Have You Photographed Any Popular Person?

That was the question asked by one of the children I teach in church. Some were a little repulsed to hear that I am a photographer. Most of them want to become doctors, lawyers and engineers. Photography, to them, fell within the profession of barbers, hairstylists & mechanics who were considered to be “poor”. They even made it a prayer request that “I will never become a photographer in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

I attempted (and hopefully succeeded) in explaining to them why photography, like any other great profession, is a noble one and that one could become a millionaire as a photographer. Most of them doubted me & laughed at me…..and that’s when a 9-yr old girl popped the question: “So have you ever photographed any popular person?”
I paused and thought within. I was almost in Jesus’ shoes when tricky questions like these were hurled at Him.

I explained to the girl that being popular is an objective opinion. By “popular” I reckoned she was referring to the known celebrities in town. Also, the fact that someone is popular does not mean they are willing to pay your photography bill. Interestingly, some celebrities in this part of the world usually want “free” photography because of their celebrity status. They argue that it is a priviledge for you (I.e. the upcoming or established photographer) to be photographing them. They argue that they are helping your career by giving you such an opportunity. May God help them.

I remember an example Kelechi Amadi-Obi (www.kelechiamadiobi.com) once gave about a celebrity artist he once encountered. The gentleman walked into Kelechi’s office and requested for a photo session. To his dismay, he was shocked that Kelechi would dare charge him for the session. The following “brief” discussion ensued.

Artist: Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know it is a priviledge for you to photograph me?
Kelechi: (showing him the door), I’ll appreciate it if you kindly leave my office. It’s obvious you’ve come to the wrong studio

Anyway, I concluded my response (to the girl that quizzed me) by telling her that my strategy was to raise an army of photographers that will photograph popular people. I am yet to take pictures of POPULAR people but will be fulfilled knowing that someone I mentored is taking those pictures. Enough said, I proceeded to teach the main curicullum for the the sunday school class & hoped that one day I would be given the priviledge to photograph a popular person (in exhange for CASH).

N.B. If you’re a POPULAR person (or know one) in need of world-class photography services, don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t worry, our fees won’t give you a heart attack. Looking forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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A pre-wedding session with Leke & Seyi

I met Leke 5 years ago while doing a corporate shoot for the organization he was working with then. “Intelligent” & “friendly” are two words i would use to describe him. Within 2 days of meeting him, he recommended us for the photography coverage of his brother’s wedding.

About 2 months ago, I got a call from him asking me for a photo session with the girl of his dreams. Some of the guys I’ve met that are friendly usually don’t settle for ladies that are equally friendly; this was going to be different. Its hard to tell whether his babe, Seyi, was “nicer” than Leke. Either way, I had mad fun shooting the couple in the city of abuja.

We used about 4 locations and I was glad I finally met (after a long while) a couple that was more adventurous than I am. Did I mention that I had fun……especially while taking the pictures at the police booth near the Ministry of Finance.

That the two are in love is no doubt whatsoever (at least to me). My only prayer is that they’ll speedily approve my photography bill for their wedding coverage because I just can’t wait to see how wonderful their day will be. It is well.

Pictures taken with Olympus e3 with 12-60mm lens & fl-50 flash. Enough of my gist. Listen to the pictures as they tell their story

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PICTURE THIS (Episode 7): The Importance of Insuring Your Equipment

In this episode, Seun Akisanmi shares his experience during one of the days of the protest in Ojota, Lagos. He stresses the importance of insuring your photography equipment.

