The Photography Coach


Meet the Photography Doctor. His name is Oluwaseun Akisanmi. Although he has a Bsc in Accounting from an American University, his vision is to see a Nigerian photography industry that is world class in all ramifications. Its a passion of his that is beyond just taking beautiful pictures. Its a passion that will not rest until photography & photographers are seen to be dignifying profession & people to be associated with. That is why he enjoys training people that have a passion to make it as photographers in this industry. That is why he will not rest until Nigeria can boast of 10,000 world-class photographers. The journey has begun, the task is possible.

If you plan on building a career in photography for the next 5-10 years, it will be to your utmost advantage to make him your friend, mentor & coach. Trust me on this. He is not a perfect man. He has made many mistakes (& achievements) in the business of photography. And that is one of the reasons he doesn’t want you (or anyone you know that is considering coming into the industry) to repeat the same mistakes. He can be reached on 08120129149, 08023008873 or info@elophotos.com. You can also add him on BB: 28C47037

Your photography life will not be the same.
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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

PICTURE THIS (Episode 7): The Importance of Insuring Your Equipment


In this episode, Seun Akisanmi shares his experience during one of the days of the protest in Ojota, Lagos. He stresses the importance of insuring your photography equipment.


Today I will be sharing my experience on one of the days of the just ended protest in Lagos State, Nigeria over the removal of fuel subsidy.
It all started on the second day of the protest at the Gani Fawenhinmi Park, Ojota. After taking my pictures. I boarded an ‘okada’ (a motorbike transport) on my way back to the office.
Behold, the bike rider tried to navigate a junction at high speed and skidded, and in what looked like a scene from Mission Impossible 5, we had a terrible accident. It was fatal. [While] I was injured a bit on my hands and side; the rider had ten times my injuries.
My cameras did not survive however. It was really-really sad, as my most expensive lens valued at $1,100.00 got broken in two. Also, by looking at the extent of damage to one of the camera bodies that was with me, you can get an idea of how fatal the accident was. I didn’t want to share this earlier because I wanted to use the lessons learnt for this episode [of Picture This].
If you are a photographer based here in Nigeria, especially Lagos, by now you should have an idea of how dangerous a lot of these motorbikes are. So my first [piece of] advice is this: The bike rider must have on a helmet and an extra helmet for you [the passenger]. This indicates to a large extent, whether the rider is less risk than one who does not have. My first mistake was that I boarded the bike of a rider who did not have a helmet – a dangerous freak!
Secondly, even if he has a helmet and he is going very fast, do all you can (it’s even ok to hit the side of his head) and shout to warn him. Make sure you don’t keep quiet. Voice out so you don’t suffer for nothing. Otherwise if at the end of the day something happens, all you will be getting is “sorry! Forgive me” and all that. No monetary reward comes with the emotional [and physical] tragedy.
Thirdly, (and by my opinion the most important) advice is this: For any equipment you have acquired, whether it’s the camera you have bought through amazon.com (like I recommend) or it’s your laptop that is related to your photography business; I strongly suggest YOU INSURE IT! I had procrastinated, because even my insurer called me just last December asking, ‘When are you going to pay premium on all your equipment that we have valued for you?’ I’d told them, I’m trying to get more cameras in January so that I can pay the entire premium at once. And here I am [in January] I have had the accident and while this [lens for instance] cost $1,100.00, I would have paid just about 5% of the value as premium.
If [only] I had protected my equipment with just 5% of it’s value (and it covers accident, fire and theft) in one of these new packages insurance companies are beginning to offer even photographers here in Nigeria, I wouldn’t be crying like I am know.
Of course I am grateful for being alive. I just would have loved to add it to my testimony. This [lens] was my baby. So, for any camera, even an expensive phone or any equipment that has to do with your business that you have invested over $400.00 (calculating it’s total value); 5% cannot be too much to insure it. So don’t procrastinate. Any major insurance company will offer you insurance cover for your equipment, and if you are being turned down, send me an email and I will recommend one for you. Or simply ask the insurance agent for the company covering your car or house.
I hope all these three lessons will be of help to you.

Picture This (Episode 6): Working with a Professional Photographer & Photographer of the Week


Today’s episode is dedicated to all the new photographers that have decided one way or the other to be an intern or assistant to a present photographer they respect. There are some rules I feel we all need to be aware of, so that none of us are in default of things we don’t know about.

