We’re talking to the photographers behind Drop Your Drink. You’ll get to learn how they work and what drives them. We’re talking to Yetunde Dada next. You can call her Yetu, she’s based in Pretoria and is the editor of Drop Your Drink.
DYD: You have such an expansive portfolio which includes portraiture, music and street photography. How did you start your photographic journey and what made you focus on those genres of photography?
Yetunde: Music photography chose me. I started Drop Your Drink a few years and I found myself wanting to take better photos for the blog. I started cramming online photography courses in order to learn. I think I developed a curiosity in capturing the human expression from all the events I attended and this lead to an interest in street photography. Interestingly enough, my portfolio of portraiture is an extension of my music and street photography. My portraiture is based on musicians and street style.
DYD: Who are you as a photographer and how would you describe your style?
Yetunde: I would like to call it journalistic but that’s a journey that I’m on. I enjoy telling stories with a single image.
DYD: We’ve seen a big focus on concert photography in your work. What differentiates you from other photographers shooting concert photography?
Yetunde: I think once again that would be my focus on photojournalism in capturing the event. It’s not enough for me to just take photos of the performance. I look for photos around the area. Perhaps it’s a teary stare from a person seeing their favourite act for the first time or it’s a girl glaring at a couple while they make out on the dance floor. I look outward.
DYD: What gear have you relied on during your progression as a photographer?
Yetunde: I started off with a Canon T1i Rebel (500D) and I think that it was a good choice especially in the music photography field. I say that in hindsight because shooting with a crop sensor camera in low-light environments is a digital boot camp and you have to learn how to work around your camera’s limitations for beautiful images. I currently use an assortment of analog (film) cameras and Cameron, my Canon 6D, normally fitted with a Canon 35mm f/2 lens. The film cameras I use most often are a 35mm film Leica Mini II and a medium format film Fujifilm GS645. I rent the Canon 70 – 200mm f2.8 for most concert work.
DYD: You’re working on an ongoing project called, The Darkside of the Discotheque. What inspired you to create this project? On that note, what kind of process did you follow to start the project?
Yetunde: The Darkside of the Discotheque is based on my outward focus at gigs. Few people want to see these unconventional images in a DYD post-event review because they are too busy looking for images of themselves. The series is actually a collection of these outward focus images taken on Cameron and my film cameras.
I have a bit of a difficult relationship with photographic projects. I come up with great ideas but struggle with execution so for now I’m just collecting images that interest me.
DYD: Can you tell us about any great moments you’ve had as a photographer?
Yetunde: There are a few that I can think of. Shooting the Firefly Music Festival in the States under Consequence of Sound was definitely up there. Being a finalist for the Nokia Decisive Moment Brief under the D&AD New Blood Competition was another. And seeing tweets like this:
Everytime when @yetudada likes my picture on Facebook, I just want to jump up and down! **My Fav Photographer Tis Season**
— FEMINIST (@brilliantkodie) March 12, 2015
DYD: In your opinion, what makes a great photographer?
Yetunde: I went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York a few years ago. One of the galleries featured a series of photos that showed an artist rubbing his arm continuously in the same spot for twenty minutes. The series also featured how his skin blistered and got infected over the next week. I was horrified when I saw this piece and wondered how it was art but it’s actually become my definition of a good artist or a good photographer. I admire technique and execution but if you can feel some sort of emotion from the image then that photographer is doing the right thing. It’s all subjective and I don’t know that this definition is right but my heroes in photography from sports photographers shooting images for the Olympics to music photographers in New York do this.
DYD: Do you have any advice for budding photographers?
Yetunde: I’m bad at planning but one of my turning points came about because I sat myself down and had a think-a-thon about my photography. I asked:
- What photography genres do I like? Photojournalism, music and portraiture
- What photography genres will I never enjoy? Wildlife and wedding
- What would be your ultimate success? Shooting for NME, Dazed & Confused or Pitchfork or shooting one of my favourite bands in the whole world, Work Drugs
Then I spent forever going through images on Facebook and photographer’s portfolios to pick out techniques and styles that I liked. I also listed ones that I did not like. Then I summarised this information and this became the cornerstone of my style and the direction that I’m moving in. You should do the same, it’s liberating.
DYD: Which local and international photographers inspire you?
Yetunde: Locally, I’m kind of obsessed with work by Kent Andreasen. I also really like what’s coming out of the Drop Your Drink team. My role at DYD means that I get to see most of the photos from the team that get uploaded onto the website. I spend a lot time being really proud and jealous.
Internationally, I love work by Amanda Mustard, Dennis Auburn (who I randomly met at a Flosstradamus Concert in Houston, TX last year when I recognised him from his self-portraits), Maya Fuhr, Anna Dobos and Ignacio Torres. They all have such different styles ranging from photojournalism in Amanda Mustard’s case to incredible still life and fashion photography from Kent Andreasen and Anna Dobos.
DYD: Where can we find more of your work?
Yetunde: I’m currently listed as Boxed Fireworks Photography on Facebook and my website but that’s going to change as soon as I complete my new website which will be under my name. You can find me on these platforms for now:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boxedfireworks
- Website: http://cargocollective.com/boxedfireworks
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/yetudada/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/yetudada