It’s a steep transition from feeling too afraid to take photos of others to shooting a global campaign for Nike, led by FKA twigs. But 18-year-old photographer David Uzochukwu is taking it all in his stride with admirable tenacity.
Despite his young age, his portfolio boasts editorial shoots, projects with Adobe Photoshop and now a mammoth campaign. His self-assured manner is impressive: he’s self-taught, has a catalogue of perfectly executed shots with him at the centre (“self-portraiture is what I started out with, before working up the guts to ask others”) and when asked whether he had top tips for shooting a megastar the likes of twigs he responded: “I’m a bit uncomfortable answering that question. It makes me sound like a Pokémon trainer. If I answer without calling you out I’m propagating celebrity culture.”
Although seemingly worlds apart, you can draw comparisons between the two artists without dwelling on arbitrary characteristics like global fame. Uzochukwu and twigs both have an admirable autonomy over their own work, and a drive to be involved in many aspects of the creative process. The pair also share the experience of growing up in places with little diversity (racially and artistically). While twigs’ upbringing in a Spanish-Jamaican household in Gloucestershire framed her as an outsider from the outset of her career, Uzochukwu, an Austrian-born Luxembourger of Nigerian descent living in Brussels, makes sure his work carves a space for others who don’t feel like they belong.