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.
Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It would be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness.
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10 Players; One goal!


“Pheeeew!”
That was the sound of the referee’s whistle which signified the beginning of the match. In no time, the game began! There was so much noise from the team hailing the team F. looks so much like team M didn’t have much supporters on the field of play. With so much skill and teamwork, the players from team F passed the ball to each other. She exhibited so much dexterity in handling the soccer ball on the 105 by 68 meter – field. T passed to A, after which A to M. M approached the goal post with eyes that said “This is mine!” She swung her hands high in the air and then….
I yawned noisily. I guess it was just one of my so called naughty dreams.
Of course, what were you expecting? I ain’t no fan of football but this was more than a football match. When you see 10married women come together to form a team towards a cause then you know that this is more than a football match.
Ever since late July, Mr. Seun Akisanmi had always told us about a group of women who were planning a surprise party for their husbands which they tagged “Husbands day”. I thought it was more of a ladies joke sort of until I got to meet two of them some weeks back. Listening to them talk about their various experiences in their marriage made me get goose bumps about the whole marriage thingy. The previous week was the time we got to conclude the various sessions with the remaining 8 women in the group of 10 as the event was scheduled to hold on Saturday.
Diplomatic, you might call them; but that’s what they are. A team of women that know what they want and know the right way to go about accomplishing it. A few lessons I learnt from the experience with them as I knew that implementing them in my life as a whole would go a long way in creating the better me.
In a brief, I learnt the importance of teamwork, appreciation, associations, goal setting and togetherness.
So she passed the ball to Player A and Player A skilfully approached the goal post. The goalkeeper was looking tensed already. It was looking like magic. How the women seems to proficiently handle the ball against his team dazed him. In a few seconds, she was right in front of him. He blinked his eyes, cleaned the beads of sweat which had adorned his face and in a twinkle of the eye, the ball had found its way into the goalpost. The whole field was ablaze with shouts of joy. All the members and fans of Team F couldn’t contain their joy; they ran all over the filled with chants of praise for team F. Team F had scored against Team M. Then, the strangest thing happened, both members of the different teams hugged themselves as a measure of appreciation of the amount of work done from both teams. Well, I hope you understand… I can be weird at times.
I am Boluwatife Akindele and I am a photographer!

ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET GO – My first day at school


SUNDAY, 5TH JULY 2015. 9:37 pm

I had just finished a chaper of Don Soderquist’s The Walmart way – The inspiring story of one of the world’s biggest (or biggest if I’m not mistaken) retail store and more than ever I felt so inspired to be a part of the eloPhotos experience (My internship programme) and give whatever it takes to be at the top of my game at school which had been scheduled to kick off the next day!

Still sunk in memories of the book, I began to pen a few things in my jotter which would form the basis of what I planned to achieve during my stay at eloPhotos! As much as I was eagerly passionate about it, I was worried! Well, not until I remembered God’s word for me in 1 Peter 5:7 encouraging me to cast all my cares on Him.

I concluded to myself that I was going to take things as they come and give my best at everything I would lay my hands upon. I tried reading… couldn’t just concentrate as many images and ideas bugged me real hard… The last time I had this experience was probably when I was to resume senior secondary school which was my first boarding school experience. No doubt, the next day was gonna be the beginning of a life changing encounter. I just couldn’t wait for it!

MONDAY, 4TH JULY 2015. 4:20 AM

Waking up very early in the morning wasn’t quite of an issue; having to hand over everything to God simply does the trick for me. With my mind set on the goal – not getting to school late, I did every single thing with respect to time. Don’t ask me why I didn’t want to get to school late. If you’ve done your assignment well, *Lol you’d know by now that Mr. Seun hates late coming with a passion. Sometimes I wonder whether he had once had a terrible experience with late coming. I had waited for this moment all my life and here it was. In no time, I was ready to go to school and for me, I was beginning to “smell” fulfilment even though for me it was still miles away.

Anyone who had seen me going to the park would have thought I was almost late for a flight. All that occupied my mind was the experience that was about to begin.

Fast forward to when I alighted at First gate bus stop (The bus stop just few meters away from eloPhotos). Walking, jogging, running, sincerely I don’t know what I was doing. At that moment, I felt like Paul in Philippians 3:14 “pressing on towards the goal”.

