One Non-Photography-Related Reason Why I Respect Joe McNally


I’m reminded of what Joe McNally told me on May 2, 2013. After teaching his class at NiPHEC, he promised to send autographed copies of his book to me so I can help give the 3 models that helped him with the classes. To be honest, I didn’t think he’ll remember to follow through especially since the models where not necessarily pestering him for copies of the book.

Perhaps one reason that made me not to take him too serious on that was because I was used to people (especially Nigerian citizens & leaders, the set of people I’ve spent most of my life with) making promises and not keeping them. If he didn’t keep his promise, I would not be offended because I was used to it.

Fast forward to September (I think I’ve been using the “fast forward” phrase too much, I must look for a replacement phrase so I don’t become too predictable), I got an email from his manager asking me for the address to mail the books to. By October 3rd, the books were in my office. I was impressed.

I was impressed because it occurred to me that the ability to keep to one’s word is a feature that will distinguish any business owner or personality from others. It is actually a rare commodity in this part of the world especially since I still struggle to fulfill the many promises I’ve made to family, friends & colleagues.

Consequently, I realize that if I want to increase my value/worth as a brand, I need to be known for keeping promises. If I tell a client I’ll be there by 9am, I should get there by 8:30am. If I tell my wife I’ll give her the world on a plate of gold, I better be ready to do that even if it means getting killed in the process :). Infact, I’m more conscious of the promises I make to people now. Once uttered, I should be ready to do my best to fulfill the words.

I know this might not be a tip that will be palatable for a lot of photographers or creative professionals but if we want to stand out in this part of the world, keeping our word is a sure path to convincing people & clients that our brands are synonymous with INTEGRITY. Your pictures may be better than Joe McNally’s and your gears may be more expensive than my dream BMW 540i Active Hybrid. However, if you’re not a man of your words, everything will soon fizzle out in the amount of time it took you to read this piece.

So if you’re reading this and coincidentally happen to be one of the few people I owe anything (whether favor, money, discount, gala, water or pictures), please give me time. In due season, I’ll pay them all. In due season, I’ll fulfill my promises with God’s help…..so that when I grow up, I’ll be like Joe McNally.
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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

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WANTED URGENTLY: Friends With HIV


It is with a heavy heart I write this advertisement. Seriously, my heart is heavy. Heavy for the fact that many of the people who have pierced my heart are those that have been closest to me. Heavy for the fact that most of the people I’ve met that proclaim to be “like Christ” seem to be more like cousins of the devil. Seriously. But then again, perhaps I ought to work on being a good friend myself.

If one is to go by the number of friends that Facebook proclaims that I have, then why should my heart be heavy thus. Why should I not be the most privileged person on earth knowing that according to Facebook, Google+, & Twitter, I have over 7000 human beings as “friends”. I think the social media’s meaning of “friends” should be replaced with “admirers” or “fans”. As for me, Seun Akisanmi, I’ve made it a prayer point to ask God for 11 friends…..hence the reason for this seemingly-comical-yet-serious advertisement. I’m urgently in need of 11 friends with H.I.V; Humility, Integrity & Vision.

HUMILITY: This seems to be a trait that seems to be a scarce intangible commodity in our society today. Infact, I was recently disappointed when I thought I would find it in abundance among the sect of people who proclaim to be religious. I was even more surprised that a large percentage of people who are struggling in their businesses or personal lives have serious “pride” issues. A lot of people are struggling because of ignorance and yet we will not humble ourselves to learn from sources that will provide the right info and platform for the next level. Consequently, this is a trait I’ll appreciate for my friend applicant to possess. And if you think I’m proud to be seeking this trait in a potential friend, may God help you me.

INTEGRITY: I think this goes hand in hand with humility. I think a lot of us need to do a 30 minute research on the word “integrity”. If integrity seems to be a word that can’t be used to describe you, then I don’t want to have anything on planet earth to do with you. I’m that serious. Only people with integrity will reach the promised Canaan Land that we’re heading to. It might take 40 years to get there, but the reason it will take that long will be because people without integrity need to die in the wilderness. It’s okay to be work-in-progress; I’m number one patient of a work-in-progress. Just make sure you’re ready to do whateverittakes to build a reputation of integrity in a corruption-congested society.

