Introducing Paula Abu (@narcography)

Photography by @iilaydamac

Please introduce yourself, and how you got into photography?

“My name is Paula Abu, I’m 21 and I’m a photographer. I grew up going to the cinema a lot so I’ve always enjoyed film. I then got a camera for my 18th birthday and started taking photos then. I’ve been shooting properly since 2017. After a while I started posting my photos on my social media and just went from there.

I’m also studying pharmacy in Nottingham.”

How did you come up with the name Narcography?

“I’ve always wanted my photos to have more depth, and feel more than they look. ‘Narcotic’ is like a numbing, soothing effect – which is what I aim for in my photos.”

How would you describe your style of photography?

“I would say my style is fashion and editorial. But I feel like fashion/editorial content can be unrealistic sometimes. So I try to create photos that combine a high end and grounded feel. It’s a mixture of the honest aspects of a documentary style but still as big and grand as fashion and editorial work. It’s real and honest.”

Did you encounter any setbacks on your journey?

“Yeah, most of all was questioning myself, asking if this could actually go somewhere. I also realised that social media engagement doesn’t always translate to money – this was hard to navigate. Finding a way to monetise this was the biggest setback to overcome.

I also had a number of people commenting on my photos and questioning why I only shoot black people or people of colour. This demographic is my own community from when I was young, I’ve always had access to shoot with them. This community is already under represented, which is why it is a focus for my photography.”

Photography by @iilaydamac

What’s your proudest work so far?

“I was top 10 winning photographers for a competition with PAQ and Puma Hoops – this was a really reassuring moment for myself. It showed me that my work does speak for itself.”

What advise would you give for creatives starting out?

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“Just do it… a lot of times we wait to get to a place where we’re ready, but you won’t ever feel ready until you just try it. I avoided studio work for a long time because I thought it was a whole other ball game. When I tried it out for the first time, I realised it wasn’t as different as I thought, and I really enjoyed it.

You just have to try, and if it doesn’t work out at least you know what not to do.

I would also say work on your craft, embrace new ideas and campaign for the youth. Empowering content is really important. And it inspires people around you when you do create the work.”

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

“I’m the creative director of The Floor magazine. Filmore’s Floor started out as a literary platform for journalists, poets and writers – but we chose to also make it into a magazine. Issue #2: The All Womxn’s Issue which is available to pre-order on our site now, and features Tanya Compas.”

Photography by @iilaydamac
Photography by @iilaydamac

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