10 Years a Photographer


Fantastic,
wonderful,
this is beautiful,
lovely,
wow,
Seun, you’re too much…

These were some of the words being hurled at me by my 72 year-old grand-aunt when I delivered an album to her last week. The album was for the 80-year-old celebration of her husband. We delivered along with the album a type of frame she had never seen in her life: a 3D frame.

As she embarrassed me with the comments she hurled at me, I couldn’t help but express my shyness. I felt like a 2-year-old being admired as a beautiful princess by her dad. I felt happy, I felt shy. I felt speechless. Or what words could I have used to reply her?

It was then I remembered. I remembered sitting right in front of the same woman sometime in 2004. This time she was giving me the counsel of life. It was in 2004 I had told my dad that I neither wanted to pursue my accounting career nor did I want to do my NYSC. It was a blasphemous declaration and my father reported me to a few respectable family members to “talk sense” into my BIG head. So in 2004, I found myself in front of my grand-aunt receiving admonitions on why Accounting is a better career to pursue than Photography.

At the memory of the 2004 meeting, the words came out of my mouth without much thought: “And to think that this was the same profession you were advising me to give up in 2004”. She replied in a repentant way that she didn’t know this was the type of photography I meant.

Its been a while I felt that much fulfillment. Knowing that I pursued my heart’s passion instead of the career that would please my parents… Knowing that the same parents that were against the “photography career” have been my number 1 referrers… Knowing that the same grand-aunt that discouraged me from pursing photography is the same one of whom I’ve made over N500k from…. Knowing that I probably would not have made that much money from her alone if I were an Accountant. I felt fulfilled knowing that I had been photographing for over 10 years without any regrets whatsoever. My only regret might be the fact that I didn’t study photography in the University. But then all things work together for good.

The next day, I headed to the cinemas to watch what would later turn out to be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my 35 years on earth: 12 years a Slave. To think that was once the history of man. I was ashamed of the way I cried at the cinema. Watching the roll of credit of the 310+ people who made the film a reality, I found myself having a prayer meeting in the cinema hall, crying and wailing (as if a loved one had died in a fatal accident) and pleading wholeheartedly to God to use me to be an instrument of change in this generation with emphasis on the photography industry. My heart was overwhelmed. My heart was encouraged.

More than ever before, I knew that I was placed in the photography industry for such a time as this. And its only a matter of time before people realize that God can use anyone, regardless of their background or past, to impact a generation, a country or an industry.

Its been over 10 years that I’ve been a photographer and if I had to go back in time to start all over again, I’ll still choose photography as a profession. Ultimately, I’m confident that one day I’ll be the official photographer in heaven when the ultimate Wedding of all Ages will be happening. Till then, let’s start with the raising of 10,000 world-class photographers one day at a time. Till then, let’s start with the Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference.

Till then, I remain Seun Akisanmi…..and I’m proud to be a photographer.
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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

Nude Photography & the Challenges of Being a Christian Publisher


I must admit that this is the longest title I’ve given a post. However the goal is to attempt to address an issue that I feel some readers of NowPictureThis Magazine might have regarding the latest edition. I might not succeed in “changing” many peoples’ mind regarding certain beliefs; however, I’ll succeed in expressing my point of view in a way that will perhaps help us discuss on this further.

It happened approximately 2 months ago. On a sunny tuesday afternoon, my 2pm appointment arrived at my office. We had met during the just concluded Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC) and he had communicated to me his heart desire to have me as his mentor. He was sure that I was one of those that will help guide him on his pathway to photography destiny.

After a few minutes of him hurling questions and “admiration” my way, I was quick to point out to him that I’m a man of interesting weaknesses. I urged him to be sure of what he was asking of me since I knew I wasn’t as perfect/great as my perceived social media image might have communicated. He insisted that since we have similar backgrounds in life, he was sure I was the mentor he needed.

