Francis Kokoroko '10: Choosing photography

Francis Kokoroko ’10, who majored in computer science, worked as a Web designer and helped in implementing enterprise resource planning systems for small businesses and organisations. However, he is now focusing more on a career in photography which he is gaining ground in.

Prior to being admitted into Ashesi, Francis had always been passionate about the creative arts – especially the visual arts and music. He dabbled in several of the arts while growing up, especially music. Yet he had always considered this as somewhat of a hobby for him, not something he planned to pursue a career in. However, while studying computer science at Ashesi, the New York University office in Ghana partnered with Ashesi to offer a course in photography – which he took.

“For me, taking a class in photography seemed like an interesting move and offered a different direction from my usual computer science classes. But really, it was just another course.” The class, offered in NYU’s Accra campus, counted towards his course credits in Ashesi and Francis considered it an opportunity to pick up the creative arts again. During the class though, he gained a different perspective on photography. “I became cognizant of the enormous potential of photography and the power a single image could possess; the ability of photographs to preserve special memories which the mind loses with time. That was inspiration right there!”

The extensive projects that he had to undertake in the class were a kick-starter for Francis’ photography. He became so consumed by photography he would send his camera to his regular computer science classes and take photos of his lecturers and classmates while class was ongoing. “One of the lecturers who I photographed the most was Mr. Aelaf Dafla, and I thank him for putting up with the habit. Eventually, I started taking photos at campus community events and sharing them with the Ashesi student community. The feedback from my friends and classmates got me excited even more about photography.”

Francis began active freelancing in his senior year at Ashesi, and combining photography with his classes was no small task. “Photography fights for all the attention in your attempt to be creative. It takes a lot of discipline to draw the line.” Francis started engaging in more creative photography projects, including a photo-exhibition at Ashesi’s firs talent festival, Kaleidoscope.

Now, close to two years after graduation, Francis has decided to dive fully into professional photography. “Even though photography was the only thing I enjoyed, I planned to make it a hobby after graduation considering that fact that I had been studying for some other profession in the Computer Science field for a few years. This has changed. The challenge now is letting my fears go and to make it here in Ghana as a professional photographer.“ Francis understands the difficulties that will come with this new direction though, and is prepared for them. “My biggest challenge as a photographer is calling me a photographer. It is difficult for people to appreciate what you do as photographer artistically in these parts. But the thing that photography teaches you is that you have to always look at the bigger picture.”

“I am still developing my skills through practice and planning an exhibition in 2012, and I have been working on more creative projects - Projects I am proud to have worked on include the ‘Chale Wote’ Street Arts festival and the Bukom ‘Jama’ Gala. “I believe in projects that help me tell the story of how Ghana’s youth are engaging the arts, and create a different perspective so that people can learn to appreciate them more,” Francis says.

“Knowing and appreciating one’s self is a big step in the quest for greatness. I would advise the current students to use their talents to express who they are and refuse to be told they can’t in whatever they choose to do.What I have come to realize in the real world is that one’s skills are what will give them the upper hand. Do not throw away the talent. Bring whatever you learnt to your skill and you will be a successful entrepreneur or artist. I also believe Ashesi can strengthen its extra-curricular activities by pushing students to do more with their talents if they are not doing that already.”