Photography is fast getting its' desired attention in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, the profession is regarded majorly as a male profession. But, Riya of Riyality Photography thinks otherwise. She believes that camera looks sexy on her and photography to her is bringing dreams to 'Riyality'. Riya, whose real name is Gloria Ukata is also a music artiste, in this exclusive interview, she mentioned her forthcoming 'QUING' project and also reveals how greatly she is inspired by children, male models, the naturalness of weddings amidst other things. I promise you would enjoy this. Read and have fun checking out some of her works.
What is the idea behind Riya and Riyality? : I've always been creative when it comes to giving nicknames to people and myself. I'm a music artist and this name 'Riya' was derived from my birth name Gloria, being the 'Ria' from the Gloria. lol. That was way back in secondary school and since then people rarely call me Gloria. So, you can as well see where Riyality originated. It did from my nickname Riya. That is to say my dreams coming into RIYALITY (Reality).
Why did you decide to be a photographer and at what point in your life did you decide that? : I decided to be a photographer thanks to a friend who saw how good I was at taking photos, at the time I had a BBTorch, that was in the year 2013. I started reading photography books and handling DSLRs (sophisticated cameras) the passion grew stronger. Before I knew it I began to gain recognition as a professional photographer. Though I feel I'm still learning. The idea behind Riyality is to prove to the world that women and girls as well can be whoever they want or do whatever they want and still make impacts. To prove that dreams are valid and can always turn to Riyality! I also decided to be a photographer because cameras look sexy on females. lol. Just jokes. I decided there is more to photography than just taking pictures, I love taking pictures and developing them. I just have tremendous joy in doing that, I also love to appreciate photographs and I decided to be a photographer from the point I 'Riyalized' I could do it. That was in the year 2013. Whenever I hold a camera, I feel like a soldier holding a gun on the war front *laughs*
What was the reactions of your family and friends when you decided to go into photography and how did you go about explaining your reasons for going into photography? : I really didn't have to explain any reasons because every single person was in support, my dad always saw me as intellectually bright, of which I am *blushes* and was a bit skeptical but after he saw how far it was taking me and how much I was beginning to earn at this quite young age, the old igbo man had no choice but to support me. lol.
How do you react to people seeing you as not being good enough owning to your gender? : Well, funny enough when people hear it's a girl they ignore their skepticism and always take a shot to see what I have got. Sometimes, they refuse to take risks, but, most times I get very positive reactions from people.
What inspires you as a photographer? : Beautiful ladies, kids, weddings (so much naturalness), male models, fashion, landscapes, the destitutes, and sceneries. What kind of photographs would you never take? : Photographs at funerals. lol. Never ever! Why should I take photos of sad, crying people? No way.
What part of photography do you find uninteresting? : The hassle and bustle at weddings, struggling to take good shots and for the fact that you keep shooting for long hours. So tiring.
What is the most interesting thing about photography to you? : Shooting beautiful ladies, I feel women always have something good to offer in photographs with their attitudes, style, poise, smile etc. I know this sounds lame, lol, but I enjoy every bit of it, not forgetting kids, they are so cute.
What is your biggest project as a photographer? : I haven't had any yet, but I'm planning towards one for this year, called "The QUING project" that is women who are their Kings and Queens. *winks* I told you I like making names, lol. This project will have me release a single. Yes! I would be depicting women who are strong and have been through the storms and can be their own Kings as well as rise as beautiful Queens that they are.
Which persons, celebrities and brands would you want to work with and why? : For celebrities I would really love to work with Naomi Campbell, she has a strong face in photographs; Kendall Jenner, so unconformed; Willow Smith. In Nigeria, Toyin, a Lagos based male model and many more. I can't mention all. Would love to work with Kelechi Amadi Obi, that man is a King in photography, Tobbinator too(TCD), Tope Horpload, TY Bello; she is QUING!
Which persons, celebrities and brands would you rather not work with and why? : I don't have any in mind yet oo. lol.
Where in your career would you get to before you start considering your self as a big name in the photography industry? : When I start getting calls from Forbes magazine and Paris' internationally recognized fashion magazines to take editorial photographs, as well as start getting paid 1.5million Naira at least for just portraits pictures. I will know that, ehen Riya 'don come' *laughs*
What do you want to achieve with photography? : A lot, a photography school centered on training young photographers especially the female ones. And a women empowered movement to encourage young girls get something going on for themselves, no matter how manly it may look or seem. Just try it.
Role model(s) : TY Bello, Tobbinator(TCD), Tope Horpload, Kelechi Amadi Obi What other talents of yours are we yet to see? : Music, music, music, yessss!
At what point in your life would you decide to quit photography and why? : I will not quit oo, no oo I will not. lol. What plans do you have for Riyality Photography this year? : The QUING Project I mentioned earlier. And so many many shoots. God help me.