Today I will be sharing my experience on one of the days of the just ended protest in Lagos State, Nigeria over the removal of fuel subsidy.
It all started on the second day of the protest at the Gani Fawenhinmi Park, Ojota. After taking my pictures. I boarded an ‘okada’ (a motorbike transport) on my way back to the office.
Behold, the bike rider tried to navigate a junction at high speed and skidded, and in what looked like a scene from Mission Impossible 5, we had a terrible accident. It was fatal. [While] I was injured a bit on my hands and side; the rider had ten times my injuries.
My cameras did not survive however. It was really-really sad, as my most expensive lens valued at $1,100.00 got broken in two. Also, by looking at the extent of damage to one of the camera bodies that was with me, you can get an idea of how fatal the accident was. I didn’t want to share this earlier because I wanted to use the lessons learnt for this episode [of Picture This].
If you are a photographer based here in Nigeria, especially Lagos, by now you should have an idea of how dangerous a lot of these motorbikes are. So my first [piece of] advice is this: The bike rider must have on a helmet and an extra helmet for you [the passenger]. This indicates to a large extent, whether the rider is less risk than one who does not have. My first mistake was that I boarded the bike of a rider who did not have a helmet – a dangerous freak!
Secondly, even if he has a helmet and he is going very fast, do all you can (it’s even ok to hit the side of his head) and shout to warn him. Make sure you don’t keep quiet. Voice out so you don’t suffer for nothing. Otherwise if at the end of the day something happens, all you will be getting is “sorry! Forgive me” and all that. No monetary reward comes with the emotional [and physical] tragedy.
Thirdly, (and by my opinion the most important) advice is this: For any equipment you have acquired, whether it’s the camera you have bought through amazon.com (like I recommend) or it’s your laptop that is related to your photography business; I strongly suggest YOU INSURE IT! I had procrastinated, because even my insurer called me just last December asking, ‘When are you going to pay premium on all your equipment that we have valued for you?’ I’d told them, I’m trying to get more cameras in January so that I can pay the entire premium at once. And here I am [in January] I have had the accident and while this [lens for instance] cost $1,100.00, I would have paid just about 5% of the value as premium.
If [only] I had protected my equipment with just 5% of it’s value (and it covers accident, fire and theft) in one of these new packages insurance companies are beginning to offer even photographers here in Nigeria, I wouldn’t be crying like I am know.
Of course I am grateful for being alive. I just would have loved to add it to my testimony. This [lens] was my baby. So, for any camera, even an expensive phone or any equipment that has to do with your business that you have invested over $400.00 (calculating it’s total value); 5% cannot be too much to insure it. So don’t procrastinate. Any major insurance company will offer you insurance cover for your equipment, and if you are being turned down, send me an email and I will recommend one for you. Or simply ask the insurance agent for the company covering your car or house.
I hope all these three lessons will be of help to you.

Picture This (Episode 6): Working with a Professional Photographer & Photographer of the Week

Today’s episode is dedicated to all the new photographers that have decided one way or the other to be an intern or assistant to a present photographer they respect. There are some rules I feel we all need to be aware of, so that none of us are in default of things we don’t know about.

First of all, if you have decided to become an apprentice, you should consider spending a minimum of three to six months. This should be enough time to learn the basics and hopefully give you a good foundation for your own photography business.

Once you have chosen who you want to work with, you should meet with the person and discuss all the possible rules that the photographer has. Some rules may seem funny but don’t blame them. It’s because of their experiences that they have set certain standards and rules that have worked for them.

For example, at eloPhotos we don’t have any public holidays. For some apprentices we have worked with in times past this really hurt them as they felt like, ‘Christmas day? Shouldn’t I be with my family?’ I feel it’s ok that for celebrating Christmas, we choose another day because we get jobs on Christmas day, like family portraits, weddings and so on that we have to cover and I can’t tell clients, who are ready to pay, ‘sorry, I don’t work on new year’s day!’

There are some other funny rules; like certain photographers will tell intending apprentices that without the apprentice having a camera, they can’t work with them. I don’t blame them either as previous apprentices they have worked with have destroyed their cameras.
Know all the rules and follow them to the letter.

Secondly, be conscious about how you talk about your new mentor. Know this upfront, there is no photographer or person that is perfect. A lot of us have flaws we are dealing with. You might have a professional photographer that’s temperamental. Be conscious of not discussing the weakness of your new boss with others. This is like sowing seeds for when you become the boss of your own business and you have apprentices under you. If there are issues you need to address with your boss, talk to him/her and not to outsiders.

Thirdly, (and this is one of the most important) if you are on a photography assignment, with or for your boss, all the rights for the pictures you have taken belong to that professional photographer even though you took them with your own camera. So even though this might seem difficult, (and you might be planning to use pictures you take for your own marketing purposes), all the pictures belong to him (I.e. Your boss) especially when he/she is paying you for it.

Many photographers have experienced this kind of scenario where the assistant uploaded the pictures from an assignment to their own personal website the day after the assignment. That’s why they (the professional photographers) won’t call on some assistants anymore.

Here’s my personal example: It was at a Christmas carol, I covered this for a colleague of mine. I took many great pictures at the event that included guests like an ex-president -[Gen Gowon rtd] and it made me feel somewhat bad that I wouldn’t be able to use those pictures as I would love to. It was a contract, and both parties understood the rules. As painful as it felt, I gave all the pictures to my colleague as the owner [of all the rights]’

At this point, please stay tuned for [our weekly segment] the photographer of the week [Samuel Ijiyokunola – Living moments photography]

Excerpts from youtube video

‘I used to work with an NGO with a focus on HIV/AIDS –treatment and education.’I enjoyed my job. When on field programmes, I took the pictures for our reports. When it was time to move on, I did. I knew I wasn’t going to pick up another paid job. Rather, I was determined to earn a living from my passion. I decided for photography and although the knowledge I had about it then could not give me the confidence to charge fees in hundreds of thousands for covering your wedding or for family portraits.

