Meet Michael Aboya, Agora Awards 2019 Hero

Michael is a 24-year-old self-taught photographer from Accra, Ghana. Born and raised in Nigeria, he moved to his father’s homeland, Ghana, when he turned 13. Michael celebrates the love he feels for his country through powerful photographs that portray a cheerful and optimistic representation of the life that surrounds him.

Michael’s passion for arts and photography unfolded back in 2014 when he was studying software programming. When he abruptly lost his dad to cancer, he realised that life was too short to spend it doing something he didn’t enjoy and therefore decided to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer. Shortly after dropping out of programming school, Michael gathered all the little savings and funds he had at the time (those were meant to pay for his school fees) and got himself his first professional camera.

“After I purchased my first camera, the next step was to join a photography school, but the fees made that impossible. So, I invested a lot of time reading about photography, and watching YouTube videos on how professional photographers shot and used different kinds of lighting to their advantage. I would then go out with my camera to practice by shooting anything I found interesting, and then go home and do some editing. I kept doing this over and over again until I gradually started getting good at it.”

With his photos, Michael aims to inspire a change in the way people perceive Ghana and more generally the african continent. As a photographer, Michael’s main point of focus is the storytelling through his images: the purpose is to inspire, empower and reach the emotions of the viewer, in ways they can relate to.

His work is mature, simple, yet wonderfully eye-catching: one can almost feel music and laughter in his images.

“I believe that when BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour) tell their own stories, they can present the country and continent differently to the world, showing the love, peace, and harmony, and making the bright side a little bit more, putting the dark side behind it.  I created this image to emphasize the fact that we have the power to free ourselves from any form of mental, physical, spiritual and emotional captivity.”

Michael is the winner of the 2019 Agora Awards. With his $25,000 prize, Michael plans to invest in his passion and skills to bring his art even further:

“With the prize money, I’ll be able to invest into my photography by getting gears i need. I’ll invest into learning videography, putting my visions into moving pictures, visiting new places I have never been to capture the beautiful people and their colorful stories, support my family and give back to the community of youths.”

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