First of all, if you have decided to become an apprentice, you should consider spending a minimum of three to six months. This should be enough time to learn the basics and hopefully give you a good foundation for your own photography business.

Once you have chosen who you want to work with, you should meet with the person and discuss all the possible rules that the photographer has. Some rules may seem funny but don’t blame them. It’s because of their experiences that they have set certain standards and rules that have worked for them.

For example, at eloPhotos we don’t have any public holidays. For some apprentices we have worked with in times past this really hurt them as they felt like, ‘Christmas day? Shouldn’t I be with my family?’ I feel it’s ok that for celebrating Christmas, we choose another day because we get jobs on Christmas day, like family portraits, weddings and so on that we have to cover and I can’t tell clients, who are ready to pay, ‘sorry, I don’t work on new year’s day!’

There are some other funny rules; like certain photographers will tell intending apprentices that without the apprentice having a camera, they can’t work with them. I don’t blame them either as previous apprentices they have worked with have destroyed their cameras.
Know all the rules and follow them to the letter.

Secondly, be conscious about how you talk about your new mentor. Know this upfront, there is no photographer or person that is perfect. A lot of us have flaws we are dealing with. You might have a professional photographer that’s temperamental. Be conscious of not discussing the weakness of your new boss with others. This is like sowing seeds for when you become the boss of your own business and you have apprentices under you. If there are issues you need to address with your boss, talk to him/her and not to outsiders.

Thirdly, (and this is one of the most important) if you are on a photography assignment, with or for your boss, all the rights for the pictures you have taken belong to that professional photographer even though you took them with your own camera. So even though this might seem difficult, (and you might be planning to use pictures you take for your own marketing purposes), all the pictures belong to him (I.e. Your boss) especially when he/she is paying you for it.

Many photographers have experienced this kind of scenario where the assistant uploaded the pictures from an assignment to their own personal website the day after the assignment. That’s why they (the professional photographers) won’t call on some assistants anymore.

Here’s my personal example: It was at a Christmas carol, I covered this for a colleague of mine. I took many great pictures at the event that included guests like an ex-president -[Gen Gowon rtd] and it made me feel somewhat bad that I wouldn’t be able to use those pictures as I would love to. It was a contract, and both parties understood the rules. As painful as it felt, I gave all the pictures to my colleague as the owner [of all the rights]’

At this point, please stay tuned for [our weekly segment] the photographer of the week [Samuel Ijiyokunola – Living moments photography]

Excerpts from youtube video

‘I used to work with an NGO with a focus on HIV/AIDS –treatment and education.’I enjoyed my job. When on field programmes, I took the pictures for our reports. When it was time to move on, I did. I knew I wasn’t going to pick up another paid job. Rather, I was determined to earn a living from my passion. I decided for photography and although the knowledge I had about it then could not give me the confidence to charge fees in hundreds of thousands for covering your wedding or for family portraits.

I knew I needed training. So I was asking around for where I could train. While in church, [Daystar Christian Centre] on a Sunday I picked up the church bulletin where a Skill Acquisition Programme was being announced. I put in my application and was among the chosen few.
It was at this training I met great minds like Siffre Abayomi, Damilola Elliot, Sola Animashaun, Segun Adebiyi, the effervescent Leke Adenuga, Ephraim Makati and my coach Seun Akisanmi. All of them were saying the same thing: ‘I am a professional photographer.’
I said to myself, ‘Sammy, you didn’t make the wrong choice!’

After the two-week training, I opted in for additional training and luckily I won the scholarship to the apprenticeship programme with eloPhotos. It was a wow experience.

Here’s to the trainees in eloPhotos presently: ‘Your boss, my coach [Mr Seun] is a Very Good-Badt Guy!’ He told me and some of my colleagues few days after we resumed the apprenticeship to pick our choice of camera [from his arsenal] and practice all we wanted because there was a wedding event that very weekend that we were going to cover.

That wedding was my first baptism. While I was trying to get an aerial shot of the groom’s entrance into the ceremony, I mis-stepped and my trouser pants ripped. Mr Seun asked to me keep going on, and so for the next three hours or so I continued covering the wedding, because at a point I didn’t even remember I had a tear in my trouser!