VISION: If you have no idea where you’ll be in 10 years, or what you’ll be doing in 15 years, then I’m so sorry that we can’t be friends. I’m really sorry. I really need to associate myself closely with people who have a clear vision of where they’re heading to in life. If all you have to tell me is that only God knows what will happen to me in 10 years, then you’re grossly & proudly mistaken. The steps and actions you take now should ultimately lead you to the attainment of whatever God-given (or personally-discovered) vision for your life in 10, 20 or 30 years time. A lot of us wish to acquire the level of wealth that visionaries like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs & Bill Gates have reached. However, very few are willing to realize that they didn’t get there by accident; they had VISIONARY eyes. I understand that the level of poverty or lack that you’ve experienced is the reason why you’ve been discouraged from thinking too far into the future. But perhaps we should consider envisioning our lives so far into the future that the steps we begin to take henceforth will have no choice but to rescue us from the sinking sand of today’s poverty.

So all I ask is for the good Lord to bring my way 11 friends with HIV. So if you think you’ve tested positive to HIV, don’t just “like” this message because it makes you feel good, let’s partner together to be the change and role-models that Nigeria (& our world) seeks. I know this post might seemingly have nothing to do with making you a better photographer. I know you might be thinking “who does he think he is to make such demands“. All I ask is that you look beyond my sarcastic tendencies and flaws & please be my friend. You know how to reach me.
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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

Life Lessons From Van Damme & Volvo Trucks


By the time you’re through reading this and watching the 77 seconds video embedded within, over 10124 people would have been inspired to be the best at what they do.

It happened on November 16. As I logged unto the University of Internet to get my daily dose of inspirational education, I stumbled upon the 77 seconds video that Volvo Trucks did with Van Damme. I did not hesitate to click on the link and within one minute of watching it, I discovered that the teary gland in my eyes had resumed from their 5 month break; I was in tears.

Now, wait a minute before concluding that this Seun Akisanmi is too teary for your liking. You see, I’ve been on a recent journey to learn and digest as much information as possible that will help me in the pathway of destiny that has been set before me. Hence my reason for ensuring that I’m connected to an internet that will be a platform of continuous education for me. What stood out of the advert and jumped right into my face (hence causing the tears to burst out) was a lesson God had been impressing on my heart lately: the importance of being the best at what you do. Eventually if you’re diligent at harnessing the talents & gifts that has been entrusted into your life (and don’t you dare insult God by saying you don’t have any gifts/talents), eventually you will stand before kings and not mere men. Here was Van Damme, an actor that many of us have associated with martial arts fight scenes in movies in the 90s. What on earth is he doing associating himself with Volvo Trucks?

Apparently, there must have been a marketing meeting at Volvo trucks months ago when someone popped up a question: “Which brand can we associate our brand with that will ultimately help increase the sales of the latest edition of our trucks?” A few names popped up but Van Damme was concluded on for reasons only known to them. Perhaps it was because he happened to be one of the very few celebrity actors that could perform such a stunt. Perhaps because he doesn’t seem to have a notable stain on his image/brand. Either way, I’m sure Volvo Trucks is impressed at the amount of views the advertisement is getting now.

Consequently, I resolved to be consistent at whatever it is I’m doing now that many people might consider irrelevant (albeit they’re very relevant to my distant future). I resolve to keep writing, training and inspiring people to stand out and be the best at whatever they do (not just photography). Eventually, my seemingly tiny steps of dedication and commitment will get the attention and audience of the people/organization that matters. And although I might not be driving fine cars or using the latest photography gadgets now, theses steps of dedication will ultimately lead to me having to choose which company’s ambassadorship proposal I want to go with in 2020. It was almost as if all the years of practicing that particular stunt seems to be paying off for him now.

I was reminded of the poem I recited at a recently concluded Leadership Conference. I had written the poem (Corruption: Not an Option) approximately 9 years ago. I had even recited it about 5 times within the last 9 years. I eventually gave up on poetry because I felt it wasn’t bringing food to the table of my family of 4. After the recitation I did on November 6, I got a call from a gentleman who asked for my full name over the phone. He asked to see me in person and when I eventually saw him, I was thanked for being a blessing with the recitation and given an envelope that included a check that will put food on my family’s table for 6 months. YES, 6 months feeding allowance. In my heart I fainted when I saw the figure. I almost thought there must be a mistake somewhere. I was getting rewarded for a 5 minute poetry recitation (that took me 2 weeks to compose in October 2004) with an amount greater than what some wedding clients will pay eloPhotos for their wedding photography. I was shocked. I was in tears. And I was inspired to utilize to the greatest heights all the talents that has been entrusted within me.

