I must admit that this is the longest title I’ve given a post. However the goal is to attempt to address an issue that I feel some readers of NowPictureThis Magazine might have regarding the latest edition. I might not succeed in “changing” many peoples’ mind regarding certain beliefs; however, I’ll succeed in expressing my point of view in a way that will perhaps help us discuss on this further.
It happened approximately 2 months ago. On a sunny tuesday afternoon, my 2pm appointment arrived at my office. We had met during the just concluded Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC) and he had communicated to me his heart desire to have me as his mentor. He was sure that I was one of those that will help guide him on his pathway to photography destiny.
After a few minutes of him hurling questions and “admiration” my way, I was quick to point out to him that I’m a man of interesting weaknesses. I urged him to be sure of what he was asking of me since I knew I wasn’t as perfect/great as my perceived social media image might have communicated. He insisted that since we have similar backgrounds in life, he was sure I was the mentor he needed.
Fast forward to 3:16pm. He was about to ask me the question he considered to be his last and final question. He brought out a copy of the 2nd edition of the photography magazine I published, opened to the pages in the magazine that had the attached “artistic” pictures, and then dropped the question of the century: “Sir, being the Christian that you profess to be, how can you put in your magazine pictures of naked women? What if a child picks up the magazine? Aren’t you making some people to fall into sin?”
At this point, you need to realize that this was a genuine question that had troubled the gentleman and he had waited till the last minute to utter his mind so as to get an answer that will soothe him. He was dead serious. At that point I had an idea how Jesus must have felt when the Pharisees & Saducees asked him questions that were designed to trap him. And no, I’m not comparing my gentleman friend to the hypocritical sect in Jesus’ time.
I explained to him that I admired the “artistic” elements in the first picture in black & white. Although the photographer, Deola Gold, would have done a better job explaining to him what the picture was about, I told him it was a picture that I felt was too artistic for me to even put in words.
I honestly could not explain to him why I featured the picture apart from the fact that I admired Deola’s work.
The second picture however had a clearer message that might have been missed by the average gentleman that stumbles on the page. Its a picture of a woman’s breasts taken by Aisha Augie-Kuta. What the consciousness of many men do not see in the picture is the two flowers covering the woman’s breast. I noticed that one of the flower was dying while the other was still fresh. Without having Aisha explain what that meant and considering that she’s has an artistic & creative mind, I concluded that there’s a high probability that the woman in the picture had breast cancer.
What a creative way to portray cancer of the breast, I thought. Even while attempting to give him the explanation, he did not want to look at the picture again. I explained to him that I personally do not take nude pictures of women because the creative elements in my oblongata can do more damage to me long after the photo session is over. I knew this as one of my weakness and therefore have never strayed near that area. However, I know an artistic picture when I see one and Deola and Aisha’s pictures were more artistic than obscene.
We argued back and forth about what God thinks and what the Bible says and about the role of my conscience in the matter. I eventually realized I was arguing a case that neither one of us could win. Perhaps if I was a younger Christian, I would not have published the pictures talkless of being friends with a photographer who is a Mentor & a Muslim. But…….
Come to think of it, that was the last day he contacted me. I hope he wasn’t disappointed at the point of view I expressed. However, it leads me to at least one major point I feel protégés should understand: mentors have issues they deal with and aren’t perfect people. Having a mentor shouldn’t mean that because you discovered that he’s a hot-tempered person, you conclude that he’s a bad person. Infact, knowing your mentors’ weaknesses should urge you to pray for him/her for overcoming grace. Relating with a mentor should be like eating fish: eat only the juicy flesh and leave the choking bones.
I think I’ve digressed a little there. After chatting with my friend, I began to doubt that I was a candidate of heaven. To be honest with you, I’m not even sure what to think of the pictures anymore…..although I still love them. I just pray that no 4 year old child will pick up the magazine and see the pictures and fall into sin as a result. I just pray that the church I attend won’t excommunicate me for publishing such pictures. I just pray that the real messages behind the pictures will be perceived for what I think they really are: creative & artistic platforms for addressing key societal issues.
Oh well, therein lies some of the challenges of being a “Christian” photography publisher. May God help me. Or what would you have done if you were in my shoes? Would you have published the pictures?
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