Creating an authentic voice

Accra-based photographer David Nana Opoku Ansah has carved out a style that is thoughtful and evocative. Here he talks about teaching himself his craft and the challenges facing African creatives

“I’m a quiet person and very introverted, so the only way to express myself was through making visuals,” says ­25-year-old photographer David Nana Opoku Ansah on how he got started. After trying out different mediums, photography felt like the most natural fit for Ansah. “I’m always in my head, so it made sense to create the images that reflect the world I see,” he explains.

Born and raised in Accra, Ghana, Ansah is self-taught. While his aesthetic is always considered, initially his biggest challenge was being able to physically create the images he wanted and build the skills needed to do that. “I looked through references and tried to recreate them, and I went on YouTube to learn about other photographers’ processes,” Ansah says. Looking to photographers such as Viviane Sassen, James Barnor and Deana Lawson as early inspiration, Ansah became concerned with capturing ­candid moments that allude to something deeper.

David Ansah
Top: Brother’s Keeper from the series Area Boys and Brotherhood, 2019; Above: Wishful Thinking, 2022; All images courtesy David Nana Opoku Ansah

Today, this typically takes the form of portraiture and fashion images, where he explores stories around community, freedom, Black culture, vulnerability and truth. Projects such as Area Boys and Brotherhood, which explores boyhood through movement and colour, are indicative of Ansah’s thoughtful, tender and evocative style. The emphasis has always been on creating something authentic.