The HARVARD Client


To be upfront, this will be one of the most difficult writeup I will put up because its an account I had with a client who happens to be one who “might” sue me. But then again, I’m not mentioning anyone’s names and there shouldn’t be any cause for a lawsuit….just that he might not hire me again. Either way, I strongly believe there’s a lesson or two to be learnt herein. Anyways, here goes nothing.

A few years ago, I was privileged to have worked with a client that would eventually go down in my books as one of the “most interesting clients ever”. I met him during an exhibition I had in Transcorp Hilton Hotel (Abuja) in 2008. He would eventually hire me to cover a ceremony in his hometown during which he’ll be given a chieftancy title by the king of the town.

It was supposed to be a 4-6 hour event in which he was to pay N200k for a standard album. I drafted an agreement that required him to make a deposit of 50% of the total fee before I flew to his hometown for the coverage. The main day finally arrived and after a bunch of seemingly legitimate reasons why he had not made the deposit, I decided to take a risk and pay for the flight from my own pocket.

Upon arriving at my airport destination, I headed straight to my clients’ house and met him in full preparation for the event. I stylishly asked for the deposit and was abruptly reprimanded for coming across as someone who liked money too much. “Can’t you see that I’m busy….I’ll get you the deposit once I’m free”. Being the optimistic person that I am, I chose to take him by his word.

10 hours later after the event was over, I was faced with the challenge of making the same presentation. This time around the reason that was given was that he was too tired after a tedious chieftancy ceremony to address mundane financial matters like mine. I would eventually withdraw back to the room he had lodged me in the “boys quarters” behind his mansion.

That night, I would eventually make friends with the man’s cook & driver because they lived in the room adjacent mine. Listening in on the discussions the cook & driver were having, I discovered that my rich client was not the type that treated his subordinates with dignity. Many atimes he would shout at them and call them names in the presence of visitors and dignitaries. I eventually found myself giving thanks to God that I wasn’t a staff of this client. I eventually spent 3 days at the client house and could almost write a book based on the experiences the cook, driver and gateman have had with the man over the years.

On my second night in the clients villa, I remember the cook storming into the room and shouting at the top of his voice (ofcourse he knew that oga could not hear him).
“This oga no get sense o, abi no be me wey be him cook he suppose dey treat very nice….me wey fit poison am if I want…but my mama no raise me up like that if not I for show am pepper”.
He murmured and complained for over 30 minutes about how his “master” had just cursed him out in front of guest for forgetting to bring a tray of glasses for drinking water. Little did I know I was about to have my own memorable experience.

After getting another excuse on the second day, I would eventually have my way on the 3rd day. By the 3rd day of being in my clients mansion, I was already getting scared of him as if he was my boss. I gathered all the courage within and asked for an audience with him. By now he knew what I wanted to see him for: a deposit of N100k for the photography job he had hired me for.

As I approached his room, his PA walked out of the room and almost collided with me. I was surprised to discover that this thirty-something year old beautiful daughter of Eve was in tears. Apparently she had just been dealt with verbally by the same “master” that I was about to meet. I swallowed my saliva as if in a plane that was about to take off. I was more nervous now. I hope this man’s words won’t leave me in tears by the time I was done. I shrugged off the feeling knowing that he wasn’t my boss and that he was just a man. Except he had 7 heads like a beast in the bible, I shouldn’t be afraid of him. Or should I? I was about to find out.

He was laying down on his bed when I walked in. 2 of his best friends were in the room. After a few seconds of repeating the same requisition I had been making for the past 2 days, I handed out to him a printed A4 paper that documented the agreement we had regarding the job at hand and asked him to sign. It was then he flared up and threw the paper back at me.

“How dare you give an agreement to a Harvard Law Graduate. Don’t you know that its improper to issue a contract to a lawyer? Rather it’s a lawyer that should issue out a contract that will require your signature”.

Up until then, I did not know that my world-renowned client was a graduate of Harvard Law School. Up until then, I didnt know that it was “illegal” to present contracts that required a signature to a “law” graduate. I took in a deep breath and for 2.5 seconds thought of what to say in response to the declarations of my lawyer client.

I found myself apologizing to him for not knowing that I was disrespecting him without my knowledge. I explained to him that I was only protecting his interest by putting on paper everything that I promised him I would deliver. Ofcourse I knew that I was protecting my interest against lawyers like that. While expressing my heartfelt apologies to the man through my then-nervous mouth, I was uttering desperate prayers to God in my heart. My singular prayer was for God not to make me treat people the way this rich Harvard client treated people.

He eventually signed the document grudgingly and reached into his bag for a bundle of N1000 notes. What he did thereafter touched my heart and made me feel more sorry for him. He hurled the bundle of N1000 notes at me and asked me to leave his room. The bundle fell right in front of me without hitting me. It was then I knew that God had indeed blessed me with a patient spirit. Had I possessed half of the nature of one of my mentors, I would have walked up to him, return the money, given him a dirty slap (which might have landed me in jail ofcourse), and walked out of the house that night only to later remember that my belongings were still in his mansion. But a patient man I was (and hopefully still am).

