Aniekan Augustine-Edet
8 min readOct 15, 2021
Cedar, Lohi Akharume.

She is known for her ability to capture the very essence of a person on camera. Her images give the impression of being set in a dreamy alternate universe where timeless stories exist in different shades of brown skin, stories of young love and womanhood. In her work, the saying "eyes are windows to the soul" finds its proof. But few in the industry know the true identity of the photographer who creates these stunning images.

So, Who is The Person Behind The Camera?

Lohi Akharume is many things. She is a photographer, a visual storyteller and creative director. There has always been an air of mystery that surrounds this young creative, who is often mistaken to be a man because in Nigeria, it is assumed that anyone who produces quality work in any field must be a man.

However, this is far from the truth. Lohi Akharume is in fact a young woman who only just turned eighteen-a truth she shares with a little, flippant regret. "My age used to be my selling point," She says. The fact that she was doing such amazing work at such a young age is what she believes made it special, though that is certainly not the only thing that makes her art stand out.

It is lunch hour at Pan-Atlantic University, and she moves her chair closer to mine in order to be heard over the din in the Port Harcourt classroom. Her cropped natural hair is a dark ginger and she is dressed in an olive green button down shirt and khakis, embodying the refreshing vitality the color represents as she narrates the experiences that have shaped her thus far. She grew up in Lagos, and although she spent a brief part of her childhood in London, she mostly remembers just being in Lagos.

Growing up in Ogba, Ikeja gave her "the best of both worlds", because she was able to see and interact with the people on the streets and people that belonged to the fairly wealthy middle class. It helped her see people as people, rather than as a reflection of their status or place in society. "It helped me as a person because now when I talk to people, I never think about class. I'm aware of it obviously, but it doesn't matter to me." It is evident that her immediate environment did not just shape her as a person but also as an artist and a storyteller. "There are so many stories around me," she says. Much of her inspiration comes from the places she has lived in and the stories they breed in their streets and buildings and people. The main focus of her work is telling these stories in the most authentic way possible, and her first chosen medium was photography.

Lohi remembers first taking and editing pictures during one summer she spent in England. "I went to a park, and I just thought it was really pretty." For that simple reason she took those pictures, capturing and editing them on her mum's phone. She thought they were beautiful, and she was so proud of her work that she forwarded the images to a group chat which, unbeknownst to her, was full of male photographers. They were scathing in their criticism of her work, which they considered to be amateurish. Perhaps they would have been kinder if they had been aware that she was just a girl no older than twelve, and not the grown "babe" they assumed her to be. They held nothing back, tearing her work apart piece by piece. "They destroyed me," she said. She considers this experience to be a defining moment, and she made a decision then and there.

"I am going to take over the photography community. I'm doing it and no-one is going to stop me."

She took her uncle's camera back to Lagos with her.


After the incident in London, Lohi founded Lohi's Concept. She got a manager, created a social media page and assembled a team of photographers to go to events and take pictures to be posted online. She was just 12. They mostly covered mainstream events, which were not really her thing. Nonetheless, she really enjoyed having a team and running things. She knew exactly what she wanted and how she wanted the images to look, and she made sure they turned out that way. She admits that she is a bit of a perfectionist, laughing as she does so. "I give room for mistakes, but I also want things to be perfect, because I know they can be perfect…..I'm very particular about details." If something doesn't go right, she tries her best to incorporate it into the concept, because then technically it is no longer a mistake.

Aside from directing her own team of photographers, she also planned events. Her first major shoot was called "The Other Side of Easter", and it was a project undertaken by at least seven photographers. She talks about it like it was not a big deal, like all pre-teens just wake up and direct photoshoots. "Apparently it was a big thing. I don't really remember the concept but it was really cute."

Things continued the same way until 2017-going to mainstream events, taking pictures and posting them online, building a brand and a portfolio, but her heart wasn't in it. She was more interested in the artistic, storytelling aspect of photography. “I definitely consciously drifted away from that world," she says. She took a break from all the events and shows and finally did her first visual storytelling shoot, titled "Riilwan's Princess."

Since then, her art has evolved into a visual storyscape, with concepts harvested from the world around her. She explains how she got the idea for one of her most intriguing shoots, The Agege Love Story, which portrays an "innocent love with deep and dark undertones." It was inspired by the couples she often saw in Agege, hiding behind cars and under trees just to be together. "I wanted to tell a story that was pure, something that could possibly happen," she says. It was a two part series accompanied by short narrative pieces explaining the story behind the images.

Agege Love Story

She has also made it a point to incorporate her personal philosophy into her art and make sure each shoot achieves her goal of capturing the essence of the subject. "When I started, I wanted my pictures to be raw and unedited…..I want you to see your pictures and think, this is me," she says. She wants to capture people in their most natural form and help them find confidence and comfort in themselves, even if it means making presets from scratch so they fit the subject perfectly. There is also a softness in the way she portrays men that is often questioned, the type of softness that is often discouraged in men though it is not in any way emasculating. It is her own way of showing that masculinity should not be a box, that men should be free to pose and dress in any way they wish to.

The process of growing into her chosen career has not been without its challenges, one of which was being so young in "spaces that were crazy," as she puts it. She found workshops with older, more experienced photographers slightly intimidating and she had no community of female photographers to rely on. She considers this to be the biggest challenge for her because she had no older women to connect with or receive mentorship from, which was important to her because male photographers did not share the same experiences she did. "Apart from being young, I am a woman in Nigeria," she says. There are certain things she cannot do, like being on set alone at late hours. However her parents were and still are incredibly supportive, and this helped make up for the things she struggled with. They would take her for shoots and stay on set with her till it was time to leave. "My mum even followed me to a strip club once," she reveals. " It was in a hotel, and they had no idea that she was supposed to shoot in the strip club located there. Her mother waited in the reception till the shoot was done while her father waited in the car.

Sexism is another constant challenge. It is mostly the casual kind, like mansplaining how to use equipment or assuming that because she is a woman, she must be into beauty photography. It is also difficult to escape the stereotypes that are typically forced on women in the photography industry, and she has vehemently shrugged off these stereotypes every time they have been thrown at her.

"I don't have to be in a box because I am a woman," she says resolutely. "My parents have never said to me, you're a woman, you have to."

And no man in the photography industry is allowed to either.


"Where do I start?" She says, like she is already out of breath from just thinking about them. She has many dreams, more than she can quantify, but hosting her very own exhibition is the first. The exhibition will be called “Warmth”, she says and it will be held in Lagos. Strictly for black women and non-binary photographers and visual storytellers, she says. It will feature visual storytelling in real time, providing viewers with a full sensory experience.

Another one of her dreams is to one day own a free creative space that will be open to anyone-women, poor people, homeless people-anyone who just needs a space to create. "....Because people never consider the fact that homeless people have dreams of creating something just like everyone else," she says.


Lohi Akharume is many things. She is a person who exists to create. She is a champion of black women-her art is for them just as much as it is for her. Their stories are important to her and she feels a heavy responsibility to express them through her art and create a safe space for them to tell their own stories.

She is a lover of art, she is her art. That is why she is often elusive, avoiding the spotlight and even denying her identity at times. “I believe my art should speak for me.” She has never believed that it is possible to separate the art from the artist. Her connection with her art is intimate-they are almost indistinguishable from each other.

“It is a reflection of my experiences, my stories…..I don’t think my art can be separated from me, because I am responsible for it.”

She is the colour green, brimming with promise and vitality. The world is at her feet, and everything she desires is hers for the taking.



Aniekan Augustine-Edet

aspiring to be a writer that actually writes. learning to release perfection.