Finally, she’s BACK. After a few months of vacation from all the attention of fans, the Superstar Supermodel Anuoluwapo returns with new tricks up her sleaves. Try solving the Rubik’s 4×4 cube in less than 6 minutes and you’re either a geeky genius or the grandchild of Albert Einstein. Well, stay tuned for the next couple of weeks and you’ll learn lessons you wished they had taught you in Harvard or in life. She’s taught me a few lessons myself so I know better. For previous highly intellectual acts of the Superstar you can visit our page on facebook to be amazed (http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.122880260231.215827.49785385231&type=3). Her photographic superstar journey began almost four years ago in the delivery room & she’s been amazing ever since. Pictures taken with Olympus e300 & Bowens Gemini 500 light kit. The photoshoot was over in 6 minutes. Enough said, try solving the cube yourself and you’ll have another definition of what many earthly citizens consider IMPOSSIBLE. But with God, nothing shall be ………….
“Pls I need a photoshoot with the costume in my DP.” That was the message I got on my BlackBerry on November 25 and 70 hours later we were shooting the lady that decided to start her Christmas celebration early. You can call her the lady Santa Claus wished he had married & I’ll call her Sha-Sha. I asked her what exactly she had in mind and got the response: “just some sexy shots”. Along with the makeup artistry of my best friend & wife (www.facebook.com/elomakeup), we proceeded to give her the session of her life. I was excited, she was adventurous & 4 hours later we were able to come up with pictures that I think will leave a smile on her face (& yours too) for some years to come……. Pictures taken with Nikon D2x, 50mm lens & Bowens Gemini 500 Studio light kit. Enjoy
I awoke on November 23, 2011 to the bad news that a colleague’s studio was robbed. Apparently he worked late into the night the day before in an attempt to meet a client’s deadline. He finished at about 2 am and went to bed hoping to wake up in time to be the first customer at the print lab. To his dismay, the laptop on which he had been working with, was missing. Apparently someone (or some people, as the case may be) had gotten into the compound around 3 am (I think that’s when everyone gets into the height of a sound sleep) and while the security man was fast asleep, stole 3 laptops & 2 blackberries. It makes you question the job description of the security man. It was painful especially when you consider the fact that one of the laptops was just a few weeks old. What was more painful was the fact that most of the pictures on the laptops did not have a backup. Luckily enough, the client’s job that he was working on was backed up on another system. When I heard the news, the first thing I did interestingly enough had nothing to do with calling the photographer to extend my “apologies”. The first thing I did was to back up all my pictures; a second backup that is. You see, I had just covered a wedding a few days before and procrastinated on doing a second backup of the pictures. This has happened to a lot of photographers that I know and many more that might be reading this will swear by a spiritual authority that it can NEVER happen to them. Well, you might want to think again. I sometimes tell some of my christian photographer colleagues that even if Jesus was living in this day as a photographer, He would backup his pictures. The point I’m trying to make is not to deliberately use the “misfortune” of another colleague as a means to drive people to read my writeup. As you’re reading this, please understand that it can happen to you, YES YOU. No one is immune from stuffs like these; the best you can do is to significantly reduce the chances of being a victim. BACKUP your pictures, as in RIGHT NOW. Make a copy on a CD, DVD, external hard disk or BLU-RAY disc. You’ll be glad you did. It is usually recommended you have at least 2 backups in different locations but 1 backup is better than none. Oh by the way, I later called the photographer to extend my sympathies. Enough said, procrastinate no longer, go &
sin no more BACKUP THOSE PICTURES…
Had a shoot with a makeup artist, Barbara of Barbara & 1923 (barbsiesmusings.blogspot.com). She needed pictures for a new portfolio she’s working on. The results were the following pictures.