“Akin!!!” (My surname is Akindele, hence the use of Akin as the call in this story) My heart skipped a beat. I would recognize Mr. Seun’s voice even in the deepest of oceans. I had heard that voice over and over again even in my dreams. Come to think of it, I think I had a dream the night before about Mr. Seun. Now I can’t even properly recollect. I took a walk back to meet him and his first daughter (the famous Anuoluwapo). The details of our conversation, I won’t reveal. Now before you think anything, it was just one of the normal teacher – student instructions oh and nothing more!

Monday, 4th JULY 2015. 8:00 am

I heard voices singing and for a second I thought of the angels singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord. In a few minutes I knew it was the morning devotion I had read about for so many months now. I joined them in worshipping and it reminded me of the quiet time I had some hours earlier in the day. It’s quite funny how my brain works; how that virtually everything reminds me of something else. I believe I’m weird; quite strange and unusual. I enjoyed every single moment of the worship. It was led by a colleague I later got to know is named Tunde. Then, the moment of truth was here when we had to sit and hear our boss of life (Mr. Seun Akisanmi) talk to us. Just before you think of another thing it reminded me of, just let me continue my story. My mind went places again. As we laughed and laughed, I almost imagined how interesting it would have been for the 12 disciples listening to Jesus sitting in rounds. He wasn’t Jesus but for real, we were and still are his disciples! Over time, I have discovered that I never get bored listening to Mr. Seun. I always love looking into his eyes as he talks. It has formed a great inspiration for me personally. I was almost thinking of just remaining in eloPhotos for a life time. I felt quite strange in the midst of these guys; it was my first time and I was unfamiliar with anyone except of course the one and only Mr. Seun. Mr. Seun had to introduce me to the whole class as the newest intern and I had to join everyone in narrating how the previous week had gone. This for me, helped my accountability life. I now knew that apart from God, there still is someone I need to report myself to every week.

Oh no, don’t tell me I forgot to tell you this, just during the introduction, Mr. Seun dropped the shocker; Anuoluwapo, his first daughter had told him that I looked like a secondary school student! Strange right, well I guess that was a pointer to the fact that I needed to… no. I’d just be myself. I wished I had given her the little gift in my bag though.

After the disciple experience, we had quite a short time to “flex” just before our class began. The class was taken by Mr. Toye Peters and we had a great time, I must confess. I wished this experience would just continue – for us to listen to photography gist on and on and on. Oh…did I tell you I saw the spectacular Miss kike. She was also around for our devotion even though she wasn’t FULLY with us. Every day I get an opportunity to take a close look at her, I’m always awed ‘cuz to me, nothing is special about her o – just small, light complexioned and all but she has such a big brain, big heart and tack sharp images *Lol (I learnt that also from http://www.elophotos.com). Of a truth, as a lady, she inspires me. She makes me just want to go the extra mile in photography. By the way, her full name is Kikelomo Koleosho and the name of her outfit is Red 19 photography (I bet that rings a bell).

So, back to 12b Fagba crescent Agidingbi, (That was just a proverbial way of mentioning eloPhotos studios); I had a real time familiarizing myself with the environment and of course with the interns learning photography. We had a bit of practicing with the camera and all. It’s really funny how time just flies when you’re at eloPhotos especially when you have to talk business with Mr. Seun; you just get inspired all the way. I felt like spending some more time but then, I had to go home.

I was tired, weak and hungry but at the same time joyful, inspired and fired up! My first day at school sorry eloPhotos was an experience to be written in one’s diary. I got home a bit late – You know how traffic can be in Lasgidi nah but I was really happy to have made such a great decision. I couldn’t wait for the next day to come

I am Boluwatife Akindele and more than ever, I’m proud to be a photographer and to be associated with eloPhotos academy!

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!

An Interview with a PHOTOBOOK Binder


A few months ago, we interviewed Mr Femi of Pro House, a Lagos-based PHOTOBOOK binder (album maker). The following transcript was as a result of our meeting.

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I am an artist. I love craft work. While on campus studying mass communication, I took a course in advertising & public relations. I had always loved doing something geared towards a targeted audience and the photography industry has a structure with a targeted audience to please, so I fell in love with it. Its like a cycle; from the client to the photographer who executes the job, edits and designs the book, who then takes it to the print lab, then the final output in most cases is done by a good photobook binder. It then goes back to the photographer who delivers it to the client. In other words, good print and good binding helps the Photographer stand out. This is the reason I tell photographers that their job, the way they edit and their style of binding is their signage.