From then on, I kept enjoying it more and more as my knowledge in photography grew, sealing the fact that this was where I belonged. I had learnt a whole lot after the 6-month apprenticeship

He [Mr Seun] being someone who lets it all out without hiding [knowledge], guided me and my colleagues on starting out, and under his tutelage I founded Living Memories Photography where I am now the lead photographer.

“It’s been good, it’s been gracious and it’s also been ugly” I had a time once when I woke up thinking, ‘Sammy, aren’t you going to get a supporting career?’ But it’s at times like that I resolved and put my feet down! So I went out and while at a shopping complex that day, I decided, I wanted to have an exhibition!

So I told Mr Seun about it and he said, go ahead and plan for it! I didn’t have the money and even a camera as I didn’t own but rented cameras also from Mr Seun. I didn’t have prints ready to hold the exhibition with! Somehow, I got events where I got the pictures I used for the exhibition and it was just about the [penultimate] day or two before the exhibition that the money for it came.

It [photography] has been a learning curve. I learn from every job and event. A few days back a family had a joint party for the three girls (cousins) who shared the same birthday, different ages five, four and three years old.
Trying to get them all smiling and in the same shot seemed impossible, as per time it would be two smiling and the third doing something else entirely (like crying or frowning). One parent wasn’t helping by scolding them so I asked to be left alone and decided to try and take their pictures individually.

I had to do something; I started reciting rhymes and poems for them, and things that would interest kids. That was the first time I had to deal with three kids at the same time and somehow I learnt new tricks [that worked]. That’s how it has been for me.

I have a learnt a lot about how to relate with people.
Every day, I learn something new about photography, the business, packaging, pricing, negotiation, camera use, editing, and album design and so on. I read blogs and books, and watch videos and so on.
So all in all, it’s been fun!

A Photographer’s Guide to Covering a Protest


In this “EMERGENCY” episode, Seun Akisanmi gives tips that will help photographers to successfully cover a protest. Based on his experience with the recent coverage of the protests in Lagos, Nigeria, this is not an episode you would want to miss…. especially if you’re considering covering a protest. For questions or suggestions, send an email to picturethis@elophotos.com

for daily photography-related tips and articles, visit http://t.co/Nr4wDw7k or add us on your BlackBerry 271E3BC8

PICTURE THIS: Episode 2, Starting out in Photography (Part 2) & Photographer of the week (TRANSCRIPT)


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Picture This

Great day! And welcome to another wonderful episode of Picture This, your guide to photography. Once again, I’m Seun Akisanmi, and I’m going to be taking you through what we have for you today.

We started on a topic we titled, “Starting Out in Photography” on Tuesday and we will be continuing from where we stopped. No need repeating what we talked about, but the next major point that I will be mentioning for a lot of us that are starting out in the photography industry is….. “When you have decided to buy your camera(s), try to make sure you are not buying from Nigeria!” It’s sad to say, but the reason I don’t recommend buying any of your serious equipment here in Nigeria is: I am yet to meet a seller/ retailer here in Nigeria that sells these cameras, flashes, and lenses etc with warranties.

That basically means if you buy a Canon, Nikon, Olympus camera, lens or equipment) and any of it develops fault(s) within a month or two, it implies nothing will be done for you. I say this based on the experience I have had. Whenever you buy anything, check the receipt and ask, “does this come with the manufacturer’s warranty?” Good luck with the answer you get.

Most of the equipment we have purchased in eloPhotos have been bought through Amazon.com You might say you’re not travelling to USA or abroad to buy these equipment, but if it means looking for a relative who is, you are better off buying these equipment through them. Amazon.com is not just the largest online seller of equipment like these, but there are lots of companies that sell these equipments with warranties.

In fact, I recently realised that a company like Nikon for example, actually offer a warranty of five years on some of their lenses and cameras. This means if you bought a camera from one of their authorised dealers, if anything goes wrong with it within a span of five years, that is not directly your fault of course, just return it and they will repair or replace and send back to you.

