Sheikh Tijan Secka, commonly known as STS started playing with his brother’s camera many years ago when he was very young. He’d take photos of anything that came his way. The more photos he took, the more his love for photography grew. Towards the end of high school he acquired a digital camera and started taking pictures of friends and family.
“I can remember taking pictures during my high school graduation which I still have on Facebook,” he says.
Following high school graduation, STS was sure he wanted to pursue photography not for fun anymore, but as a career. He started working with a music producer who taught him how to record music tracks on CD and about computer hardware. He was also pursuing a diploma in banking and finance at the same time.
“When I take a look back into my early life, it makes sense that I am a photographer.”
In 2009, STS expanded his career and added videography to the list. It all started when his tutor introduced him to a videographer called Efe. “When I started learning under Efe and going on set with him, I saw a different side to photography and I wanted to do it full time,” he said.
STS ended up quitting banking job to concentrate on photography and videography. He elevated from covering events to creating stories with his camera. Today he is one of the Gambia’s leading photographers whose images tell unique stories that reflect the Gambia experience.
His videos are inspired by the combination of the songs and beats that local artists bring to him, coupled with his vision of what that looks like in everyday Gambian homes and communities. When he shoots music videos, he makes sure local communities, cultures and landscapes are captured to give them real Gambian story. And the artists he works with have been appreciative of his work.
“It’s usually a combination of their ideas and my vision and script”.
STS’s goal is for audiences to not only relate to, but feel a deep connection and see their reality in the images that he creates. He is particular about every detail of his work. He creates storyboards with color schemes and fully-built sets to tell the stories he wants to tell. He creates characters and challenges the artists to embody those roles so that the messages of the songs are accurately showcased.
“The Gambian Child video is one of my favorite projects. I was in love with the video while I was shooting it. It was a story that is often too familiar in The Gambia, and it was told from the point of view of a young kid. Commercial van’s are a huge place for gossip and most gambians don’t know who their “celebrities” are and they are a part of our everyday lives. In the video, people talk about O Boy in the car without knowing it was him.”
STS loves places like Banjul and Bakau for shooting videos because according to him, they carry so much history. He endeavors to show the beauty of the Gambia and incorporate not only nature but the architectural beauty of the country and its early settlements.
Every angle and color prop a reflection and the way it’s captured leads to a signature that is recognizable across all his body of work.