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The Rise of Amazing Klef in Nigeria’s Visual Arts Scene

Making waves in the Nigerian creative industry with his unique vision and undeniable talent is photographer and creative extraordinaire, Amazing Klef.

With a career spanning almost a decade, Amazing Klef has worked with the crème-de-la-crème of the Nigerian entertainment industry, capturing them in stunning shots.

He is known for creating visually stunning and impactful images. His work reflects his unique perspective and ability to tell stories through his lens.

Amazing Klef is the founder of AKtivated Studios, which he describes as “a one-stop location for all visual needs and a creative community of visual artists.” He is also the founder of The Amazing Klef Academy, a learning platform for creatives. Recently, he launched AKtivated TV, an online platform dedicated to content creation and discovering Rap/Hip Hop talents.

Born on September 13, 1994, as Okwuchukwu Martins Dominic in Lagos, Nigeria, he was raised by his Igbo parents—a trader mother and a transporter father—on the streets of Ojo, Lagos. Since the age of 18, he has been carving a niche for himself in the creative industry, using various mediums including visual art, graphic design, photography, and cinematography.

Recognized as a multifaceted creative, Amazing Klef boasts an enviable portfolio of visual works and collaborations with top brands. He has photographed notable personalities such as Ice Prince, Tiwa Savage, Davido, Falz, Rema, Buju, Toke Makinwa, Kidi, Nancy Isime, Fisayo Fosudo, Tayo Aina, Ola of Lagos, Ckay, Blaqbonez, Oxlade, Rudeboy of P-Square, Laycon, Zlatan, DJ Khaled, 9ice, Phyno, Sarkodie, Broda Shaggi, Reekado Banks, DJ Spinall, Orezi, Kizz Daniel, Zoro, DJ Kaywise, Solidstar, Skiibii, Harrysong, Yung6ix, Fiokee, Brain Jotter, Nasboi, DJ Coublon, and many others.

His awards archive continues to grow, including accolades such as the “Best Photographer & Visual Artist 2016” award at the Scream Awards, the “Force of Creative Arts 2022” award at the Trendupp Awards, and the AFAA Photography Award 2022.

With a cumulative audience of over 400,000 organic followers on his social platforms, he is one of Nigeria’s most followed photographers and influential creatives.

In this exclusive interview with Acada Magazine’s publisher, ‘Biodun Caston-Dada, the amazing photographer shared his journey in the creative world and his plans to nurture his brand into a globally recognized one.

Congratulations on the successful holding of the maiden edition of the AKtivated Live! What made you put together such a magnificent show!

Thank you. It was AKtivated TV’s 5th year anniversary and we wanted to celebrate and also connect with core fans of the brand; also it’s been my dream to design a show that’s quite different from what people are used to experiencing and that’s exactly what we did.

 

You are one of the most influential showbiz photographers in Nigeria. How do you feel about this?

I am not really a showbiz photographer; I just happen to work with a lot of celebrities especially with my recent sojourn into advertising photography. But I understand your question and its quite amazing to see your work get the accolades you think it deserves and also be in some conversations regarding your field.

How has the transition from Graphic Designer, Photography, Content Creation and now Music been?

I won’t really call it a transition as I am still very involved in most of these things at the same time. I am a multifaceted creative and it basically means I create art in different forms. It’s been quite easy as I have always been an artist and these things come naturally to me.

What prompted your delving into music?

I am big fan of Hip Hop / Rap and recently that art form has nosedived in Nigeria. I am basically on a revival journey, nobody was making the kind of rap music I wanted to listen to so we decided to gather rappers from the AKtivated platform and make music – some people think I am going to sing on the project but no, lol! I am mostly playing some songwriting, A&R and Executive Producer duties.

How can you describe your type of music?

Hip-Hop/Rap in its most digestible form.

Going back to Photography. Can you tell me about your first experiences with photography?

It all started in Alaba, taking pictures of people that came to make their covers but before then I remember seeing a camera with people and just wondering how it works, the art has always fascinated me.

What areas are your core specialties?

I mostly shoot portraits, fashion and advertising / brand campaigns

Can you tell us about growing up and how that affected your vision as a photographer?

I grew up as a below average Nigerian, on the streets of Lagos so most of my photography influences are from the things I saw, music I listened to and basically my experiences and exposure.

What role has photography played in your life? 

Photography changed my life. It opened up my creative abilities and an avenue for self-expression and fulfillment.

What made you take up creative skills decide not to further your education?

When I completed high school, I don’t know how I knew university education wasn’t just for me.

It’s a great thing to go to school and acquire knowledge but literally, I could not lay finger on one course I’d have loved to study so I decided to pursue my passion. And for me, I believe education is all about studying what you want to do in life and knowing its nitty gritty. You don’t necessarily need to be in the four walls of a university to achieve that especially with the internet and technology.

Did you have formal training in photography?

I learnt mostly on YouTube and self-practiced till I figured out a lot of things myself.

When can you say you have you ‘big break’ in photography? 

My growth has been gradual and progressive, but I started to gain traction after I shot Ice Prince in 2017 or so.

How do you maintain your creative edge and stay inspired?

I try not to lose track of what the goal is at every point in life, stay informed and never forget where I’m coming from.

How do you handle feedback or criticism from clients?

No client, no business! I don’t joke with the clients so it’s basically everything to make sure they are satisfied.

How do you tell a story through your photographs?

With the use of props, lighting, colours, poses, location and more you can communicate emotions and ideas.

Can you share with us one of your toughest briefs and how you were able to go around it?

Hmmm, I can’t really place my finger on the toughest but every brief is special. It’s about figuring out what the client needs and meeting them.

You do organise periodical Master Classes, what’s the reason for this? 

I run a platform called the Amazing Klef Academy where we provide online courses and also periodical physical masterclasses and the aim is to make knowledge available for creatives all over the world as I struggled a little with this at the beginning of my journey.

How has technology influenced your work?

Mostly in a positive way; in the last couple years, discoveries and inventions have made work faster, easier and better in numerous ways.

Many young business owners usually complain about funding. Do you see this as a challenge?

Yes, slightly, I have a lot of ideas that would been executed better with better funding and some that never left incubation.

How have you been able to juggle photography, content production and now music?

It’s not easy but we have been able to find a structure around it, build formidable and reliable teams and create processes.

Who are your mentors?

I have a lot of people that inspire me, most of whom are not even in the creative industry – it’s a long list so I’d skip that.

What are your future plans for the Amazing Klef and AKtivated TV?

Build on what we currently have, evolve and create new magic.

Written by Taiwo Afolayan

Taiwo is a multinational award-winning Art & IT Consultant and a Certified Management Consultant. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fashionistar Africa, Founder of Argitech Limited, and an SDGs Advocate. He has over 10 years of experience in journalism, digital artistry, analytics, and photography. He enjoys listening to music, watching movies, and cycling.

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