Personally, I have experienced the wonderful customer service of Canon. We have our own Canon Pixma pro 9000 printer, as most of the printing we do is done in-house. It got faulty about 6 months after I bought it. I called Canon, “I have this equipment, and it’s not up to a year that I purchased it and it’s faulty. What are you guys going to do about it?” After taking me through a series of troubleshooting steps on the phone, we still discovered we could not resolve it. So they requested I send the printer back and in fact, they had sent a replacement for the printer even before I had sent the one with me to them! It was really wonderful. They trusted me and kept to their word. That is unlikely to happen here. I have bought equipment here, recently I got an external flash and in less than 2 months it became faulty.  In fact we have two faulty external flashes; and I am sure the company we purchased from locally will definitely not return our money or give us a brand new replacement.

So if you are considering buying any camera you have decided on getting, please do yourself a big favour; buy it from a company like Amazon.com or any online company that is considered an authorised dealer.

The next tip for those starting out in photography has to do with the ‘megapixels’ of the camera. I am sure we have heard a lot said about megapixels and cameras. Practically every 12 to 18 months, camera companies like Nikon or Canon come up with a new model that has more megapixels than the previous. The truth about all the ‘megapixels’ is this: the companies want you to believe that the higher the megapixels of the camera, the better the results you are going to get. To an extent this is not entirely true, and I want you to consider this when looking at the camera to get. The goal is not to get the highest megapixel camera and interestingly, the cameras with the highest megapixels are very expensive.

The fact that you need to ask yourself is, ‘What is the size of the prints that I am going to be making?’ If you are going to be making 5”×7”, 8”×10” or maybe 10”×12” print size, trust me, you don’t need a 15 megapixel camera or an 18 megapixel camera to do that.

The truth in my own opinion, is that for most practising photographers, especially if you consider yourself an event photographer, most of us don’t need a camera with more than 10 megapixels. I know in talking about this a lot of people will definitely get angry with me, saying “How can you say that my Canon 7D or 600D has this and I know the advantage?”All I am saying is it is one of the major things to consider.

I know a photographer who has a Canon 7D, a powerful camera by any standard. I think he even borrowed the money he used to purchase it. But he ended up only taking pictures that were being printed on 5”×7” paper. The truth about most of us starting out in photography is we don’t have all the money in the world.

If you are an advertising photographer, and most of what you will be printing is the size of a 5- storey building then by God, get the highest megapixel camera!

When someone tells me they have a $1,000 and they are just starting out, I usually don’t recommend spending up to half of it or more on the equipment acquisition.

You need to really plan well. Megapixels don’t always mean better quality always. In some situations, in combination with other settings, they do, but not always.

So make a wise decision and take my advice. Most of what I have shared so far have actually been some of my own experiences and also what I have learnt from the many mentors I have had both in person and the multitude of books I have.

I hope you are enjoying this show so far. At this juncture, we will feature a photographer that I respect, a great photographer in the making by the name of Lara Tiamiyu

Hello Everyone, My name is Lara Tiamiyu, I’m a photographer and also a model. I started photography as a hobbyist…. I could recollect that back then in school on campus, there was this guy who used to take pictures and I used to stare a lot at his lens, he had a very long lens then and I would wonder, wow, what is this? And even after the pictures were printed out; I would be like, wow, this guy is good!

I would always come round just to stare at his camera, especially the lens, but I never knew why I loved it then, I had no idea about it until after school. I realised that I spent more money taking pictures from this same [particular] guy, than even buying [lecture] handouts. I had many more pictures than my handouts.

My roommates then would be like “Are you ok? You don’t even have money to eat, you want to take pictures?” ‘Yeah, I just want to take pictures!”

I love moments, and beautiful things around me being captured. After school, I wanted to do photography but, I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t want just the normal photography shops I saw around that you go to and they have this blue background. They just take you, you stand, no action, no moment, they don’t capture anything! I didn’t want that. I wanted special photography. So I talked to a friend of mine, his name is Faith and he told me that he could talk to a friend of his, that might know somebody that can help or link me to a better photographer, in the kind of photography I want. He linked me to Ayoade Precious and I talked to him that I want photography so badly. I didn’t even go in search of a job after school, because I knew I wanted photography.

Despite the passion I have for modelling, [that is in-built, natural, I love modelling a lot] but besides that I wanted to be a photographer. Ayoade told me that he knows someone who is a good photographer in his church. So Ayoade introduced me to Seun Akisanmi and I went to his office and it all started from there.

And I was so impressed when I got to his office and saw books and was like, ‘Wow! You can learn photography by reading a lot of books. That was four years back and all the way it’s been very interesting. He told us to read more books, do research and it’s been fun, I’m telling you.

