Paper Title
Applied and Implied Interpretations of Fashion Photography in Colonial and Post-Colonial Nigeria
Ayo Adewunmi, Ph.D
Arts, Language, and Communication

Fashion Photography is an aspect of photography that focuses on style of clothing, personal appearance including hair, body decoration and accessories. It also involves the use of photography to document and promote fashion. Recently, artist photographers found fashion photography as a useful means of artistic expression. Before the invention of photography, graphic artists in Europe had promoted fashion through visual illustration. The practice was common for pioneering fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Various ethnic groups in Nigeria have particular styles of fashion. The Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa Fulani, Ibibio, Edo, Idoma and other groups can be identified merely by their styles of dressing. The paper considers the applied and implied interpretations of fashion photography in Nigeria between 1900 and 1970. It analyses how colonialism altered fashion styles and it concludes by enumerating the implication of photography on the development of fashion in Nigeria.

Photography, fashion, decoration, clothing, graphics


Photography may be classified into different categories, depending on the nature of subject. These are Portraiture, Landscape, Architecture, Art, Still Life, Sport and Action, Close-ups, Night and Low Light Photography. These classifications are according to related subject theme. Other classifications of photography may be according to the type of camera or equipment used; in this case, these are Analog, Digital, Microscopic, Telescopic and Photogram. The earlier categorization which is based on the nature of subject is considered here.  

The photographers of the colonial era gave clues about Nigerians, the way of life, occupation, culture and environment. Their photographs remain the earliest photo documentation. In discussing applied and implied interpretations of Fashion Photography in colonial and post-colonial Nigeria, it is appropriate to examine some photographs of the period.Portraiture and Fashion photography are two categorization that capture fashion and accessories. Portrait photography deals with photographing individual or group of people, and this focuses on the face that reveals personality, mood or facial expression.


Download the rest of the work from the link below the references


Adewunmi, A. (2016). Historiography of selected professional photographers of North Central Nigeria, 1950 -1980 (Ph.D Thesis, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 2016).

Aronson, L. (1997, July). Review of Renne, Elisha P.,Cloth that does not die: The meaning Of cloth in Bunu. social life. H-Afr Arts, H-Net Reviews. Retrieved from URL:

Clarke, W. H., (1972). Travel and explorations in Yorubaland, 1854-1858.  (Ed. J. A. Atanda). Ibadan: University Press.

Mbelu, M. (2013). Textile in Nigeria: Cultural expression through historical textile and apparel collection. Enugu:  Timex Press.

Schneider, J. (2010).  History of photography. The Topology of the Early History of African Photography, 34(2), 134-146. Retrieved from URL:, 2010).

Picton, J. (1996). Cloth and the corpse in Ebira. Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings. Paper 846.

Prussin, L. (1995). African nomadi architecture: Space, place and gender. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press and the National Museum of African Art.

Whitley, Z.(2015). Fashion photography. Retrieved from photography (Downloaded 19-8-2015).