Some are born to speak to crowds, some others to amaze people’s glance by showing beautiful things, and others to seduce. I found a person who combines these three gifts; he’s like a sweet molotov cocktail: Yanick Folly. Yanick Folly is only twenty-seven years. His passion is photography and his inspiration comes from kids. I met Yanick in what he calls himself with a lot of love “a home that inspires.” A house where the only thing you see is children everywhere. Between Dada and Nafi, two cute little twin sisters, he allowed me to meet him. On each photo of Yanick, there is a child. Behind every child, there is a story. Here is the true of Yanick, rising star of photography in Africa.
How did you come to photography?
Actually there are two things that led me to photography. I once asked my mother if I could see my childhood photos. She said she had no picture of me that she could show me. The second thing happened during a journey to Pobè (a village in Benin). I saw a little girl in that village and I took a picture of her. I eventually forgot about that picture as days were going. Then one day I saw that photo again and was so marked by the image that I decided to start.
What attracts you so much in children?
My childhood was stolen. Between boarding at school and parents that were always busy, I didn’t not experience the traditional joyful childhood period. I did not enjoy it at all. This is why I try to catch up as much as I can now.
With children, I feel good. I love children, they want to know everything. With them, you have a whole bunch of emotions. When you put the camera focus on an adult, he wants to look great in the picture, He wants its image to be the best possible, while with the children, it is something totally different. You take them in their raw nature and state. They are so innocent.
In majority people imagination, photography is not a pretty rewarding profession.
It’s so sad that people think like this and it is much worse today because everyone has a camera especially with the explosion of smartphones.
I went one day to Dangbo market, where I played table football with some children. I asked later on their mother if I could take a picture of the kids. She was so angry when she replied: “You want to sell our photos! Which kind of photographer are you? Where do you come from? “. Quietly I took the time to explain my goals to her. After that she finally allowed me to take the pictures. I requested permission from the children as well. At the end, I showed them all my shots.
The Mom seemed so excited and happy: “They are very beautiful in the pictures. You can take me too? Bring us the pictures! “.
This was a little experiment on the matter. It proves that it is gradually that we will get there. Photography is an art, it is an aesthetic. We take this Job lightly and without serious but it is really art. That’s why I want to thank all my friends’ photographers, Gopal Amah, Isy Click, Darius Tossou, because they change the vision of photography.
Most of your photos show a forgotten childhood either in the slums or behind stalls in the street, can you say that you are a photo-activist?
That’s a quite big word, but I accept it. I want to defend these children. One time while I was in Zinvié, I saw one young boy seated down in the street and selling fake and cheap quality petrol. It was a normal school day. He was smiling. His father was also seated next by him. But he didn’t seem to even care a bit, even when I was taking the picture of his son the photo. The tuition costs nothing, but at that moment this child was there instead of being in school. I wanted to change the life of this child, and bring awareness of the father. But I only had my camera. So I took his picture.
Today, almost everyone has a camera, what is your difference?
The art of photography is what you take and how you justify it. It is all about the how, and then the message. Everyone can be a photographer. But the keys used are not the same for everyone.
Can you tell us about your proudest achievements as a photographer?
There are many and among them I can list:
– The price Kolan Alexis Martinez in tribute to the great journalist Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso Burkina Faso in January 2014.
– The price ‘’under the flashes’’ of Africa in Niamey in April 2015
– The price of large photo competition under 60 solutions against climate change by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand realized in Benin in July 2015.
– The price of Chinese photographer Lu Guang on the topic of Beninese Everyday life organized by Kulturforum north-south in Cotonou, Benin in August 2015
– Exposure to the agency of Air France, October 2, 2015
-ThousandWords quality photography Award, October 17, 2015
But honestly, the goal I pursue is much bigger than my simple pride. I thank God, two or three people are already talking about me and it’s more than enough. Win prizes doesn’t make one a good artist or the most renown talented photographer. It only occurs to remind you that you no longer have the right to give up.
We guess the road has not been easy, what help you to keep up?
I give myself challenges every day. I have no room for error. Like many others, I was a victim of “Ayi minti ago.”(Which means ‘’you think you are someone, but you are nothing’’) Many people had fun of me and mocked at me. I received very hard shock.
I have the desire to succeed; I think that’s the first thing. I also think about all these people who trust in me, these people who write to me every day and say “Yanick we follow you, we love what you do.” Then my family and all my relatives, they boost me to the maximum with all the love that they give me. And above all, I think especially to the children. Without them, I’m nobody.
How does one become a Yanick Folly?
(Laughs) You become Yanick Folly by birth first. Do what you love, do it well, with passion, never give up and let God do the rest. Seriously, never be in a hurry in life. Also include respect in everything that you do. I had the chance to get in touch with very great people who taught me a lot. And this is all because I gave them a lot of respect. It is important to respect everyone and to remain humble. We can learn many lessons from it and it does open a lot of doors.