That’s because this is what I wanted to do and nobody had to tell me to do it.

My major challenge when I started out was getting cameras to work [with]. It’s not funny! When somebody trusts you to cover their wedding or an event that doesn’t happen twice. I went to a couple then and they were like, “Are you sure you can handle our wedding [photography] and really give us what we want?” And I said ‘Sure, I can!’ even though I didn’t even have pictures to prove.

They gave me the contract and to God be the glory it was wonderful. But the major challenge was getting a camera. To a layman photography is expensive and you should know that now. On this particular day I could remember, I had to cover a wedding. I had informed one of my colleagues that he was going to lend me his camera to use. But I was surprised when I called him a day before and he was saying, “Aww, Lara, I’m sorry, I can’t give it to you, it’s not available…” I said, ‘You should have told me! Who do you expect me to call now?’ I called someone else and it would take five hours before I get to him.

When I finally arrived the the venue [of the wedding], I was tired and exhausted. So where was the strength [I needed] to cover this event? How am I gonna tell the couple that, oh, I’m so tired? And it’s so gonna be obvious in the pictures, (because an image is all about the expression the photographer has in him or her. There is something about reflecting i.e. pictures reflect. To me, any mood I want my subject to be in, I reflect it to my subject. If I’m not happy, it’s going to tell in my pictures. I have to be happy to get those moments I want.)

I spoke to myself, ’Lara girl, you have to work. I don’t know [how] the strength just came from within! I started taking pictures and my God, it was wonderful!

Also apart from getting a camera to work with, when I started out; one of my biggest challenges was: GUYS! To me while I am on field working, my eyes always go to and fro not because of any other reason than, I don’t want to miss any moment. Like if there is woman behind me dancing who is so, overjoyed and I have to catch that moment. I have to watch everybody and so my eyes [could] come into contact with a guy once or twice and in his mind, he’s just thinking that the [female] photographer is admiring him.

I’m not! I’m only working and that is the way I love to do – My eyes are always everywhere. So if you see a female photographer looking all around, do get insulted and don’t think she is tripping. No, she’s not.

There was this particular day, while covering a wedding; one of the groomsmen liked me and I didn’t know anyway. My colleague overheard the discussion between him and one of the confetti ladies.

He was like, “I like that photographer! I might even ask her out” And she was like “Are you Ok? You are tripping for a photographer? Please don’t!”

When my colleague told me, I wondered, are photographers not human? Can’t they be admired for what they do or be taken serious? Why is it so? Please we need to change that perspective. We have many people who went to school of medicine or law and end up becoming photographers. That is what they have passion for and not the profession they tried to get into. So if you see [photographers] please learn to appreciate them. Anything you can’t do, appreciate people who do it, because you don’t know how to.

You could be a doctor and I’m a photographer. While I don’t know anything about giving injections if I gave you my camera, you can’t handle it. So respect me for that – Thank you!

I had been working on how to get to my [kind of] clients, the people I really want to work with. Some might not want to give you a check of two hundred thousand for pictures and they’re like”is there gonna be gold in the pictures?” That has been a challenge [too] really.

I wanted to do an exhibition at the Palms shopping mall, that was my target, but it was way expensive. So I talked to Seun Akinsanmi about it and he called me that the British Council was organising an exhibition at Eko Hotels and I had two days before entry closes. I wasn’t ready with my pictures and I did not have any [required] equipment. But the strength came, and I went around to get everything [needed] done and luckily, I had the exhibition and it was successful! It was a dream-come-true that was so rewarding.

I met people that on a normal day, I won’t have opportunity to talk to one-on-one, like the commissioner of tourism. Some of them came to my stand and La Royal concept to them was just a name. They asked “do you run this?” and I said Yes and they marvelled at a young lady like me doing something like this. Through that I got a contract to cover Calabar Festival. I t was a big one, and if I had not done that exhibition I would not have got the contact. I was really happy about it.

My dream wasn’t to have a big studio and be running it. I actually wanted to help and work with others to achieve their dream, in spite of the fact I didn’t know how. At this point, it’s changing, and La Royal Concept is not just about photography. Later on, in about five years, we are going to be adding a spa and salon in a mini-complex. The spa and the salon are all about beauty and photography is all about beauty and moments. I love moments a lot and I love capturing moments.

