A Day in My Life in 2020: Obasola Bamigbola

It is Sunday 30th August, 2020. I woke up at 4:00am in my hotel room in Washington DC- I had flown into the United States the night before- after the annual Charity Photowalk "Give A Child A Book" on 28th August in Nigeria.

After my morning prayers the next thing is to attend to my emails, and as usual there would be nothing less than 40 emails to attend to from clients, colleagues, agencies, family and friends. The very first mail is from my mentor, ‘Seun Akisanmi, inviting me to have a talk session with the present students of the eloPhotos Academy on the topic "Attitude Of A Photographer". The invite comes with a month notice giving me ample time to prepare, so with excitement I sent my reply acknowledging and accepting the invite to impact the new set of World-class Photographers been raised at eloPhotos Academy.

The second email is from the Office of the Secretary to the Commission, African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The AU invites me to have a tour of African Nations where there was war and civil unrest. There are 14 countries involved and the project would take a couple of months because, the African Union had requested that OBASOLA Photography gives them professional intelligence on how to set up a Charity Project that will rehabilitate the children and youths caught up in the midst of these prolonged crisis. To make this happen, I would have to work with a team of Social workers, interpreters and many photographers.

The AU needed my reply and that I also make an appointment with the Secretary to the Commission and present my professional suggestions to the AU committee in charge of the project. This huge project is going to be a great career motivation and am warming up to give it my best because the lives of children/ youths will be impacted. This project would make me African Union Ambassador which will be a plus to my profile-‎ I remember my mission in photography- Making Positive Impact through Photography. Using Art To Touch Hearts and now the impact is bringing in flow of finance into my ministry… Smiles.

Also, I have to send an email to the graphics designer doing the Nigeria Photography Expo and Conference designs because I’m a NiPHEC ambassador and it is eight months to NiPHEC 2021. Every design-related activities must be right and flawless to ensure proper publicity of what started as the biggest Photography event in West Africa, to the biggest Photography event in Africa and rated among the three biggest Photography events in the world. NiPHEC has groomed world-class Photographers not only from Nigeria but all over Africa and visiting photographers from Asia and Middle East.

Oh, it’s past 6:00am, time to talk to my darling wife and awesome kids. I shared my latest invitations with my wife and she was so glad hearing of the impacts we will be making in Africa. My wife also broke the news that our 4-year old son won a Canadian National Children Photographers first Prize. He picked so much interest in Photography right from a tender age and has always accompanied me for various photo shoot. We are so glad he has won an opportunity to exhibit his work in four galleries in Canada: NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA, CANMORE ALBERTA CANADA PHOTO GALLERY, STEPHEN BULGER GALLERY, GALLERY 44. ‎My wife also told me of our daughter’s sudden interest in the game of badminton since I left the house two weeks ago.

I really have to hit the streets of Washington for some Street Photographs. I eventually located the new branch of House Of Faith Christian Centre here in Washington for the Sunday celebration Service. It was a wow time worshiping God with the beloved brethren here in DC and back to my hotel to pick up my luggage and head to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for my 1pm flight to New York City for the main business of the day.

I arrived at La Guardia Airport, New York City at 2:10pm and a welcome committee was at the arrivals to take me to my room where I would get set to attend the UNICEF 2020 Humanitarian award ceremony at 5:00pm to receive my award. I was nominated for the Humanitarian Photographer Category of the 2020 UNICEF Awards and I am to be honored because of the Photography-Related Projects: Give A Child A Book and Ability in Disability.

At some minutes to 5:00pm, am informed that my personal protocol team is on ground to escort me to the award venue. The whole scenario is so exciting and am feeling a top celebrity. Wow!

I step out in my well starched guinea (native attire) and a pair of suede shoe. I noticed the smiles on the faces of the Protocol men, I guess I looked different. There is a Black Limousine waiting to take me to the venue, that is just 20 minutes drive according to Mr. Harry (one of my protocol men). It is indeed a ‘VVIP treat’ for me. Stepping out of the Limousine, the first person to welcome me is the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York, he complimented my attire and we walked arm-in-arm into the hall and he ‎introduced me to over two dozens of distinguished personalities and Ambassadors.