Those where the words that tingled in my ears at about 3:35pm November 23, 2011. They were uttered by my 3.5yr-old princess, Anuoluwapo. Talk of the question of the year. Why did she ask the question? I thought you would never ask. You see, I had recently gotten temporary custody of a toyota avensis that belongs to my father and was given to me (on November 20) so I could help him take it to a mechanic’s workshop for repairs. After I got it back from the workshop on November 22, I decided to surprise my daughter by picking her up from school with the car. Before now I use the public transportation system to get her to & from school, an ordeal she does not fancy. So I wasn’t too surprised when she was surprised when I asked her to enter the car. “Daddy, is this your car?” she asked. I explained that it belongs to my dad. She was excited at the fact that she gets to go home in an air-conditioned car. The next morning, November 23, I decided to drop her at school. Unknown to her, my dad came to pick up the car around 1pm. It was time for me to pick her from school and I boarded my usual bike to her school. Upon getting there, I met a tired and exhausted Anuoluwapo expecting to be whisked off in the same air-conditioned comfortable leather-seats car that dropped her earlier in the day. It wasn’t until we were midway into our journey back home that it dawned on her that the car was no more. “Daddy, where is your daddy’s car?” I replied that I had returned it back to dad. “Daddy took your car?” She quizzed further. “No, its not my car; it’s my dad’s car”. At that point I understood the words that she was not saying. I knelt down to her level and promised her with a confidence that I didn’t know that I had within; “I will soon buy a car & will be taking you to & from school with it”. I then proceeded to be her “car” for the afternoon; I carried her on my shoulders till we got home. At that point I made a fresh vow with myself to be conscious of taking more seriously the business of my photography. This photography should be able to feed, clothe & transport my family very comfortably. I promise to work hard towards the achievement of that car because when my Anuoluwapo is happy, I am happy
It happened at the wedding we covered last saturday (November 19, 2011). Like most of the jobs we get, this was a “referral”. We came highly recommended by a client that we covered her wedding 4 yrs ago. The client had recently started an event-planning outfit and we were her photography outfit of choice to the client that could afford to pay the bill. Along came this couple and we were chosen in May to be their official wedding photographer. Fast-forward to November 19, 2011. I got to the couple’s hotel at 6:10am. Started the implementation of our job description. We documented photographically everything & anything they had spent money on. The makeup artist doing his job, the brides’ maids dressing up, the groom ironing his shirt, the best man shaving his beard; we snapped everything. Fast-forward to the reception. The dj was playing nice jams, the bride & groom were dancing, the bridal train smiling & every guest eating, drinking & smiling. It was at that moment it happened. I began analyzing the entire wedding. First the dj was very good at what he did, playing jams by artists that were considered very successful in the country (the likes of P-square, Dbanj & Flavour). And then I began to analyze the decorator’s works. She was one of the best decorators in town and was in high demand. I looked at the food vendor and was salivating at the beauty of the food that was being served. I never knew food could be this beautiful. So beautiful that I didn’t even have the courage to ask for a plate. As a photographer, I had grown used to being denied a plate of food because I was not considered a “guest”; so u can’t blame me when I couldn’t summon the courage to ask for a plate. I brought out the sausage roll I had bought earlier during the church service and began feasting. As I feasted, I meditated on the beauty of the reception hall venue. It was beautiful. It is beautiful.. I would later find out that the hall was the most expensive single item in the expenses of the wedding. The 2nd most-expensive was FOOD. And then, out of nowhere, tears started streaming down my eyes. I was hungry. Very very hungry. I was eating a sausage roll but I was hungry. I was crying. If you had met me at that moment you would be thinking I had just been jilted by the girl of my dreams. I was crying because I was hungry for a better me, a better photographer-me. I learnt that the groom budgeted and spent about N5 million ($32,000) for the wedding. I realized he only hired vendors that were excellent at what they do. Not that I was unsatisfied with the N360,000 that was allocated for photography; I just felt there has to be more to life as a photographer than making money & getting rich. Don’t get be wrong, I want to become the photographer that gets paid N1 – N10 million just to cover a wedding, but I better be adding serious value to the clients I’m serving and to my society. I was hungry to be the best photographer & person I could ever be. The photographer that will be a role-model in character to many. I was hungry to be the photographer that will partner with God to raise the next generation of world-class photographers. For therein will my joy be full. I was hungry & couldn’t hold back the tears. There’s still so much to be done in this industry, so much to be done in my life. And then my eyes met the gaze of the bride. I quickly wiped the tears from my face although I was still hungry and crying inside. PLEASE GOD, FILL ME UP because I’m hungry……
Here in the USA, it is entirely possible to make a decent living at being a portrait/wedding photographer. That’s basically the photographic equivalent to being the family dentist. You build relationships with your customers. One reason why doing high school senior portraits is important is it opens the door to your being their wedding photographer. But to do high school senior portraits, you have to be seen taking pictures at various events, like at church, school or other social activities where families in your circles are at. Once you have shot a person’s wedding, if they haven’t moved away, you get to shoot their baby pictures and the cycle continues.
