Jonathan Adagogo Green: The First Nigerian Professional Photographer Who Studied Photography From Sierra Leone

For photographers who have the knack for discovering photography icons, the name Jonathan Adagogo Green won’t sound unfamiliar. Green is widely recognized as one of Africa’s best photographers and the earliest individual to have established in the craft.

Jonathan Adagogo Green was born in Bonny, present-day Rivers State, in 1873. He attended school in Lagos and Sierra Leone. The latter being the place where he had learned lengthy about photography. In 1891, equipped with every bit of knowledge of the art, Green set up a studio for his photographic practice in Bonny. Jonathan Green wasn’t any kind of photographer. His catalog of work demonstrated how organized and bold he was in highlighting the conditions at the time through the lens of the camera.

Jonathan Adagogo Green seemingly had a large plethora of interests. His catalog had two sets of insights: the British imperialist colonial power and the exceptional beauty and uniqueness of his local culture particularly the Ibani Ijo community. His photographs covered the British colonial officers, prominent Nigerian chiefs and their families, and European merchants.

As Nigeria’s first photographer, Green was strategically poised to properly document the barrage of different lives that surrounded him. He did so judiciously with every bit of professionalism and documented his environment. The political, commercial/industrial, and social life never were bereft of his genre and volume of documentation. He was an icon.

The photograph of Oba Ovonramwen of Benin as shot by Jonathan Green

The now-famous photograph of Oba Ovonramwen of Benin on the navy ship as he was being transported to exile in 1897 was shot by Jonathan Adagogo Green.

The British were said to be marveled by Green’s work. The Ibani Ijaw town of Bonny was the hub of industrialization at the time The trade of palm oil was at its peak during the 19th century. Green’s photographic skills were in high demand and his business was sought after. As a native of Bonny, he found himself at the center of imperialist activities.

Jonathan Adagogo Green died at the age of 32 in 1905. Part of his works is displayed in the British Museum, Nigeria, the USA, and the United Kingdom.

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