In celebration of Keith Haring’s legacy, we partnered with Atlanta-based image creator Chinedu Nwakudu (@dumoarles). His work feels at once editorial and ethereal, with a thoughtful eye for capturing each subject’s unique energy. We sent Chinedu a Keith Haring edition Now camera and film to capture the energy and spirit of his friends and community.
Words and photos by Chinedu Nwakudu.
I’ve been a fan of Keith Haring ever since I learned of him through Basquiat interviews and videos. I used to paint a lot and Keith Haring’s style was so unique and influential to me because you knew who it was immediately when you saw it. That’s how I want my work to be, I want my work to speak for me when I’m not present. The people you see in these pictures all have their own identity and you can understand who they are from one look. Each one of them has an aura to them that will be able to pull you into their vicinity.
Developing: How would you describe your work?
Chinedu Nwakudu: Honest, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Within my work I want you to see each person, not only as a subject, but them overall, or at least a glance of who they are. Every photo I take I want it to feel like you’re looking at a painting because that’s how I feel when I see the people I take images of.
“Keith didn’t care how you perceived him and I believe that matters a lot as an artist no matter how you look at it. He defined who he was and never let anyone else do it for him.”
D: What subjects and themes do you most love to capture?
CN: I would say I love to take images of people the most. People are very unique in their own styles and each photo of them shows a different side to them and that’s one of my favorite things to do. I just love to document people because when I look back at the image, I feel like I’m taking the photo all over again.
D: Can you describe the energy you wanted to capture in each of these [photos]?
CN: I wanted it to feel like you just left a concert. I want it to be engraved in your memory, something you will always think about or at least inspire you to have that same feeling.
D: What elements or stories were you trying to showcase in your subject?
CN: I wanted to show love and individuality. Everyone in these photos has [an] energy that can’t be replaced. To me they’re once in a lifetime energies, at least that’s how I feel from the conversations I’ve had with them.
D: What messages or ideas do you want to share as a creator?
CN: You can literally create whatever you want. That’s the cool thing about being an artist, you just have to create the world you want to show and be proud of it. No one can take that from you because just having the confidence to create and share it with others takes a lot, but never doubt yourself because I promise you, you can do it.
“You can literally create whatever you want. That’s the cool thing about being an artist, you just have to create the world you want to show and be proud of it.”
CN: When I was in my senior year of high school I was into Basquiat and Keith Haring. They inspired me to get into painting and I eventually moved into photography. Keith’s work was really cool to me because I loved how he made his characters; I even tried to make my own because I was inspired that much. The simplicity, patterns, and colors made me a fan immediately. Keith didn’t care how you perceived him and I believe that matters a lot as an artist no matter how you look at it. He defined who he was and never let anyone else do it for him.
This piece is part of a two artist series celebrating Keith Haring’s legacy with photo essays featuring the Keith Haring special edition film and Now camera. Our next artist feature is LA based film photographer, Billie Black (@billiexblack). Explore Billie’s photo essay and learn how queer artists inspire them. Read more