The year was 2006. The day was August 19. The time was 12:05pm. I had just uttered the words “I Do” after a Reverend in a church in Benin City asked me if I was serious about taking to wife a princess/damsel/friend/sweetheart called ELOHIAGHE. A few minutes later we were introduced to the world as Husband & Wife.

I had met my wife at a mutual friend’s place at 6:30pm on February 26, 2005. In May 2005, I was sure she was the person I wanted to spend my life with. Our courtship started immediately and the climax of the relationship would be the exchange of vows on August 19, 2006.

Little did I know that I would fall in love with another entity that would eventually rock the foundations of my marriage. I wasn’t conscious of it until my wife uttered the words 3 years ago: “You’re married to this your PHOTOGRAPHY more than you’re married to me.” I was quick to deny that blasphemous statement. I would eventually check the dictionary definition of MARRY and surprisingly stumbled on an interesting definition: TO COMMIT YOURSELF TO SOMEBODY.

Although I usually hate admitting it when my wife was right, I silently swallowed within me the realization that I was not only committed to somebody called ELOHIAGHE; I was also committed to “somebody” called PHOTOGRAPHY. Infact, it would seem that I had paid more attention to the latter wife (of whom I had courted since I was 10 years old) than to the former wife.

How else would you explain my hunger & thirst to buy more books for “Photography” than for “ELO”. I would eventually buy over 200 books on photography and less than 20 books on marriage. Come to think of it, its this same love I have for both entities that made me think of a way of combining both parties’ names to form a business name. The first three letters from my human wife combined with the words “photos” from my mental wife forms the word eloPhotos. It was borne out of an understanding within me that I was being poetic.

8 years has “waka” gone and I would realize that the resources I’ve committed to my Photography wife has made me to be a better photographer than a better husband. Infact, I realized that most of the people (over 80%) I considered as mentors usually have more marital problems than “photography” problems. Some even go the extra mile of divorcing their wives just so they could focus more on their “secondary” wives: PHOTOGRAPHY.

A lot was going through my head a few days ago when I was invited by Yemi Royal to speak at World Photography Day celebration at Freedom Park, Lagos. I found myself asking within myself a lot of questions.

Could it be coincidental that my wedding anniversary also happened to be the day photography was invented?
Could it be destiny that my calling is to be committed to both my wife and to photography? Why are many of my proteges not at this gathering to learn?
What is the future of Photography in Nigeria & the World?

Although I knew in my heart the answers to many of the questions, I felt a huge responsibility upon my shoulders. Will I be able to effectively LEAD a family of 3 ladies & 1 guy (wherein I’m a minority) while simultaneously helping to shape the foundations of an industry. Will I be considered a success by my wife and daughters on the same scale as I’m being admired & adored by my photography “children”.

Its more of a burden than I envisaged. Especially when I find myself having visions of my photography escapades in 142 years from now…. Especially when I find myself having portrait sessions for 3 of my favourite great men of the bible: Jeremiah, John the baptist & Joseph…. Especially when I find myself thinking of the type of conversations I’ll be having with them to bring out their serious side and their jovial side.

Getting back home from the World Photography Day Celebration, I found myself ruminating on the wise counsel of speakers like Seyi Body-Lawson, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Don Barber, Ade Plumptre & Olusola Akeredolu & Mr Adeboye. It was as if I had returned from one of those sermons that Jesus preached and half of his followers stopped following Him. Was I ready to take this photography to the next level? Can I simultaneously succeed in photography and in family.

I would eventually find myself in my office at an hour wherein I ought to be cuddling my real wife. Am I really ready to do WHATEVERITTAKES to standout? On this and many more questions I meditated on until I woke up the next morning in my office. The time was 5am, August 20.

A new day has dawn in my life, marriage and photography. Never before have I been clearer about my purpose. I’ve made many mistakes….I’m still learning…. But at the end of it all, I pray for grace to fulfill destiny in my photography & in my marriage.

My name is Seun Akisanmi and I’m not even sure if the title of this posts correlates with what has been written thus far. Just airing my heart. All will be well.

