Samuel Obadero was sitting on the CTrain one day when he looked around at his fellow passengers and realized that he could “literally see the world around me.”
“Everybody from all over the world represented in this small, beautiful city,” Obadero says.
“It is unique. It is beautiful. I have found out now that Calgary is a sparsely populated city but it is densely populated with culture and beauty and heritage.”
Obadero came to Calgary on August 16th, 2018 from his home country of Nigeria to seek a better life for him and his family. While he came to the city focused on finding a job, his photography talents quickly brought him recognition.
After arriving, the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society found out he is a photographer who has taken thought-provoking and award-winning photographs in Nigeria.
Staff at the society urged him to apply for an award, which he initially refused, since he had just got here recently and he was trying to find work to support his family. But the society insisted that his pictures could take him places, so they nominated him.
Out of 100 people that submitted their work, Obadero’s was chosen. Within months, he was sitting with the mayor at an awards ceremony, where he received the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society’s New Canadian Artist Award.
Since then, he has also been named as the Calgary Central Library’s first Newcomer Artist in Residence.
His current project that he is completing at the downtown library is inspired by that moment on the CTrain. Obadero is aiming to document Calgary’s multiculturalism by doing a portrait of every culture that he finds and photographing residents in their traditional dress.
Obadero urges readers who would like to have a portrait session that represents their culture to reach out to him to be a part of this project. He mentions that although it will be an ongoing project, he is hoping to have a big exhibition in September.
The portraits are part of what he is calling Project Red, which focuses on how individuals are all unique, but that everyone is still the same in the sense that we all bleed red.
The talented lifestyle photographer is humble, and intent on using his voice for social advocacy. For Obadero, family comes first, but he says contributing to society is equally important. He believes that his purpose is to contribute using his skill set.
”My best reward for any session is a smile,” he says. “Or maybe I send you a link to view your images and you send me an email back to say thank you. Those are usually my best rewards from any kind of project.”
Growing up, communication was quite hard as Obadero was born with a speech defect. He was a very acute stammerer. But he was also never a quiet child, as he always had so much to say.
In his quest to find a suppression, he found art. He was able to master and control his stammering, but that did not stop his artistic expression.
The more Obadero evolved as a person, he found that although he could capture moments and take beautiful portraits, he still felt empty in his soul.
So he evolved his craft into social-driven projects, which birthed another current project titled “The Forgotten Ones,” which he uses to give a voice to marginalized groups in Calgary using his powerful photography.
“When I started evolving, I started to live in the moment more,” he says. “The project The Forgotten Ones started from how we are so used to a set of people, in space and time. We see those things, but we don't register those things. It is forgotten. I feel like if I can lend my voice to stories like that, then I will be contributing.”
The artist in residence advises upcoming artists on the importance of being present and living in the moment. He implores artists to live in those moments that they have, because they never know what they could generate.
- By Mariam Taiwo