And that is why I cried when I saw the Volvo Trucks commercial. I’ve watched it over 10 times in the last 3 days and each time, it moves me to inspirational tears. I will be the best at what I do. I will not just walk past on the sandy path of life, I will make a mark. I will not just be a photographer, father, friend, cinematographer, poet or son….I WILL ADD the word “INSPIRATIONAL” to all those roles. Enough of my babbling. Watch the video.

 

WHO AM I?


It’s a question I always ask myself, not because I am not sure of who I am but because I need to keep me in check. Directing that question at you, I know some of you might probably answer: I am an Accountant, I am a Photographer, etc. Of course I know you are, also that is not the answer I am looking for. The expected answer goes deeper than that; it’s leads to more of questions like what do you stand for & why are you here.

What do you stand for?
“A man that stands for nothing will most likely fall for anything”…. Are you the type that is known to always compromise at the mention of naira bills, or are you the type that says no when what you actually meant to day was Yes. As an individual, your value system must be upright. Not to allow you worry your head too much, Value systems are set of ideals that guide your behaviour. It gives your life purpose and structure (which I think most of us lack as an individual and ultimately as a nation) to determine what are important to you.

Value system can be divided into four main subordinate; personal values, spiritual values, family values and career values but there some characteristics a person with good value system must exhibit which I will like to talk about.

Integrity:
Integrity is how trustworthy and honest you are. People have to know what to expect from you; that whatever you say will be as said except of course an act of God derail it. You are
expected to act right under any circumstances. These are people we want in leadership positions in our country.

Loyalty:
Loyalty is commitment to a cause or person. Whatever the times are, (good or bad) you have to be someone that can be counted on for necessary support needed. When the going gets tough, you are there to walk it out and when its celebration time too, you
are there to dig it.

Responsibility:
Someone who is responsible will definitely be dependable and reliable and will readily be accountable for who he is and what he does. They believe they have a heavenly obligation to help others and make the world a better place.

Respect:
Respect is regard for the feelings or rights of
others. When you respect others, you will treat them with all fairness
and courtesy required. You will do to them, what you want done to you.
All these mentioned above leads me to the other part; why are you here?

Why are you here?
No matter what value you and I choose to live by, it is very important we take a look at the big picture. (The big picture being God’s plan for our life) You see for me I don’t think we are just created to have weight and occupy space like matter. I don’t think all we are created for is being an Accountant or a Photographer but in addition to whatever our title is, we have a message from heaven to deliver here. Each and every one of us is a piece in God’s main agenda. We all have to find our purpose in that plan and fulfill it.

You might be wondering what inspired this article, it was the fact that everywhere I go in this country, nothing seem to be working the way its suppose to. But I feel if we all could be purpose driven and ask what we can do to make our country better and not what our country can do for us, only then will the change we so desire come upon us.

P.S: Nigeria will be built by Nigerians for Nigerians, so STAND UP and
be counted as someone who has done his part. May GOD RENEW & REFORM
NIGERIA!!!

Yours truly Nigerian,
Babalola Michael Tayo.

YORUBA MEN ARE COWARDS


I recently photographed a wedding in Warri, Delta State. It was a union of two different ethnic groups: Yoruba (Groom) & Delta (Bride). The church service started an hour later than planned and seemed like we were going to be in the service forever; perhaps I felt uneasy because I had not eaten breakfast.

It happened when the pastor was preaching his sermon to the new couple. I was so tired and hungry that I didn’t know when I slept off. Perhaps because I was confident that my two assistants would still cover what I miss. Suddenly, I awoke to a loud affirmative revelation uttered by the pastor of the church: YORUBA MEN ARE COWARDS!!! I was shocked. Did he just say what I think he said. He was “encouraging” the husband to learn to stand and protect his new wife in troubled times. The example of a challenging time he gave is “when armed robbers come visiting”. He mentioned that a Yoruba man will flee in the presence of armed robbers and forget his wife. I’m not too sure I got the point he was trying to make. Perhaps the new wife understood what the Pastor meant.

I’m not sure he remembered that the groom he was uniting in holy matrimony was a Yoruba man. I wondered if Yoruba men attend such a church. But then I was quick to remember that there were multitudes of churches to choose from in the oil-rich state. I was able to take pictures of over 2 dozen churches while sitted in a fast-moving bus on my way to the traditional wedding; a 20-minute journey.

