The Shola we met


After visiting the Photo-garage some months ago, our next trip was to Shola Animashaun Photography at Ikeja, last week. The visit was full of learning, just like the former.

We got to the studio around 11 am, Thursday morning, and were welcomed by some students in training during a lighting painting practice session. The students painted different shapes like the cross, rectangle and so on.

We waited for some minutes for the CEO himself to arrive. The 6ft plus award-winning photographer was not looking too well, and he really wasn’t. Shola might have been exhausted from enormous photography work demands.

The meeting started with a short introduction of everyone present. And followed by our series of ‘burning questions’ as Shola later described it on his facebook page.

The first question was by our tutor, Mr Toye, on how Shola started his photography career and his experience so far. It was as though, we were listening to the reading of a movie script. How will it not be? A man is asked a question as such, and one would expect him to summarize a journey of over a decade in some minutes.

Everyone has their own stories, and Shola was not different. If you think, everything Shola achieved today is by chance, you need to meet this man. He actually worked for what he has. He narrated some menial jobs he had to do to make a living before starting photography. Shola really worked hard to develop his photography skill right from the beginning. He was not lucky to have a photography academy he could learn from, or a willing-to-teach photographer that put him through.
Shola was however fortunate to be introduced to someone who will later teach him some basic lighting techniques. For most of these times. Shola couldn’t understand what ISO, Aperture, or Shutter Speed meant. For few years, starting in photography, he couldn’t navigate through the exposure triangle, but found solace shooting in Auto mode.

Shola is happily married to his ‘girlfriend’ as he introduced her. His kids won’t just let him be, as they interrupted him at intervals, during his meeting. Shola is very sensitive to noise, it really disturbed him, and he would caution his students or his kids most times. There was even a time he got so disturbed, that he asked one of his students to get his child busy with an academic work.

Shola was very friendly with his students of both genders, and I imagined if they were a family, and indeed they were. The loving Mrs. Animashaun, who seemed to be reserved, is also a tutor at the academy. She teaches the use of the Photoshop software. The funny Shola said he only taught her how to remove pimples, but she has now become a master.

We eventually moved our meeting outside the studio, to the premises as Shola couldn’t tolerate the noise level in the studio anymore. Shola further elaborated on his works and plans in photography and his family as well. A perception that Shola’s success is tied to the goodwill of his brother, is wrong. As far as there may be people you think will help you, Shola believes one should not expect such help, and he admonished us to the same. This has been his guiding principle so far, as he said, “Never expect anyone to help you”, but seek your help only from God, the Almighty. The meeting ended with a group picture taken by one of Shola’s kids, Tobiloba, using Shola’s mobile phone. Tobiloba is actually a photographer in the making.

Sodeeq Akorede

Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy.
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YES!! THAT’S THE KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY I’M TALKING ABOUT


I reminisced over the past 9 months of my journey in photography, and I can’t but marvel at the level of progress I’ve made, and give thanks to God for His Mercy.
Between September and March, what I knew about photography and was doing, for me was very unsatisfactory. I had a lot of curiosities in me, many questions yearning for answers, and aspirations begging to be fulfilled. I remember a day I suggested to my former boss, Mr. Paul, that we do a documentary project for “Alakuko” – a town in Lagos; that we take pictures of major places in the area, and compile them together. He rightly agreed to my suggestion, that it is possible but also gave me reasons why it won’t be possible. The reasons were that we need better cameras and zoom lenses; we only had Nikon D40 cameras and 55mm lenses, we will be molested and so on. But the real reason I think is that he does not understand how such an endeavor will fetch him money and increase his artistry.
I also remember a day, he came back from a print lab called 5d in Ikeja – it was from him I first knew 5d and Fotoart print labs, he patronizes them for his photobook prints – and he said to me “Sodeeq, photography has gone far o, just imagine someone, going to the forests, taking pictures of trees, and selling them to foreign clients”. I was as amazed as he was. Photography? That’s cool then, that’s the kind of unusual things I’ll like to do, but I had no clue how it can be achieved. My dilemma then, made me appreciated more the nature-nurture theory in the psychology of education. The theory opines that human behavior is influenced by what has been deposited in him from birth (nature) and how his environment develop those traits (nurture). The theory is of the belief, that all knowledge has been in existence in the heart of a child, and it is the environment – teachers, parents, peers, social beliefs and values – around him that will ultimately determine if such knowledge will occupy his conscious mind.
In relation to me, what was in my heart then, and the reality around me, was at variance. I usually have flashes of thoughts of top photographers, great photography projects, and a better understanding of what photography really should be. But the environment couldn’t nurture my thoughts. It lacked the ingredients to bring to full consciousness those inner desires. I remember one of Sam Adeyemi’s teachings. Sam said, if you really will go far, what you have in the inside of you, should be bigger than what you have on the outside of you. For instance, if your current apartment is 3-bedroom flat in Ojodu, Lagos, your ‘inside’ should already be thinking of owning bigger properties in Dubai, Los Angeles, Abuja, and the likes. He revealed that anything that happens is only a physical manifestation of what has already existed in the realm of thoughts. He further revealed that, whatever he has achieved today, or the level he has attained, he has been there long before now, in the realm of thoughts, and it’ll be so injurious to him, if what currently exists in his thoughts, is not far beyond his current realities. Between the months of March and June, I’ve been privileged to be part of one of the best photography schools in Nigeria, eloPhotos academy, and the experience for me, is like that of a football player who after scoring a goal, says “I saw that goal” or a photographer that says “I saw that shot”. The experience has been “yes, that’s the king of photography I’m talking about”.
At eloPhotos academy, I’ve learnt a lot about the business of photography. It’s actually beyond pressing the shutter – a fact many photographers have not come to terms with. Photographers like Seun Akisanmi, Leke Adenuga, have proved this, and we shouldn’t be surprised, if these people, will be getting more financial rewards years to come, for their brilliant efforts, than the always-pressing-the shutter photographers, who have not understood the big business in photography. I must explore this medium to appreciate the management of eloPhotos academy especially Seun Akisanmi for being such a blessing to me and many upcoming photographers. Last year, I only had thoughts and hope, I never knew I would get here soon. I never knew Uche James Iroha can just be inches away, that I can always gist with Kikelomo Koleosho of red19 photography, or be in a NIPHEC planning meeting, I just believed anyway, that good things will come my way. I truly did not see whole proverbial staircase, I just took the first step, uncertain of what the future holds. And the day the step was taken was in March, when I didn’t tell Mr. Paul I wouldn’t come to work, and I didn’t tell my parents too. I just left home like I was going to work but instead visited elo photos academy to answer my curiosities, and all the way, I can proudly say, “yes, this is the kind of photography I’m talking about”.
I am Akorede Sodeeq and I am a photographer!

