STARGIRL- MAJEEK DANIEL 

Stargirl is a photo series creatively directed by Nigerian photographer and film maker Eloma Daniel, better known as Majeek Daniel. The short film/ Photo series titled STARGIRL, is a vintage splash of colors, it sonically depicts a young woman who is intricately obsessed with stardom. Scenes from the film bring to the fore a woman living in the moment, urban-oriented and isn’t scared of crashing. Majeek points out that he got the idea from The Weekend’s song ‘I just see you shine cos I know you’re a Stargirl’. View and enjoy the visual experience put together by Majeek's Creative collective SubUrban Agency and curated into a lookbook by New Wave Studios.

INTERVIEW 

What inspired the Stargirl project?

I just moved to Port Harcourt from Lagos about 4 months ago, and it was very difficult doing the work I did in Lagos. Most photographers here are commercial. In fact, 90% of them are, their style lacked creativity as far as I was concerned. I stumbled on a location a photographer friend of mine, Sabre Art, used for his shoot and I really loved the scene and told him I'll like to check it out. On visiting the location, I found out it was a very large centre, although I couldn't utilise it as much because of time. Prior to the visit I came up with a mood board. I had a team of a stylist, MUA, and a model that I randomly saw on twitter. 

So, the location, model, song, Elektra inspired what I wanted out of the project. 

 

Although the Stargirl project is overflowing with attention arresting quality, are there any changes you would have made, or any shots you would have liked to do differently?

 

This is bound to always happen. I spent close to a month editing, cos I just wanted something perfect. I switched up edits quite several times. But I like the results. 

 

If so, how is your art influenced by music?

 

I get influenced by a whole lot of stuff. Anything can inspire me. A line from a song, a scene from a music video, some random guy doing awkward stuff by the road side lol. Sometimes I just listen to songs I like randomly develop possible mood boards for a video. I do that for fun most of the time. 

You probably would have thought I'll use the weekend's song for the video, but listening to Lady Donli's GAMES, it influenced the edit vibe I wanted for the video. 

 

Pulling off such an impressive project would without doubt carry some challenges, what would you say were your biggest challenges and why?

 

It wasn't funny at all. I scheduled the shoot for 10am, then everyone came through between 11-12. Working with a group of people has its perks. Regularly updating everyone in the team, phone calls, change of plans, etc. Also had serious issues other the security guards trying to tax me extortionately lol...that’s normal know Lagos, but here it's worse. At some point I wanted to just cancel the shoot out of frustration from the guards, but I couldn't foresee the magic that was going to be created.

 Eventually we started shooting by 2pm. The weather was terrible from the morning till 3pm. The period in which I began to love the pictures was from around that time (3pm). We had good lighting and all.

 

If you could identify your moment of conception, the moment that you though “I have to do this stargirl project, and I have to do it in this specific way”, when would you say that was?

 

I'll say it was when I realised photographers out here are not known for their editorial photography as much. For me it was a good opportunity to do something different from the norm and see how far that goes. Also visiting the location and finding crazy locations within the location. I'll still have to go back there to shoot one more time. 

 

The image I used as cover was actually blurry, but you might think it was intentional. That was a onetime shot and we were all exhausted at that point. I couldn't stress anyone. So, when she hit that pose, I just had to stick with that because we tried over and over but wasn't getting what I wanted. In post-production I just added some glitch effect to make it sync with the blurriness. 

 

The front facing portraits were quite striking, especially the black and white one with arms crossed in V2. What mood or impression were you most trying to convey through such striking portraits?

 

When I shot that specific picture the first thing I said was "men in black". Although I had no intention of making it black and white. I usually don't like using a black and white grade. Although I love black and white portraits, but I feel reluctant to use them. But for that particular picture. Going for the black and white aesthetic was just the answer. She had this commanding appearance with the blazer and shades, and I loved it.

 

The V2 was mostly trying to portray a sport fashion vibe. 

 

What influenced the colour pallet for this project and Photographic styling of this project? (I.e. the soft-focus back grounds, the contrast of the model’s vibrant hair colour against the more neutral fabric and background colours)

 

My philosophy for photography is that a picture is as great as you want it to look. When editing I could have a mental picture of what I want the end result to look like. Somewhere along the line I could tweak something, and I feel that colour grade looks better. I don't like settling for just one vibe when editing. If you noticed, you'll find out some pictures had different grades.

 

I also take into consideration the styling, makeup, and location when editing. Some edits just don't go well when an angle changes or there's switch in style or location. For instance, you can use the same grade on a blown-out sky for close up that doesn't have skies in (the background) I carefully study the pictures and go for what works best. 

 

Culture and art often influence and reflect each other, how would you say your culture influence your art?

 

I'll say I get more inspired by the western artists. It's good to portray your art in sync with your culture. I just find it better approaching it from a perspective whereby I depict a vibe that is also relatable to people that are not from around here. We live in a world where things change rapidly. I'm not trying to get appreciated by just the local art lovers but also the international scene. A lot of people tend to think Nigeria is just one nasty looking country lol. I get a lot of questions from people asking where I shot particular projects because "it doesn't look Nigeria". The first music video I worked on with Odunsi, I spent a whole day on the island trying to find a location that'll suit the theme. On my way back, I just randomly saw the China Town structure from the bridge and I knew it was time to f*ck up the place. Since then quite a lot of people have used that space for shoots. 

 

So, people see these places in pictures and have a brain reset of what Nigeria is like...Doesn’t have to be a jungle shoot all the time lol. 

 

The title ‘Stargirl’ implies a connection with the Afrobeats scene namely with WizKid; is music an inspirational source for you? 

 

As much as I'm an advocate for Wizkid being the real STARBOY lol. On this project it was influenced by a line from The Weekend's Stargirl Interlude from his Starboy album. Was listening to it and the line "I just want to see you shine cos I know you are a Stargirl" and it stuck with me.

Words by Ade Yusuf

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