JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
IKE EDEANI: I think I was 11 or 12 when I discovered architecture as a viable profession, before that I figured I’d be an artist since I spent all my time drawing and painting, and usually did poorly on science and math classes. From that point until I left college with a Master of Architecture degree, it seemed very clear where my career was headed.
While it turned out I was wrong, I’m really glad I took that path, because now it’s part of how I see, think, and solve problems.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
IE: I’m inspired by early morning and evening light, which feels somehow different here in California, just really warm and beautiful. I wish I could schedule all my shoots right before sunrise/sunset. Even when it’s foggy, you get this really even diffused light that’s great for portraits.
I’m also inspired by my peers (too many people to name here), and in fact I recently put together a list of fellow photographers whose work I’ve been loving lately.
JC: What are you up to right now?
IE: At the moment I’m editing and sequencing some images for a portfolio overhaul, which (hopefully) should be done by the time this goes live. I’m also working on some print pieces, a few editorial assignments, and starting to plan a trip to Europe next year to shoot personal work. There’s always an ebb and flow to the work I get hired to do, so I try to take full advantage of the quiet times to work on my own projects.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
IE: Not in photography, but I definitely had professors in architecture school that taught me the importance of hard work and diligence. My family and friends are also incredibly supportive which has been wonderful. I still have so much to learn though, but most things are better taught through experience.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
IE: I’m currently based in San Francisco, which is amazing, and everything from the quality of light, vibrant colors, topography, down to the vegetation, plays a big part in my work. And not just in the photos I make here, but even ones from elsewhere, which I suppose makes sense, as this is where I discovered my love for photography. I have a fairly laid back pace to shooting as well, slowing things down, that I also attribute to living here.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
IE: Don’t wait around for anyone to hire you for projects, go shoot your own. Of course that sounds obvious and we’ve all heard it before, but I still had to learn that the hard way. The very first iteration of my portfolio was all personal work because I hadn’t shot anything else at that point (nothing worth showing), but it showed my style and what I was into, so I started getting commissions that played to my strengths.
Also, don’t spend a dime on gear until you start getting hired, and even then only if you absolutely need it. Use what you have, or rent it. I made that mistake too.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
IE: Absolutely. In fact I think it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself, particularly starting out in your career. During those tough weeks/months when you’re struggling to get ahead, its nice to take a step back and spend time with like-minded folks who’re going through (or have gone through) the same thing. It doesn’t even matter if they’re photographers also, but of course there’s an added benefit when you can collaborate, share ideas, advice, and recommend each other for jobs.