Showcasing the raw energy of London's creative scenes, through carefully curated photography, Kojo Dwimoh has passionately propelled himself into a range of successful projects. Shoots for Novelist, editorials with Rap In Paper and work for Versus are just a few accolades on his young shoulders, and despite the coronavirus, he can't see the progress slowing down anytime soon.
With plenty more in the pipeline, and an exciting future at Central Saint Martins waiting in the wings, we had a chat with Kojo about being a grime fanatic, sneaking backstage in Fabric and his unconventional means to becoming a photographer. Have a read below.
What is getting you through the world’s current pandemic?
KD: Right now, books yeah books, I’ve been reading quite a lot and being motivated to succeed. Seeing people at the top and knowing I have the potential as long as I harness and refine my skills. Essentially wanting to come out of the bracket of being your so-called photographer and exiting this pandemic being bigger and better than I entered it
Has it been a creative time for you, or are you itching to get back to normality?
KD: To be fair it has been a creative period for me, everyday I’m either on my laptop or in my books researching for hours on end. Before the pandemic I was doing my Art Foundation at UAL and although it was only four/three days a week I was so busy I never really got time off to actually study art and understand with depth what it means to be a “creative” or even different aspects as to how I could push my own creative eye. Life and everything surrounding me was moving so fast that this quarantine has definitely given me the chance to take a step back and review how I want to be perceived by the world. So yeah, I’m not itching to get back to normality, but I do miss my friends, going out and having fun as a teen in London.”
How did you discover your love for photography?
KD: My love for photography began when, hmmm, since I was a child I’ve always been around cameras, my dad is an avid Formula 1 fan so he’s always had cameras for when he’d go to races and take pictures. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 I discovered my love for it. I sustained a series of concussions playing rugby and cricket which left me with post concussive syndrome, so I was in a bit of a bad state mentally. Prior I was oblivious to mental health issues and then to be hit with it all at once over the period of 3 days was a lot to take in. So yeah that’s where my passion and love for photography began because I then had to find something which would take my mind off what I was going through and photography was the light at the end of that long tunnel. Big up @zutch and @hyperfrank they were the two individuals who mentored me and pushed me to see the light. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be taking pictures right now, facts.
Most people our age in and around London want to ‘do music’, what made you want to be different and pursue photography?
KD: I pursued photography as a breakout from what I was going through mentally. My mental health issues were the by-product of a head injury so my brain was more or less mashup, my brain is still mashup but I’ve used that part of how my brain is wired to my advantage. I could never rap, I always lost in rap battles at school, I’m going to drop a tape one day because really and truly creativity has no boundaries, but yeah photography and visual arts is always something I’ve been able to do so it only made sense to take it seriously.
Tell us about the campaigns you have done for Novelist. How did they come about?
KD: The campaigns I’ve done for Novelist? haha campaigns... makes EP cover art sound better. So far I’ve designed three of his project covers, Inferno, Rain Fire and his next album coming out called ABLAZE . It’s been good though, from being a big fan of his music if not his biggest, like I catted for Nov from young. My older sister came home from one of his performances one time and was like “mmm yeahh” and I was like what’s that and she said “N-O-V-E-L-I-S-T” repeating his bars etc so I was like “ what do you mean Novelist, who’s that?” I’m thinking he’s a book writer or something. 2 months later I must have been on YouTube listening to grime sets on auto play and I hear “N-O-V-E-L-I-S-T… I’ll make your mum climax, diss my mum why would you try that, when your mum's got breast and batty bigger than the imax…” as soon as I heard that bar he was my favourite MC loool do you know how funny that bar is? Yeah so I did my extra research and next thing I know he’s got the same name as me (Kojo) so in my eyes that solidified his status as my favourite MC. Skip to now and here I am as a friend and cover art designer / photographer. Music cover art is another aspect of the creative world I’m looking to venture into because right now I see so many song covers that show little uniqueness and like will I remember the song as well and think of its cover art? I want to offer my aesthetic and make sure when people see an EP cover they’re like yeah Kojo did that or Kwimoh did that, I want to create timeless covers which will be memorable in 10 or so years.
When did people start to take notice of what you were doing? It’s evident from your Insta you have been active and gone out to some mad events. Any particular highlights?
KD: When did people start noticing me? Let me see? I actually don’t know… in fact I know people clocked I was on it at the start of last summer, I’d finally finished sixth form and told myself I have the rest of summer to do this photography thing proper. I’d just turned 18 so I couldn’t actually go to events before that. One thing I believe is whatever you want to do creatively as long as you're live o in the fields, you’ll be noticed, say you’re trying to make it in London, you have to be within the London scene networking and getting to know people, going to events and making friends not enemies. You never know the person you were too shy to talk to could have been the one to share your post which would have landed you your next job. That’s more or less how I got noticed, word of mouth, letting my work talk for itself.
