The photographer and secrets behind the World’s Best Photo of the Year revealed!

The most anticipated moment of the year has arrived! After 10 months and hundreds of thousands of submissions the winning photo of the Agora Awards 2019 has finally been announced. Meaning one thing only…

It’s time to meet the author of the World’s Best Photo of the Year and winner of $25,000! 🏆

Introducing Michael Aboya, aka @eighthman, the #AgoraAwards2019 Hero! 👏

Shortly after breaking this life-changing news to Michael (video to come!) we asked him a few questions regarding his journey with photography, Agora and his winning shot. Be one of the first to discover the insider secrets behind his winning shot plus what he will do with his prize money now!

The #AgoraAwards2019 Hero – Michael Aboya

For those who may not already be familiar with you or your work, present yourself to the Agora Community!

“I shoot people for who they are and not what they are. My name is Michael Aboya, a 24 year old born and raised in Nigeria (my mother’s home country) until I was 13 when my family moved to Ghana (my late father’s home country). I’m a self taught photographer and visual storyteller and I use photography as a tool to express my artistic vision. I studied computer science but later dropped out to pursue my dreams in photography. I started as a full time photographer in 2017 and have been working and learning tirelessly eversince to become the best version of myself till this very moment.”

The winning photo of the #AgoraAwards2019 – Songs of Freedom

Tell us about your journey into the world of photography and with Agora

“I got my first camera in December 2016 and since then I’ve been practicing and learning to become a better visual storyteller and photographer every day. I discovered Agora in May 2018 on instagram when I scrolled upon an advertisement about the app. I downloaded it and I was amazed. Within 6 months of being part of the Community I won two Contests: #Sound2018 & #Eyes2018. Joining Agora has helped me beyond words on this journey because it exposed me to amazing photographs from photographers around the world. It’s like a photo paradise where everyone has been given a space to display their imaginations. Aside from this, it’s also a space I learn from. The contest themes, for example, inspire me to go out and create images, the blogs are where I learn from other photographers, and the photos displayed in the Top 50 is another place of huge inspiration to me. I won “

Give us all the behind-the-scenes details about your winning shot, Songs of Freedom.

“I shot the winning image with my Sony A7 and a Rokinon 35mm F1.4 lens. The photo was taken in a town called Labadi, located in the capital city of Ghana, Accra. I got inspired by a song from Bob Marley titled Redemption Song (Songs Of Freedom) and so I wrote down my visions and started to plan how to bring my imagination to life.

Michael’s Top 50 Testimonial Video

The interesting fact about the creation of this image is that a day before the shoot, I met Rockson a friend I made on the Agora platform (@rockmagery) who was visiting Ghana, his home country. Coincidently he had his own violin with him, so I asked him to bring it along the next day for a shoot I planned to do with a violin. We got to the location the next day where we met the 5 amazing young boys I’d asked to be my subjects. To make the image as real and natural as possible and without losing the individual essence of who they really are, I asked Rockson to teach them the basics on how to hold the violin, the perfect hand positions and how to play the it. I noticed that one of the boys had the most expression with the violin which perfectly aligned with my vision for the photograph.

This photo also has a deeper meaning to me on a more personal level given that I created it at a time when there was a lot going on in my life, a point where I had a strong desire to break free from anything that holds me down in order to keep going forward. I created this image to say and make viewers realize that our hands have been made strong by almighty powers and we have the power to free ourselves from any form of mental, physical, spiritual and emotional captivity. It’s more than just a photograph, it also visualizes an current and unspoken struggle for freedom and belonging today.”

What does it means to have won the #AgoraAwards2019? How did you react to the news you were the Hero?

“Winning the #AgoraAwards2019 is a blessing to me, to my family and to everyone who has helped me along the way. When I found out I was the Hero, at first I was lost of words and froze for a moment. A feeling of complete joy, happiness and freedom consumed me and filled my soul. I am unbelievably happy that I found Agora and joined the platform, a platform where we all have the power to express a unique point of view.”

What you plan to do with your prize money?

“With the prize money, I’ll be able to invest in taking photography career further by getting the equipment I need. I’d also like to invest in learning videography, putting my visions into moving pictures, visiting new places and capturing their beautiful people and colorful stories. But most importantly I will put this money towards supporting my family and giving back to the community of youths.”

Any last words you’d like to say to the Agora Community?

“I would like thank the everyone from the Agora Community, not just those who voted for my photo (🙏), from the bottom of my heart for making the this platform so vibrant and such a huge inspiration for me, it has gotten me to where I am today. And finally of course to the entire Agora team and family who have believed in my work from the beginning, making this all possible and giving me this incredible opportunity. Thank you for your hard work and for bringing hope to people like me. I can’t wait to meet you all and celebrate on the big night next week!”

On behalf of the entire AGORA Team, congratulations to Michael Aboya for becoming the ultimate Agora Hero of the year! 🎉

Questions for the AGORA Community:

How would you react to the news of becoming an Agora Awards Hero?

What do you do with the $25,000 prize?