Name: Obi Nwokedi
Company: Photography by Obi
You’ve gone through the referrals, you’ve narrowed down your shortlist and you’ve scheduled a meeting. So why do you feel like you’re about to go on a blind date?
Choosing the right photographer for your big day can be scary. Will they see your vision? Will they make you feel comfortable? Will their style match yours?
To help make that meeting a little less awkward we’re picking the brains of one of London’s top African wedding photographers.
Obi Nwokedi has been styling and shooting weddings for over 4 years. His work regularly appears in African wedding magazines and websites like Munaluchi Bridal and Bella Naija and he’s known for creative, fashion-focused shoots.
We caught up with Obi in London recently.
How did you start doing wedding photography?
It really started as a hobby. I took pictures at a friend’s wedding, put them on Facebook and they ended up being better than what he had paid for. That’s when I realized I could actually do this. I was still using an amateur kit at the time, so I maxed out my credit card and bought everything I needed. I got my money back in about 8 months. From there things just started getting better and bigger.
What do you love about shooting weddings?
I just love the beauty of the whole thing and the fact that I’m testing myself. I love the challenge of coming to a room and making it look very different from what the guests see.
What’s different about African wedding photography?
The colors and definitely the size. In London African weddings are not that big, about 400-500 people, compared to Nigeria where I can easily shoot weddings with 3000 people. I love the vibrancy and all sorts of traditional outfits, it just adds to the excitement.
What are some photographic trends in African weddings?
Africans are beginning to embrace photojournalism a lot more. Most Nigerian wedding magazines are full of pictures of people looking at the camera and smiling. I don’t really like that. Couples are beginning to appreciate creative wedding portraiture so now I get a lot more time to do poses and set up. The next few shoots I’m doing are going to be like fashion editorials. I’ve been looking at a lot of fashion magazines to get inspiration.
You created a lot of buzz doing a Nigerian Ken & Barbie wedding shoot a couple of years ago– tell us about that?
The French photographer Bèatrice de Guignè did a Barbie and Ken wedding shoot a while ago. Then I saw the Italian Vogue black Barbie fashion issue and I had the idea to merge the two of them and come up with something totally different.
It took me a very long time to do and I got fed up after a while but I had to finish it.
My wife did the outfits. We managed to find an old set of patterns for ethnic Barbie dolls from a collector in America. She bought a mini sewing machine and then did all the outfits herself.
Barbie dolls don’t stand up so the dolls were strung up like puppets. I had to build this big stage, like a mini theatre and string up lights.
It really got me out there, way more than I expected. I still get emails about it. People have been asking if I’ll do another one but it was too much work!
What’s the most important thing a wedding photographer needs to know?
When things happen don’t just shoot, assess the situation, look at the light and try to anticipate what’s going to happen. If you get to the church and you see a beautiful light you wait for the bride to get to that beautiful light. If you’re taking a picture of the bride, you should also notice her mom in the background, looking at her with wet eyes. You need to be very alert, watching everything going on around you.