OYA MAGAZINE interviews fast rising young photographer, CEO NJC WORKS. In this exclusive with Bankole Wright, she unfolds some interesting revelations about herself; her brand, how she came about her brand name, her educational background, her passion for photography and more. Be inspired!
OYA: Who is NJC?
IJU: Well, NJC is me, I am Iju Asonibe and I am a photographer, writer, lover of art and fashion, explorer, lover of all things beautiful, spoken word artist, and much more actually, I really hope that answered your question (covers face).
OYA: How did you come about the name NJC WORKS?
IJU: Okay, so NJC stands for New Jerusalem Creations which spans out from a lifestyle I built for myself where God is the basis of everything I do, and New Jerusalem being a place where God dwells and where every aspect of life revolves around Him, I decided to build my brand around that which is exactly why I try as much as possible to have my pictures tell a greater story than expected. I am not New Jerusalem photography for the reason that everything I create comes from the lifestyle and mindset I have and WORKS was just because NJC was already taken on Instagram so I decided to add it, and ended up really liking it. NJC was too short and New Jerusalem Creations was, well, too long.
OYA: How does it feel being very young in the industry?
IJU: It feels amazing. Lots of people tell me I have been able to achieve what some people have not achieved even at 30. It feels good to be young and know that there are still many more heights to achieve, although I used to hide how young I was because I thought people would take advantage of that, I still do actually.
OYA: How did NJC begin?
IJU: I home schooled myself for most of high school (yes, hard to believe) and after my SSCE exams, I started getting very interested in the visual art scene, I always loved beautiful images but never saw myself creating them. I started getting very interested in blogging after watching Fashion Bloggers on E but I realized I would rather take pictures of other people. I got my camera, and that is how it all started.
OYA: Are you in school?
IJU: No I am not.
IJU: Well, like I said I home schooled myself for most of high school. After I got my camera, and even before getting my camera I had come to enjoy schooling outside the four walls of an institution. I tell people, the world is my classroom, I’m not one to fit into the system; it seems like a risk cause people will say “just go to have the certificate” but the ones with certificate still come out and don’t use it, if I have what I do, that’s productive for me and I’m constantly learning then I’m fine. Life is a constant learning process and I’m learning the non-academic things school can teach you in my own way, at my own pace.
OYA: What challenges have you faced based on your age and how did you overcome them?
IJU: Not as many as I think I have actually. I have a very supportive mother who understands the industry I am in so most times, when needed, my curfew is lifted. Other challenges are basically dealing with people who make condescending statements, knowingly or unknowingly and all I do is convince myself that I am where God wants me to be, at the time He wants me to be here, and they are just shallow minded.
General photography challenges; the two most common ones I deal with are creative block and creating content, for creative block I just try to find as much inspiration as possible and for content creation, I do a lot of my own personal projects whereby I contact designers, models and makeup artists and try to turn my thoughts into real life images.
OYA: What inspired photography?
IJU: Like I said earlier, I always loved beautiful images but never saw myself creating them. I started getting very interested in blogging after watching Fashion Bloggers on E but I realized I would rather take pictures of other people. I got my camera, and that is how it all started.
OYA: Who do you look up to in the industry?
IJU: Anyone who knows me will know that my favourite photographer is ASIKO (@asiko_artist) on Instagram. I not only connect to the images he creates, but the mind set and understanding he has which is evident in his captions. I love JOEY ROSADO too (islandboi), EMMANUEL OYELEKE, KELECHI AMADI OBI, documentary photographers like BERNARD KALU for the way he does so effortlessly what I find it hard to do, which is photograph random people on Lagos streets, three and a half gbosa for him. Lol.
OYA: What is your next project?
IJU: Well, I am going to be exploring more with conceptual photography, continuing a series whereby I photograph people who influence different industries and also, fashion films.
OYA: What is street style photography to you?
IJU: Street style photography to me is a way I can connect to people without even talking to them, I heard someone say “your clothes speak before you” and I believe that. Bill Cunningham said “the best fashion show, is on the streets”
OYA: How did you come up with the idea of street style photography?
IJU: Hmmm, I really cannot say, I know it started with my love for fashion bloggers (the show on E) and my love for the outdoors. It was before AFWN 2016 where all my friends were shooting runway because it was more “sellable”, I wasn’t looking for sellable, I was looking for fun and it just developed from there.
OYA: Who has gone before you in street style photography?
IJU: To be honest, I really can’t say. Truth is, now, everyone is a street style photographer, I saw that at LFDW 2016 so I really can’t say those who have particularly gone before me but I know that Mr Kola Oshalusi has been doing it way long before I have, so yes, him.
OYA: What words have you got upcoming photographers?
IJU: Well I would tell them never to compare themselves to others because people have different journeys. I would say shoot often, often enough to find your niche and to find yourself, it’s a constant journey but work to at least start the original. Gather inspiration, don’t copy, because if you copy, you’d just be a counterfeit when there’s enough creativity in this life for each person to be their own original. Lastly, Be you, and be true.