Walter Banks: Through His Eyes
It takes an unusual amount of talent and out-of-the-box thinking to pique the interest of music video director, TG Omori and a plethora of Nigerian music acts have already been strucked off Walter Banks’ wishlist. Although his glaring unique talent has caught the eye of many, it’s the absent-minded creativity behind these unconventional shots that makes him different. At first glance, these pictures look like regular photographs but when examined closely, his composition, subject placement, and ability to minimally distort and alter images prove they aren’t walk-in-park shots. Walter Banks tells his journey and his self-taught knowledge in his craft through photography.
Walter Banks is such a cool alias. Is that your real name?
Walter is my real name but Banks is a nickname I got when I was in secondary school because I just wanted something that could stand out, something people can hold on to. Plus Banks is catchy and easy to say.
How did it all begin for you and at what part of your life did you realise that capturing excellent stills and emotions was your calling?
I won’t lie it wasn’t easy because I came from a family of three, lost my dad at a very tender age, so it all started from church. I used to love taking pictures with my phone, well till the church got a camera. So, yeah I learnt on my own, I wasn’t taught by anyone just YouTube and practice. Also, it is not just about taking pictures it’s about being different cause I want to change the mindset of people. You can create pictures in different ways, I hate being restricted to just taking normal pictures, I go the extra mile to create something people have never seen. I will say it’s definitely not easy being different from anyone.
In your line of work, how important is getting that big break, and what is your big break story?
I would say the first time I shot TG Omori. He doesn’t like basic concepts so I needed to come up with something sick. We shot in a studio and I did a crazy manipulation that blew his mind. He was expecting a normal studio picture but I did something different and gave it an Asian feel. I think that was my big break. After that, I started attracting other people like Joeboy, Fireboy, Badboy Timz, Ckay, Phyno, Olamide, and so many other people that started looking to work with me.
What is one thing you wished you had known venturing into photography but you had to learn the hard way?
Retouching was something I wish I knew about earlier on because it’s actually really complex and I had to learn the hard way. I’m self-taught. I had to use YouTube to learn everything. I didn’t know skin retouching could be very tricky, so sometimes, I have to watch it again and again. Another thing was finding dope locations because I’m always looking to do things outside the box and sometimes people make location scouting difficult but I always find a way around it.
Not everyone knows exactly what to do in front of a lens, as a photographer with a unique eye, how are you able to get a result both parties are content with?
It’s hard because sometimes when you get on set and you’re about to take pictures, you don’t always get what you are expecting so you have to be flexible and always have a plan B. Sometimes I’ll have to research and find ways to spice it up during post edit because I like to keep my pictures clean and classy. It always needs to have the Walter Banks vibe.
In what ways have those who have done it before you influenced your thinking, photographing, and career path?
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of Nigerian photographers that I look up to because they don’t do anything out of the box. The only person’s career that inspires and influences me is TG Omori because he has a different level of creativity and is on the next level. He is in more ways than one, different from every other director. He’s unique in so many ways.
Can you tell me precisely what you want your photographs to say, and how do you get them to accomplish that?
My mission is to have an edge that makes them stand out because I’m focused on lifestyle photography. When I take pictures, I already know that I want them to be distinctively distinguishable so I work on the composition of the photo and do necessary editing to get the perfect results.
In your photography, are there any technologies/software/camera gear that helps you keep focused on what you do best?
I feel cameras are just cameras, they don’t make the photos; it’s the lenses and the photographer handling it that makes for great photos. I can use any camera; I don’t restrict myself to just one but, I’m more proficient with Sony.
Considering the country you’ve found yourself in, what fuels you to keep taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually, or emotionally?
I’m motivated by life, things happening around me, and how I’m feeling.
In the grand scheme of things, who is that one person you want to shoot, that would do it for you?
That’ll be Wizkid because he has a delightful vibe, he understands posing, and has nice skin so it’ll be stress-free. I’ll just need to give him the right aesthetic. I’d also like to shoot Davido, A$AP Rocky, and Luka Sabbat.
As far as photography goes, how sustainable do you think it is as a profession in Nigeria?
Photography is more like a lifestyle to me, I find myself doing it as a profession because it’s good money. I love what I do and that fuels me.
How do you keep evolving and growing as a creative?
I love to research and experience different lifestyles and that helps me grow as a creator. I hate being restricted and I always find a way to make things happen. Photography is all about exploring and thinking because to bring up fresh ideas you need to open your mind to new possibilities.