For those starting out, you really have to have a passion for it, and when I say that I don’t meant just liking it or just because of the money. If it is because of the money, I daresay you are heading for regret . You are gonna get out of it before you know it. So you need to do what you have passion for because at the start you are going to encounter challenges. It’s your passion that gives you the strength to move on, so without the passion I don’t know what could happen. God knows best. But please let your passion direst you. Do what you love to do and what brings smiles to you each time you do it. Each time I handle a camera I forget my sorrow. I forget everything behind me and I am always smiling. A client once told me I have been watching you and behind the camera you are always smiling. The inner happiness is there, it comes from within and it reflects. Pictures speak. If you are happy doing it, you may not mind of they are not paying your money and you never know what the free job is going to fetch you. If you are happy doing it.

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So that’s it for today’s episode of Picture This, your guide to photography.

Let us know what you think of the show. I always say, if you like the show, you could always subscribe to this channel by visiting youtube.com/elophotos and clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button. You could also share it with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and if you like the show, just click the ‘like’ button there

But if you have any issues, problems or questions whatsoever, please let us know to make this a better program and also incorporate some of the questions you have. Till we meet next time on the same channel on Tuesday, keep talking those pictures.

for daily photography-related tips and articles, visit www.elophotos.com or add us on your BlackBerry 271E3BC8

Picture This (Episode 1): Starting out in Photography (TRANSCRIPT)


Great day, everyone and welcome to the show that we have been talking about for many months now. Finally, it has arrived! I’m Seun Akisanmi and I’m going to be your host along the way. I want you guys to stay tuned to this channel every Tuesdays and Fridays as we bring to you a fresh and inspiring episode of this show.

First of all, our goal is to raise the standard of professionalism in the photography industry. A few years back, I realized that there were a lot of photographers coming into the industry that don’t know how to start or what to do especially with regards to the business of photography. It is one thing to have a camera and it is another thing to run a photography business; hence the reason why we started a show like this.

The second goal (reason) for this show is actually to increase awareness and appreciation of photography in our society. Gone are the days that a child would tell his dad or mum that “Dad, I want to be a photographer“ and the dad or mum would slap the child. I want by the end of 2012, a three year-old child could tell his dad or mum, “Daddy,mom, i want to be a photographer like Seun or Shola or Kike or Lara…. & the parents won’t scold him/her for that. The goal is to increase the awareness of photography, so with the episode that will be showcasing as time goes on, these are areas that we will be addressing. Stay tuned.

Welcome back! At this junction, I feel it is important to explain that not every episode would contain all the segments that we have planned. In a previous upload, i explained that we would be having, for example, a segment we call, “PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE WEEK“, “PHOTO OF THE WEEK“, “PHOTO FACTS“ and different segments. You need to know that because we are trying to make it a short program, not all the segments will be packed into one episode. For example, we will be having on Friday, “The photographer of the week“ section and whatever else we need to discuss. I am just trying to let us know in advance so that you know you are ready. So stay tuned.

So, in this episode, we will be talking about what we titled, “STARTING OUT IN PHOTOGRAPHY“ and I will be giving some tips for a lot of photographers that are coming afresh into the industry.

My first and foremost tip for every new and fresh photographer in this industry is this; DO NOT GET A CAMERA. Yes You heard me right, I said “don’t buy a camera yet”. This is the one of the first major mistakes that I feel a lot of photographers make. They feel that once they have gotten a camera (at this stage we are in the revolution of photography, a camera is easy to get, it is affordable especially the digital camera, it is affordable and easily to get) they feel “now i know everything about photography“, “now let me conquer the world!“ But they are about to find out that what they thought was a “stepping stone” actually becomes stumbling block.

This is so because most of us were not taught in the University how to actually run a successfully business, how much more a photography business. So, if you ask me, I would rather you get a mentor first before you buy a camera. It is important you get a mentor i.e., somebody that is already a photographer in this industry. If you are talking about the photography industry in Nigeria, there are at least 20 to 30 great photographers that we could reckon with, & I’m sure you have heard of their names. So, if it means writing them, talking to them on the phone, associating with them, applying for an internship program even if it is for one day, one week, one month. If you ask me, I usually recommend a minimum of 3 to 6 months.