I picked up the pack of N1000 notes, counted it twice to be sure it was not short a Naira less than N100k. Realizing that my deposit was complete, I thanked him very much and walked out of the room. I would later thank God for not walking out in tears as the PA had done a few minutes earlier.

Over the years, I’ve dealt with some clients that seemed to have graduated from the same class as my Harvard client. Over the years, I’ve realized that patience is a virtue that will help a photographer like me not to kill some people before their time. Over the years, I’ve realized that my propensity to take rubbish from someone is directly proportional to the money they’re paying me. Yes, I know that can be vain but God has used many Harvard clients to put food on my family’s table over the years. Although I usually don’t do jobs again for clients like that, I’ve found out that they’ve been examples of people that I pray to God that “when I grow up in riches, do not make me like this person”.

Or if it was you that a client threw N100k at, what will you do? Be honest now.
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

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The Hot-Tempered Photographer


I was recently told the story of one of my relatives that once ran a photography business. It happened that after delivering the finished product (albums, photo frames, etc) to his clients, he usually had a challenge getting his outstanding balance from them.

A client that owed him a balance of N20k would offer to pay 10 installments of N2k and my photographer “relative” will vehemently reject the offer. He would get so angry at the client that he would eventually tell the client not to bother paying the balance. He would repeat the same gesture to most of his clients.

This eventually became one of the main reasons why Relative Photography Studios is no longer in business. If you were in his shoes, how would you react to someone that owes you N20k and is offering to make 10 installments (or other seemingly outrageous offer) of N2k each?
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

A Money-Back Guaranty You Can’t Refuse


One of the things that tripped me about organizations in America was (and still is) the concept of “money-back guaranty”. Basically if you pay for a product or service and felt you were not satisfied (or even if you changed your mind about the sale), you’re entitled to your money back if you asked for it. I thought that was cool. I found myself returning bicycles, wrist watches and (in one instance) a pair of shoes. Basically, the ultimately goal was to make sure that the customer was satisfied at all cost.

It’s a policy we have at eloPhotos Academy. We’re so sure of the quality of photography education we offer at our school that if after attending a course and you feel you were not satisfied, we would give you a refund of your school fees. If world-class photography education is your priority, if you’re considering starting a photography business, if you’re bent on doing whatever it takes to standout in a seemingly “crowded” industry, then eloPhotos Academy is the place to be. Since 2008, we’ve been responsible for the photography destinies of over 900 photographers by God’s grace. Visit http://www.elophotos.com/academy to choose a course today and if you’re unsatisfied with what we offer you, feel free to ask for a full refund.

Stop procrastinating and join the new session that starts in September, 2014.
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

The ESAU Moment


The date was April 8, 2013. Time stamp 1pm. I was sitting in the reception of one of the most respected companies in Nigeria. Waiting patiently for my appointment with who I considered to be the MD.

A week earlier, MD had seen in the newspapers the press released we issued regarding the 1st Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference. Somewhere in the newspaper article, it was mentioned that one ‘Seun Akisanmi’ was the one organizing the conference that will help escalate the journey of placing Nigerian photography & photographers on the world map. I instantly recognized the number when I saw the missed call just after wednesday church service. I had given MD a photo session 6 months earlier and knew somewhere at the back of my mind that we would meet again.

Meet again we would eventually do. I returned the call and was given an appointment to meet him in his office. He mentioned that he saw the article and wanted to see how he could help sponsor the event to success. I was ecstatic. I was excited. The person I had been trying to get his attention was finally giving me audience.
He would eventually enter the reception 30minutes later and apologized for being late. He went straight to the point. After extending his applause to me for daring such an ambitious feat, he mentioned that he was going to make a VOLUNTARY donation to help make the program a success.

N500,000. I was shocked. I was grateful. At that very moment, that would be the largest “voluntary” donation someone would bring to the NiPHEC table. The last person that dropped his contribution issued out a check of N250k and I was shocked. N500,000 from another person that believed in the NiPHEC dream would eventually increase the shock level to gear 3.

I was quick to let him know how eternally grateful I was for the proposed donation. He was quicker to let me know that he needed a favor from me in exchange for the “voluntary” donation. Little did I know that my shock level was about to get to gear 5.

In exchange for the funds, he’ll appreciate if I place his name as the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER on all NiPHEC publicity materials that will be going out. I told him that was not possible. Without hesitation, I explained that NiPHEC was not a NOLLYWOOD movie (ok, I actually didn’t use the word “NOLLYWOOD”) that’s in need of an Executive Director. I looked over to the side where my assistant was sitting and watched to see the expression on her face. She seemed speechless.

MD insisted that it was a small token I could do for him in exchange for his kind gesture. I reminded him promptly that I thought he said it was a voluntary donation and not a transaction. Looking back at the whole scene now reminded me of the scenario that must have played out when Esau was in need of a FOOD sponsor for his stomach and Jacob was offering ASARO for Esau’s future destiny. It was an Esau moment for me and I wasn’t about to repeat history the Esau way.

