or Rick Owen’s boots. I’m very serious about photography, but I have to remember I should have fun as well.
What kind of energy attracts you to certain models?
Growing up with woman. I started to love woman that have a strong energy. If a model is confident enough to feel strong I am already sold.
Have you ever jumped into your shoots?
I haven’t even thought of doing such a thing, but I do allow the model to shoot me. Or we cartwheel. Anything whimsical helps break tension in the air. For me to get an honest shot, I can’t have any tension. Unless that is the feeling I want to portray.
So would you consider modeling?
What attracts you to fashion?
Fashion attracts me simply because it allows anyone to just feel. Its almost like music, both allow you to feel how you do, or would like to. Whether it be sensual, dark or sophisticated.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Dealing with the designer’s team I was shooting a campaign for.
What issues in your field do you have strong opinions about?
The art industry has slowly become, who you know, who you blow and where you show. Few artists are getting big breaks that might not yet be deserving, or are just not mature enough.
Why did you stop/what keeps you going?
There was a time I stopped shooting, and I hid my cameras. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I later realized I was pressuring myself and was too busy trying to make what I thought was and not just making it.
Share a story with us. One about a fun day on set, favorite project you completed, or a time you were really happy to be doing what you do.
I was shooting an actor that needed to update her portfolio. This girl is a close friend of mine, and I found it interesting she was an actor. She always seemed introverted towards certain people. When we arrived where I wanted to shoot her, she had me at first frame, I was completely taken aback. I couldn’t contain my excitement that she was finally being sexy, cool, and proud of her youth. I’ve never seen her behave this way. That very moment, made me content because it confirmed that photography is my raison d’etre. I am naturally a giver, and photography for me is such a great way to do just that.
Advice to new comers?
Know that it’s okay, if it takes you [the artist] time to maybe except your work at first and love how it looks. All artists should be insecure about their work, every now and then because your work is like a baby; an extension of you.
Any role models?
Ayn Rand, Aleber Elbaz and my muse Jozie.