Building up a successful photography business as a home-town portrait/wedding photographer is a lot of work and you are always going to be cultivating new customers and contacts. But it is so important to build relationships. One reason why most photographers of this genre are shooting other things, like team pictures, commercial work and other things like that is so they can either be building contacts or filling in the holes of their time in building the business. It takes a good ten years before the business stabilizes and the repeat work will account for the majority of your sales. If there is a school event anywhere in your community, you need to be there with your camera shooting all the kids and handing out business cards.
The biggest problem that the vast majority of photographers struggle with isn’t getting the customers, but running their business as a business. A photography business is less about photography and more about running a business in a service industry. This means that you have to very carefully manage your costs (no buying new cameras every six months), have successful marketing methods (keeping the existing customers returning while flogging the sheets for new ones), and having little to no credit. Over 90% of all small businesses will fail within five years. Sometimes that failure is disguised as “losing interest and changing directions” but the fact is, the business is shut down and the proprietor “gets a real job”. My own photography business has been a low-key affair and always a part-time operation. But it’s been there since 1989. What may be of fascination is that over any 5 year period of time I’ve made more take home money through my part-time business than the vast majority of full-time photographers have. What is sad is that it wasn’t much. There are reasons why I still shoot an E-1. It’s paid for, does the job, is extremely reliable and totally depreciated off the books. I waited before buying it when the price came down enough that I bought a factory refurb with lens for $1024 USD. Other equipment has been purchased in similar manners.
We make a huge mistake in our teaching people to become photographers. We really shouldn’t be teaching photography as much as we are teaching business. As is seen every time you go into a Walmart, Sears or Target and see the “portrait studio” or the mall photographer taking pictures of screaming kids with Santa Claus, ANYBODY can be taught to take pictures. THAT isn’t much of a skill set. Posing and getting people to look their best is more an issue of people skills. But those photographers are “employees” earning near minimum wage. If you want to be self-employed as a photographer, you have to be a businessman. Frankly, you could hire those same minimum wage workers to do the photography while you are out drumming up business or managing the paperwork. After all, the non-photography parts of being a self-employed photographer IS A FULL-TIME JOB.
So, just how much can a home-town photographer make? Is it possible to earn a decent living? Well, let’s run some numbers. These are all USD.
Desired annual income (pre-tax take-home pay) of $60,000.
So we start with $60,000. Add 15% to that for retirement savings and we’re up to $69,000. Round this up to $70,000.
A studio (rented or built) will run you about $12,000 per year. (Rent of $1000 per month, or the value of money on construction is equivalent). You can fudge this one way or another from $500 to $2500 per month depending on location and quality of the facility. Most of us would top it out at $1000 per month.
Equipment. You can actually get going pretty inexpensively, but upgrading and replacing equipment is a given. Figure $2000 per year averaged out over five years. Computers and software not included. Probably another $1500 per year for computers and software.
Utilities. Electricity, telephone, water/sewer/garbage, heat/cooling, etc. $6000 per year.
Insurance. $500 per year.
Licenses, fees and accounting. $1000 per year.
Miscellaneous costs that come up, including set construction, parking lot repair, signage, etc. $6000 per year. That’s only $500 per month. It happens.
Vehicle costs. $6000 per year.
Your baseline costs are $105,000 per year. That’s before the first customer walks in the door. Said another way, that’s about $2020 per week.
How many hours per week do you desire to actually be serving customers? As a sole proprietor with no employees, you can’t do more than 20 hours per week. This means that you have to have a net profit PER HOUR of about $100. For every single customer you spend an hour with, you need to net $100. Sitting fee for an hour shoot? We’re typically getting between $75 and $150. The assumption is that for every hour of customer time, you have no more than an hour of order processing time AND business management. (This is why most of us work far into the night and are putting in 80 hours a week).
Print sales are very important. You can’t just earn your money on the sitting fee. How much should you charge? You have your baseline numbers as defined above. If you front-load your income (pre-pay, fees, packages, etc), the revenue from the prints need not be as much. But if you back-load your income, (print sales), then you must not only cover your entire baseline, but also the cost of production. Product pricing in a retail environment is partially accounting, partially market forces.
