David Uzochukwu started photography at a young age, picking up a camera at only twelve years old. Now, at sixteen, this self-taught Belgium-based photographer boasts a portfolio full of surreal worlds and conceptual stories. It's hard to believe, but David learned photography simply by using tutorials he found on the internet and quickly came to find a style that suited him.
Often struggling with his own confidence, his journey hasn't been easy. However, David found a creative community to help support him. He credits photography meet-ups for allowing him to shed his former, reclusive self. As a natural storyteller, he likes to capture a balance of darkness and light that embodies the mystery of human behavior and all of its vulnerabilities. He is able to capture a soft power in emotion, grabbing the viewers attention with his unique ideas.
We have highlighted David's surreal and powerful work in the past on My Modern Metropolis and we are excited catch up with him for a behind the lens look into his portfolio.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey into photography?
I got into photography about six years ago. It started out as a love of documenting things, finding parallels everywhere and looking closer than before. Then I took my first self-portraits, asked other people if I could take their portrait as well, and it all went from there. Now, I'm in love with storytelling and trying to create moods that feel interesting.
What are some of your interests?
Dancing, literature, film. Communication, in general, and human behavior.
What keeps you inspired?
Discovering new music, sunrises, passionate people around me.
How much planning goes into a shoot?
It varies! I usually take between five and thirty minutes in total to work on concepts, if the shoot doesn't happen out of stumbling over a nice pattern of light or something like that.
What qualities do you believe make an incredible portrait?
I need either mystery, or brutal honesty and vulnerability to obsess over a portrait.
Your work always has the most amazing light, what is your favorite time of the day to shoot?
Sunset. Everything is soft and quiet and moldable.
How do you find your models?
Mostly I work with friends or friends of friends. The fact that a lot of my friends are creatives means that I am in a super supportive network and community where everyone is passionate about making work, which helps.
Tell us about these photography meetups you've attended.
I stumbled into the community two years ago when I was invited to a photographer gathering in the Austrian alps. I loved the atmosphere and the people, and ended up getting to know more and more creatives in Germany, Austria, and Italy over the span of two or three big gatherings and countless smaller ones. Last summer I flew to Canada with two friends to attend a crazy exciting meeting with people whose work I'd admired for years over the internet and came back knowing that there was no way I could ever not try to keep creating until the end of my life.
How important is it to meet other creatives?
I can only say that I wouldn't be the person I am today without fourteen year old me coming in contact with people dreaming that big, showing me that creating is valuable and important, even, especially if it is fun. I wouldn't underestimate the effect your surroundings have on you and your behavior. I don't think I'd ever felt as free and accepted as in the middle of all those crazy people.
How would you define your style?
Dark, colorful, and vulnerable. Maybe not actually dark, more like at the brink of something. Dawn.
What message do you want your photographs to convey?
There's no message to articulate, and I've come to terms with that. It's visual, it doesn't have to be able to be translated into words, or at least not yet. I do always come back to this really quiet mood, and showing fragility and strength in it. I'm fascinated by contrasts and in-between states and facets.
What challenges have you faced while creating?
Having confidence in my vision. Not having thought about logistics when planning the picture, having it come out lightyears away from the expected result. Feeling self-conscious when making self-portraits. Putting my personal work out there, letting it go. But all of that slowly disappears after getting into the habit of creating, and while my pictures still seldom look like I wanted them to look in the first place, I'm getting there.
What's a must have in your gear bag?
Extra batteries and memory cards, because hell, nothing's worse than having to stop a shoot because I was too stupid to charge my camera or transfer my pictures to my computer.
How much post processing goes into a completed photo?
Anything between ten minutes and three days is possible. Sometimes I want to revisit the edit with 500% zoom. Sometimes I just don't feel like finishing, or start experimenting.
What are your plans for the future?
Making more work. Making series, working on projects. I've recently had the epiphany that if I have a problem with the insufficient amount of representation of non-caucasians, I need to work more with ethnic people.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Make a lot of work. Like, a lot. And don't forget that you're doing it to enjoy yourself.
Are you a photographer? Would you like to be interviewed for the Behind The Len series? Leave your links in the comment's below!