[Interview] Tall Brown Boi: The Photography Magician Armed With Smartphone

PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

Photography is known with cameras, but for James Ikpe, brand name “Tall Brown Boi (TBB)”, a smartphone is enough to do the magic. According to him; “My style of photography is more focused on capturing life and humanity in its truest form. I like undiluted stories and the truth is these stories happen every time”.

In this interview with Lanre News, Tall Brown Boi (call him TBB if you prefer), talks about the journey so far and how it was not easy to migrate from the Southern part of Nigeria to Lagos in search of a greener pasture.

He however at present didn’t see “photography as a career. I just enjoy telling stories and capturing timeless images that bring smiles to everyone’s face”.

[This interview was conducted via WhatsApp, to retain the vibe, we left the emojis and certain slangs/abbreviations unedited. Enjoy!]

To start with, how will you describe yourself to someone who doesn’t know you?

I like to see myself as a people person. It guides the way I relate with people and also the way I create my photography stories

Why do you choose Phoneography? What inspired it? Why Phoneography and not regular photography?

My style of photography is more focused on capturing life and humanity in its truest form. I like undiluted stories and the truth is these stories happen every time.

Hence, the easiest way for me to capture them is with the photography tool we have at all times, my smartphone 😊.

Regular photography? That box would be opened after this stage in my life.

Hmmm…so you are still considering getting a standard camera and probably changing course?

Yes, definitely.

Documentary photography is my passion. I someday hope to do it professionally.

So, we can say your venture into Phoneography is more out of budget than interest?

Naah, interests.

I am just an enthusiastic storyteller; I don’t yet see photography as a career. I just enjoy telling stories and capturing timeless images that bring smiles to everyone’s face.

PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

How will you define Phoneography? What is the difference when compared with typical photography?

Phoneography is the perfect practice tool for every photography starter, learn here and the switch to digital camera photography would be seamless.

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Did you study anything related to Photography?

Ooh no, I have a Degree in Economics and Marketing.

My photography is self-taught, I read a lot of books and attend online and offline conferences. I practice or used to practice a lot.

Tall Brown Boi (TBB) | Lanre News
PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

Wow! How will you describe the journey so far?

It’s been interesting and fulfilling. I get so much joy from the growth of outstanding photographers who reference my art as a source of inspiration to keep at it and motivation as to why they adopted photography in the first place.

I have also been featured and have received exciting goods and rewards for my art, which has been awesome.

You were once one of the selected winners of Xiaomi Nigeria #PowerYourCreativity challenge, how does it feel like?

Ooh no! I work with Xiaomi. I was more of the campaign winners selection panel.

My work with Xiaomi is really exciting as I get to represent a bridge for young smartphone creatives like myself to actualise their dreams.

Tall Brown Boi (TBB) | Lanre News
James Ikpe (Tall Brown Boi). PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

What are some of the criteria used in selecting the winners, or it is confidential 🤓?

Confidential😊

Hmm… How has working with Xiaomi impacted your career so far?

You may not answer (if you prefer)…

It’s been really great. I get to partner with enthusiasts, even beyond photography as well as communicate an exciting brand that is offering solutions beyond the usual.

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I wake up happy and I retire each day happy. That says it all.

What was the most challenging moment in your career?

Mehnnn, I would say moving my life from the south to the west. I went off my comfort zone for this one and it hit hard in the beginning…

Seriously? Did you move from the South to West? In search of greener pasture or what 🤓…mind sharing the episode?

Well, post youth service (NYSC)…I was stuck between staying up north or returning back to the south. It took a lot to disengage from the north because I had built an exciting photography portfolio over there.

But home always has to be home. I returned to the south but it seemed like life had moved past me yunno.

Tall Brown Boi | Lanre News
PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

It felt like I would have to build again from the scratch and for a man with hopes and dreams, I just knew if I had to restart then a new environment would be key. Then came the thoughts of moving to Lagos.

First time actually and it took me unawares.

Any memorable moment or turnaround event in your career?

I will say trust and belief.

I can’t really pinpoint but a whole lot of people have given me opportunities that have aided my growth.

Becoming a staff trainer without prior experience, for instance.

If offered more than enough funds to purchase a standard camera, will you still prefer Phoneography?

A standard camera is of course a step up and would be greatly appreciated.

Would still shoot smartphones thou, maybe forever 🤣🤣.

How will you advise typical Nigerian youths trying to take pictures of a product to upload to their online shop?

I always say keep the image simple so everyone who views instantly understands what you are photographing.

Tall Brown Boi (TBB) | Lanre News
PHOTO Credit: Tall Brown Boi (TBB)

Keep the subject distinct from the background.

Compose properly by placing the subject in an exciting spot or angle.

Then have fun.

Any advice for young youths that will like to venture into such a profession?

Just enjoy what you do, learn from the best but find your own style.

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