Ope Odueyungbo is a commercial photographer in London who has a philosophical outlook towards photography and life. In his own words, ‘The path of life is never without trials and tribulations. Through this comes the openness to receive greatness.’ Ope's London images are in the newly published 'Trope London' followed by his first solo edition, 'Parallel Lines,' soon to be in bookstores near you.
I’ve been shooting for almost 12 years now. From a young age I was interested in art which later developed into a love for digital art / graphic design. Out of curiosity, I studied both subjects in college. I remember the day we had a group interview – which was pretty much preparing us for ‘our next steps in life’ after A-levels. Everyone was asked to submit their graphic design work for inspection in front of the group. Natural instinct is to look at everyone else’s work, and, yup, it was good. The bar was set high. I knew the level of my graphic work wasn’t going to cut it. I braced myself for the tutor’s critique. He confirmed what I was thinking, saying ‘it was not up to standard’. In hindsight, I’m glad the tutor said what I was thinking. I knew the area of photography was my strongest. I decided ‘my next step’ was to study digital photography at University. I’ve never looked back. I graduated from University in 2013, and I've been pursuing photography ever since.
I shoot with a DSLR (currently Nikon D750), and my go-to lens is my 24-70. I believe using a mobile phone in photography does change the way I shoot because (in most cases) I'm working with a pretty standard range which often limits the kind of things I want to shoot. My thought process for shooting with my camera is completely different to using my mobile.
Filters. I'm all for them if they are used correctly. I use VSCO filters installed on Lightroom in which I may enhance depending on the look, mood and style of image I want to portray. Most times it's a matter of playing with the shadows, blacks, highlights, contrast, hues / saturation and overall toning. Editing allows me to take a RAW file, and add my style to it. And I enjoy the process, I enjoy seeing a photo I’ve captured turn into my vision.
I want to showcase the extraordinary in everyday places and/or situations. It’s developed overtime, but I think this translates into a need to say, ‘this is how I feel in this place, and how I want other people to feel’. There are certain subjects for example an iconic city view that are familiar, but they demand to be reinvented. I try to keep this in mind when shooting everything from a cityscape, to a portrait to a commercial brand. I’d say this style and approach comes from living in such a diverse ever-changing city. I love how a city landscape never stays the same. Instead of just being an observer in my city, I started to develop my vision of the city and my surroundings. My style is quite varied, but I’ve always focused on street portraits with a side of architecture. It can often be quite gritty, moody and sometimes minimal, but on the whole, I’d say it was a representation of my vision to document everything.
Back in my early days, I used to be all about capturing raw moments on the street, getting as many colours in, boosting the saturation so high it was almost unnatural. Nowadays, I definitely focus more on architecture and places, and instead of just thinking ‘this is a cool view, I need to get a shot of this’, I think about the composition; the lighting, framing, various angles. Can I make a picture that will demand someone’s attention, and make it original?. You’ve got to get out there and keep your eyes open to see something great, because the world around us is forever changing. I’m a lot more considered when it comes to shooting people too. Whenever I shoot someone, I try to show them as they are from my perspective. I try to create an atmosphere that they feel comfortable in, and capture whatever they give me. In regards to editing, I prefer more natural tones as I feel it's better suited to the kind of photography I shoot.
What I love about London is, it's a diverse city that is always changing in terms of architecture. That is probably one of the reasons why I love to shoot cityscapes. The skyline is constantly changing, and I like looking back on what it was before to now. It’s always a plus when I can get another viewpoint due to a new building going up. You do have to get out there and walk the streets to see something great. And, you have to keep your eyes open in a city like London that is forever on the go. There have been certain moments in London; a dramatic sunset from the top of a building looking out across the whole city that is just incredible, and that’s when I feel proud to call London ‘home’; it’s somewhere where I feel comfortable. London is home to many creative talents and I'm constantly inspired by them and their perspective shooting in the city.
I always ask myself if this shot is worth pushing the shutter. In my earlier days I'd find myself shooting with absolutely no substance, not really thinking about what I'm shooting and why. I was simply just taking pictures for the sake of it. I like to think of my camera as a film camera. I want to think about the shot before I press the shutter, and treat my camera like I only have a few shots left to take. I don’t want to go home with hundreds of shots.
The fact that I can't see myself doing anything else inspires me to shoot. I have a strong passion for photography and I thank God it's something I'm able to do on a fulltime basis. Having a circle of creatives around me who are doing great things in the industry is also massive inspiration. I also try to get out and shoot with other photographers for myself on a regular basis. Meeting up with another creative allows ideas to bounce off between you; that inspires me. If I’ve slumped a bit, I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to do what I do. I pick myself up and stay positive. I believe it's vital to stay consistent, to keep-at-it in order to stay inspired. And, my parents are a huge inspiration. I’m appreciative of how they have allowed me to follow my career path. I learnt at an early age, that not all African parents are like mine. They’ve supported my happiness and embraced my creativity and that will always inspire me to ‘be me’ and keep at it.
Consistency is the key, and by that, I mean you have to keep at it. Follow your passion, ‘do you’ and don’t stop. Cliché, I know, but I seriously believe this is the one piece of advice that you are guaranteed to see changes for the better if followed. I’m a pretty chilled-out person, but I do believe, the more you do, the better you’ll become