The UK-Based Nigerian Photographer Using A Different Lens To Challenge Norms

Published 1 month ago
Amanda Esther Akokhia started her first photo studio at the age of 24; image supplied
Amanda Esther Akokhia started her first photo studio at the age of 24; (image supplied)

Diverse photography can help challenge perceptions and fight stereotypes. When Amanda Esther Akokhia started her photo studio some five years ago in the United Kingdom (UK), where she grew up, she was not aware just how important this was. At the time, photography was a hobby but it soon began to give her life purpose and meaning.

“When I started working, I would leave work during lunch, take pictures and return to work, and that was how I started photography. I wasn’t really fulfilled doing my job, but photography made me really happy. I knew in my heart that this is what I wanted to do [for] a living. That led me to open my first studio at 24,” says Akokhia, born in the UK but whose parents are Nigerian.

She’s the owner of Green Studio and now has over a decade of experience in the industry. Through education and the consistent drive for representation, she hopes to use her photography platform, Amanda Akokhia Photography, to bring about much-needed change.


The British Journal of Photography found that, globally, about 70% – 80% of photography students are women but they only account for 13% – 15% of professional photographers. Furthermore, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics also reportedly estimated that, although women account for half of all working photographers, they still struggle to get opportunities.

When Akokhia started cutting her teeth in the industry, she had already noticed the disparity.

“I knew I wanted to do photography, but I could not find any successful role models that looked like me in the industry to emulate,” she recalls.

This was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, she decided to fully commit – she quit her legal profession and opened her studio with £10,000 ($12,400), which she secured through a combination of savings and investment from her business partner.


“They believed in my vision and were eager to contribute,” says Akokhia.

In those days the vision for the brand was simple.

“I didn’t know what the industry was like, I just knew my dream was to shoot for big magazines and to see my pictures on billboards. I was really interested in beauty and fashion and my vision was to be a commercial photographer who shot for the big brands that I admired so much growing up. I didn’t know how I was going to get there but I knew that was what I wanted to see myself doing,” Akokhia adds.

Within two years of opening her business, Akokhia had already fulfilled her goals in photography, working with brands like BBC, Warner Brothers, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Disney and Pantene, among others.


“I started thinking [about] what the new vision for me at this stage of my life is. And I started to imagine a world where everyone would feel seen and can be seen through my work and encouraging other photographers to capture everyone. Sometimes, when you look at magazines in the UK, you only see photographers of a certain type and color. I shoot everyone as I would shoot a model for a campaign shoot,” she says.

Akokhia has steadily grown her business from one that generated a monthly revenue of £5,000 ($6,200) to one that has secured individual commercial campaigns worth £15,000 ($18,600) by elevating her business and building relationships with prominent commercial brands. An important focus for her is representation in her work, both behind the lens and in front of it.

And, as a rising creative in the sector, Akokhia hopes to achieve her new vision for creating inclusivity through training and mentorship, where she teaches future photographers and creatives how to turn their passion into a business.