What will be the cause of a bad/damaged photo book?

From my experience, I want to give credit to the earliest teachers that started experimenting on lenses; the likes of Joan Guitermeg that discovered the movable plate for printing in German and George Eastman Kodak who did alot in early photography development. Before the emergence of digital camera, we had the silver halide film camera but now everybody is embracing digital photography because the technology of the digital camera is everywhere. You can easily buy one, master the settings and start using it. An average photographer wants his job in time, howbeit some clients do contribute to the lateness of some jobs I had once met a client who stayed up to six months before he brought his job and wanted a miracle to happen in a day, “I want my job” “I want my job”, “I want to travel to UK”. They want to bring their job in the morning and get it in the evening or in four hours time.

Let me emphasize that from my experience in photobook binding, a book is like a slow elastic material. Get any book from home or abroad, try folding and squeezing it inside a cylinder, leave it in there for two weeks, by the time you remove it from that cylinder, it will take the shape of that cylinder. So, a very good book comes out by giving the binder quality time, preferablly three working days. If you really want to step it up into something unique, use a different kind of binding called cold gum binding. Cold gum binding takes a longer period of time because it needs something that will shape it and press it like a cast press. Which means after all the necessary arrangement with the wet gum, you have to put it in a special casing and press it for about two-three days, after which it turns into a solid shape such that trimming gives it an odorless perfectly trimmed structure of a decent book .

Presently now as a binder, I am doing almost 77% of my technical work under one roof, which gives me the option of doing either heat or cold lamination. I have recently developed another way of getting the cold gum binding done within twelve hours or even six hours by introducing a cold laminating system that does it faster alongside with a good trimmer that can trim well depending on your taste. However, l will advise any photographer that wants a unique job to give the binder time in order for the binder to be creative.

What are your recommendations for a photo book to last longer?

Before I went into professional photo book binding , I spent money to do six different kind of books and sent it to eateries where people came in, opened, and threw it around for six months, afterwards I collected them back and took notes on each of the look of the photo book. From my findings, I estimated averagely that thirty people opened and threw it around per day. These gave me a technical input of what to do to make a photobook last longer for any photographer.

Some photographers believe in voluminous photo books, I know of a friend who loves to do fifty spreads and for a book to last longer, 25 spreads is ideal, even if the client can’t pay and what you have done is like 4 combined books, we’ll take the pain to counsel the client, let the client know what’s going to happen if the book is voluminous. If you have 25 spreads for a 12 by 24 or 12 by 18, the binder will be creative enough to use some beautiful glue sheet media board within it to give a considerable size of photo book which is not too big and will last longer. If it is too weighty, the book tends to have problem at the groove. I would advise photographers to avoid voluminous photo book except the book/ sheet is very light. If the sheet is not light, then you should be using a photo paper. You shouldn’t exceed thirty spreads.

In this Industry, how can you make your product speak for you?

O.k! In terms of making your product speak for you, I’ve said this over time to photographers… I was a photographer before I joined the Binding business. To anybody that will listen or read this interview, I want you to know that success is not complete until you’ve raised another successor. For you to have success, you must teach your successors how to be unique. For example, if I enroll as a trainee with photographer A, and have undergone training with him over some couple of years, after graduation, I shouldn’t be shooting and packaging my product and services in similar ways as his. I should be different (unique).

In our company (Pro House), when we started out in photo book commercially, our carrier bag was different. Presently, we still have four brand new bags that has not been introduced to the market; the lesson here is that you must learn to be unique in the way you package, the way you shoot, your business card, the way you attend to your clients etc, should reflect your uniqueness. Its a vital requirement for any person who wants to standout in business.

There are some brands that have stood the test of time, once you see the colors and logos of such brands they stand out, you must learn to be unique. In today’s photo book business especially in this part of our world, if you place ten different photo books down and our work is also placed alongside the others, a client who does photo book in Lagos can identify easily the one done in Pro House. Presently, I am working on a full “picture bag” photo book binding that will have the picture of the client on it, and the photographer’s logo on the bag too.

What will be the cause of a binder doing an imperfect Jobs?

To be honest, you can’t give out what you do not have. I must give kudos to all binders who work in this part of the world particularly in Lagos. I was on facebook sometimes ago and stumbled over a guy (an Italian) based in U.S. He engaged me in discussion to find out what I do, I told him what I do and mailed him some pictures of what I had done.