Hameed Akinwande & Richmond Kobla Dido on Visual Storytelling, Nostalgia & Collaboration

Gadigal Land

— February 19, 2024 —

We first met Hameed Akinwande during Fashion Week in Sydney last year, where he took us backstage at Youkhana's Debut AAFW show. The effervescent photographer and creative immediately had us hooked with his enthusiasm and ability to make everyone laugh at the drop of a hat — not to mention his sublime images — so much so that we made a trip to the local park that very weekend to shoot six glowing new faces with him, in the autumn sun.

Fast-forward to this year... we got wind Hameed was launching an entire book and we couldn't miss the chance to take some time to sit down to find out more about him and this massive undertaking. Joining us was his longtime collaborator Richmond Kobla Dido (another friend of CPC who you might also remember from AAFW last year).

Once you've taken the time to get to know them below, see the exclusive selection of outtakes from the making of Let the Boys Play, above. Then click here to get your hands on the book, wherever you are in the world.


Congratulations on your new book, Let the Boys Play. Can you tell us about it?
Hameed: Thank you. Let the Boys Play is a photobook that documents a visual journey that seeks to encapsulate the spirit, essence and unabashed freedom of childhood. This project is inspired by some moments in my childhood and highlights the importance of creating a safe space where men of all ages can freely be themselves.
It has three chapters: 1. An excerpt from childhood, 2. Exploring adolescence, friendships, and support. 3. Embracing play in solitude. The chapters take you through a journey from childhood to adulthood and encourages you to ‘let the boys play’ at every stage.

What was the inspiration behind creating it?
Hameed: Literally, as the name says, Let the boys play. I want everyone, not just the boys, to play, but I can only tell my story from my perspective.
I was in Nigeria in June 2023, and I saw my cousins and some kids playing soccer on the street. I felt a nostalgic connection to my childhood when I used to play, dirty my clothes without any worries. I decided to pick up my camera and document that moment. As grown-ups, we sometimes forget to embrace the present moments, and it's important to take a break, have some fun, and relive our inner child.



Kobla, you played a massive part in this book. Can you tell us how the collaboration came about and how the theme resonated with you?
Kobla: I remember having a conversation with Hameed where he shared his travel experience back home and how it inspired him to create a visual story that took him back to his childhood. As someone who has spent a significant part of my life in Ghana, I could easily relate to the themes that were portrayed in Let The Boys Play. As black men, we often bear a sense of responsibility that can rob us of the carefree enjoyment we experienced when we were younger. My own work is primarily centred on cultural identity, masculinity, mental health and the concept of freedom. Thus, it was an easy decision to accept Hameed’s invitation to collaborate on his project.

Childhood and nostalgia play a big part in who you both are and in this book, were there any pivotal moments that made you interested in photography and creating?
Hameed: Growing up in Nigeria was very interesting; times were simpler, and everyone seemed happy. Creating was unconscious, and I never really thought about it; my dad used to buy different small digital cameras and camcorders whenever he went overseas. I did not think too much of it at the time, but I used to play with the cameras and take pictures of people and videos at events whenever I was out with my family. I miss those days.

Kobla: Well, for me, my journey with photography started from a relatively young age, though I never knew the impact it had on me. Growing up with my military father, I was regularly exposed to VHS tapes and photos documenting his peacekeeping missions in other UN countries. It wasn't until I reached my teenage years that I recognised the importance of capturing life's moments and the sentimental value they hold. While attending an art exhibition in London, I was introduced to the works of Malick Sidibé and James Barnor, both of whom documented the black lived experience during the late 60s/70s, particularly in the motherland and diaspora. These experiences have greatly influenced my decision to carry a camera with me wherever I go.

What are the skills you think make a great photographer?
Hameed: There are a lot of things that make a great photographer, but I think patience is very important. Sometimes, you might have to try different things to get the right compositions. You encounter different people in front of your camera every day, so you need to be patient and understand what works for everyone else. And that’s one of the things I like about photography—every day is different.
Additionally, the ability to convey some sort of emotions through your photographs.

Kobla: I believe the art of photography is about observing, connecting, and capturing. When I think about my favourite photographers, I notice a common thread that runs through their work. The power of observation, the influence of light, and the gift of human connection are all evident in their stunning photographs. As a photographer, it's important to constantly observe the world around you, waiting for the perfect moment to click the shutter. In the past, with film cameras, photographers had to be selective with their shots due to the limited number of exposures per roll. This means that great photographers are always searching for that one perfect moment that captures the essence of their subject. This process can take time, but it's a trait that's becoming rarer in today's fast-paced world and something I'm learning to be patient with myself as I strive to further develop this skill.

What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
Hameed: The littlest things make me happy, whether it's seeing models use my photos as their profile pictures or clients printing out a portrait of themselves for their homes. Everyone loves a good photo of themselves, and I feel fulfilled when people appreciate the photos I've taken of them.
It's particularly rewarding when other creatives tell me that I inspire them to create.

Kobla: Creating a safe and fun space for everyone with whom I work is some of the most rewarding part of my work. I’m not the greatest fan of the post editing side of photography, something which Hameed gets at me for but I love submerging myself in the process of creating and feel most at peace in those moments on set where everyone is vibing and just being immersed in the process.

If you could say anything to your 16-year-old self, what would it be?
Hameed: Stay focused with your goals, everything you want is achievable.

Kobla: Be patient with yourself. The other side of fear lies in a great story.

How do you embrace the present moment?
Hameed: I take a deep breath and thank God for everything I have in my life. Sometimes, I go for walks and touch some grass.

Kobla: I believe life is a great big movie/story and every moment represents a scene to a compelling story. This allows me to remain grounded in the present moment.

What do you hope readers take away from reading this book?
Hameed: I want to inspire readers to be free and relive their inner child. Additionally, I hope to raise awareness about men’s mental health; it’s okay to take a break and just have fun.

Kobla: I hope this book allows people to dream and, if anything, encourages everyone reading to take that break they've been planning on and do something that reminds them of their childhood.

Now you’ve completed this book, what are your plans for the rest of 2024?
Hameed: I'm excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. My focus for the remainder of the year is hosting a 'let the Boys Play' exhibitions in Different cities in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide) and hopefully go international. One of my goals is to donate a percentage of the proceeds from LTBP to youth clubs like PCYC and men's mental health programs.
Kobla Dido and I are working together to be a photographer/ Creative direction duo. We look forward to working with more brands, tell fashion stories from our perspective and collaborate with other creatives. So, if you're reading this, reach out [laughs].
On a personal level, I want to travel more in 2024.

Kobla: For the rest of 2024, I’m planning on being involved in curating exhibitions, mainly here in Sydney. I feel there are a lot of creatives struggling to get their work out there, especially emerging photographers, filmmakers, etc. So I hope in the coming months to be able to curate a space for them to showcase their work.
Like Hameed also mentioned, we’ll be working together a lot more this year and have some exciting projects lined up so can’t wait for everyone to see what we come up with.


The Let the Boys Play launch and exhibition is on February 23rd and 24th in Sydney, info here.



Features Editor: Chloe Hill     Photographer: Richmond Kobla Dido     Fashion: Ingrid Umuoniwase     Talent: Kwesi Asamoah @ Kult, Enoch Ekundayo @ Stone Street, Victor Anugoh @ Vivien's

We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which this shoot took place.


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