I felt that was too derogatory a statement to be uttered on the altar of a church. I wondered what the mindset of the members of the church would be like. I wonder what their perspective of Yoruba men will be. More importantly, I wondered how a city filled with so many churches (almost 1 in every 6 buildings…on average) hadn’t experienced a level of development you would associate with a city where God abides. I wondered within….and felt sorry for people who think that they are better than others.

I didn’t know when I left the church auditorium (before the end of his sermon) to go get myself something to eat. Perhaps if I ate some food, my backward thinking Yoruba mindset will make good meaning of what the Pastor just declared in church. Maybe I was just upset because I was (& still am) a Yoruba man.

And we are supposed to be the Light of the World…the Salt of the earth. May God help me not to be a coward. May God help us all.

UPDATE: November 10, 2013
Some people (especially members of the church) are probably mad at me for posting such about their pastor. My goal isnt to bring down anyone. I write because I feel its one way I can address issues I feel we need to address. Its easy to be quick to defend someone for behaving or thinking in a particular way but my appeal is for us to be conscious of the fact that what we say or do affects ultimately how people behave or think. My goal isnt just to defend the Yorubas; my goal is to address the same similar mindsets that some Yorubas have towards the Igbo or Hausas. Especially if we call ourselves “Christians”, we should be conscious of the derogatory statements we make towards other tribes (whether or not we’re joking). Some Yoruba Christians I know consider themselves of a higher caliber of Human Specie when compared to a Hausa “Mallam” or a Black American. Buttom line is for us to review how/what we think about other people through the microscope of God’s eyes. So be it if I make enemies for discussing such a sensitive issue. For anyone getting angry at the pastor, just stop and ask yourself if the way you behave (or think) towards a set of people is the way Jesus will treat them (e.g. house helps, gatemen/security guards, cooks, drivers, mallams, Ijebu people, Americans, etc).

…And the Bride DIED


On October 4, I concluded a deal with a wedding client that would have turned out to be one of the most interesting I’ve had this year. I covered the sister’s wedding 4 years ago and they insisted that it is “Seun Akisanmi” in person that they want to cover the one-day event. We had been talking for about 2 weeks but the deal was finally sealed on October 4. Or so I thought.

For a wedding that was supposed to hold before the end of the year, they ought to have dropped a part payment of at least 80% to help secure and lock down the date on my calendar. What made me more excited about the job was that the pay was good; good enough to help reduce my outstanding deficits. I gave thanks to God for the timely job.

And so it happened that I gave the client a call on October 12 to remind them about the importance of making a financial commitment. It was then I was told that the bride-to-be died on October 5 (the day after the deal was sealed). I was heartbroken twice: first for a selfish reason and secondly for the groom.

I wondered how the groom must have felt knowing that the person he was about to be married to died a few weeks before the wedding. And for reasons that perhaps could have been treated properly; malaria/typhoid. I was heartbroken because of the loss of financial resources that could have lifted some of my burdens. It was at that moment I realized that some people that weep at funerals do so for reasons beyond what people think. I realized some perhaps are heartbroken because the dead will not be able to pay back the N52 million debt he owed before his demise.

Beyond my selfish reasons, I realized the importance of the relationship I have with this client (and all my clients). I realized that every client that comes my way is for a specific purpose. Consequently, I asked myself the following question: Would this have happened if I had been praying for the client?

Perhaps if I had spent time praying for this client (something which I usually don’t do and only remember to do sometimes for selfish reasons), will the story be written thus? I’m not sure. Either way, I’m beginning to be more conscious of the spiritual aspect of my connections with people. I’m beginning to realize that every client, protege or mentor in my life is there for a reason. And the least I can do (without first considering the financial rewards that might come my way) is to pray for them.

The tragedy still weighs on my heart and I wondered if it could have been averted. At least I’ll be $3500 better if the bride had not died. God help us, God help us all.

#whateverittakes
The Photography Workshop that will help you STANDOUT from the crowd. Visit http://www.elophotos.com/whateverittakes for more details

 

A CALL FOR CHANGE: Day 1


This whole write-up was born out of my 14 Days Compulsory Stay Out of eloPhotos (my photography office). Monday, September 30th, 2013 is a day not to quickly forget, as it was the starting day of the unexpected yet expected happening at eloPhotos. This time around, it was not the usual creativity that most people know about us at eloPhotos.