Speaking of cost of production in print sales, the absolute worst thing you can do is produce your own prints. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea. You are front-loading all your costs in computers, printers, RIPs, profiling and supplies. If you don’t know what “cost of money” is, please do your research. If you want a quick-and-dirty estimate, for every $1 you spend, the cost of that $1 over five years is about $1.35. Another major reason why it is a bad idea is time investment. Are you a photographer? A business person? Or a lab technician? Pick any two. Thirdly, you run a massive risk of failure to deliver when you have equipment problems. Do yourself a big favor and outsource the printing. While you are at it, consider outsourcing not just the final color/density adjustments but spot editing too. There are people at labs like Millers which do this far faster and at less cost than what you can do. Most importantly, this is a run-time cost NOT an upfront cost. This expense ONLY occurs when you have the sales. No sales, no costs.
Whatever you do, NEVER borrow money to establish a photography business. Not only is it stupid to take on any debt, but you can build the business from bottom up scaling your expenses entirely with the income. No income? No expenses. It also helps to have a spouse who is working and has health insurance. When you borrow money for the business, you MUST have steady income to pay for the loans. If you have a slow month or two, and your cash reserves are depleted, you will have to shut the business down. It really is totally unnecessary to borrow money to build a photography business.
So, how much can a home town photographer earn? By him or herself, that $60,000 is really about it. When you get past the 20 hours per week with the clients, you start to need assistants. Unfortunately, this is usually an expense which seems to eat up whatever additional income is earned. The more you earn, the more you spend. Each of these numbers is a bit elastic. A person can run tight on facility, vehicle and other costs, but that only means that you need to save money from one year to the next to absorb costs that might occur there. You really have consider a five-year running average adjusted for inflation. All of these costs, identified above, can vary a bit depending on the photographer, local market conditions and location. But it does point out a trend that for every 20 hours of direct customer contact, you need one full-time employee, assuming outsourcing of all printing.
An easy answer to this $2020 per week need is to shoot more weddings. Most home town photographers I know are either wedding photographers who shoot portraits to fill out the budget or are portrait photographers who use weddings to pay for the kids’ braces and for vacations. Most photographers shoot an average of 35 weddings per year. That $105,000 divided by 35 is $3000 per wedding NET PROFIT. That means your average package price is going to have to be around $4000 if you are solo, $4500 if you have a second-shooter. Obviously, that’s not going to fly for most of us. The typical home town photographer is averaging half that. That means that no more than half your business can be reliant on weddings. There are full-time wedding photographers doing quite well, but they are also well over 50 weddings per year and have other tricks of cost avoidance. In reality, though, if you honestly look at the five-year average, even these high-flyers rarely have take-home pay that exceeds $100,000 per year. There are possibly a hundred wedding photographers in the entire USA that exceed $100,000 per year averaged income. (all of them seem to be on dpreview claiming to have $15,000 package prices…don’t believe them, they are living in a fantasy world).
This is all about business economics.
A while ago I read somewhere that professional photographers in the USA earn not
much, with the situation deteriorating in the last years due to microstock and
the oversupply of images. So I’m not surprised, in fact I would have been
surprised if Mr Dee had been successful as a photographer.
And this is where I think a lot of people don’t understand where people make
money on photography these days. MOST photography is sold as a SERVICE rather
than a product. It used to be you could make a good living taking and selling
stock photos where you literally are selling the shots you took. Likewise the
same could be said for things like news photography and such where the photo is
But as you mention through out your post Ken, most photography now is not so
much the photos themselves (since a LOT of people can not make great photos) but
instead the service you are providing by actually attending a wedding and
committing 12 hours of your day to taking photos on top of things like editing
and getting prints done not to mention all the “specials” you will be requested
to take while there.
In addition part of the “service” provided isn’t just the photo itself, but
knowing how to take that photos in the first few shots (time = money). In other
words, anyone of us can take that perfect senior photo for someone’s yearbook
with a cheap external monolight, an umbrella, and all the time in the world to
try different places, backgrounds and poses. What you get paid for is being able
to have the client arrive and you not only have backgrounds and equipment ready
but also the experience to know how to pose someone and set up that same
equipment to get great shots from the get go to get the professional looking
shot within minutes.
But if you are competing other photographers to sell your lovely field of
flowers shot to an advertisement firm looking for that perfect shot for the
client’s nasal de-congestive spray, well your shot will be competing with a few
thousand others, many of them amateurs, soccer moms, as well as pro shooters.
