That rebel emerging, self-taught photographer living between Libreville and Pointe-Noire Gabon, has decided to raise awareness about a sad phenomenon in Africa through his art. Discover the photographer and his work….
Hi Ussi’n, can you introduce yourself to our readers please?
Hi, my name is Ussi’n Yala. I am a young Gabonese photographer, 23, living in Gabon. Being both Gabonese and Congolese, I have a dual African culture that despite the differences that separate them, are very close to one another. I graduated with a professional bank finance license. My passion for photography gradually led me into the communication environment. Recently I have been a professional photographer for all kinds of events. I juggle between my artistic personal work and my professional work.
Where does your passion for photography come from?
I started photography one year ago. At first, it was just for fun and then the soul of the artist took over and I started to invest myself more and more.
Being initially focused on the basic elements of photography, I was doing more portraits than anything else. After exploring this universe, I found great pleasure in taking pictures of landscapes, sunsets, and places I visited, and particularly people in their daily activities: the so-called « street photography ». Being a lover of life, I love capturing those moments of life which for me are particularly realistic and strong in emotions. Here you don’t create emotions, but you catch them, you steal them in other words. And that’s what creates its particularity.
Children are the ones who fascinate me most, however. They give off so much strength in their looks, their gestures and in the emotions they reflect.
Most of my pictures are all in black and white. I think it is very significant mostly in street photography. I think it prevents us from being distracted with all these colors that make up the environment in which we live. And also, because black is beautiful, and white goes with it.
- Being a professional photographer in Africa might be quite a challenge, because people don’t always understand the importance of art. Do you agree with that? Do you earn money from that occupation?
Yes, it is a challenge because people do not understand the importance of art, especially photography. They minimize the artistic work and sometimes the artist himself. In Central Africa, because I do not know how it goes elsewhere, the photographer for example is not taken to his true value, but as someone who is seeking his life, most of the time has little education and who has only photography to make a little pocket money. But I would like to clarify that everyone does not think that way. There are open minded people who know what photography is, who appreciate it as Art, and take it at its fair value while there are others who do not and who trivialize it because it is not promoted enough in Central Africa. And yet we all know that art is also involved in the economic development of a country.
Fortunately, today with the development of communication, professional photography has begun to be increasingly respected and the photographer as well, just as a trader for example. Because people understand the importance of services rendered and the work provided. So to answer your question, yes, I earn enough to support myself.
- You are also a writer/blogger. What inspires you on a daily basis?
Hmmm… Well everything, I would say. Anything that affects me personally and which draws my attention.
- You are launching a new series on Albinos and the way they are perceived in Africa. Why did you choose that topic?
I recently read on the web that there was a hunt of albinos in Sub-Saharan Africa and what I’ve read made me so sad and angry. Although it was not the first time I hear this stuff and it was always happening in Africa. The reasons why they are slaughtered are so incomprehensible that I still cannot understand even today how we can be so mad to commit those kind of crimes. That’s why I chose this subject, to launch an awareness campaign so that people stop treating albinos as abnormal or “different”, stop seeing them as mystical beings responsible for the rain and the weather, stop perceived them as geniuses, ghosts, spirits, everything except human beings, and finally accept them in our societies as they are, because we are all the same, no matter our differences.
- In your opinion, how can young Africans reshape the image of the continent today?
Young Africans can reshape the image of the African continent first of all by accepting themselves as they are, by accepting their cultures, their ethnicities, their origins, and by promoting their values, and what they do, and are able to do. We need to be proud of who we are and stop acting like the Westerners because we are not them, and they are not in any cases superior to us. We need to understand that we are richer and we can do bigger things by ourselves, and all of it by being united.
- Where is the most artistic place in Gabon according to you?
For me, it’s in our forests and in our water sources that are hidden the most beautiful wonders of Gabon. And I hope that very soon I will have the chance to visit it entirely and capture the beauty of my country.