Owing to the continued occurrence of lateness in resumption time, attending to chores and report submission by most of the team members at office, four out of five of my team members including myself, were asked to take time off to reassess our passion for photography after a brief meeting was held. This painful verdict happened just a few minutes after the closing hour of the day.

It was then I realized the meaning of, “whatever it takes to stand out”. This was the new project our boss was working on, not knowing that I was going to embark on a journey to realize my own project on; “whatever it takes to succeed at eloPhotos”. Am sure most of the people who know Mr Seun Akisanmi or follow him online can tell of what that means.

DAY 1

Pain and Disappointment
I had a sleepless night thinking about the previous day happenings and I concluded that as the day breaks, I will begin my reassessment on passion for my photography career. I started my day with a session of inner prayers as I would not want to disturb anyone. I had all pending design spreads on my system put out of the way. I then took on a journey to think, study, read, meditate, practice and discipline myself for the next 14 days.

In my study and meditation today being Tuesday, October 1, 2013), I realized how my assignment at eloPhotos has been geographical. And that made me put up a comment on my Facebook profile saying “places matter – where you are is as important as who you are” (my words). I got to understand that my success in the photography industry is linked to a place like eloPhotos, which I tagged “my present place of assignment”.

A lesson that kept coming to me was, how one person’s disobedience or mistake can create a corporate judgment. Indeed, this has turned out to be a corporate judgment which I think is fair enough. This also reminded me of a Movie (Drumline) slogan, which states “one sound, one band”. To my understanding, the mistake of one affects others is the meaning i could give. Speaking to myself that my mistakes could have added to the judgment of others, and vis-a-vis.

In my pain and disappointment, I began to see how pain can be corrected in peoples’ lives. Knowing that in pain lies a correction process for me, I separated for myself five forces that pain brings to correction. I called them , “the five L’s”:

 Pain forces one to look for answers

 Pain forces one to lean on God instead of man

 Pain forces one to learn where one has missed it

 Pain forces one to long for forgiveness, healing and restoration

 Pain forces one to listen for changes

Immediately I understood this, I got the answer for this hurting season and that is going to birth the healing process. These then gave me more reasons why I must be focused again on my assignment as my best days are just ahead. This is the first day out of the fourteen days. Please, join me as I journey for change.

Photographically Yours,
Emmanuel Awosanmi

A Photographer’s Passion For CREATIVITY


The word “Passion” means a very strong feeling about something that arouses affection towards that thing. It expresses itself in enthusiasm, overwhelming interest and a strong drawing in the direction of that thing. Passion is the tonic for ingenuity and creativity.

Most people like to talk about their passion, but how creative have they made their passion work for them? How passionate are you about your photography and what you engage yourself in daily? This brings me to focus more on creativity which has been one of the values being imbibed in us at eloPhotos Studios.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, being creative involves the use of skill and imagination to produce something new especially a work of art. Creativity is the ability to make something new. The dictionary added that creativity and originality are more important than technical skill. Do you have any ideas? You are the creative one. God is a creative genius. Deuteronomy 4:32 is one place in the Bible that talks about God’s creativity.

Looking back at the way most of us grew up, I remember some of the things I created back then; match box car, broom and nylon kite, paper plane and boats, etc. One thing I know, we all grew up creative but somewhere along the line we lost that ability. What happened? You may ask! Conformity had set into the minds of most of us. Also, the way our community has changed who and what we were born with made matters worse.

We all have the ability to be creative; we were born with it and it is still in each and every one of us. Few things I have come to know about creative people is: 1) they are well informed,
2) they are out-of-the-box thinkers, and
3) they have modest intelligence.

Creative people see things in a multitude of ways, as they provide creative atmospheres. They are open to creativity even when they seem to be playful. They are inquisitive, always asking for more. They think BIG and even allow others to fail forward by giving them chances to try again. They are intentionally creative. These are some of the reasons I am in love with eloPhotos, seriously. Ask my colleagues if you think I am joking or not serious.

In addition, without creativity, you become stuck in a rut. You need a constant stream of new ideas to remain competitive in the society because your market is changing every day. You need to understand the processes of being creative; know what the problem is, research and identify the possible solutions, determine how to create new combinations and decide which alternative leads to a new idea. Create your action plan and JUST DO IT.