I think this is a really good analysis Ken, I hope you will consider posting it
to a blog somewhere so kids taking Photography in college can get a realistic
idea of what they’re facing if they want a career in photography.
The good ones make good money.
The rest… not so much.
Photographers are still in demand for “on location” shoots, like
weddings. But many people buy a minimum package and rely on snap-shots
from family and friends to make the photo story complete.
When our son got married, he had hired a photographer to take a number
of specific pictures. While they were being taken, no one else was
allowed to have a camera out to take their own pictures – by contract
the photographer could have packed up and our son would still have to
pay a set fee, had anyone taken even one picture there.
Competition for portrait-style photography is stiff. Department stores
like Sears or Walmart have their own studios, and for a few dollars you
can have your and your family’s pictures taken. The first picture is
often free, you only pay a sitting fee of around $12 – $15. But watch
out for the pressure to buy more images for outrageous prices.
This is the biggest problem most creatives, not just photographers, have
trying to make a living at their art. Musicians, writers, etc. They want to
sell product, with a business model of “if you make it, they will come”.
That simply is not going to happen in the day and age when all such
“product” is a series of ones and zeroes that can be squirted out in
millions of copies at the speed of light. What you have to sell is your
time and talent, and the relationship you establish with the people who
might want to pay you for them.
Working that kind of business model is a whole different skill set than is
required for creating art.
Let’s call him Mr. Dee. I met him 7 months ago at the church I attend, Daystar Christian Centre. I was priviledged to be one of the facilitators that coordinated a skill acquisition project that was bent on reducing unemployment in the society. Skills that were taught included fashion designing, generator repairs, cake making & website designing among others. I was one of those that taught the photography class. Twas in this class I met Mr. Dee. He’s married with 3 wonderful children. He decided he needed to learn a skill that will ultimately help improve the standard of living of his family. He concluded that photography was the answer. His plan was to forsake all and follow the gospel of photography. The passion with which he performed during the 9-days training was impressive. So impressive that I even made him a leader on the first day of class. PASSIONATE was his middle name. I invited colleagues in the industry to help inspire the class on this adventurous journey they were about to embark on. Great photographers like Michael Adebiyi (michaeladebiyi.com), Shola Animashaun (sholaanimashaun.com), Damilola Elliot (damellephotos.com), Yomi Siffre (Studiosiffres.net), & Leke Adenuga (lekeadenuga.com) poured out their hearts in an attempt to wholeheartedly motivate the new set of photopreneurs. We got them loaded and inspired and ready to turn the world upside down photographically. The 10th day of training arrived and after exhibiting the wonderful pictures they had taken, they were to begin their photography journey. Mr Dee and the remaining 50+ students vowed to make a difference in the photography industry. Fast-forward to 4 months ago. I boarded a bus that was to take me to Ojota. To my surprise, the bus conductor was the very Mr Dee that had vowed to photographically impact the world. I sensed he felt ashamed that I saw him in the line of duty of his new job. He was shy. So shy that he initially refused to collect my bus fare. I insisted that if he came to my office to hire my photography services, I would not hesitate at all to charge him my complete fee; so he better collect his bus fare from me. I insisted and he eventually complied. Apparently the photography journey had not worked out for him as he had intended. He settled for being a bus conductor. At least he was guaranteed an income at the end of each day of working as a conductor. I wish he could see my heart clearly. I was proud of him. I was super proud of him. I am still very proud of him. The important thing was that this man refused to be BOUND by the spirit of “unemployment”. Yes I know some of us might think he ought to have been persistent in photography and eventually it would have worked out for him. But he had a family to take care of. He had to pay his children’s school fees. He needed to feed and clothe them. He eventually settled for a job that at least brought him daily income; enough income for him not to be a candidate of the benevolent department in church. He decided to get a job that might seem “demeaning” to some of his photography colleagues and church members. I am proud of him. Very proud of him. Truth be told, he’s probably making more money than some of the photography colleagues that graduated with him. He’s working. He’s doing something. He’s making money. And he looked happy. I was happy. I am happy.
So this is dedicated to the Photographer that became a bus conductor. I’m proud of the fact that you’re doing something that enables you take care of your family. I know that if the fire of photography still burns within you, you’ll eventually turn out to be a great professional photographer. I’ll be waiting to be of support. I’m very proud of you.
