“Hello, you’re welcome to my photo garage……”
That moment was priceless and golden. I flashed back to the first moment I heard that voice which was when he was awarded the life time award at NiPHEC (Nigerian Photography Expo and Conference) 2015. Uche James Iroha is a photographer and I had been following him for a long while on social media. Meeting him in person this time around was quite a thrilling experience and it was one of the major experiences that defined the past week except of course the day when I…. (Top secret! Not to be shared with any one *smiles). That aside, it was such a great time and I can’t wait to let the cat out of the bag.
I, along with my fellow interns from eloPhotos studios were given the opportunity to visit Uche James Iroha; one of the top photography products of Nigeria to learn from him and let him share his experiences with us.
We arrived the venue at around 12:13 pm and from the view outside, we knew we were in for serious business. Though he didn’t come to attend to us till around 12:31 pm, his trainees did a good job at entertaining us. Even the artwork on the walls were not left out, we were enthralled as the sight; it was quite amazing. During our time of waiting, we exploited the moment in taking selfies and settling ourselves down awaiting the man of the moment.
He didn’t take long before he came and he gave us enough time to familiarize ourselves with the environment. We had our seats and were all ready to listen to him speak and inspire us all.
“I am James; Uche James Iroha, I am a photographer and the conductor at this photo-garage” that was his introduction which to me is worth an award. I guess I was expecting to hear “I am the award winning, Nigeria’s top bla bla blah” but I was dumbfounded as his reply was simple, straight and quite humble for a top photographer like him. It reminded me of how humble I must rem ain no matter how far I go in this photography journey. He gave a quick introduction of himself and told some stories and as you can expect, it was full of humour. I kept staring at him; I had never expected him to be this warm and friendly based on my assumption of his kind of personality. He had proven me wrong. He explained that he calls himself the conductor of the garage because God (which he calls the driver) was only using him to get a number of people to a destination. After spending a couple of time talking about his photography, he moved on to telling us all to introduce ourselves and the genre of photography we intend specializing in.
Introduction began in earnest and he dedicated special time towards each and everybody that introduced themselves. He would explain the technical needed in that form of photography, the skills needed and sometimes his experiences in that field. His trainees weren’t left out as they were also given the opportunity to learn from the visit.
Fast forward to round 3:54 pm. Heavy heads, burning hearts, eyes with passion and photography visions on fire, Mr. James ended the meeting with him. We couldn’t help but be marvelled at so much depth that had just been released which obviously was far from the shutter speed, aperture and ISO which many of us had learned and relearned; it was a new perspective to photography. One of the things we had learnt amongst all were what he defined as the 6 steps to a creative work which includes:
And then shoot!
We had several pictures with him and in no time, we were all on our way to the studio.no doubt, we had been filled. As Mr. Seun would always say, it is the implementation of these things that matter and not just the hearing. It was overall a great outing; one enough to write a book from.
I am Boluwatife Akindele and I am a photographer desperate to implement these things in my business.
“Hello, you’re welcome to my photo garage……”
One of the easiest things to do is pointing. You will agree with me that pointing at anything, whatsoever it is, is so easy that it almost require little or no muscles. Ladies find it so cool to do when taken on a “don’t worry about the bill” kind of shopping. For guys, pointing fingers is mostly in a game of hunting; that moment when some exact choices need to be made. Whether in the pepper soup joint, at the point and kill spot, at the suya spot, or where there is a handful of ‘chicks’ (if you know what I mean). It’s just part our everyday life.
In the last two weeks, myself and my class of about nine students had been engrossed in this fun filled activity of finger pointing. Ok, stop! Before you start fantasizing about us going on a shopping spree (though I can be generous) I am not Dangote’s son. All we did was pointing fingers at each other’s’ work.
Let me at this point clarify pointing fingers or finger pointing in the context of this writing. It’s simply criticism. It’s been two weeks I had been teaching on creative writing in photography, and I had given them several assignments from putting themselves into a particular picture and write from that perspective to writing from the photographers’ perspective. Each student came back with his/her side of the story and I must admit they have been creative. They took turns to present their story and we (myself and other students) give our criticisms. It’s quite easy to point fingers you know.
As I carefully gave my criticism (largely constructive), I couldn’t but reckon with the fact that it was a challenging moment for me. I was challenged about how creative some of them came across, and sometimes wondered if I could have been that creative if I was to do the assignment myself. This is a hard truth many will fail to admit when pointing fingers at others especially their subordinates but if we put this into consideration maybe we wouldn’t always be that harsh in our criticisms.
And to those who enjoys the destructive kind of criticism, well, all I have to tell you is; when you point one finger at someone four fingers is pointing back at you.
My journey to eloPhotos academy began on 16th of June 2015 from NiPHEC and since then, sincerely my life has never been the same. Starting with a change in my location, wake up time, dressing, the amount of money I spend, my spiritual life and even in my relationship with people. Yes, I want to be a photographer but I never thought about all these. They are changes I didn’t bargain for, yet I’m so thankful. How could I have believed that I’ll be living in my sister’s house and feel as comfortable as home or wake up daily at 5am without sleeping my life out in the day? (although I did that a lot when I first got here) a lot has changed really; I don’t iron my clothes, I don’t even buy clothes that MUST be ironed before use unless I have no choice and never have I ever done that for anyone. On Monday, Miss Kike asked an intern to help iron out two clothes which she wanted to use for a backdrop, he did one and forgot to do the other, so she needed someone to do the rest which I willingly did. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that I was ironing for someone without a grudge. While I thought of it, I just concluded it was my anticipation towards the shoot it’s going to be used for but no, it’s all about the changes.
There was a one year cake smash shoot on that day and while we got the studio ready the baby’s parents got her dressed and in a bit, we were all set for the shoot. The baby walked into the studio dressed in a busy bee attire with little wings and an antenna on her head just like a bee. She actually looked more active than a one year old but she just wouldn’t smash her cake. I guess she was afraid of it. Her mum tried to get her to smash it but all she did was touch it once. Her mum and everyone else in the studio sang every nursery rhymes they knew. It was a colourful shoot and the pictures came out amazing.
During the week, Mr. Seun called us together and taught us how to get a silhouette and afterwards gave an assignment which everyone of us but Lemuel didn’t do and he was rewarded with a movie ticket. Nikon organised a programme “I AM ALIVE” where top photographers in the likes of South Africa’s Steven Segal, Kelechi Amadi Obi, Novo Isioro, Uche James Iroha, Emeka Okereke (Invisible borders) and Nikon representatives spoke and taught at length. It was big gathering of photographers, for sure I’ve been at the venue before but the feeling of déjà vu was overwhelming in the sense that it was organised just like NiPHEC. I met most people who also attended NiPHEC, it was a nice gathering for the event was an open call to photographers in Nigeria to send in their images from Nikon chose the best 30, Out of the 30 photographers shortlisted; one who sent in a very nice baby image never knew he was shortlisted; I felt bad for him though. There was also a lucky deep for ten out of the first hundred people at the event, along with everything I received at event was also cold and catarrh.
This week was really a blessed one indeed as I can’t forget to mention that my motivation came back on as I was reminded that I could practice with eloPhotos cameras.