The Notorious B.I.G
‘Raised in London, Eddie Otchere’s upbringing on council estates and jazz is reflected in his carefully defocused realism. A graduate of the London College of Printing, his photography career began in 1993. Since then, Eddie’s work has been featured in such magazines as Lodown, RWD, Touch, Trace, iD and Mixmag. He has photographed music covers featuring Estelle, Lil Louis, Izzi Dunn, Nitin Sawhney, Ginuwine, Black Star, Morcheeba and Omar and captured celebrities Keith Lemon, Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z amongst others. His advertising clients include Converse, Rizla, and Island Def Jam. In 1993 he released his first book, The Junglist, published by Boxtree/Macmillan. In 1996 Eddie made his directorial debut with Future Forces Dead by Dawn video and Cowboy Film for Island/Def Jam. In 2007, he received great acclaim for curating the Devotional exhibition with artist Sonia Boyce at the National Portrait Gallery. His ongoing community arts project Brixton Graffic Show, in collaboration with Adrian Wood was supported by Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and the Arts Council in 2002, 2003 and 2005. His work was also featured in the Photofusion’s AMPS exhibition. Currently represented by Tony Magnetic in Hong Kong, Eddie splits his time between London, Hong Kong and Accra, currently learning the piano and watching cartoons with his young daughters Erikah and Aliyah.’
Make sure you take a look at the interview with had with Eddie:
1. What drew you to photography and when did you first realise you wanted it as a career?
It was the autumn of 92. I had taken as part of my art a-level art gcse in photography. The first lesson was enough. From shoot to neg developememt to contact sheet and print in 1 afternoon. I was hooked. By 93 photofusion had opened and there I learnt from the members and staff. I was 18 at the time and I had yet to buy a camera so that year I bought a minolta x700. By the summer of 93 I had a portfolio blagging jobs, signing on in the holidays I used my unemployment status to get housing benefits and free evening courses in studio lighting at the LCP and then I went on a wander around the darkrooms and realised that this spot was shit hot.
In terms of what drew me in, it was the darkroom, the immediacy of it. Art took too long. Graffiti was a criminal activity and putting your mind on silver gelatin paper is a rush.
It became a career when people where prepared to pay me for a print.
2. Why photography and why film?
Why film. Let’s be clear in the 90′s you had colour neg, colour transparency, black and White neg. A pro shot on transparency, amateurs used black and White and colour neg was a bastard child of sorts. But c-41 chemistry made colour neg printing more accessible because colour tray development was almost impossible. Unlike black and White colour printing occurs in total darkness, no safe lights, no trays so being able to exploit these new desktop colour print machines meant I could produce small prints by hand that could be scanned of a flatbed scanner. The first mac based desktop revolution was in publishing. Macs allowed you the luxury to publish your own shit. The same way the Atari ST and an Akai S-1000 sampler gave producers a chance to build tracks in your bedroom.
Anyway. Transpancy was for pros because once shot you didn’t need a print but your exposure had to be so precise it made impossible for me to get right. With a neg I could fix anything in a darkroom. By 93 I had learnt to colour print and lith print. Following all the trends at the time I could create fresh imagery at a fraction of the costs and offer my services to anyone. Making real photography accessible to anyone but I loved hip hop and my earliest commissions where for local hood rats who fancied themselves and wannabe emcees.
3. What are your favourite type of subjects to shoot and why?
Favourite subjects. People, entertainers because they are characters and characters come with stories and I want to use series of images to tell a story.Well maybe a haiku. I rather shoot animals but they don’t pay and their more interested in the pose rather than the results.
4. What was your first camera you used and what is your favourite camera to use now?
First camera. Probably a practika. Some made in the Ussr shit. Then minolta with a 24mm lens. By 94 had me a bronica etrsi with 50mm lens. Boom I was in the game. I did a A/level in photography at Lambeth college where I used a mamiya c330 and to this day I still feel it’s my favourite. You can’t beat bellows on a camera.
5. What is photography to you?
Photography is about recording. It’s about searching and capturing but leaving the scene unperturbed. A silent witness observing and contextualising. It’s about time, exposure time and immortality in time, it’s about the star we call the sun radiating and casting shadows. Photography is casting shadows on paper, cooked in waters and chemicals. It’s about this planet and my relationship to it.
Thank you once again to Eddie for entering this months competition.
To see more of Eddies fantastic work or to get in contact with him please click on his name below: