Challenges Of Being A Female Photographer

It was a different kind of Tuesday for me. I didn’t have to wake up extra early, (though my "body alarm clock" somehow woke me up at the usual time), I wasn’t about to get on the road as early as 5.30am. Monday had been hectic with terrible traffic jam on Ikorodu road in the evening. I walked all the way from Ojota to Mile 12 and even beyond before begging two guys driving a private car to give me a ride to Ikorodu.

Before leaving the office that Monday, my boss had given me the assignment of following up with a potential client at Victoria Island, Lagos the next day. I, in turn persuaded him to let me go from home rather than have to report at the office first and he agreed. I was to be accompanied by my female colleague, (Dammy). My decision to go to the Island from home was well thought out. Why go through hellish traffic in the morning to get to the office and then set out on another journey to the Island when I could travel from Ikorodu to VI by water and be at my destination in less than an hour? Who needs more time to waste in traffic?

I left home at 8.55am and headed for the Jetty. On getting there, I bought my ticket and in a few minutes, I was sitted in the boat, looking like a pumpkin in the life jacket I had been given. Hoping for an exciting ride, and fastening my proverbial seat belt, I brought out my Blackberry phone and pulled up the Bible app as the boat took off. For some unknown reason, I found myself reading 1 Corinthians 7 – you know where the bible talks about marriage, fidelity and divorce. From the corner of my eye, I could see the guy next to me, spying and stylishly reading what I was reading. He read for a few seconds and looked at me funny. His gaze almost made me feel like I was staring at porn instead of reading the bible.

In thirty short minutes, we were at Victoria Island. It felt so good. I mean, Ikorodu to VI in 30 minutes! Like one of my pastors would say, "You can’t beat it with a stick!". I got off the boat and took a cab to the client’s office that took about five minutes. Even though I was extra early, I had to wait for my colleague so we could see the client in his office together. Our assignment seemed simple enough; inform him of the packages we had for a day’s coverage of event, what we charge and also show him a sample of our album.

Soon as my colleague arrived, we made our way into the office and after meeting the receptionist and sitting for a few minutes, we were face to face with the man we hoped would hire us to cover his birthday party. In fifteen minutes, it had become apparent to me that he wasn’t really interested in hiring us. He kept stating he didn’t like the design of our sample photobook even though we made it clear that we design an album to each client’s specification and would be glad to know what he appreciates so we can make a custom-design just for him.

When he was done looking at the sample album, the quiz session started. He wanted to know our ages, where we lived and why we chose to be photographers. The questions kept rolling in. Soon, I signaled to Dammy that it was time to leave. On telling our client that, he asked us to wait. As he went to a corner of his office hidden from plain sight, I thought,"Oh great, perhaps he wants to get us some change to spend in transporting ourselves back to the office". Nice right?

After what seemed like eternity to me, he emerged and asked me to come. I followed him to the office corner wondering what the drama was about. Just then, he handed me a few crisp One thousand naira notes and said, "Use that to get a cab to your office". I was slightly surprised at the number of notes he had just given us though I didn’t know exactly how much it was just yet. Then he said, "I’d like to see you privately. Let me know when I can see you alone". At this point, my suspicions were confirmed. He wasn’t looking for photographers but rather for a girlfriend. So after this married man found out that I was married, he still wanted to date me. I was nauseated. This had to be the most annoying challenge of being a female photographer I guess. When someone who is old enough to be your dad disguises as a client while he is in fact trying to date you; it gives occupational hazard a whole new meaning. A camera-carrying lady, in a pair of loose-fitting jeans and hair that fits somewhere between braids and dreadlocks becomes sexier than a lady wearing a mini skirt or some other outrageous outfit.

Back to the office. This past week, I had the task of designing the album of a funeral event we covered. We were hired by the sister of the late man. My Photoshop skills have improved but I do not yet have the skills of Onos – our current Photoshop champion. Designing such an album required some serious thinking. It wasn’t as straight forward as designing a wedding album in my opinion. Would you include pictures of the corpse? If yes, how many was sufficient? Would you include pictures of where your client got very emotional and probably had tears running into his/her open mouth? Eventually, we had to use our discretion, knowing that we could always tweak the design if the client didn’t approve it.

We interns also had to report to the office on Saturday to learn how to use SmugMug – a software made for photographers who need a website that displays their pictures beautifully. I think you should check it out at info’ to get $5 off your $60 yearly fee: …you can thank me later). It’s a photographer’s dream. We also learnt how to be futuristic in our thinking when it comes to choosing business names, website domains and the likes.

Perhaps one of the questions I was faced with and that everyone who calls himself/herself a photographer should ask is, "For how long do I plan to be in the photography business?". Perhaps you have other interests and dreams that are not photography-related, at what point do you intend to work on those? Would you do them side-by-side with photography or what’s the plan?

Planning the next three to five years of your life helps you make the most use of your time and other resources now because you know where you are headed. Don’t just let life happen to you, be deliberate about how you live it.

Ronke Alao
CEO Everywoman’s Heart

A Day in My Life in 2020: Awosanmi Emmanuel

It is Wednesday May 27, 2020.

I am Awosanmi Oluwadamilare Emmanuel by name. I am a photographer, a part-time teacher of chemistry and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I got out of bed this morning at 5:00am after my alarm went off. I gave my favourite (my wife), a good morning kiss as she turned and asked “is it morning already?” Yes it is, I replied.

I went into the children’s room to wake them up. And together, the twins (a boy and a girl) and I went into the living room where their mother is already waiting to begin the worship session for the day’s devotion. This is my family altar where the day of the family is committed into God’s hands. The morning devotion lasted for about 30 minutes.

In my living room is a set of leather sofas, a dinning set, a mini bar, a book shelf with about 523 books, a television set and a sound system. The floor is tiled, the walls painted with patterns of cream and brown colours. Hung on the wall are collections of frames from my wedding, works of arts and other photo crafts to add to the beauty of the house.

My Favourite went with the twins to have them bathe, while I also went into my bathroom to brush my teeth and have my bath. In my bathroom, is a shower with a thermostat that allows me to choose the temperature of water I wanted, a relatively large container normally called a bathtub, a flush toilet which is water-efficient, a wash-hand basin, an electronic deodorizer, a medium size mirror, and a trash can.

Getting out of the bathroom, I put on my clothing for the day (among others for the week) which had already been selected and ironed from the previous week. Within 15 minutes, I was ready and by now my Favourite is in the kitchen packing up the breakfast for the Twins and I.

My kitchen is spacious enough to accommodate the two-door freezer, a microwave oven, an electric-gas cooker, cabinets for plates, pots, cutleries, and a double-sink basin. By 6:30am, I was by my car, a Toyota Sienna 2015, limited model. My favourite came out to the garage to hand over my breakfast as she went back in to help the kids get ready for their school bus arrival.

I drove out of my two bedroom flat apartment in Ikorodu at exactly 6:45am. I headed for the Institution where I would be teaching two classes apart from the three hours practical sessions I would be taking. I got to the Institute premises 20 minutes later, as my first period begins at 8am. Gone are those days when traffic used to be hectic along Ikorodu road.

Being a Wednesday, my classes were over by 12 noon. After spending few minutes with colleagues, I decided to return home. Getting into my car, I called a portrait client to remind her of the appointment scheduled for 7 pm in the evening as she had informed me few days earlier to give her a call by 1:00pm in order to confirm her availability.

On my way home, I decided to visit my wife’s boutique. She was glad I could stop by being over a week that I had time to do so. My wife’s boutique business is a unisex fashion store large enough for both adult and young, with four assistants helping her in the running of the business.

In the store are well-arranged and hung cloths, ties, tuxedo suits and shoes for men to the left, ladies wears, bags, shoes and jewelries were arranged to the right side of the store while the center was separated for children only. It is a place to shop for the family’s clothing.

Right from the entrance, the scenery was inviting. There are times I hear people talk about the boutique not knowing that it is my wife’s. They talk of the beauty they see from outside to the inside of it. Each time I walk into the place, I feel overwhelmed at the daily organizations, improvements and implementations put in place by my wife. There is always something new and unique.

By 2:30pm, I was at home. I had a snack for lunch while I relaxed for few minutes. I then decided to work on my computer system to edit some images from my last event which would be due for delivery in 7 days time. Editing is much more fun and easy to do these days with the new software in use compared to 2013 when I just started out in Photography.

That reminds me, today marks exactly 7 years I started the journey of photography that has transformed my life, with Mr Seun Akisanmi of eloPhotos, my number one mentor and still my mentor. Waoh! How time flies. I have got to call Ronke and Tayo to remind them of today. Perhaps, we could make out time to go celebrate him this weekend.

I almost got lost in my thought of eloPhotos and all that weird colleagues of mine and activities we engaged in during those times. Snapping out of my thought, I whispered thank you Lord Jesus. I have been on the system for about three hours now, editing. Suddenly, my phone began to vibrate. It is my wife calling to inform me of her soon arrival and that of the twins from School.

With the kids returning, I had to round up my editing and pack up the system. Both the twins and their mother returned home just few minutes apart. I checked my clock, it is 6:00pm. Great! My wife then asked if I would not be going for the appointment again? I replied, that I am. And with her persuasion, I headed for the client’s residence immediately, which is about twenty minutes drive away.

The client (whom I needed to show my works and also to give her a brief for the package of photography she requested for) works with a multinational company while her husband is a pilot. Getting to her place, the building in front of me is an edifice. Getting into the apartment is another story entirely. In summary, it is a well finished and furnished apartment. Many I have seen, but this is unique.

I was welcomed with a chilled soft drink but I requested for water instead. I was asked to have a sit as she requested for few minutes in order to inform her husband of my presence. The time I spent with them was short, as the negotiation period was fast to come to an agreement upon a charge. At the end of the brief, I was given some N10,000 to fuel my car back home. The experience reminded me of my colleagues, Ronke & Damilola, 7 years earlier.

Getting back home at 8:15pm, I met my wife in the living room with the twins fast asleep. We had the night prayers, after which I carried the twins into their room, tucked them in bed and gave them a good night kiss. I returned to the living room to have some chat with my favourite, discussing about the activities of the day. Soon, I realized she had started sleeping. So I asked her to go to bed and sleep while I remained to continue my editing from where I stopped earlier in the day.

What! 2:00am? It is a new day already. I got to go to bed now. Getting into the room, I met my Favourite coming out of the bathroom; she asked, is it morning already? I replied, oh! no, it is just 2:00am dear, as she lay back on the bed. I lay beside her and off to dreamland I went.