The unique day had finally arrived: 11-11-11. I was waiting at the abuja local airport lounge for my recently-delayed Aero flight back to Lagos. I had just met an intelligent I.T. lady by the name Chenemi (it means GOD IS MINE). Along came a frog and stood right in front of my seat as if trying to admire my handsomeness (hope there’s such a word) or Chenemi’s beauty. “Gross”, “Eeew”, “Nasty” were the expressions it quickly solicited from passengers around me. Without thinking, Chenemi quickly raised her legs while simultaneously muttering the word “Gross”. I think the frog was still in its “toddler” years because it seemed quite small to me; only about 3-4 inches while outstretched in the jumping position. Unknown to Chenemi, the frog had actually visited my presence 10mins earlier. It was kicked to another area of the lounge by a middle-aged reverend sitting right across me. Unlike a dove that almost never revisit the spot in which it experienced a form of hostility, this frog was bent on proving a point. Without giving it much thought, I quickly reached out for the frog with my bare hands (am I courageous or what) and grabbed a piece of paper from my pocket and proceeded to dispose of the frog. I don’t believe I was cruel to the frog; I just felt it didn’t belong in that particular gathering of humans. The best place I could find to dispose the frog was a nearby enclosed dustbin. By the way, I washed my hands immediately after relocating the frog; I didn’t want to shake my new friend, Chenemi, goodbye with a “froggy” hand. I got back to my sit and suddenly became hero to the few people around me that witnessed my heroic deed. I was reminded of that scene in Captain America when a grenade was “activated” and Captain America quickly dived to “relocate” the grenade so that it would not harm his fellow comrades. Now that was a real soldier. Don’t know if I can be that heroic though. Either way, I became a hero that just saved the emotional (and maybe physical) lives of those around me. A nursing mother sitting beside me quickly muttered “You’re quite brave”. I smiled and told her that I was used to resolving issues that people around me refuse to resolve. This was no different. Come to think of it, that would have been a perfect moment to ask Chenemi out on a date. I’m sure there was a 90% chance that she will not turn down the request of this new-found hero with “husband” potentials. But I was already married to the love of my life and that wasn’t an option. Just thinking though. It occurred to me at that moment that a lot of us have grossy, eeewy & nasty issues & problems hanging around us. We complain about the problem and wait & pray for a hero that will come resolve them. In most cases, we are the answer to the problem. We can pick up the frogs, dispose of them “properly” and move on with our lives. Now I’m not asking you to pick up a python if you find one in your premises; I’ll probably run as fast as possible from such…..or maybe I can just be the David of the day, u know, the one that killed Goliath. I don’t think motivational speaking (or writing) is my gift but the buttom line is that we should be “bold” in resolving a lot of problems/issues around us. Instead of just praying for a hero that will come to save us, let’s save ourselves. I’m not ruling out the fact that there are situations that only God alone can be our deliverer…..but God will not come down to PICK UP THAT FROG. At the end of the day, the bold ones will stand out and be rewarded for their “heroic” deeds. So go ahead, PICK UP THAT FROG…..enough said
That was the million dollar question I was asked recently by a client in Abuja. So what happened, you might be asking. Well, let’s start from the beginning. I got a call from my wonderful dad on September 1, 2011 asking me if I was available on September 30, 2011. Now I’ve gotten a little wisdom in my little years on earth to know that when my dad asks me if I was available to do a job for him, the answer will always be “Yes sir, I’m available.” Even if I was not available, I will MAKE myself available. Considering the investments my number 1 financier had made in eloPhotos, I better be available. The set day will be the traditional wedding ceremony of the son of his friend. This friend of my dad happens to be a well-accomplished doctor that owns a renowned (I hope I spelt that correctly) private hospital in Abuja attending to patients of most of the “elite” in Nigeria. I jumped at the opportunity. The traditional wedding was to be held in Lagos while the “white-gown” wedding was to be held in Europe. My dad was calling to “pay” me to cover the traditional wedding. That was his priceless gift to the parents of the groom. September 30th came, our team of great photographers covered the day & I was “6 figures” richer (in Naira i.e.). So we finished the album and I had to go to Abuja to deliver the album. I usually make it my responsibility to deliver personally such client’s albums. I met the mother of the groom, the co-founder of the hospital, on November 9. They just got back from the wedding that took place in Europe. She was the type that wasn’t given too much to facially expressing what she felt within. In other words, it was a little difficult to tell whether she was really pleased with the album. Although she told me she liked it, her expressions were not as excited as I