At the top of the building


It has become a common cliche today among some photographers to say that the industry is flooded and there are now too many people pressing the shutter, which shrinks the  individual photographer’s market share, turnover, and profit. This mindset is as untrue as believing that all phones are thesame. Everybody knows that a Tecno H5 is not same as a Samsung Galaxy.

Understandably, running a business in this age, can be very challenging especially in a great country like Nigeria, where it requires a lot of doggedness, tenacity, perseverance as personal attributes, and flexibility to change, prompt innovation, foresight,
as business features, to succeed and edge competitors but, one of the business lessons the 21st century has taught us is that there is always a unique place for every business willing to pay the price, a vacuum which usually is even too large for it alone to fill.

As much as I am also not totally immune from this ‘incorrect thinking’, it was an experience that taught me once again to think the right way.
I was part of the team that shot the Episode 12 of the
First Nigeria Photography TV show, the Gospel of Photography, and it was shot at the top of a 4-storey building not far from eloPhotos Academy at Ikeja. The location was a change from the usual, which mostly is the studio, and it was also a reflection of dynamism, which is a core culture of eloPhotos.

At the top of the building, during the shoot, I felt different. I was
seeing the environment I’ve always seen, in a different way. It was a beauty to behold. To the east, I  could see the busy Lateef Jakande road, tops of different buildings, as well as planted tress. Other sides too seemed similar especially to the north, where the palm tress at the end of Acme Road, formed a pattern, beautiful for the photographic eye. It was from this beauty I saw around, I started drawing similes to being at the top in work and most importantly in life.

Firstly, I realized there was large expanse of space, which made it easy to see far and wide, down and top, all at the same time. It was quite different from the ground where it seems as if there are houses everywhere and everybody is struggling for survival. I correlated this with the need for a photographer or any other person regardless of profession or field of interest to nurture the desire to be at the top.

Up there, there are only unique competitors, because at that level, only unique and valuable companies thrive, like Google, Apple e.t.c and this can only be achieved by building a formidable brand over the years. Businesses at this level can see and connect with the industry leaders, explore the abundance and opportunities around, erode the lack mentality. This is true for
everything and anything; if we must get the best out of our lives, be it our jobs, marriage, or any other thing, its always best to be at the top.

Secondly, I had the freedom to choose where to look, yet not losing sight of the other sides. I could choose to focus on looking at a place,
an an swiftly shift my attention to other sides if circumstance
demands. I liken this to opportunity of diversification which being at the top offers. When starting out in any venture, its normal to choose a specialization or to focus wholly on one’s profession while ignoring other things. But the privilege being at the top offers is that you can spread your tentacles to explore and exploit other business opportunities around you, to diversify investments, and capitalize on new ventures as they appear, to identify industry loopholes, and far emerging opportunities.

Thirdly, I realized one of the major things that make LandscapePhotography a wonderful aspect of photography. And it is the art of revealing the beauty of any place in the world no matter how rough or clean it might seem. The view of a city, a town, a village or even a small locality from the top is just phenomenal. No wonder one will see a picture of  the ‘brown roofs’ in Ibadan, and will exclaim ‘WOW’. The environment may look like an old-ghetto down below, but when at the top, we see the same place differently.

In lieu of this, I strongly suggest that once in a while, we go to the top of a tall building, preferably in an environment we are used to. It might seem simple but I think the experience can affect all aspects of our lives positively. At the top there are no worries, not that those worries have suddenly died, but they’ve actually gone on exile in the face of the beauty your eye beholds up there. And this is not only true for Lagos, it can be practiced anywhere.

The experience reinforced the conviction in my heart it is a fallacy
of reasoning that one can’t  make a headway in photography or any other profession because the industry is flooded. This is very untrue. Being at the top in business requires uniqueness and value, and whenwe say the industry is flooded, we are actually revealing our own inadequacies, and saying that we can’t pay the price to be there, because in reality, everywhere and anywhere, people are plenty down below, but at the top, there are only few people who make things happen. You can be one of them.

GO TO THE TOP OF A TALL BUILDING TODAY AND TRANSLATE THE EXPERIENCE.
Wondering who effectively translated the building top experience? My name is Akorede Sodeeq and I’m a Top Photographer.