An Interview with Usy Dinka

POSTED IN Art, Art history, Culture, Digital art, Graphic design
By Amara Iwuala
“I Have a Creative Eye to Get the Best Pictures out of the Worst Environments.” – Usy Dinka, Dentist turned Graphic Artist & Photographer.
Usy Dinka is a 2006 Dentistry graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. He practised Dentistry for two years before taking up an offer as a freelance graphic artist with Reckitt-Benckiser.



In 2010, Dinka obtained a Certificate in Creative Design (specializing in Graphic Design) from the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-African University, now Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos. He is, at present, a full-time photographer and discusses his art with Amarachukwu Iwuala. Dinka’s enthusiasm is infectious; enjoy the interview.



Much as Usy Dinka is a versatile photographer, who takes on any kind of picture-taking, he is very zestful about Wedding Photography. He affirms that he is open to new opportunities and challenges which present themselves in other types of Photography, but his interest in Wedding Photography stems from his capability to see beauty, opportunity and art in a crowded room, amidst obstructive objects and other distractions.



“Wedding Photography, for me, is fun and allows me to interact with my clients very closely. For the couple, a wedding day is an important event, so I try to bring out different emotions from them and their guests, capturing those priceless moments to last a lifetime.



“Sometimes, the environment may not be very favourable, but I figure out the best angles, even if it means climbing a tree since I have a creative eye to get the best pictures out of the worst environments. At times, I move people, tables, chairs and beds around to achieve that.”
Usy has been artistic from childhood, so the switch from Dentistry to the arts was not very difficult. “Whilst growing up, I was a good illustrator and since I was quite reserved, I spent most of my time, drawing and adorning my diagrams. Let us say that I just appreciated the way things looked and so interacted with nature, animals, paintings or picture advertisements in magazines much more than I did with the people around me. I have always had an exceptional eye for beauty and the way colours come together to form images.”



After the compulsory period of working as a house officer for one year, Usy spent another year, practising in a few private hospitals, during which he came to the conclusion that dental consultation was still poor in Nigeria. “I spent a great deal of my time waiting for patients to arrive and when they did, most opted to extract their teeth instead of heeding the advice to restore teeth that could be salvaged. Meanwhile, a lot of the interesting procedures in Dentistry are remedial.” Usy discloses that today, his only connection with Dentistry is advising friends on oral hygiene.



As an undergraduate, Usy did minor design jobs, generally logos and flyers, for friends, classmates and a few businesses. “I did not have a computer, but wanted to learn and improve my skills in Graphic Design, so I was regularly in a friend’s room to use his desktop computer and, sometimes, this was not convenient for the said friend. Since I was making little money, I offered my friend some of it, so as to keep using his computer.



“At that time, I saw the beauty of Graphic Design in the pictures and objects that were all around me. Putting photographs, lines and text together to create beauty and communicate is sublime.
“My first client was Reckitt Benckiser where I worked as a freelancer and gained a lot of international exposure in design. Of course, they have a bigger advertising agency that handles major work but required an in-house graphic artist to tackle small and urgent tasks – usually minor edits.



“It took the agencies days to revert on small alterations, but I was there to deliver in minutes. I have had a working relationship with them for over 8 years and still go there from time to time, though I am primarily a photographer right now.
“I also had the opportunity of working as a freelance graphic designer with other multinationals such as the NBC (Coca-Cola), GSK, PZ, SC Johnson, EJ Gallo, Ariston, Dabur plus Twinings and have equally designed for a few local companies.”



Usy narrates how his love for Photography started, “My dad gave me my first camera, a fancy Kodak Camera when I was in secondary school. Photography was supposed to be his hobby, but he did not have the time to enjoy it. After a few years of not using the camera, he handed it over to me. It is very similar to today’s Nikon and Canon DSLRs, but it used film.”



Regarding the high point of his career so far, Usy says, “I am glad when my clients see their pictures and get very emotional, appreciating the work. I invest a lot of time in editing to perfection because the pictures have to convey the right emotions. In fact, several people have made me their official family photographer. Such recognitions make me believe that I am getting better at my craft.”



He admits that he has not had many bad experiences save for a shoot he had to do again due to the fact that the memory card he used for the initial shoot became faulty after the session and failed to save the images. He tells me, “Thankfully, it was a pre-wedding shoot. I had to book and pay for a repeat session, which, fortunately, came out better than the first.”
Usy has encountered people who do not appreciate Photography and photographers, in general, thus undervaluing him and his colleagues, particularly when it comes to payment. He has also learnt to reassure a few picky clients to trust his judgement and expertise. Needless to say, they eventually acknowledge his competence.



Usy has these words for new entrants in Photography and Graphic Design. “It is a market that is becoming saturated, so it is helpful to spend a lot of time learning and receiving training in Photography as these go a long way in increasing a photographer’s proficiency. Studying under some of the most recognized and experienced photographers in the industry was worth my while, so it is an experience I recommend to anyone who wishes to do well in this vocation. A good knowledge of Photoshop greatly enhances a photographer’s work as well.



“A graphic artist who possesses the right knowledge and skills for design will excel in spite of the fact that there are limited opportunities. So, study new software, which are introduced every now and then. Also, study emerging trends in design in order to stay relevant whether as a freelance or permanently employed graphic artist.”
Facebook: Usy Photography
Instagram: @usyphotography
Instagram (for Graphics): @pixel8concepts


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