Charles Lawson: Revealing Ghana’s Beauty Through Photography
David: I’m excited about this interview because this is my first interview of a photographer, and secondly, because this photographer is really good at what he does; one of the exceptional photographers revealing the beauty of Ghana through their lenses. Without saying too much, let’s zoom into the story.
Tell me a bit about yourself
I’m Charles Lawson. I used to be a math nerd, then I stumbled on my creative side when I went to architecture school in KNUST where I picked up photography, and I’ve not looked back. I’m 28, and I work as a freelance designer and photographer.
I go by @S_tage on most social media platforms. S_tage is a shortened form of my nickname back in high school. I am currently working on Montage, or in its larger form, Montage Creatives, which is a slight nod to this artistic pursuit, an outward expression of my creative disciplines, the future of what I do. Montage will be a collection of different artistic endeavors.
What steals your passion the most?
I believe photography does. It’s what I find myself spending most of my time, energy, inspiration and resources on.
So, do you hope to become a full-time photographer someday? Or you’ll still love to explore the other creatives fields alongside, while keeping photography the main thing?
I’m definitely exploring other creative fields. I recently started picking up plants, in a bid to learn more about landscaping, leading me to discover the plant family Monstera, a really beautiful group of flowering plants. I’m always picking up new interests, so I can’t ever see myself doing just one thing. But yes, photography always seems to play a part in whatever new thing I find and try to dabble in, so it’s probably going to be the main thing.
When I look at your works, I see you always want to make a statement with light and colour. It sometimes brings Stephen Wilkes to mind. Is he one of your influences?
Funny enough, I recognize his work before I recognize his name! Some of his images definitely did inspire me when I began making landscapes, but I never put a name to those images until much later. Thus I probably couldn’t give you a list of people whose work influenced me, but I can certainly describe images that stuck with me.
I guess I can say I’m primarily influenced by works more than names behind the work, thanks to all the art curating websites. It’s such a huge pool of influential images, that there isn’t much depth for me as far as connecting with a single photographer, or style, or even philosophy.
Speaking about the influence and impact of art works, what impact do you want your works to make?
My photography started out as just another creative outlet. Therefore, it was a little all over the place as far as style, subject was concerned. I tried pretty much everything. But more and more, I find myself creating amazing images of my city and my country, images that are more than just snapshots, images that tell stories and engage, even astound.
So whether it’s my signature landscapes and cityscapes, or my more rare portraits, I want them to engage people past a few minutes. I want them to last an age in your mind, hopefully with curiosity and wonder.
Nah, that’s a goal of mine for next year though, to visit all the regions of Ghana, and take photos that show the nation’s diversity and tell the stories of its people. I was briefly in Tamale once, on my way to Paga. So I’ll like to spend more time in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions. But I’ve been, and have images from the Eastern, Western, Volta, Ashanti, Central, Upper East, and of course Greater Accra regions. Again, I’ll like to do a full tour for the purpose of making images of the most iconic, as well as obscure things about each one of Ghana’s regions.
What about Africa? How many countries by far?
That’s my biggest shame. I haven’t taken a single trip outside Ghana since I picked up photography.
I certainly want to do Nigeria soon. South Africa too. Then ease my way into Francophone countries with my almost non-existent French. A couple other friends and I have discussed a joint trip, so that too should get sorted out soon.
I’ll be looking forward to your works from other African countries. I honestly can’t wait. I have a series of questions to ask which will involve you making a choice out of two things. There are no gray zones. Are you ready?
(Laughs) Let’s go.
David Tamsey: Nikon or Canon?
Charles Lawson: Canon
David Tamsey: iOS or Android?
Charles Lawson: iOS
David Tamsey: Colour or Monochrome?
Charles Lawson: Colourrrrr! Don’t fear the colour!!!
David Tamsey: Smartphone Camera or DSLR?
Charles Lawson: That’s hard. But DSLR.
David Tamsey: Mac or PC?
Charles Lawson: Mac.
David Tamsey: Lightroom or Photoshop?
Charles Lawson: Lightroom, but only because I knew too little about Photoshop. Ask me again in a couple of months (laughs).
Charles Lawson: Before we end this, here’s my own bonus round. Manchester United, Guitars, Omotuo, Kendrick Lamar, Efya, road trips with beautiful girls, sunsets, D-cups, Tea Baa, aaaaand classic Ghanaian movies.
David Tamsey: Interesting
David Tamsey: The pleasure is mine as well.
See more of the photographer’s works: @s_tage