I knew I needed training. So I was asking around for where I could train. While in church, [Daystar Christian Centre] on a Sunday I picked up the church bulletin where a Skill Acquisition Programme was being announced. I put in my application and was among the chosen few.
It was at this training I met great minds like Siffre Abayomi, Damilola Elliot, Sola Animashaun, Segun Adebiyi, the effervescent Leke Adenuga, Ephraim Makati and my coach Seun Akisanmi. All of them were saying the same thing: ‘I am a professional photographer.’
I said to myself, ‘Sammy, you didn’t make the wrong choice!’

After the two-week training, I opted in for additional training and luckily I won the scholarship to the apprenticeship programme with eloPhotos. It was a wow experience.

Here’s to the trainees in eloPhotos presently: ‘Your boss, my coach [Mr Seun] is a Very Good-Badt Guy!’ He told me and some of my colleagues few days after we resumed the apprenticeship to pick our choice of camera [from his arsenal] and practice all we wanted because there was a wedding event that very weekend that we were going to cover.

That wedding was my first baptism. While I was trying to get an aerial shot of the groom’s entrance into the ceremony, I mis-stepped and my trouser pants ripped. Mr Seun asked to me keep going on, and so for the next three hours or so I continued covering the wedding, because at a point I didn’t even remember I had a tear in my trouser!

From then on, I kept enjoying it more and more as my knowledge in photography grew, sealing the fact that this was where I belonged. I had learnt a whole lot after the 6-month apprenticeship

He [Mr Seun] being someone who lets it all out without hiding [knowledge], guided me and my colleagues on starting out, and under his tutelage I founded Living Memories Photography where I am now the lead photographer.

“It’s been good, it’s been gracious and it’s also been ugly” I had a time once when I woke up thinking, ‘Sammy, aren’t you going to get a supporting career?’ But it’s at times like that I resolved and put my feet down! So I went out and while at a shopping complex that day, I decided, I wanted to have an exhibition!

So I told Mr Seun about it and he said, go ahead and plan for it! I didn’t have the money and even a camera as I didn’t own but rented cameras also from Mr Seun. I didn’t have prints ready to hold the exhibition with! Somehow, I got events where I got the pictures I used for the exhibition and it was just about the [penultimate] day or two before the exhibition that the money for it came.

It [photography] has been a learning curve. I learn from every job and event. A few days back a family had a joint party for the three girls (cousins) who shared the same birthday, different ages five, four and three years old.
Trying to get them all smiling and in the same shot seemed impossible, as per time it would be two smiling and the third doing something else entirely (like crying or frowning). One parent wasn’t helping by scolding them so I asked to be left alone and decided to try and take their pictures individually.

I had to do something; I started reciting rhymes and poems for them, and things that would interest kids. That was the first time I had to deal with three kids at the same time and somehow I learnt new tricks [that worked]. That’s how it has been for me.

I have a learnt a lot about how to relate with people.
Every day, I learn something new about photography, the business, packaging, pricing, negotiation, camera use, editing, and album design and so on. I read blogs and books, and watch videos and so on.
So all in all, it’s been fun!

Pictures from DEFY THE DICTATOR Protest in Lagos

A detachment of policemen led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, fired teargas indiscriminately at protesters marching from the state house of assembly towards the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Ojota, Lagos.
During the march tagged, “Defy The Dictator,” the protesters converged on the house of assembly to demand the immediate withdrawal of soldiers from the streets of Lagos and the reversal of the pump price of petrol to N65.
The protesters then began to march from the assembly complex at Alausa, Ikeja to the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Ojota, having obtained a permit from the state government to hold a rally there.
The park was the venue of five days of rallies, where various speakers spoke for five days against the removal of fuel subsidy.
However, they were warned by policemen not to go beyond the house of assembly to the park.
Led by a former Minister of Education, Prof. Ben Nwabueze; human rights lawyers, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite and Mr. Festus Keyamo, they defied the police warning and continued towards the park.
Speaking at the assembly, Braithwaite said the deployment of soldiers in Lagos was totally unwarranted while Nwabueze said it was unfortunate.
They were received by some members of the house, who said the deployment of soldiers was unacceptable.
They ran into a barricade mounted by the police and soldiers at 7Up Bottling Company on the Secretariat Road. The police also mounted a separate barricade on Ikosi Road, across the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as well as the nearby Kudirat Abiola Road.
The situation caused traffic jams in the Alausa and Ojota areas.
To stop the protesters from getting to the park, the policemen fired several canisters of tearsgas, forcing many of the marchers to scamper to safety.
The marchers returned again and sat on the road, refusing to move.
The protesters then turned back towards the Governor’s Office.
ARTICLE by Nigerian Eye
PICTURES: eloPhotos

My Meeting With Aisha Augie-Kuta

I finally met her in person. She’s one of the photographers that made me almost ashamed of the quality of photography I bring to the table: I’m always inspired when I see her work.

