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Expressions, Faces And Stories By TY Bello

04 August 2015   |   10:21 am

Toyin Sokefun-Bello, better known as TY Bello, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, photographer and philanthropist. She was a member of the defunct gospel band Kush, before she decided to go solo.

Guess what we love her more for?

Her photographs. Her photographs are lovely, inspiring and tells the story of the beauty in the details.

It has been said a million times that pictures say a thousand words and it is truly what TY does.

For every shoot, she has a story which she wants to tell and capture. We think she records accurately the essence of that moment.

What do you think?

Here are our favourite shots and her story behind the pictures.

Stephanie Linus: The Power


When Genevieve Magazine asked me to photograph Stephanie for their cover, I instantly saw this image of her in my head. The idea came together almost effortlessly… The cornrows.. The fabric..the look in her eyes. I knew I wanted her to look beautiful.. But more importantly I wanted her POWER to come through.

Recently pregnant myself…I wanted the image to somehow convey that being with child…considering how vulnerable can make a woman feel.. is a beautifully empowering experience. The entire journey of being a portal for the beginning of another person’s divine journey changes to your core. You begin to develop strengths you never even knew you had. 

Here in this image is a strong and inspiring Nigerian woman. Her story will bless you.

President Olusegun Obasanjo: Looking In


When I was commissioned to make his portraits I didn’t know what to expect. I however had a feeling I was in for an experience I would never forget.. I was right.

It wasn’t just the charisma and honour or surprisingly big humor that he is so naturally graced with that had me.. It was that ‘something’ that enlivened his eyes when he spoke about Nigeria. It’s a special thing when anyone without even trying inspires me about my country.. I will always respect that.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have many presidents sit for me.. I’ve learnt when in their presence, the importance   of staying truly humble and spiritually open.. This is when my eyes are unveiled to capture that unseen ‘something’ that set them apart for greatness.

Kanu Nwankwo: Purity


I remember making this portrait of Kanu almost ten years ago. He had walked in with some outfits that were perfect yet I knew they would take away from the image I wanted to make. I remember the shock on his face when I announced that we would ne keeping things way way simpler than he had planned.. That he’d be adorned in the necklace he had on and nothing more….!

I had gotten to meet the some of the children from the Kanu hearts foundation earlier on and I figured the best way to interpret what he was about was to make an intimate portrait .. Capturing the heart of who he was .. My aim was to find purity .. Stripping away all.. We had never seen him this way and I felt it was some missing image of him. He eventually obliged …..thankfully.

Fast forward almost a decade later and I get a call from him.. In conversation, he mentioned that the photograph I made remains his favourite .. I am totally honoured by this. It’s always joy to be part of creating beauty that lasts.

Dare Art Alade: The Gift Of Trust


I love it when photographing another artist is a truly collaborative process. Dare is one of my favourites for sure. We’ve been doing this for a while … A decade to be precise.. Each time, an opportunity to share through images where we both are artistically.

Always pushing boundaries .. With just the perfect amount of freedom, Always making work that means something. A couple of years ago, we made gritty environmental portraits at a wood shack in Lagos Island. And then had him with signs in the middle of the road. This time around, he agreed for his face. (I must say this: the Good Lord Himself took timeout to chisel out Art Alade’s profile) to become a canvas of some sort. We attempted through paint and color ..to express th energy and grandness of his new sound… many times.. Having him apply the paint himself.

It takes trust to work this way. It is important that my subjects know that as such much as I want to push creatively… I never let my quest for new expressions push them off the pedestal of who they are and aspire to be. Many thanks to you Dare for gracing me with the gift of trust.


Thank you TY Bello for being the eyes we never thought we had to see the people that hold major positions around us.

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