Remember not to just create a plan; plan to execute it. We need to produce better creative solutions if we want to attract & retain more clients. Most people have mistaken creativity for innovation. Innovation is the implementation of what is created. Creativity is the process while innovation is the act. Let your creations become innovated. Thank God I had a creative week this last 7 days at eloPhotos. Looking forward to a new one to get more knowledge and ideas to improve my Present & Future LIFE.

I am Awosanmi Emmanuel and I am photographically creative, thanks to eloPhotos.

 

The Mercedes Benz Client


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I met him on a sunny afternoon on March 10, the day Wiz Kid made me cry. Although his composure didn’t look like one that could afford our services, I had developed a mindset of not judging a book by its cover. He asked for our complimentary card and I gladly gave him adding that our minimum package for home service family portraits was $625. He said it was ok by him and that he would call us when he was ready.

I would eventually get his promised call 13 days later. He was calling to book a session for April 1. I reminded him what the minimum cost implications was and was a bit surprised when he told me it was expensive. He asked me if I could “reduce” the price for him and I “nicely” told him that I couldn’t. I explained to him that I’m sure he was well aware of the fact that there are photographers that can do the session for him for $200 or less. I reminded him of the quality of the jobs he saw at our exhibition stand 13 days earlier. My persuasion didn’t last for more than 20 seconds and I was surprised when he said “no problem”. I explained to him the importance of me getting his email address so I could send a “mini-agreement” or summary of everything we just discussed. He gave me the address and I sent the following message a few days later:

Hope your family is doing great? Just wanted to confirm Saturday’s session and give u a summary of what to expect. We should be arriving at your place by 10am and will be coming with a makeup artist to help do the makeup of your wife. The session would last about 2-3 hours after which we’ll upload the pictures to a pass-worded folder on http://www.eloclients.com by Tuesday afternoon. We usually prefer a cheque payment of at least N80k to be made at the end of the session. The framed pics will be delivered 1 week after you’ve made your choice of 3 pics of 13by19 frames. 10 edited softcopies of your choice will also be given upon delivery of the frames. We look forward to making you a satisfied client. Kindly confirm if 10am is still ok by you. Thanks

I instantaneously got a call from him telling me that I made a mistake in the message: the session was supposed to be on Sunday not Saturday. You see, I was a little nervous writing a client I had never dealt with before and demanding that he pay me 80% of my minimum package before he even dreams of getting anything delivered. I have had clients in time past who gave all manner of excuses just so they would delay in making a deposit. I was glad this client was going to be different. Or was he? I was about to find out.

April 1 arrived in a jiffy and I was all set to shoot the family. One of our assistants that was supposed to follow us changed plans at the last-minute. Because we had planned to go in his car, we found ourselves running 30 minutes behind schedule because we were looking for a taxi. The client had called to ask us to come by noon because there was a chance he could still be in church. I told him we should be there by 12:30pm and was able to get there 10 minutes earlier than planned.

The house was one of the biggest & FINEST houses I’ve been to in my life. We pressed the bell but got no response. We hit the “armored” gate but knew that it was almost impossible for the inhabitants of the house to hear us. It was blistering hot outside and I called my client over 28 times to let him know we were outside. No response. If this was a prank for April fool’s day, it was working quite alright. My colleagues were already getting tired of this client that had chosen to disrespect the 2 beautiful assistants on this sunny day. We laughed, almost cried and proceeded to buy 8 pure water sachets to hydrate our fast-dehydrating human vessels.

1:29pm. Still no response to the multitude of my calls. I was getting angry. I hate dealing with clients or colleagues that don’t know how to keep to time. Could it be that he had forgotten? For Christ’s sake, he called me the night before to confirm.

Time check: 1:45pm. I asked my colleagues to wait for me while I go look for a taxi to get us back to the office. I couldn’t handle the waiting under the sun anymore. Suddenly my phone rang and our client was on the other end of the line asking if we were at his house yet. He explained that he was held up in a meeting and just finished. He then proceeded to call his wife (who had been at home all this while with the children) to ask her to open the gate for us.

WOW!!!!. That was the 3-letter word that proceeded from my mouth when I entered the compound. I have never met someone who had so many Mercedes-Benz cars. By the way, how many does one really need. According to this client of mine, 4 is a good start. I began trying to estimate the total costs of the cars alone and guessed it wouldn’t be less than $375,000 (about N60million). WOW!!! Just for cars. How much will the house and the contents be worth. It is well with my soul.