Fast forward to 3:16pm. He was about to ask me the question he considered to be his last and final question. He brought out a copy of the 2nd edition of the photography magazine I published, opened to the pages in the magazine that had the attached “artistic” pictures, and then dropped the question of the century: “Sir, being the Christian that you profess to be, how can you put in your magazine pictures of naked women? What if a child picks up the magazine? Aren’t you making some people to fall into sin?”

At this point, you need to realize that this was a genuine question that had troubled the gentleman and he had waited till the last minute to utter his mind so as to get an answer that will soothe him. He was dead serious. At that point I had an idea how Jesus must have felt when the Pharisees & Saducees asked him questions that were designed to trap him. And no, I’m not comparing my gentleman friend to the hypocritical sect in Jesus’ time.

I explained to him that I admired the “artistic” elements in the first picture in black & white. Although the photographer, Deola Gold, would have done a better job explaining to him what the picture was about, I told him it was a picture that I felt was too artistic for me to even put in words.
I honestly could not explain to him why I featured the picture apart from the fact that I admired Deola’s work.

The second picture however had a clearer message that might have been missed by the average gentleman that stumbles on the page. Its a picture of a woman’s breasts taken by Aisha Augie-Kuta. What the consciousness of many men do not see in the picture is the two flowers covering the woman’s breast. I noticed that one of the flower was dying while the other was still fresh. Without having Aisha explain what that meant and considering that she’s has an artistic & creative mind, I concluded that there’s a high probability that the woman in the picture had breast cancer.

What a creative way to portray cancer of the breast, I thought. Even while attempting to give him the explanation, he did not want to look at the picture again. I explained to him that I personally do not take nude pictures of women because the creative elements in my oblongata can do more damage to me long after the photo session is over. I knew this as one of my weakness and therefore have never strayed near that area. However, I know an artistic picture when I see one and Deola and Aisha’s pictures were more artistic than obscene.

We argued back and forth about what God thinks and what the Bible says and about the role of my conscience in the matter. I eventually realized I was arguing a case that neither one of us could win. Perhaps if I was a younger Christian, I would not have published the pictures talkless of being friends with a photographer who is a Mentor & a Muslim. But…….

Come to think of it, that was the last day he contacted me. I hope he wasn’t disappointed at the point of view I expressed. However, it leads me to at least one major point I feel protégés should understand: mentors have issues they deal with and aren’t perfect people. Having a mentor shouldn’t mean that because you discovered that he’s a hot-tempered person, you conclude that he’s a bad person. Infact, knowing your mentors’ weaknesses should urge you to pray for him/her for overcoming grace. Relating with a mentor should be like eating fish: eat only the juicy flesh and leave the choking bones.

I think I’ve digressed a little there. After chatting with my friend, I began to doubt that I was a candidate of heaven. To be honest with you, I’m not even sure what to think of the pictures anymore…..although I still love them. I just pray that no 4 year old child will pick up the magazine and see the pictures and fall into sin as a result. I just pray that the church I attend won’t excommunicate me for publishing such pictures. I just pray that the real messages behind the pictures will be perceived for what I think they really are: creative & artistic platforms for addressing key societal issues.

Oh well, therein lies some of the challenges of being a “Christian” photography publisher. May God help me. Or what would you have done if you were in my shoes? Would you have published the pictures?


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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

The ESAU Moment


The date was April 8, 2013. Time stamp 1pm. I was sitting in the reception of one of the most respected companies in Nigeria. Waiting patiently for my appointment with who I considered to be the MD.

A week earlier, MD had seen in the newspapers the press released we issued regarding the 1st Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference. Somewhere in the newspaper article, it was mentioned that one ‘Seun Akisanmi’ was the one organizing the conference that will help escalate the journey of placing Nigerian photography & photographers on the world map. I instantly recognized the number when I saw the missed call just after wednesday church service. I had given MD a photo session 6 months earlier and knew somewhere at the back of my mind that we would meet again.

Meet again we would eventually do. I returned the call and was given an appointment to meet him in his office. He mentioned that he saw the article and wanted to see how he could help sponsor the event to success. I was ecstatic. I was excited. The person I had been trying to get his attention was finally giving me audience.
He would eventually enter the reception 30minutes later and apologized for being late. He went straight to the point. After extending his applause to me for daring such an ambitious feat, he mentioned that he was going to make a VOLUNTARY donation to help make the program a success.

