With a camera lens, a dutiful subject and the right light, magic can happen, and famous and non-famous photographers all around the world have proved this time and time again. This magic is what Daniel Effah, a self-proclaimed visual artist and photographer has mastered almost in its entirety. Effah is an establishing photographer in Ottawa who has astonished all of his subjects and viewers of his work with his veritable passion and translation of true photography. He makes everyone that views his work a believer of the true image capturing function of photography, and the re-creation of life either in black and white or colour isn’t lost in his work either. Effah’s brilliance behind his SONY A77 camera lens is what made me become a complete fan of his work. With utmost delight, I reached out to Effah and asked him to elaborate and teach us all the ingenuity behind his work as a photographer in Ottawa.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
DF: My name is Daniel Effah. Born and raised in Takoradi, Ghana, but currently residing in Ottawa, Canada. I major in Architecture at Algonquin College and aspire to be an architect some day.
What inspired your passion for photography?
DF: I have always had a liking for all things involved in the arts because of both my painting and architecture backgrounds. About a couple of years ago, I started off with landscape photography after I discovered famous photographer, Trey Ratcliff, who specializes in High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. This technique encompasses taking multiple exposures and putting them together to get rich details that are difficult to get in a single picture. Learning about this brought me great joy and I went on to buy my first camera.
How would you describe your photography style?
DF: I must admit I am still developing my style but I do like the use of classic black and white with a striking contrast focusing on stronger highlights and shadows. With portraiture, it helps elicit emotions from the subject matter.
What type of camera, gear and set up do you often shoot with?
DF: I currently have a Sony A77 mk II, along with my 50mm prime lens. These two combined are my go-to. I also have Tokinon 16-50mm lens and a Sony Minolta 70-210mm telephoto lens. In terms of my set up, I usually like using natural light. Since it is difficult to predict natural light, I use my flash or often build my light using simple DIY lighting setup I create myself for studio work. Whether it’s a clothing rack or a study lamp, I use everything I have at my disposal to my advantage.
Among your works, which one is your favourite? Tell us the story behind it.
DF: To be honest, it is really difficult to pick a favourite. I am drawn to most of my work so it is a tough call. For now, I will admit it has to be my “Gaze II” piece. This piece was done when I first started photography and had a theory about testing a light set up using natural light to look like strobes. I wasn’t very confident when I first started but my encouraging close friend, Elfreda Tetteh, modelled for me and I got the shot I wanted. This simple beginning has helped shape my style and made me a better visual artist than I used to be.
What kind of tools and resources do you use for post processing?
DF: For post processing, I use both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop depending on the kind of look I am going for. I use Lightroom predominately for simple, quick mass editing. For more extensive, complex editing and advance control, I use Photoshop which gives me that reach that Lightroom cannot do.
How do you educate yourself to take better photographs?
DF: I attribute my improvement to reading photography articles. On occasion, I do follow the works of great photographers but I try not to get consumed by their style. Instead, I read about stories and test out lighting situations to learn on my own. Some websites like petapixel, slr lounge and thephoblographer are a few of these sites I read about on the daily.
Whose photography work has influenced you the most? How did he/she influence your thinking and photographs?
DF: I would have to say it would be famous headshot photographer, Peter Hurley. He is well known for creating a relationship and interacting with his models to pull the right emotions. I stumbled upon his work after he did a collaboration with a psychologist named Anna Rowley for a TED talk. The two call this unique combination of their two disciplines, “psyphotology,” and what these two have learned can help us shift our perspective away from judgment and criticism toward better self-acceptance. Other photographers like Steve McCurry and Sam Hurd have also helped on my journey to finding great affinity for photography.
What message do you hope to express through your photographs and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?
DF: I love beauty in the human form, and that’s what I try to convey in my photographs in order to tell a story. I am limited to only a moment in time to tell that story but how I get there depends on the nature of the shoot. Even though arrangement of pieces in the shoot and lighting help, the most important thing is the patience to pick the right moment. A point in time where everything syncs to create the story.
What do you hope to accomplish with photography in the future that you presently haven’t accomplished?
DF: As I made mention before, I am still trying to find my style and hope with time I can hone my skills. I also want to try to master other genres in photography.
To find out more about Daniel Effah, visit his official website namely, “Art of Effah“.