Paul Ninson wants to leave his mark on his home country in the form of a photography library.
Born in rural poverty and a father too young, Paul Ninson supported his daughter by printing t-shirts while still a student and selling them door to door, a grind that kept food on the table but left nothing for savings.
Then a friend got a camera, and in it Ninson saw a glimmer of hope. The friend was swiftly making good money photographing events.
“If I could only get a camera of my own, it would allow me to be more of a father,” Ninson told Humans of New York when they interviewed him. “But this friend came from a wealthy family. I grew up on a farm, with no electricity. Photography didn’t seem like an option for someone like me.”
But he pushed for that dream, all the sane. He sold his possessions, even his apartment, and still had to beg his mother to take a loan to buy a budget camera.
“It wasn’t professional quality. But I was so proud of it. … I was determined to learn everything about photography, but it wasn’t really a thing in Ghana,” Ninson said.
A random meeting at an event Ninson was hired to photograph gave him the opportunity to study at the International Center of Photography, in New York City. He threw his entire self into studying.
Wanting to give that opportunity to other Ghanaians, Ninson has collected over 30,000 books with the help of donors and thrift stores. With the help of Humans of New York, who sponsored his education, Ninson has begun shipping the books back to Ghana. He intends to build a library of photography, and an educational center for aspiring artists like himself. He has received a pledge of land for his endeavor from Ghanaian lawmaker Sam George, but is still a far cry from having what he needs to launch his dream. But whatever he manages, the books he’s already sent are already the largest photo library in Africa.
Photo: An ancient slave castle in Ghana. Credit: Shutterstock