Contact us on 08120129149, 08023008873 or for a detailed list of options of classes to take at eloPhotos Academy. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness. A new session begins September 1, 2014

Knowing When to FIRE Your MENTOR

It’s a dicy issue to talk about. But there comes a time when you have to move on with whatever mentoring relationship you have with someone you respect and admire. Knowing that “right” timing is very key to your growth as an artist or individual.

When I got back from America and decided to venture professionally into photography, I met a few potential mentors. One will still remain a mentor till this day: Kelechi Amadi-Obi. Though known by a few to have his own issues or “weaknesses”, Kelechi is someone who has built a brand you will consider successful. Though some will argue that he has been “over-celebrated”, one thing that stands him out from some other top photographers is his desire to share his knowledge wholeheartedly with any hungry soul. Coupled with the fact that he has a track record very few Nigerian photographers can compete with, this has made him a photographer many enthusiasts and young professionals will love to be like “when they grow up”.

That being said, I’ve known a few people who believe that he’s not all that. One apprentice even confessed to me that the last day she worked with Kelechi was the day she witnessed him take pictures of NAKED women. “How can he engage in such an ungodly act”, she exclaimed. That was something the apprentice could not comprehend as “right” in her christian mindset. Truth is it isn’t something my christian mind can comprehend either. As a minority in my family, I have the privilege of being surrounded by 3 beautiful female beings; I do not need to see any more naked textures of a lady outside my family. My mind is just too creative to remain stable after my eyes have feasted on………..

That being said (or should it be “that being written”), relating with a mentor like Kelechi for me can be likened to eating shark fish; you need to sort out the bones and eat the delicious flesh. Very few people I know are picky enough to consider it too much trouble to eat most fishes or meat because of too much bones. In some cases, the bones are even digested after the main meal.

Relating with a lot of my mentors has been a continuous & deliberate act of focusing on their strengths instead of digesting their weaknesses. However, you can choose to be like my cousin who does not like eating chicken at all because of the stress of going through the bones. You can choose to dislike a mentor once you discover he/she has a weakness that your stomach can’t seem to digest. When such a reality dawns on you, it is expedient for you to quietly “FIRE” the mentor rather than have the weakness torment your relationship.

By “FIRE”, I’m referring to a way by which you will quietly close the door on the relationship instead of “SLAMMING” the door. You never can tell when you might need to go back through that same door. Besides, relating with mentors should also bring to your reality that they’re also as human as you are and sometimes with more flaws than people know. It is better to quietly end the relationship than to be an agent that specializes in marketing the weaknesses of others. What you sow, you will reap.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for those that look up to me afar off and when they finally join eloPhotos as interns, they realize that I have serious issues I still struggle with. They know my weaknesses and still decide to stay their full tenure. Can’t they see that I can be a workaholic who sometimes forgets that he’s married with 3 ladies to cater for. Can’t they see that I have a weakness of spending my last N1k to watch a movie called ELYSIUM even though I’ve watched it twice already. Can’t they see that although I studied Accounting in an American University, I still can’t make my balance sheets balance. They see all these and still choose to stay.

If the knowledge of your mentors’ weakness becomes too much for your soul to bear, its time to make a decision that might help save your soul. It’s time to become a distant fan and not a close protegee. I’ve had to become an admirer to at least 5 of the people I once considered mentors. For me the deal breaker is when the weakness is a major character flaw that I consider inexcusable (e.g. lying, cheating, adultery, etc). It’s just hard to see that person as someone I’ll like to be like when I grow up.

Severing the relationship can be painful but slamming the door on the relationship can cause more harm than good. When you get to the crossroad where all you see constantly is that person’s weakness, perhaps you should consider prayerfully FIRING the person. Its way better than bad-mouthing the person in front of others.

Perhaps I might be wrong on my stance. Perhaps I might be right. It’s your call to decide if this mentor of yours will FOREVER be your “role-model”. Or what would you do if you discover that your mentor of integrity confessed to embezzling bank funds entrusted to his care? What will you do?

Yours faithfully,
Your Photography Mentor in need of a BlackBerry Q10,
Seun Akisanmi