A vision of Lagos in the mind’s eye conjures colour and commotion; theatrical, as photographer Logo Oluwamuyiwa describes it, “It’s fast paced with very bright, harsh sunlight which means the colours are sharper to a degree that’s almost sensory overload.” Logo calls Africa’s most populated city his home and his muse. In this light, he says, contrast between light and dark becomes striking, making black & white photography particularly effective. As Monochrome Lagos, Logo seeks an order beneath the chaos, using his photography to ask, “What happens if I strip such an interesting carnival of activities of its colour? What will I find?”.
Showcased daily via social media, Monochrome Lagos serves as an archival reference to the city. For its local followers, the platform encourages a conscious observation of their surroundings in a city that is constantly in a rush. But the ultimate objective, Logo says, is to create a paradigm shift in how the city is perceived by a global audience, “to debunk, question or validate the stereotypes, aesthetics and idiosyncrasies that most urban spaces are known for.” Beneath the distraction of colour, Logo hopes to find what is unique to Lagos; the particular rhythm of the city. He says, “By limiting myself to taking only black and white, sometimes high-contrast images I pay attention to line and architectural forms, patterns, abstract shapes that are created by light and dark contrasts, and the poetic juxtapositions of the city’s residents and how they relate to the space.”
The project has been a lesson in human behaviour. Through Logo’s observations he has realised something about his neighbours, “They are really very kind although they come off as loud and aggressive. When you realise that’s just cultural disposition and not a threat you will find beneath that the most accommodating and enthusiastic people. Previously I had no idea how high the percentage of such good people was.”
Logo shares his photographs online together with poetic photo captions that contemplate ideas of absence and presence. Through this dialogue between image and word he hopes to re-envision the working structures of the photo essay. Photography for him, he says, “is a way to tell stories of the world around me by scratching beyond the obvious. By telling that story I invariably tell mine.”
This article is adapted from a Casimir column that first appeared on Hunger TV.