Associate with someone you consider a mentor before you buy that camera. Besides, considering the fact that this is an industry you know little or nothing about, don’t assume that even the camera you are getting is actually what you need, you never can tell at the end of the day after buying that camera, you realize you have actually wasted resources. So take my word for it, don’t buy a camera yet. Now you might be wondering what if you have already gotten a camera, “WHAT CAN I DO?“ Well, my advice to you is this, just sell the camera to me…….. I’m just kidding. But really, it is still important you look for a mentor because what it takes to make it in this industry is way beyond just getting a camera.

So, the next advice I will give those that are coming afresh into the industry is this, (and this is should in case you don’t happen to find a mentor or somebody that you can talk to or work with on an internship basis or learn from): GET BOOKS ON PHOTOGRAPHY.

I had this challenge when I was starting out in 2006. There were little and very few people that I could actually call my mentors. I was fortunate to find about two people then: Tony Makati (thank you Makati for showing me the way) and Yomi Siffre, the lead photographer at Siffre studios. Thank God for these two guys and mentors that really helped me out there but beyond what they offered me, beyond the tutelage they provided for me, i still got some books on photography that helped me to better lay a solid foundation.
If you don’t have access to getting the hard cover books, get eBooks. One of the challenges we face in Nigeria is the fact that there are few bookshops that actually sell books on photography. In a way, you can’t really blame them because a lot of us (i.e. photographers in Nigeria) are more likely to spend N300,000 or $5000 to buy a camera than to buy a $20 dollar book. I’m sure there are a lot of places you can get a lot of e-books to download. Even if you have to “Goggle“ the keywords. Try search phrases like “I’m new at photography“, or “learning photography“ and the resources that will come up would amaze you: at least 100,000 results will show up.

At this point, there are at least 4 books that I feel you must do whatever you can to get (preferably before buying a camera). In fact, if you don’t have any money to get these books, sell your camera and buy these books and you will be glad you did.

The first and foremost of all the books is a book that has transformed my life. Interestingly enough, this book has nothing to do with the topic of photography. The title is “Outliers“ and it is written by Malcom Gladwell. It is the number 1 book I would recommend, not just for people starting out, but for every business professional.. Every professional, every business owner needs this book, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.

The second book I would recommend is a book titled “Teach yourself photography” and it is written by Lee Frost. It is a very good book and it comes with a companion DVD. Especially if you are someone that learns very well when you read on your own, this is a good guide to help you even if you have a mentor. By the way you can get all these books from AMAZON.com.

The third book is a guy that has really been a blessing to me, John Harrington. Although I have not met him in person, he’s a mentor of thousands of photographers. The title of his book is “BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS“. I got this book about 4 years ago and it is one of the books that helped me to lay a very solid foundation in my photography business. Do your best to get this book.

The last but not the least is a book written by one of the oldest photographers of our age (come to think of it, I’m not sure if the guy is still alive). His name is Tom McDonald and the title of the book is “THE BUSINESS OF PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY”. It is a great book that showcases the top 10 to 15 portrait photographer (a few years ago). It gives us an idea of their business models, how they run their businesses & how they do their marketing. Do whatever you can to get this book. The book is written by a photographer that has been in the business for over 40 years. Can you imagine? The guy has been running a photography business even before i was born. So learn from his mistakes and don’t repeat them all over again. Tom McDonald’s “THE BUSINESS OF PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY“.

Once again, all these books can be gotten on AMAZON.com. So sell your camera, do whatever you can to get these books and that will help you on your way to becoming a true professional photographer.

So by now, once you have gotten a mentor (& you’ve been trained) and these photography books, the next step is to get a camera. I’m saying this because by the time you read some of these books, you will have an idea of the type of camera that will fit the type of photography that you actually want to specialize in.

Once you’ve been trained, you’ll realize it was a good thing you didn’t buy the camera in the first place because that is when you’ll learn that some of these cameras have prices that are more than your university school fees or annual rent or mortgage payment. It is really important you know what you’re really dealing with here. Even for the students that come through our training program, at the end of the training, we still give them books to read because with the rate at which new information is coming into this industry, you really never can know everything. So it’s important you keep yourself up to date.

And at this junction, this is where people ask me “which camera should I get?“ That is a very good question. Which camera should you get? That is the question of the century. When i started out, I asked my mentors (Yomi Siffre & Makati) which camera they would recommend for me. And guess what? They gave me different answers.

