Art

Yorùbá African Orishas

… James C. Lewis merges ancient African spirituality with modern digital photography.

Photos by James C. Lewis/N3k Photo Studios Interview by Tiffany Credle

In the photographic series Yorùbá African Orishas, James C. Lewis takes viewers into the rarely explored world of African Orishas who represent the many manifestations of God. Though they predate the Greek and Roman pantheons, they have not been as widely acknowledged and referenced as their successors. The Orishas are brought to life in stunning, mystical portraits as photographer James C. Lewis merges ancient African spirituality with modern digital photography.

Yemoja Photo © James C. Lewis

Citizen Brooklyn: How did you begin exploring the world of photography and what made you want to go into this field?
My Dad was my initial inspiration to go into photography. He was sort of like the unofficial photographer in our family and that made me want to do it. 

Babaluaye Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: What inspired you to create the “Yorùbá African Orishas” series?
I was always curious to know if there were a pantheon of African gods and goddesses, so I began researching and I stumbled upon the Orisha of the Ancient Nigerian & Benin Kingdoms. I also learned that the Orisha predated the Roman & Greek gods/goddesses by 5 thousand years and were also the source of inspiration for them as well.

Oya Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: The styling, makeup and post-processing for each image seems very intricate, how long did it take to create just one photo and how long did it take to create the entire series?
The styling, makeup and post-production process for each image was indeed very intricate and well researched. I would say most took roughly three to five hours from conception to completion. The entire series itself was done over a three month period.

Obtala Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: Your portraits seem to have an ethereal quality to them, how did you develop this style of shooting?
I tend to not give away my secrets in regards to my shooting style, however, just know it was based upon years of trial and error. Finally, when the desired look was achieved I proceeded to perfect it from that point on.

Osun Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: What is the secret to capturing the essence of a subject and creating an exceptional portrait?
I feel the secret to capturing the essence of a subject and creating an exceptional portrait would all fall under the category of finding just the right model to embody the character that you’re going for. Finally, creativity is the major component to presenting a polished final product that will express everything I’d look to achieve.

Ori Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: What has been the reaction to this series?
The reaction to this series has been overwhelmingly positive and continues to blossom with new audiences around the world.

Oba Photo © James C. Lewis

CBK: What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am currently traveling the States with my latest series ICONS OF THE BIBLE… Feel free to check out the link to learn more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/07/characters-from-bible-really-look-like-_n_5281519.html

Esu Photo © James C. Lewis

Follow James C. Lewis:
Website:www.noire3000studios.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noire3000
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Noire3000

One Response to “Yorùbá African Orishas”

  1. Sabine says:

    Beautiful photographs and very nice interview on very powerful concepts.