KD: Yeah, I’ve been ACTIVE ACTIVE this year, any particular highlights… My favourite highlight is probably… wow this one is difficult. I want to say something like a grime rave D Double E or something, I’ve been to some crazy motives to be fair. Yeah, my biggest highlight purely down to one thing leading to another was when I was shooting for @versus in late September, in fact that week was nuts. So I got the dropped saying “yo, you free this week, we’ve got the Fifa 2020 world premiere do you want to shoot at it?”, I was like yeah for sure, so I pull up we do our first interview with Ian Wright next thing I know, it wasn’t planned but we ended up getting booked in to interview Major Lazer. So, it’s me the @versus head guy and Major Lazer, like Diplo. DIPLOOO. Are you nuts. I’m thinking this is not meant to happen to me on my first paid shoot. Diplo saying, he loves my smile and energy… nah mad. A couple days later after the pics were published on the @versus site, I got another call asking if I was down to shoot Sancho’s family and friends FIFA event. There I was in my banana yellow raincoat amongst not only the most sought-after youth player in the world but also the UKs biggest and best musicians, snapping away with my camera doing what I love best. As the night was coming to an end I got a text from one of my boys saying “yo Fabric tonight pull up, Dappy and a couple others are performing” I get to Fabric now and lied my way backstage using the white wristband from Sancho's FIFA event which looked like the VIP wrist band. Still in my banana yellow raincoat snapping away at Dappy, someone tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around and it was Nafe Smallz, he’d recognised me from Sancho’s event. Yeah that day is probably my biggest highlight due to the fact it felt like my little camera had managed to raise me to somewhat of celebrity status.
What was your role on Rap In Paper’s Ghana project? How was it taking your art to another part of the world?
KD: Rap in paper? Big up Josh, big up Chi, big up everyone in the paq family, but yeah so @rap.in.paper is a platform which merges print design and music, ran by the creative agency @paq. It must’ve been around November/October when I was welcomed into the paq family by the cofounders Chi and Josh. I was always travelling to Ghana to spend Christmas with my family so the alignment of paths with paq travelling to Ghana to shoot rap in paper only made sense. We were able to document and share to the rest of the world the amazing musicians that Ghana offers. Me being a Ghanaian I could not have felt more honoured to be a part of the Ghana project. My favourite artist of the four musicians we shot was Akan @pureakan. He has a vibe to him which is unapologetically cool and purely Ghanaian bred. He even did his @rap.in.paper issue in Twi - the native language of the Akan people in Ghana. Everyone should go and watch it, yeah it was sick shooting in Ghana it felt like I had really brought my passion to home. When I went to collect the negatives from my developer, I literally pressed them up against the train window eager to see the greatness I’d captured whilst the WeTransfer link downloaded.
You have clearly crafted a unique aesthetic for yourself, how do you look to evolve and keep your photography moving forward?
KD: My unique aesthetic isn’t even my aesthetic, I got the foundations of my aesthetic from @jackharper____ , he was running with this style back in 2016/17 so yeah full credit goes to him; I’ve just adapted it and made it my own over the years. But at the moment its definitely being used all over the photography scene and I’m sure I play a significant role in the rise of the usage of this collage style. Right now I’m looking at how I can still push this aesthetic, by redefining it and still be the best at it, but yeah ultimately it is all healthy competition which I definitely needed to keep my head straight and not get comfortable which I’m happy for. As you can see in what I did for @rap.in.paper I attempted to up the levels and be like yeah, no one’s seen this before… a moving slider collage? Yeah all in all I’m just trying to test the borders between still and moving image which I wish to explore more on my graphic design degree next year at Central Saint Martins. The real evolution of my work will be evident after this quarantine, I’ve had a lot of time to learn and plot the game.
Who haven’t you shot yet that you’d like to in the near future?
KD: Who haven’t I shot yet that I want to shoot in the future? You know what I’ve taken pictures of a lot of people but I haven’t take portraits of a lot of people.Portraits are way more intimate and a real bond between the person being shot and photographer can be made. But still who have I not shot that I’d like to shoot? Skepta, D Double ha-ha, I’ve already got those, errr who’s hard to get to, who do you just not get to, one sec let me go through my insta… Rhianna, no in fact Kanye. I’m clear if I take a pic of Kanye, CLEAR.
Any recommendations to get us through lockdown? Music, TV, Film etc?
KD: I got a couple recommendations, I think if you’re a passionate supporter of what you do you should research heavily into it, READ your books. I’m a grime head so right now I’m reading a book called “Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime by Dan Hancox” I think if you’re a grime head like me what are you doing if you haven’t even purchased this book. Music wise although my ears have a heavy taste for 140 bpm I’ve had Come We Bill Ehh by Midas the Jagaban on repeat for the past few weeks. I can’t get away from my African heritage and the sounds we produce that make me want to partake in zankurobics at crazy hours of the night. If you’re going to listen to the song listen to the leaked version, it hits different.
What is next for Kojo Dwimoh?
KD: What’s next for me? Ha-ha you will see what’s next from me, that’s currently exclusive but you’ll see what’s coming, if I’m to put it briefly, I’m coming to take over. That’s it.