Kate Nkansa Interviews Ghanaian Photographer Emmanuel Bobbie

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Emmanuel Bobbie is a Ghanaian Photographer who is the CEO of Bob Pixel Photography.  He is a husband and father of two to young boys.

I discovered Emmanuel’s work through his Facebook page and I was blown away by his photography. He is an artist who knows how to capture his subject soul. Every photo he takes tells a story. It is evident in the way his subjects surrender to his camera and open themselves to the lens.

I would describe Emmanuel’s work as the standard photographers in Ghana should measure themselves with.

His work is inspiring! I was compelled to ask Emmanuel to take part in an interview for our publication Feint & Margin. Emmanuel represents a new breed of Africans using their talent and profession to bring to light social issues in our communities and our continent. He uses his photos to promote social change. Some of his photography depicts the realities many Ghanaians face.

I was humbled to have an opportunity to tap into his creative mind and to find out who he is and how his work influences his life. Below is a synopsis of our conversation along with some of his photography.

Kate Nkansa (KN): How would you describe your photography style?

Emmanuel Bobbie (EB):  I don’t particularly have a style, each subject might require a different  approach. I wouldn’t be able to tag my style of photography

KN:  Why did you choose a career in  photography? How did it all start?

EB: I graduated from (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) KNUST in 2001 as a Graphic designer and photography was one of the subjects I needed to pass to graduate as a graphic designer. My love for photography goes back to my O’levels days when I used to take pictures during interco games at the stadium.

KN: Photography ,social issues and marrying the two? When did you start using your talent as a photographer as a tool to highlight social issues in Ghana? What inspired this shift?

EB: I have travelled extensively and shot some of Ghana’s most beautiful people including celebrities. I have seen the beauty and ugliness. About a year ago, I decided to change the kind of subjects I shoot. On my birthday, I  visit the Afram Plains with some friends and that was an “eye opener” for me. There are many things that we ‘city folks’ take for granted. I saw people with less but yet they managed a smile for my camera and they moaned less. I then decided that in as much as they smiled, they still had issues that need sorting out.
Even though I still do commercial shoots, I spend my own “free” time  driving around deprived areas. I try to bring a pictorial representation of their plights and needs.

Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved
Hanna the farmer

KN:  What sort of social issues have you uncovered during these shoots?
EB:  During my most recent project ,I  joined Amnesty International and Joy fm for the ‘Slum Radio Project‘ I uncovered issues ranging from lack of basic sanitation issues no water in these communities water and a lack of good educational facilities.

KN: Please tell us about your project with JOY fm?

EB: It was a  project ” slum radio”  which talks about the plight of the folks who live in the slums

KN: Which slum/s did you focus on?

EB: New Fadama a.k.a agbogbloshie

Luxury bed
“Thank God for your comfortable bed at home. Sometimes we fail to appreciate the simple things in life” Emmanuel Bobbie Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved

   

Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved Hope

KN:  Do you see any changes or improvements in the plight of our fellow Ghanaians after you’ve translated their plight into images? Do you believe your work makes a difference in their lives? 

EB:  Changes are slow in coming, things grind slowly but  instant changes is not what I expect but if it does happen. Halleluiah!
KN:  ‘Portraits of Wisdom’ Please tell us about some of the stories of the elderly people you’ve shot.
EB: In the lives of the folks I have shot in the deprived areas, they have hope that someone will see their plight and help might come some day.
KN: Each of the portraits you took of the old people has such profound history and deep wisdom etched the faces of your subjects. Did they confide in you?
EB: They did indeed. When you treat all your photo subjects with respect  they will open up to you. Though I must confess some are quiet difficult to convince.
“Meeting my Grandma-in-law for the first time was truly exciting and frightful one. Message communicated through stare was enough. Don’t mess with my Grandchild . Point taken” Emmanuel Bobbie

Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved

“When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and White you photograph their souls!” ~Ted Grant

KN: What’s the craziest story you’ve heard from your subjects?

EB: Currently, the craziest one is, “I hear you can use my photo for sakawa

KN: I heard through the grapevine that you no longer shoot weddings. Any reason for this?

EB: It was for  personal reasons but that will be changing soon. I just need to put a few things in place before I start again.

 Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved
Client: RedGinger for Hair.
 
KN: What are some of the services you offer as a photographer?
EB:  I currently work mainly as an advertising photographer. I however shoot other  genres of photography and currently falling in love with documentary work. I do sell stock images as well.
KN:  How can the public contact you should they wish to make use of your services?
EB:  Mainly through email as I love to keep track of dealing with clients. My email address is  bob@bobpixel.com or they can call +233 24 303 2796.
KN: What has been your career highlight so far?

EB:  Quite a few but one I really cherish is been commissioned to shoot for the cover page of “Black Enterprise” magazine of the USA when they did an African feature. I shot Bridgette Harrington of the celebrity golf club.
KN: Is photography seen as a respected and viable career option in Ghana and Africa?
EB:  Photography is growing and getting stronger by the day. Respect? Gradually as we make changes in our way of life and folks see us living decent lives with regular and steady incomes, the respect is gradually being earned.

Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved

Copyright: Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved

KN:  How about recognition for your talent? Our artists have the GMA, and our designers have the GFA. What about photographers?

EB:   I have a fair amount of following and I’m recognized by my peers and key players in the advertising industry. Recognition takes time and I don’t shoot because of it. I shoot because I love doing what I do. Folks love what I do, so I give all the Glory to my maker.

KN:  What the greatest lesson about life you’ve learn through your work as a photographer?

EB:  God made all things beautiful.

KN:  What is your Advice to young people who wish to pursue a career in photography?

EB:  Love what you do, don’t look for praises and never fall in love with your images. That way you don’t take criticisms personally.

              
                                                                                                                                                                   
Copyrights. Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved
“A scene I chanced upon at Busua beach in the Western Region Emmanuel Bobbie
Copyrights. Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights Reserved
KN:  You’ve been organising photography workshops in partnership with your Alma mater KNUST.  The first of its kind in Ghana. Tell us more about that?

EB:  The first one was held in 2010. I am currently organising one for Takoradi Polytechnic in May.

Copyrights. Emmanuel Bobbie. All Rights ReservedPicture, was taken at the KNUST Decode Workshop

KN:  What is your message to the youth of Africa?

EB:  Tell your own story, through your photos. You can tell it better than a “stranger”.
KN:  You’re amazing, thank you for taking time out to answer our questions. I am truly humbled by this experience. God Bless you Mr. Bobbie! More Vim and grease to your elbows.
EB: Thanks and God bless you too.
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