Take Yomi Siffre, for example. The guy is a fan , a great lover of Nikon products. That was over five years old! The guy is still in love with Nikon. He told me, “Seun, if you are really serious with photography and you really want to make it, make sure you get a Nikon camera.” I listened to him, noted down his answer and went over to my other mentor.

So I asked Mr. Tony Makati,”which camera do you think I should get?” He told me,’’Seun if you really,really want to make it in this photography industry, make sure you get a Canon camera.” Come to think of it, Canon was his favorite camera then. And I can still remember when I was talking to him about getting a camera then; he was actually cleaning about three of his Canon cameras. So the question of which camera to get was an easy answer for him.

Makati told me to get a Canon camera. Siffre told me to get a Nikon camera. Then, I sat down and thought to myself,”is it true that the camera that people use (Canon or Nikon) is what determines how successful they’ll become?” Knowing the type of person that I was, I decided to go against their advice. I can be stubborn sometimes. I wanted to prove to these people that”If I don’t use Canon or Nikon, I would still make it in Photography”.

So I settled for a camera that none of them recommended for me: Olympus. And I think if Olympus were to come to Nigeria right now,they will consider me as one of their Ambassadors. (Considering the amount of Olympus cameras I own). The point I’m trying to bring out of this is the answer to that question,”Which camera should I get?”

And the answer to that question is: IT DEPENDS. It depends on your taste, it depends on the camera manufacturer that you are in love with. And my main suggestion is for you to visit a site like www.DPreview.com. The site provides independent, non-biased reviews of every camera that has been manufactured for the past 6 to 10 years. And sometimes even for Canon manufacturers, you could place two cameras side by side and compare. It is a site that gives you more technical information than you would ever need! That might be a good place to start. But I won’t come here and tell you,”Canon is the best, Olympus is the best or Nikon is the best!”

I know some people that could kill for Canon and they will tell you,”look if you are not taking pictures with Canon,you have not started your photography business”. But I tell them many times if pictures are seen as great pictures, how many people look at the picture and say ”Wow! I bet you used a Canon camera,” or “I bet you used a Nikon camera.” Most people just appreciate the beauty & care less which camera you use.

So if you are trying to settle on a camera to choose, go to www.Dpreview.com & do a research depending on your style of photography or what you want to specialize in. And whatever you conclude, whatever is comfortable by you is the right camera to get. Especially the camera that fits your budget, it’s really important it fits your budget.

One other thing you should consider when getting a camera: it is really important to get a camera that you know your colleagues or your mentors have. For example, it was not necessarily a wise thing thing that I decided to choose Olympus then because as at that point in time (2006), I was about the only person that I knew was using Olympus cameras. We had people in Nigeria repairing all these digital cameras and most of them specialized in the repairs of Canon and Nikon equipment. So I placed myself in a hot spot; I put myself in a corner. When I had any issues with the cameras, I was left alone to resolve it myself.

So if you are going for a Canon camera, it’s important you decide that it is because you know one or two people that have Canon cameras. So if you encounter a challenge with your Canon you could ask them for help. Same thing goes for any other camera choice. Of course, by now a lot of people decide to choose Olympus camera because they know someone like me that has Olympus cameras. Presently,we have Olympus and Nikon cameras & we are considering getting a few Canon cameras because I like getting used to all the different cameras.

So there goes the answer to that question,”Which camera should you get?” Whichever one fits your budget ,whichever one most of your friends are using and whichever one is comfortable with you.

So that is it for today’s episode of PICTURE THIS. Stayed tuned till Friday when we continue on what it takes to start out in photography. Until then if you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to send us an e-mail at picturethis@elophtos.com. We will not only incorporate it into the show somehow but we will get back to you as soon as possible.

One more thing that you will do for me is this: visit www.youtube.com/elophotos to subscribe to this channel. The “subscribe” button is right at the top of the channel. By subscribing, you become one of the first few people who get a notification once we upload an episode. So subscribe to the channel, share the program with your friends, “like” it if its ok. And if you feel we are not really doing well, please email me at picturethis@elophotos.com
Tell us what you feel we could do better & any help whatsoever you could offer would be appreciated. Let this be a partnership like I mentioned earlier and together we would help to build a better photography industry. Stay tuned and keep taking those pictures

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