Finally, at some minutes to 6:00pm, I was ushered to a seat with my name tagged on it. Sitting to my right is the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York and to my left is the Turkish ambassador that has requested I photograph his only daughter’s wedding taking place in Maldives Islands in December at any cost I state.
It is 6pm and the veteran journalist and Broadcaster, Christiane Amanpour of CNN was the compere.

In her words "The first name on the awardees list for the Two Thousand And Twenty UNICEF Humanitarian awards. A young Nigerian Street and Documentary Photographer, who has used his skills to affect many lives and transformed generations through his Photography-Related Projects: Give A Child A Book and Ability in Disability. For the UNICEF Humanitarian Photographer of the year 2020, I present to you Obasola Bamigbola".

I stepped up to the stage and was amazed at the applause that filled the five-hundred sitting capacity hall of the UNICEF Headquarters. As I stood there, some of my photography works were displayed on the screens and the audience clapped in amazement of the great images.
The United Nations Secretary General presented my award plague‎ to me as over forty cameras (still and motion pictures) of different news agencies pointing their lenses at me.

A couple of award plague was presented to several others that made the list received there awards. I got Twelve international photography contract offers to be finalised before the end of the week and five international speaking engagements.
It is 10pm and the dinner was over. My protocol men showed up to drive me back to my hotel.

My wife’s short email greeted me back at my hotel room as I powered on my laptop – "Wow! What a day. We are so proud of you honey, we love you". Apparently she followed the live streaming of the event on the internet.

My name is OBASOLA Bamigbola and what a fulfilling day today has been. The year is 2020

The Day I Was ARRESTED in Ekiti for…

It was indeed an August occasion. One that I would never forget. I had been invited by Obasola Bamigbola to teach on the Business of Photography to a class hungry photographers in Ado-Ekiti. He had proposed we charge a fee of N2k and limit attendance to 10 students and I suggested we reduce the fee so as to reduce the excuse of the average potential participant for not making it because it was “too expensive”.

The workshop was to hold on August 28 by 7:30am and I eventually got to the city around 1am. My sleep was short, my excitement was high, my expectation was optimistic. After a short meeting at 7am with one of Ekiti’s finest photographers, Femi Adagunodo, I headed to the location where the workshop was to be held (Glintz Multimedia).

The time was almost 8am and my nervous quotient was raised by a factor of 100. Just 5 more minutes and the workshop would start officially. Suddenly, I heard the voice of someone that sounded like a thug. He was asking for confirmation of where the photography workshop was to hold. After Obasola answered him in the affirmative, he insisted that no one should leave the room that we were all under arrest. Truth be told, I honestly thought it was a joke.

After summoning his fellow thug compatriots, I realized that we were being treated like criminals whose crime was murder. At that moment, I knew that the police really isn’t your friend. Or are they? I was about to find out.

After arriving at the police station, we were directed to the office of the person that was supposedly the “oga at the top”. I was appalled at the level of treatment a police official hurled at a citizen before hearing their side of the story of whatever they were charged with. Apparently, the unwritten rule is that you’re “guilty until proven innocent”. The Oga would eventually ask the other 8-10 photographers that were arrested with us to step outside while Seun Akisanmi (that’s me) and Obasola Bamigbola remain in the room.

Present in the same room were three individuals that had apparently filed the petition that warranted our arrests. The OgaATtheTOP flipped though a few pages of stapled petition papers and with a disfigured face (as if he just drank bitter leaf juice), demanded to know who I was and what I was doing in their terrain. After a 60-second brief reply to his interrogative question, I started glancing through the pages of my internal memory book to see who I might have offended enough to petition the police for my arrest. Could it be the 23 NiPHEC vendors I still owe one outstanding or the other? Could it be my mother-in-law that I’m yet to deliver her 60th birthday album? Could it be my friend whose daughter’s birthday album was still in my archives? I was blank.

The charges against me was three-fold and had been initiated by the leadership of the Ekiti State Association of PROFESSIONAL Photographers. The first charge against me was that I had advertised a training program that was part of an embezzlement scheme to defraud participants of their hard-earned N1000 and present certificates to them that will make them go into the photography world and “spoil” their market. It sounds funny right? You should have seen how I was smiling when I heard that. The words “preposterous” and “ludicrous” began to play table tennis in my medula oblongata (sorry, I’m a distant relative of Senator Patrick Too Much Grammar).

