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Emmanuel Iduma’s Photo Archive of Photographs By African Photographers Currently Working on the Continent

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Emmanuel Iduma is a renowned writer and art critic born and raised in Ondo State, Nigeria. He studied law in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria and later earned an MFA in art criticism from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has received prestigious awards and is best known for his travel book “A Stranger’s Pose” (2018) and his essays.

In February 2022, he started Tender Photo, a photo archive spotlighting the work of early to mid-career African photographers with the aim of creating a space for people to engage with and appreciate the impact of photography on their lives and perception. With the archive, Emmanuel Iduma pays homage to a diverse array of artists expressing themselves through various genres of photography like fine art, fashion, documentary, and editorial.

Image courtesy of Emmanuel Iduma

In his curation, Iduma tries to create harmony between what a photograph is and what it is expected to be – a longing for serenity and tenderness, a vision that disrupts merely aesthetic or critical concerns. The platform has showcased over 65 photographs from across Africa most of which are made by young artists. With the majority captured within the last five years, these images are a reflection of our current time. The proximity of this archive to current history and subject is what make it distinctive.

Tender Photo is simply just a personal archive that is being built with the collaborative effort of the public. The platform is welcoming to visitors, fosters meaningful, intimate moments that may reveal or validate their thoughts and emotions. With a refreshingly unique mission the archive does not only focus on historical and political aspects of African photography, it also asks important questions like can a public archive encourage self awareness and a sense of community?, can it address the personal and intimate aspects of individuals’ experiences?.

Cyclo-Pousse by Aina Zo Raberanto, 2021, Image courtesy of Tender Photo

Each photo entry typically follows a simple pattern: The photo takes the spotlight with its title at the top. Following that is a short paragraph by Emmanuel Iduma chronicling his thoughts about the photo. After which comes a brief text by the photographer sharing extra details like where and when the photo was taken, the inspiration behind it, and their photography style. There are also options to comment, share, and subscribe. To make the archive more interactive, from March to May 2023, guest writers will be able to contribute short essays about any three photos in the Substack.


Joy Adeboye is a creative writer and visual storyteller. She is a graduate of the Department of English and Literary Studies at Obafemi Awolowo University. She is currently a Writer for Art News Africa.

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