E350, G55, GL450 & S550 were the models I saw. Mercedes will probably have him on their list of “Priority” clients. I’m sure they send him birthday cards also. Either way, I was glad to be reminded that the type of clients I love to serve still exist in Lagos, Nigeria.

Enter the house. I immediately discovered that I had made the terrible mistake of not finding out how many children the client had (and their ages). If I had known that I would be dealing with 4 children between the ages of 6 years & 3 months, I would have read more books on children photography. For some reasons, I don’t know why I thought he had just 2 children in their teens. I would soon discover that having 4 children is one of the ways God imbibes the virtue of “Patience” in the life of a parent. It was something else working with the wonderful children: patience was definitely a necessary virtue.

A bigger surprise awaited me when the wife of my client finally came down to meet us in the living room. I was shocked. I would have sworn that she was the daughter of the client I had been chatting with. In her early thirties, she will prove to be one of the most beautiful mother-of-4 I have ever met. She was beautiful. She is beautiful. I guess it is impossible not to have a beautiful wife when you have enough money to be one of Mercedes top customers. Only God knows the type of soap and cream that she uses to get such flawless skin. Perhaps, I would discover the soap when my wealth manifest.

All this while, the husband (the one I had been liaising with all along), was not even at home. He left a message that we should begin the session and that he’ll join us when he arrives. He finally arrived as we were setting up our lights and I would later discover that 4 Mercedes-Benz were not the total number of cars he had

On a serious note, my 2 thumbs are aching me so much that I’ll have to conclude this by 11pm tomorrow evening (i.e. 11pm April 23, 2012)
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Apparently the car he drove in with was a Range Rover Sport. This gentleman was living life well. The scenario made me wonder how many cars I’ll end up having in 5 years time; I don’t think I’ll have up to 5 though.

I found him to be one of the most humble rich men I had ever met. Sometimes its a little hard describing what “humility” is all about but this man was definitely a humble gentleman. Watching how he talked gently to the wife and scolded wisely the children, I felt like I was in a “Family Affairs” class.

The session started and I had to explain to the couple that it is important they do not scold the children during the entire session of over 2 hours as this will seriously affect the countenance of the children in the pictures. The only thing they should strive to do is to pamper the children as much as possible for the duration of the shoot; punishment for misbehavior can always be given once the shoot is over.

One thing that struck me about this family was the fact that there wasn’t any single picture of any of the family member in sight; this was going to be their first family portrait session. I was surprised. I was humbled.

They changed into 3 different outfits and we moved from the living room to the swimming pool area and we were through by 5pm. After the session, the gentleman offered us some refreshments. I usually refuse to be entertained by clients until I’m done with the shoot because I’m always eager to get the job out of the way; besides I can always “refresh” myself once I leave the client’s place.

I asked him if he’ll like to review the pictures and was surprised at the response he gave. “I do not have the mental capacity at the moment to view the pictures.” Wow. This wasn’t just a client with too much money, this was a client with a lot of grammar. Apparently, the shoot had worn him out and he was being beckoned by the wife to come eat at the dining table.

“What name should I put on the cheque?” I usually like this part of the day. Few minutes later, I was holding in my hands a 6″ by 2″ rectangular paper that had figures written in it with the power to make me SMILE. He seemed to trust me that I would deliver the pictures on my word.

The question I then ask myself was whether this client was worth waiting for under the sun for as long as I did. With that rectangular piece of paper in my hand, you can’t guess wrong what my answer is. This was one scenario where it pays to be patient. It pays to give your client the benefit of a doubt because there might be a good reason why they showed up late or did something that pissed you off. It’s up to you to determine how much you can take but like the Yoruba proverb says “He who is patient will successfully cook a stone.”

The only challenge I have however with this client now is that he refuses to pick my call or reply my texts. I uploaded his pictures to http://www.eloclients.com and have been calling him to let me know the pictures he would have us frame so that we could get it over with. I realize he is a busy man but feel a little guilty that I’ve “eaten” his money without delivering the “goods”. Ok, maybe I’m not guilty. But if you were to put yourself in my shoes, what will you do to get the attention of this Mercedes-Benz client to choose the pictures he wants framed. Help me out.
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Plan to attend the next session of Basic Course in Photography
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And the award for THE WORST GROOM OF THE CENTURY goes to…


English: Fingers Crossed

Image via Wikipedia

It was a few years back. The wedding was a few hours away from our Lagos office. We were recommended by the bride’s sister & did not meet the groom until the day of the traditional wedding.