The second charge was that we claimed to be PROFESSIONAL Photographers without associating ourselves with the “alpha & omega” association of professional photographers in the industry. At this point I was looking at the faces of the 3 accusers of the brethren, two of whom were older than my father. Suddenly, I felt sorry for them after reading what seemed to be deep bitterness in their eyes. They were really cross with me that we didn’t liaise with their association before advertising such a workshop. Honestly, I felt compassion for them in my soul.

At that very moment, I had a mini-trance that gave me an understanding of what people like Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr went through. I was encouraged knowing instinctively what such an incidence will do to the proliferation of the gospel of photography. I smiled. I frowned. The thought of such “association” members loosing their “market” share of clients to the advent of digital technology made me feel sorry for a set of people that were unwilling to acclimatized to the wind of “positive” change blowing in the industry.

The third charge against me was read: that Seun Akisanmi & Obasola Bamgbola have done a similar workshop in the last one year and embezzled participants’ N1000 without offering them value for their money. At that moment, the two words that were playing table-tennis in my head had a tie: this was both preposterous and ludicrous.

I honestly don’t feel it necessary to even start explaining the speech I gave in my defense. The summary of what I later “educated” the clueless Oga of police was that IT IS NOT COMPULSORY to join an association of skilled workers (barbing, photography, hair styling, makeup artistry, etc) before you can practice what you’re passionate about. Ofcourse if what you do for a living involves risking someone’s life one way or the order (e.g. Medicine, law, etc) you’ll need a license from a governing authority. But photography hasn’t gotten to that level yet (anywhere in the world) that you’ll need a license for practicing.

We were at the station for almost 3 hours and were eventually dismissed after lawyers from the Justice Department came to our aid to educate the association executives and Police on our right to willfully join an association. According to Section 40 of the Constitution of Nigeria, we have the right to “peaceful” assembly and association. If photography associations feel threatened by the new generation of photographers rising up now, the foundation of their tenets of association needs to be re-visited. Especially when I’m being accused of training people that will get into the industry and start charging N50 per picture instead of N100. If only they know we’re out to raise world-class photographers and not just Ekiti-based local champions.

I left the police station with a sorry heart for the system of Policing we have in this country. The same Oga of Police (along with his assistant) that had disrespected us when we showed up at the station were now asking us to “give them something”. I gave him something quite alright. I looked into my wallet and handed him the last copy of a small rectangular paper I had on me: my NiPHEC complimentary card. If he was surprised, it didn’t show on his face.

The workshop was eventually rescheduled to 2pm and we had a fulfilling time in the presence of the Lord, sorry, participating Photographers. Getting back to Lagos, I sensed within me that the industry is on the right track of transformation. Incidences like this one will only help promote the impact photography is having (and will continue to have) in our society. I also made a resolution not to be forced to join an association whose mentality borders on the belief that the sky is too SMALL for all us to fly.

So after being arrested in Ekiti for being an associationless photography preacher & practitioner, my passion for what I do has been renewed. Dear WORLD, get ready for the revolution that is coming…

Contact us on 08120129149, 08023008873 or info@elophotos.com for a detailed list of options of classes to take at eloPhotos Academy. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness. A new session begins November 3, 2014

Participants of the Ado-Ekiti Photography Workshop

“PUNISHMENTS” We Endured While Growing Up in NIGERIA

I recently embarked on a project to document the exercises (punishments) some of us endured while growing up. Thanks to the parents, teachers, uncles & cousins that gave us such as punishments, some of us can never be FAT in our lives. The “poses” depicted in these pictures might seem normal to you. However, you’ll realize they’re sweat-provoking once you replicate it for 10 minutes or more. Even our model Emmanuel Omole was almost giving up on us. Please kindly mention the EXERCISE you were given the most while growing up. Mine was number 8, 9 and 12. Kindly help with the names also.
Nigerian punishments (1)

Nigerian punishments (2)

Nigerian punishments (3)