Video transcript

My name is George Osodi and I'm a photographer from Nigeria and I'm based in Lagos. My work generally focuses a lot on issues. I like photographing issue related subjects especially issues that confront us as Africans. West Africa most precisely and then Nigeria, of course, where I come from. The region is such a dynamic region full of energy, life, people, diverse culture.

Growing up as a kid I remember trying to do some research looking at African images and especially Nigerian images. The majority that I saw were actually shot by Europeans or Westerners. So when I became a photographer I had to take that up as a challenge to also document the life, time that I lived at the moment.

I was determined because I had wanted to really document Africa, document Nigeria especially, so that people around the country really got to appreciate their region. And I felt as a photographer it was important that I make images of this situation, of this drama.

I was very interested in taking pictures that I would show to Nigerian people about what is happening in their back yard. That was a big drive for me because European people hear so much about the Delta region, the oil conflict, the oil pollution, the injustice, the people, the culture. People don't really know how it looks like, but they hear so much about it, I mean Nigerians in general. 

So it was a big challenge for me to travel to the region, different villages, taking photographs of this new found 'gold', so to speak, and the impact of oil in the lives of people and the community and the environment. It was quite risky, I must say, and then I had a lot of challenges in how to represent these images. 

Some images I took were so graphic, so gory and not everyone could handle it and that would drive people away from the image. So as I grew, as I learnt more and developed myself more I realised people love things that are beautiful and it is easier to attract attention when something is beautiful. 

So that was one of the skills I adopted in my early days in photography. I try to take images that are very beautiful and really attractive. And then by so doing you get someone's attention to the image. And of course when he comes closer he realises that there is something actually behind the image, there's a reason why this image was shot and he gets to see it. By this time it's too late, he can't run away from the image because he has been dragged into it.

So that was how I started photographing the Delta region with the aim of documenting the region for posterity for Nigerians to see what's happening in their country. The project gained much more global prominence and since then it has been travelling all over the world and there has been this huge attention attached to the project.