PHOTO LIVE with Stephen Tayo


On Thursday 16 July Nigerian photographer Stephen Tayo was in conversation with Ruth Nyaruot Ruach about the importance of diverse representations of African culture, and documenting the drag scene in Lagos.

Stephen Tayo is a Nigerian photographer who lives in and draws inspiration from Lagos. In his work, he documents the world around him, and the role that fashion and style play in identity, community, culture, and religion. He focuses his lens on the remarkable every day of life in his country — festivals, family celebrations, friendships, street life — and seeks to show the beauty in ordinary moments. His sitters are often active participants in the process — they perform for the camera and set the tone. Tayo is particularly influenced by the formal poses of studio portraiture in West Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly the work of Seydou Keita, Malick Sidibe, and Samuel Fosso.

Tayo studied philosophy at the University of Lagos. His work has been featured in Vogue US, British Vogue, New York Times (spotlighting the emergence of the new sound in the Nigerian music for a piece ‘The New Guard of Nigerian Music’), Indie Magazine, Dazed, Teen Vogue, Okay Africa, Vogue Italia, CNN, ArtNews, OkayAfrica, Highsnobiety, Vogue Australia, Hybebeast, Vice, Interview Magazine, among others.

In 2018, he was commissioned by Dutch street wear brand Patta and Nike to shoot a campaign for their collaboration launch, with the work featured in a corresponding exhibition in London. In 2019, he exhibited a body of work titled IBEJi’ at Rele Gallery Lagos, Nigeria. In February of that year, he had a solo collaborative exhibition that focused on the Goth scene in Lagos at Corosia Theatre and Expo and Film Centre in Amsterdam. He was also selected to show alongside visual artists from different continents in a group show at the prestigious Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France at their summer show in June.

Tayo was recently shortlisted amongst 14 other photographers around the world for a book curated by renowned art critic Antwaun Sargent. Titled The New Black Vanguard, the work was also featured in an exhibition at Aperture Gallery in New York through 2020.

Born in 1994 in Lagos, Tayo is also a massive music fan and a solid basketball player.


Ruth Nyaruot Ruach, a Melbourne-based, South-Sudanese cultural curator and multidisciplinary artist, who uses art to heal, explore her surroundings, and create comfort within her blackness. Ruth’s art explores the experiences of being an African of the diaspora although she is strongly influenced by, decolonizing language, tone, and the cultivation of shared perspectives in place of assimilation.

If you have difficulty viewing the video on this webpage, it can also be viewed on Facebook.

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PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March