Diary of a GHOST PHOTOGRAPHER


It’s MONDAY, August 19 and also World Photography Day Celebration in Lagos, Nigeria. My day at the office(eloPhotos) started with Emmanuel and I cleaning up. He swept while I cleaned the toilet and mopped. Shortly after, Mr Samuel and Mr Seun arrived.

Weekly morning devotion began at about 8.20 am with songs of worship and thanksgiving. Mr Seun shared with us the importance of being mindful of what we say, not confessing negatively, basically taming the tongue.

Devotion ended at about 8.45am. I went straight to the business of eating breakfast before heading out to Freedom Park, Broad Street on Lagos Island-venue of the World Photography Day Celebration -with two of my colleagues; Tayo and Emmanuel.

We arrived at the venue around 11am to a room full of photographers. Speakers at the event included Yemi Royal, Leke Adenuga ,Body Lawson and Don Barber. The interactive session was filled with interesting comments like “My camera is more important than my wife”, “We photographers don’t love one another”, “Some of you are carrying ‘cars’ on your shoulder”, “You don’t snap, you create images” and so forth.

Tayo and I shot some fun pictures outside of the hall where the event took place. It was my first time at Freedom park and I think I like the scenery. After the interactive session, a community photo-walk was held. I chose to stay back though. I know, I can be boring sometimes. The photo exhibition followed right after the photowalk.

TUESDAY
I woke up with an upset stomach. Not the “I need to find the toilet fast” kind, but the “It feels like I had poison for dinner last night” kind of tummy upset. The pain was intermittent, I knew breakfast would be out of the question but that I could still resume at the office.
Got to the bus stop at about 5.45am and waited a few minutes hoping to get a vehicle headed for Ketu. It’s not unusual for private car owners to pick passengers up for a fee. That’s how we roll in Ikorodu.

Soon enough, a man driving a white truck showed up and beckoned. I ran a few steps to catch up and got in. It was then I realized he was only interested in picking me up. He ignored other passengers that ran up to the vehicle.

I said a faint “good morning” as we rode along. There was no response. I thought, “This is very strange, perhaps I am being kidnapped”. The silence grew. About eight minutes later, the man asked me in Yoruba, “Don’t you talk in the mornings?”.”I do talk”, I said with a laugh. At this point, I could feel the pangs of pain in my tummy a little bit. Perhaps if I took a nap, my tummy wouldn’t hurt as much, but how could I possibly sleep when I don’t know this mysterious guy who picked me?

“What is your name?” he asked. “Ronke”, I answered, wondering where the conversation would lead. At the mention of my name, he seemed surprised and said loudly in Yoruba,”Did I pick up a ghost this morning ? Please let me see your face?” Oh great! So now I am a ghost. Why does my morning commute always have to be like something out of a cheap Yoruba movie? The guy actually switched on the light in the truck to take a good look at my face.
I later understood his strange behavior when he told me his wife died a couple of years ago and her name was Ronke. He later asked what my profession was and I told him I was a photographer. I wasn’t prepared for his next question. He simply blurted, “Oo ka’we ni?”, which is Yoruba for “Aren’t you educated?” Hmmm, that makes me an uneducated ghost. Somehow to him, photography is a profession for the unlearned. Rather than feel insulted by his question, I was simply amused. I told him I was educated and not only that, but my boss is also a trained accountant.

He later asked about my marital status and I told him I was married. He then asked,”Is it okay if I snatch you from your husband?”. I didn’t know if it was a joke or some lame attempt to flirt with me. Either way, I wasn’t in for it. “No you can’t”, I replied as I winced a little from the pain in my tummy. He dropped me off at Ojota where I took a bus headed for Ogba.

On getting to work, I swallowed a very small clove of garlic, (no I am not crazy, just desperate), which helped with my tummy troubles but I still didn’t feel like I could eat. I did eventually eat beans with bread before closing at about 5:30pm.

Going back home after work came with its share of drama. The first vehicle I boarded heading to Ikorodu was abruptly stopped by policemen. Apparently, he joined the “express” from the service lane at the wrong spot. I got a refund of my cab fare and headed to Ketu to get a bus.

The next bus I boarded? So much craziness, from people fighting and screaming because of seats to the lady selling Vitamin C tablets that cure ulcer, (believe it or not, it sold like hot cakes).

WEDNESDAY
Had an uneventful commute to work. Got to work super early on Wednesday (7.03am). I went straight to my assigned chore – cleaning the restroom. I have been nicknamed “Restroom Officer” by my colleagues. I take toilet business serious. I am one of those weird Nigerians that believe the restroom shouldn’t be a place you endure but rather that you enjoy. It’s one of those things that set us apart from animals. The fact that signs like “”Do not urinate” are a common sight in our city is a shame. Using a clean restroom makes us feel human, I think…

Also worked on minutes of the last meeting held. Gosh, if people thought of the fact that someone had to type up minutes of the meeting, perhaps they would talk less, I hope.

Had fun interacting with the teenagers participating in the summer bootcamp before the start of class. Oh, to be young again!

Bunmi, one of the couples whose wedding we recently covered, came around to pick her wedding frames that afternoon. My colleagues and I had the interesting task of taking passport photos that are creative, ones we could make ID cards with. Whoever heard of a creative passport photo? It’s the weird element of eloPhotos that makes me love working there.

Getting home on Wednesday was a torment. I closed a few minutes past 5pm and didnt get home till 9.20pm! The traffic to Ikorodu was horrendous. Seemed like everyone was trying to run out of Lagos or something. At moments like this, the idea of me relocating to the village becomes very romantic. Lagos is crazy.

THURSDAY
It turned out to be one of those days that I could have sworn wasn’t up to 24hours. Got to work, did some light reading, ran a few errands and shaka boom! The day is over.
Going back home took a dramatic turn when the bus driver threatened to drop all the passengers in the middle of nowhere if he didn’t get all of his money. He said the Transport fare collected was N50 less than what it should have been. What is with bus drivers who wont get a conductor and think passengers owe them a favor of collecting their money for them? I tire o

FRIDAY
Oh sweet Friday. I am so happy I want to kiss the sky! My weekends are usually short but at least I get to have one to spend with my hubby this time. No events to cover this weekend, as far as I know…

My major project/challenge/weight on my shoulders for the day was completing the sample photo book I had started work on several days ago. Hand-making a photo book myself isnt my favorite thing to do. I tried to avoid doing this one but just as I was trying hard not to, Mr Seun (My boss) had things set in motion such that there was no running away from this responsibility.

Soon as I got materials ready for the photobook cover, I started work, got down on my knees and got dirty. After God knows how long, the photobook came out looking like a plastic surgery gone bad. Mr Seun wouldn’t accept it. He jokingly said,”If you deliver this to a client,he or she will get you arrested by the police” Then he told me I had to redo it on Monday. Honestly, the thought of doing the photobook again made a police arrest sound more appealing.

At times like this, I wish excellence wasn’t so important to my boss, but if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be working with him in the first place right?

Eventful week it was. Looking forward to the next.

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