I calmly explained to MD that what he was asking for was worth more than N500k. At that moment I was grateful for the negotiation tactics I had learned from Herb Cohen in YOU CAN NEGOTIATE ANYTHING. I reasoned with him that I had invested too much intellectually to have someone pay that amount for what seemed to be the “rights” of the dream. I told him that an appropriate figure for such a title would be more like N10million. He seemed a little surprised that I would dare to decline his offer. He seemed to be someone that didn’t like getting NO for an answer. That day he’ll receive a tough NO he’ll have to swallow.

For over 200 seconds he gave me more reasons why he wasn’t asking me for too much and how the voluntary donation would be beneficial to a cause that had not secured any sponsors. He asked me to go home and think about it before giving a reply. I told him there was nothing to think about. N500k was too small a token to pay for the title of Executive Producer of NiPHEC. He would eventually disburse the funds without getting his request. I would eventually realize that my passion for change in the photography industry was a bigger dream than I had imagined and that no Esau moment would defraud me of my destiny.

Come to think of it, if Esau had been a better negotiator, he would have gotten the plate of porridge for free. At least I got the N500k for free.

I write this not to insult or ridicule MD in any way. In fact, that encounter with MD helped me to realize that the lack of funds is not an excuse for failure. If your dream is big enough, it will attract helpers of destinies that will help fund the projects. MD helped me to realize that the dream of a more professional & appreciated photography industry is more feasible than I thought. And he wanted to get the credit for it. The credit would eventually go to the God that gives the vision. For only HE alone can touch the hearts of those that will help with the PROVISION.

So next time you’re faced with an Esau moment – an employer asking you for sex in exchange for a job or promotion, a contractor asking for a token before he can give you the job, a situation that requires you to tell a small white lie for things to be in your favor – always realize that whatever decision you make will impact generations to come. Sometimes the easiest choice to make could be the most difficult…especially when you’re in dire need of the N500k. I’m still in debt as a result of not getting enough sponsors as I anticipated but I have no regrets that the dreams that are within me will attract the resources that will be necessary to bring them to fruition.

I know my blabbing can seem much atimes but the buttomline message is this: When you encounter your Esau moments (trust me, everyone eventually does), don’t sell your destiny for a plate of porridge.
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

The N500 million Photography Studio


I AM SICK & I’VE COME TO SEE THE DOCTOR

Those were the words uttered by client G when met at my office on May 20, 2014. Judging from the fact that he kept to our 2pm appointment, I could sense that he was a disciplined man with a large heart. After hiring consultant Dee to help him set up a photography Lab/studio, client G had opened for business less than a year ago.

He would later discover (after investing tens of millions of Naira) that Dee was a fraud whose main goal was to squeeze out as much money as he could from his clients. One major error that G made was to seek professional advice from someone who wasn’t in the photography business. As a result of Dee’s consultation, G had used up what I considered unnecessary resources to set up a photography business that wasn’t turning out profit. He eventually attended the just concluded Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference and decided that the success of his business was dependent on him seeing a doctor. He decided the doctor would be me.

After he narrated the situation of his business, there were 2 things I was able to diagnose immediately: he had hired too much staff for a startup photography business & he had no marketing plan in place to bring the type of customers he wanted. He would eventually tell me of another client Cee that had hired the services of consultant Dee.

For whatever reasons unknown to me, client Cee had heeded the advice of consultant Dee and had gone ahead to invest N500 million in a photography printlab located in a part of Lagos that wasn’t too “photographer-friendly”. Eventually business didn’t turn out as expected and now client Cee is looking at opting out of the business less than 2 years after investing such an outrageous amount.

If only I had access to such funds, photography & photographers in Africa will not be the same. How on earth could someone take advice from a consultant who isn’t a successful professional in the field of photography….and eventually pour out N500 million (80% of which would go into the purchase of high tech cameras, printers and other photography equipment). If such a person would contact me now for advice, I’ll first give him one “hot” slap before proceeding with my therapy for his business.
And then it occurred to me that there are thousands of novices out there with the same mind set as client Cee. They think that buying a canon 5d mark iii as their main camera will make clients hire them. They think that having the best & most expensive printing equipment will automatically bring customers their way. They invest more in gadgets and fail to invest equally in the people that will handle the equipment and meet face-to-face with the clients. Perhaps it could be that they consulted people like consultant Dee.

If you fall in the category of clients with the mindset of client Cee or if you’ve gotten erroneous advice from consultants like Dee, there is hope for you. My name is Seun Akisanmi and I consult for businesses & individuals in the photography industry (& those considering entering the industry). If you want your photography business or career to standout in a seemingly congested industry, there are at least 2 consultants you should see asap: consultant Dee or Seun Akisanmi. Many have consulted the later and have no regrets whatsoever because ultimately their success becomes my testimony.

And if by any chance that client Cee is reading this, there’s still hope for your business…TRUST ME.

If you’re humble enough to consider hiring me as your consultant (or having me as your mentor), I’ll be honored to help set you up for success in the photography industry. Email me at info@elophotos.com or call 08120129149
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness