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YO YOMI: An Artist Through the Lens

Photography by Yomi Rabiu (@yo.yomi)

"Be yourself and don't compare yourself too much to what others do. Everything that you want to do, you can do."
Amine at Paris Fashion Week 2022 by Yomi Rabiu

Hailing from Western Europe, Yomi Rabiu, a photographer and videographer based in The Netherlands uses the art of photography as an outlet not only to express his creative visions but to capture sentimental moments. Moving from Tilburg, NL to Amsterdam, Yomi used this opportunity to expand his creativity as he took photographs of the quiet streets of Amsterdam during the time of COVID-19 to tell stories of the empty environment.

After discovering a passion for photography, Yomi continued to create by capturing captivating moments of places and people. He formed genuine relationships with others and flourished his network, which led him to shoot for brands like La Fam Amsterdam, Nike, Footlocker, and more. After seeing success in digital photography, Yomi further developed his technical skills and started dabbling in analog photography and videography. He brought his camera everywhere he went, capturing any and everything from Paris Fashion Week and Rotterdam Rolling Loud to shooting portraits of Aminé and Luka Sabbat, Yomi expresses his artistic, yet simple style by telling stories and documenting memorable moments he has made with friends while traveling the world.

@simfromthehill by Yomi Rabiu

What sparked your interest in photography? Was there a particular moment you had that made you want to fully pursue it?

I don’t know if there was something in particular that sparked my interest in photography. When I was younger, I always had the urge to take my parents’ camera and take photos when we were on vacation. So I think subconsciously I had it in me to be a photographer in the future. What really made me pursue photography was when I did a "do whatever you want" project when I was still in school. It was not specifically a photography school, but I wanted to photograph the empty streets and people during the beginning stage of covid. During this period, I posted some of the pictures on my IG. People liked it and at that time, I didn't know I could be a photographer or that there was work in the scene I wanted to photograph for.

I’ve noticed you shoot a lot on film and expanded more into videography as well. What made you want to do both digital and analog? How did you expand your techniques?

The digital camera that I use can also shoot videos. As a photographer, I take my camera everywhere. I remember one night at a club in Amsterdam where I took my camera with me and started shooting videos of my friends and the vibes. I made an edit out of it without any video editing skills. I really liked what I made and from there on, I knew I had to do more with making videos.

I expanded my techniques the same way I did with digital photography. Simply by just doing it and taking notes from others...and one of the best free courses has to be YouTube. Every single thing that I struggled with or that I wanted to learn, I checked it on Youtube. I still do this nowadays.

I saw that you shoot a lot with La Fam Amsterdam. What was your favorite shoot to do with them?

Good one. I think it has to be the one during Paris Fashion Week last year. I went to Paris with a friend and brought some clothing from La Fam. I followed two guys, Shin and Seidai from Tokyo for a while on the gram because of their dope style and videos they made. They were in Paris as well and La Fam has a good relationship with them. I contacted them and they were down to do the shoot. We only had 30 minutes for the whole shoot. This seemed like an even shorter period of time as I was shooting on film. The guys brought some good vibes and we made everything work out. I’m still in contact with them and even met up with Shin in Amsterdam last year.

You have also shot for various campaigns for brands like Nike and Footlocker. What was the process like to shoot for those campaigns?

First of all, to be able to shoot for big brands like Nike and Footlocker is truly a blessing. When it comes to shooting for big brands, you have to be sharp and quick. There were 2 cities I had to go to for the shoot for Footlocker; Paris and London. I went by train to Paris and flew to London afterwards all in 3 days. So to travel, prepare, and shoot photos and videos in different countries was a lot. For example, the Footlocker shoot in London, I arrived the day before the shoot, but it was pretty chill because I had time to prepare some last-minute things. Then the next morning we had the shoot. At the shoot, there happened to be a client from Nike, the agency that gave me the assignment for the Nike shoot, as well as someone who does production under the company. Right after we finished up the Footlocker shoot, I Ubered to the airport to fly back to Amsterdam. The next few days I had to edit all footage or send the photorolls immediately as everything had to be sent out.

40th anniversary of AF1 Footlocker/Nike Campaign

What has been your favorite event or person to shoot for?

That's a tough one. There are multiple people that I loved shooting with. But if I have to choose one, it has to be Sim From The Hill. Before I went to NYC, I did research on people with raw stories to shoot with; I knew I had to photograph Sim when I found out about him. I loved the photos that I took, but it was more than just the photos. My favorite shoots are with people where I'm walking down the streets with them and taking photos of places we find down the road. I did the same with Sim. We first took photos at his crib in Harlem. After, we went outside and took photos around the block, while Sim told me stories of his neighborhood. One of those stories was about the high school 2Pac attended, which was literally around the corner from where we were. Sim showed me a video of 2Pac walking past his high school while we were at the exact same place. It was really dope to hear all the stories. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time because of another shoot I'd planned that day. We’re still in contact and I'm planning to visit him in the near future again.

You visited New York City back in 2022. How do you think the environment of culture is different or similar to The Netherlands? Did New York inspire you in any way?

NYC is a whole different place than The Netherlands. People are way more out there. I went to the club by myself a few times and everyone had good vibes. I could relate and connect with a lot of people there and that's what I love about New York. It really inspires me to just get out there and connect with people of all cultures. I'll be visiting again in October, and I'm super excited to get some work in while I'm there.

Alchemist and Larry June, The Great Escape release party

How do you express yourself through your work? And how do you tell a story through your photos or video?

I like to keep my work as raw as possible. I want to take photos of people in the moment and keep it real. The photos have to speak for themselves. As for videos, I proceed with the same thought and take people on a journey.

Do you have any favorite photographers, videographers, or creatives that you shadowed or got inspiration from when you first started shooting?

Yes, I do. One of my favorite photographers has to be Vuhlandes (@vuhlandes). He's a Black photographer from Detroit who mainly shoots on film. As a black photographer myself, I can relate to him. For the video aspect, Gaku Lange (@gakuyen) is really the one that made me want to do more video work. He has a dope and unique style and he also explains his work on YouTube. I learned a lot from him.

Luka Sabbat, Paris Fashion Week 2022

Do you have any advice for people in the creative industry who want to pursue something like photography, videography, or any sort of art?

Be yourself and don't compare yourself too much to what others do. Everything that you want to do, you can do. It may sound cliché but it really works like that. And that's not even focussed on the passion or work that you do, but also in general in life. To this day, I work on my craft every single day. Sometimes more than other days. If you keep doing what you love, you will get there.

The last advice I would give is to not look too much at the likes and views on social media. The most important thing is that you like the art you made. The likes and views can make you less motivated when a post isn't going as well as you thought. For me, I had a hard time dealing with this but I learned to not care as much as I did before.


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Sep 12, 2023

As one of Yomi's close friends, I'm mad proud to read this. Being able to see his journey from close-by since the beginning, I'm super excited for everything he will create from now. Much love brother, the only way is up!!! - Robba

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