had expected (something I would later attribute to her personality). All doubts were erased in my mind when she gave me a “small token” of her appreciation. Note that she did not owe me any balance whatsoever. The “small token” will later turn out to be what will take care of my airfare back to Lagos. Talk of a new definition for “customer satisfaction”. I was grateful. This was cash I didn’t even expect. She was pleased. So pleased that they even offered to drop me at my lodging. I was happy. I gave them my complimentary card & it was at that moment that the question was asked “Why are there not many photographers like you in Nigeria?” I explained to them that there are actually a number of photographers “like me” (most of whom are even better than me). The dilemma is that these photographers are not crossing paths with these type of clients. Who wouldn’t want to have such a client on their customer database. I concluded that either a lot of “us” are not marketing aright or ……. That’s it. I think it mostly has to do with the average photographer’s inability to determine their target audience and successfully reach them. My main point is this; if you’re a photographer in Nigeria that is “like me” or even better, there are multitudes of clients out there ready to pay for that next house you want to buy…….as long as they’re SATISFIED. They’ll pay you what you think you’re worth. Think, plan, pray. Do whatever you have to do to reach them because they’re patiently waiting for you. There’s enough for all of us, Get your portion. Enough of my writeup. Now answer the question…….
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I was born in St. Nicholas Hospital on the 31st of October 1978. Apparently my dad had just passed the final stage of his ACCA certification (after attempting it 5 different times), my mum just got promoted to Supervisor level at the bank which made them able to finally afford their first car: a Volkswagen beetle. They were grateful to God, hence the reason they called me OLUWASEUN….
I’m the 1st of 5 children born to Akinola Benjamin Akisanmi (an accountant) & Omolara Florence Akisanmi (a banker).
I finished secondary school at International School Lagos, UNILAG in 1995. And completed my undergraduate degree in Accounting/Business Administration in 2003 from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois USA. My love for photography began in December 1998 when my mum came to visit me in the university, asked me what I wanted for a Christmas gift & eventually bought me a Samsung film camera. When I eventually came back to Nigeria, I decided I was going to start a career in photography. My professional photography career started when I got my first professional camera in 2006. I was inspired by the teachings of Pastor Sam Adeyemi whose church, Daystar Christian Centre, I started attending. He encouraged us not to wait to be “employed” by an employer in the Labour market, but we should “start with what you have”. I took his advice and decided to start a company & get paid for what I love doing. If I had not gotten into photography, I would have been in the I.T. industry (software & hardware engineering or eCommerce). I enjoy writing poems, teaching sunday school classes (ages 8-9) & eating chocolate (mars, twix & snickers). I’m married to Ofure and we have a daughter, Anuoluwapo. My dream is to establish a world-class photography institute where people can come to learn & appreciate photography as a profession or hubby. I also plan on raising/training 10,000 professional photographers by 2015. One of the major challenges I faced when I started out was that I wasn’t taken seriously by family members. In a way, It was a motivating factor as I was bent on proving them wrong; that I could actually make it in life as a photographer. It made me develop a passion for reading books in order to get the right foundation. The other major challenge was having to defend my charges to clients who would rather pay a musician N1 million than to pay a photographer N100k. It made me determined to be the best that I can be so that I would eventually be worth the N1 million photographer that clients would hire for their weddings. Most of the mentors that helped my photographic foundation were photographers abroad whose books I read (over 20 photographers). Some of the Nigerian mentors that have been of great help to my photography destiny include Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Leke Adenuga, & Ade Plumptre.
I specialize in weddings, portraits & any photography job that requires a high level of innovative creativity. Name of our studio is eloPhotos Studios although most of the job we get are on location outside the studio. My advice to young photographers is that they make sure they get the right foundation especially if they want to build a successful photography business. One of the things they can do to shorten their journey to success is to attach themselves to a photographer they respect (& is successful) for a minimum period of 3 months. They’ll be glad they did. I’m yet to win any photography awards. Nigerian photographers that I recommend include Michael Segun Adebiyi (www.michaeladebiyi.com firstname.lastname@example.org), Dipo Odetoyinbo (of black child photography), Shola Animashaun (www.sholaanimashaun.com). My name is Oluwaseun Akisanmi & this is my story.