Sianeh Kpukuyou on why she celebrates dark-skinned women in her images

The Ghana-based photographer discusses the challenges of being a female photographer in Africa and why she hopes her images inspire others to see the value in creative jobs 

Based in Accra, Ghana Sianeh A Kpukuyou (known as ASKphotos on Instagram) was first introduced to photography through her mother. “During my senior year at American International School, I was asked by my friends to take their senior pictures,” Kpukuyou tells CR. “When I shared those images with my mother she got extremely excited and told me she saw a future in photography for me.” 

Kpukuyou’s own interest in the medium grew when she realised she could have an impact on the world through her images. Completely self-taught, the photographer tends to lean towards a documentary style of working, capturing the world around her, or setting up shoots with subjects with interesting stories. 

All images: Sianeh A Kpukuyou

“My aesthetics is making dark skin look golden,” says Kpukuyou and this brings a beautiful, warm glow to each of her images. With her subjects ranging from kids and solo portraits to couples and families, her focus is on celebrating dark skin in response to the colourism she’s witnessed, and highlighting African stories. “I want to help the people who are not given the opportunity to tell their own stories,” she explains.  

Accra is the capital of Ghana, and the photographer finds the vibrancy of the city constantly sparks her imagination. “Accra is a city that is rich in culture and is not afraid to embrace and celebrate its culture,” she reflects. “This inspires my work because the city is full of amazing stories.”  

When working on a new series the most important element for Kpukuyou is making the narrative as clear as possible for viewers. While this may take more time in terms of working out the format or approach, the photographer believes it’s necessary as one of her biggest challenges as a female African photographer is being taken seriously.

“People do not actually value you or your work,” she says of her experiences. “They try to intimidate you because you are a woman or try to under pay you.” 

Though still in her early 20s, Kpukuyou has been featured in Ozy magazine and has shot for GQ Africa, but her personal Instagram alone is a treasure trove of personal projects and collaborations that provide a thoughtful yet spirited insight into her world and life in Accra.

“I hope my images can start conversations that are hard to speak on. I want my viewers to be able to relate themselves to my work,” the photographer adds. “I want my images to inspire and empower every dark skinned person to love their skin for what it is and they are uniquely beautiful. I hope African families can support and push their creative kids and actually start to respect and see creative jobs as real jobs.”  

CR is collaborating with Black Women Photographers on a series of articles to amplify the work of its members. To find out more about the global community and database, plus its ongoing initiatives visit, blackwomenphotographers.com; @ASKphotos

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes