Akwaowo Idongesit Otu, also known as Mayor Otu, is a documentary photographer from Akwa Ibom state. The graduate of Biochemistry stated that he has always loved art and tried his hands on a lot of creative things including drawing, painting, some craft work like making beads from old calendar and gum as a child.
“But I will say the love for photography started in my final year in the university, I used to hang out with a photographer friend, Samuel Udonnah during the holidays, that was basically how it started. I started out shooting everything; weddings, birthdays, concerts, burials ceremonies etc.”
“It wasn’t long when I realized that I was a better storyteller and my love for people influenced my decision to become that person who shares these stories that will bring hope, change stereotypes and rekindle human love in the heart of many.”
“In 2017, my works were exhibited at the Abuja International Photo Festival and that was indeed the turning point of my career as a documentary photographer. Since then, I’ve been travelling across Nigeria, listening to people share their story and hopefully I get a good picture that will describe their situation.”
Mayor Otu’s pictures are an embodiment of Empathy. “It’s about human love, hopes, dreams, challenges. People all over the world are going through one thing or the other and most times they don’t have someone that is willing to listen. There are a lot of under privileged people without food, clothes, shelter, access to healthcare etc.”
“We see these people every day, everywhere … most people are not even nice to them, sometimes they don’t need money … they just want someone that can give them something to be hopeful for. I ask myself when we lost our humanity.”
“My hope is that when someone sees my images, reads my stories, it will appeal to their sense of humanity, I hope it helps to change the way people look at other people who they think are beneath them and I hope my art help change the world, one person per time.”
“This is why I go on documentary trips, I want to meet people, listen to them share their fears, struggles and aspirations, the last thing I do is to photograph them because it is in that moment of friendship that I create most of my powerful images.”
He says his love for ordinary people inspires him. “It is the hope in the eyes of the little ones, the regret on the faces of the elderly, the aspirations of the youth, the tears of the common man, the frustration that sets in when they realize that they have no one to turn to. When someone comes from nothing to build a life for his/herself and I’m able to share that story, that’s my inspiration … waking up everyday knowing that someone got help, support and love through my art.”
His works are available on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @humansofakwaibom and on print via order.
“I also go on photo walks, so if you would love me to visit your community, join in a cause especially if it has to do with humanity, I’m available and i look forward to meeting you. Send that email today firstname.lastname@example.org and I will love to be a part of your project.”