She picked me up at about 12noon on January 18. It was as if she was the one about to interview me. She was so excited about finally meeting the person she had only seen on youtube. I like the fact that despite the fame she has achieved in recent years (in photography), she remains humble at heart. I was even more nervous when she introduced me to her colleagues as her BOSS. Now that was a good joke.

She drove me to her studio in Maitama District and 2hrs+ later, I was thanking God for the meeting. Although the interview was meant to reveal to the world more about who she is as a photographerr (& her journey thus far), I felt that I just attended a workshop on “LIFE & PHOTOGRAPHY”

If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s that I should be a humble & teachable person regardless of how many awards or accolades I might accumulate. Thanks again for your time, Aisha.

We’ll keep you posted once the interview/video is available for viewing.

The Return of the Olympus E3

WOW. It has been exactly 3 years since I worked with my then-best friend, Olympus E3. So it happened that when I was finally reunited with my love, we slept together on the same bed for a good 10 hours. It was love at first sight all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gadget freak; I just love my Olympus E3. In a way, it was a good thing it fell down and broke while having a portrait session for a Commissioner of electricity; I would not have experienced the another great camera, Nikon D2x. Come to think of it, I’ve not even been paid yet for that session. Anyways, I decided to go for a walk with my wife  camera and the following are a few of the pictures that ensued. Hope I tried a little bit…or is it the camera that tried. Anyway enjoy. 🙂

The Cabal, My Clients

So I’m in Abuja meeting with a client that needs some of my photography services. He’s on the phone discussing with his wife who isn’t in the country. I heard him say “Don’t mind him (the President i.e.), he has reduced the price from N141 to N97…at least N43 billion will get to me.”

It was his last phrase that caught my attention. Could it be possible that my client was one of the “Cabals” that had benefited from the oil subsidy saga. Maybe I heard wrong. Perhaps I heard wrong. N43 BILLION!!!!!! WOW! And then it occured to me that types of client I actually dream of catering for are people in this category.

Please don’t get me wrong; I don’t support the corruption that has affected our system. Or do I? I don’t know. I mean, the people that can easily pay my “dream” bills might include those that have 10 cars, 5 jets, 4 houses, sorry, Mansions (spread across the globe), & N1 million lunch allowances.

But not all of them are thieves. Or are they? What if our “sympathetic” President Goodluck Jonathan gives me a call and asks for my services. Should I give a testimony in church for the “promotion” or should I turn him down because he is such a …………………….(Fill in the blanks). I’m not sure what I’ll do. Just thinking out aloud. What will you do if you were in my shoes? ….Because I think I just met one of the “cabals” I had been praying that God should touch their hearts.

How can I impact my world with this photography business of mine while fighting the good fight of faith between my values and my immediate (or future) needs? Just thinking out aloud. May God help my soul. May God help us all

Day 5 Photos of Fuel Subsidy Removal Protest in Ojota

It was an interesting day: A thief almost beaten to death for stealing a phone, a man who jumped to his death after being dared by his colleagues, a herbalist making portions for the president, and caskets prepared for the burial of Jonathan Goodluck. With each view, most people were surprised that Nigerians could turn out in such large numbers (the largest since the protest started on Monday).

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Day 4 Photos: Fuel Subsidy Protest @ Ojota Continues

The sage continues. The crowd today was the largest ever. People came prepared with mats and lunch packs. It was also a reunion ground for many that were in attendance: old school mates, etc.

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DAY 3 Photos: Fuel Subsidy Protest Continues

Celebrities that graced today’s protest were Obesere, Shina Peters, Kunle Afolayan, Shank, Omo Baba & Seyi-Law

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A Photographer’s Guide to Covering a Protest

In this “EMERGENCY” episode, Seun Akisanmi gives tips that will help photographers to successfully cover a protest. Based on his experience with the recent coverage of the protests in Lagos, Nigeria, this is not an episode you would want to miss…. especially if you’re considering covering a protest. For questions or suggestions, send an email to picturethis@elophotos.com

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