The traditional wedding was slated to start by 12 noon. Usually 95% of traditional weddings we’ve covered do not start on time. The start time for this traditional wedding would break all records. After waiting for the arrival of the groom for what seemed to be an eternity, the groom finally showed up about 4 hours late.

I was so curious to meet such an interesting groom that would arrive that late for his wedding. I was more curious to know the reason for the lateness. If my memory is right, the reason wasn’t cogent enough for me to allocate a portion of my brain to it for remembrance.

I finally got to where he was waiting to be called in by the family of the bride. I was shocked. It was the first time I would meet a groom that was drinking alcohol & smoking at the same time on his wedding day. Maybe he was nervous. God knows. He was a chimney. He would brag about how many packs of cigarettes he could smoke in a 24 hour period. I should have checked the Guinness Book of World Records; he should be there somewhere.

With a bottle of whiskey on his left hand & a cigarette bud on his right he quizzed me. “So you’re the sucker that wants to empty my bank account,” he asked. “Your pictures better be worth it.” I assured him that he would not be disappointed. I thought to myself the type of husband he would be. If we were to go by first impressions, this wasn’t it at all.

Anyway, the traditional ceremony was over by 6:30pm. As I was going back to where I lodged, I decided to stop by the nearest atm to get some cash. You would not believe who pulled up right ahead of me. Guess again. You got it. The very groom I met a few hours earlier. He was going back home and pulled over at the sight of a lady in front of the bank.

He started asking the lady the usual questions: Where are you going, What’s your name, etc. I was shocked all over again. I thought this guy just got married. For heaven’s sake, the evidence was still fresh on my Olympus e500 dslr. Within 2 minutes I was surprised to see the lady write on a piece of paper what seemed to be her phone number. She gave it to the groom and he promised to call her.

I watched from a distance and would have been caught red-handed had I given into my instincts to bring out my camera to record the moment. He smiled to himself and had the look of someone who just got another trophy. That should count for another record in the Guinness Book: shortest time to get a lady stranger to give you her phone number. It would have taken me at least 50 minutes.

I asked myself why he decided to get married at all. I would later find out that the bride was pregnant and he had no choice but to go to the altar. Or maybe he loved her. Who knows.

Well the drama continued the next day. It was the church wedding. He arrived about 30 minutes late. With eyes all red & a tired look he apologized to family members for his shortcoming.

I later learnt that his bachelor’s party was the night before and he had the experience of his life. He went to bed drunk and woke up late. His best man who was supposed to be his ‘alarm clock’ was also a co-culprit. They finally got to the wedding and I was happy it wasn’t a scenario in which the groom changed his mind. Maybe it would have been better for the bride if he had changed his mind. I don’t know.

He was able to win the praise, admiration & forgiveness of the pastors when he donated a “large amount” in dollars for the church’s building project. The way the pastors prayed for him was almost a sign that he was guaranteed to make heaven. The pastors were happy, he was happy that they were happy & I was shocked all over again. “What a groom,” I thought to myself.

The award-winning moment finally came when the pastor was about to JOIN the couple. “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife……” While the pastor was still speaking he looked back over to where his best man was sitting. Winking at him, he signalled with his head that the best man should take a look at his hands. His two hands were positioned at his back and looking at his fingers, I got the message he was trying to send the best man: HIS FINGERS WERE CROSSED.

“….till death do you part,” the pastor concluded. With fingers still crossed, he replied “Yes I do.” Can you believe that. Crossing his fingers, smiling and making such a commitment. I was shocked all over again. I never knew a groom like that existed.

For those of us that might not know the meaning of crossed-fingers, it signifies a high level of unseriousness when a promise is being made. In other words, if I were to cross my fingers and promise to cover your wedding at no cost to you, DO NOT TRUST ME because I’M JUST JOKING. That was what the groom was saying: DON’T TAKE MY WORD TO THE BANK.

So it is to that effect that I present the award for THE WORST GROOM OF THE CENTURY to ……. Well, he knows himself. I don’t want to be ambushed on my way to work tomorrow for mentioning names. May God help his wife. May God help all the grooms & husbands out there making promises with crossed fingers. May God help us all.

If you were the photographer that saw his fingers crossed, what will you do?