Stephen Tayo is a photographer who captures intimate portraits that reveal the sartorial flair and quiet dignity of his sitters. Focusing on their clothing and accessories, his work explores the multi-layered symbolism of fashion: what clothing says about identity and relations with family and community. He also often trains his lens on every day, commonplace but yet undocumented subcultures; elevating ordinary moments of his environment: at festivals, family celebrations, friendships, across Nigeria and beyond. His sitters are usually active participants in the act of picture taking; they perform along with the photographer or often times even set the tone. Adopting formal poses that were popular in the studio photography in West Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, his work is influenced by the portraits of Seydou Keita, Malick Sidibe and Samuel Fosso. Stephen Tayo studied philosophy at the University of Lagos. His work has been featured in Vogue US, British Vogue, New York Times, Indie Magazine, Dazed, Teen Vogue, Okay Africa, among others.
In 2018, he was commissioned by Dutch street wear brand Patta and Nike on the occasion of their collaboration, to shoot a campaign for their launch which was exhibited in London. In the same year, he co-photographed the increasingly ascendant culture of boundary breaking fashion in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, for the New York Times.
Tayo lives, works in and draws inspiration from Lagos.