N500,000. I was shocked. I was grateful. At that very moment, that would be the largest “voluntary” donation someone would bring to the NiPHEC table. The last person that dropped his contribution issued out a check of N250k and I was shocked. N500,000 from another person that believed in the NiPHEC dream would eventually increase the shock level to gear 3.

I was quick to let him know how eternally grateful I was for the proposed donation. He was quicker to let me know that he needed a favor from me in exchange for the “voluntary” donation. Little did I know that my shock level was about to get to gear 5.

In exchange for the funds, he’ll appreciate if I place his name as the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER on all NiPHEC publicity materials that will be going out. I told him that was not possible. Without hesitation, I explained that NiPHEC was not a NOLLYWOOD movie (ok, I actually didn’t use the word “NOLLYWOOD”) that’s in need of an Executive Director. I looked over to the side where my assistant was sitting and watched to see the expression on her face. She seemed speechless.

MD insisted that it was a small token I could do for him in exchange for his kind gesture. I reminded him promptly that I thought he said it was a voluntary donation and not a transaction. Looking back at the whole scene now reminded me of the scenario that must have played out when Esau was in need of a FOOD sponsor for his stomach and Jacob was offering ASARO for Esau’s future destiny. It was an Esau moment for me and I wasn’t about to repeat history the Esau way.

I calmly explained to MD that what he was asking for was worth more than N500k. At that moment I was grateful for the negotiation tactics I had learned from Herb Cohen in YOU CAN NEGOTIATE ANYTHING. I reasoned with him that I had invested too much intellectually to have someone pay that amount for what seemed to be the “rights” of the dream. I told him that an appropriate figure for such a title would be more like N10million. He seemed a little surprised that I would dare to decline his offer. He seemed to be someone that didn’t like getting NO for an answer. That day he’ll receive a tough NO he’ll have to swallow.

For over 200 seconds he gave me more reasons why he wasn’t asking me for too much and how the voluntary donation would be beneficial to a cause that had not secured any sponsors. He asked me to go home and think about it before giving a reply. I told him there was nothing to think about. N500k was too small a token to pay for the title of Executive Producer of NiPHEC. He would eventually disburse the funds without getting his request. I would eventually realize that my passion for change in the photography industry was a bigger dream than I had imagined and that no Esau moment would defraud me of my destiny.

Come to think of it, if Esau had been a better negotiator, he would have gotten the plate of porridge for free. At least I got the N500k for free.

I write this not to insult or ridicule MD in any way. In fact, that encounter with MD helped me to realize that the lack of funds is not an excuse for failure. If your dream is big enough, it will attract helpers of destinies that will help fund the projects. MD helped me to realize that the dream of a more professional & appreciated photography industry is more feasible than I thought. And he wanted to get the credit for it. The credit would eventually go to the God that gives the vision. For only HE alone can touch the hearts of those that will help with the PROVISION.

So next time you’re faced with an Esau moment – an employer asking you for sex in exchange for a job or promotion, a contractor asking for a token before he can give you the job, a situation that requires you to tell a small white lie for things to be in your favor – always realize that whatever decision you make will impact generations to come. Sometimes the easiest choice to make could be the most difficult…especially when you’re in dire need of the N500k. I’m still in debt as a result of not getting enough sponsors as I anticipated but I have no regrets that the dreams that are within me will attract the resources that will be necessary to bring them to fruition.

I know my blabbing can seem much atimes but the buttomline message is this: When you encounter your Esau moments (trust me, everyone eventually does), don’t sell your destiny for a plate of porridge.
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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

NiPHEC 2014 to hold in Abuja & Lagos


GREAT NEWS

Greetings photography enthusiast. First of all, we’ll like to apologize if you’re getting this newsletter for the second time on the same day. Our systems had a minor glitch (which has been resolved now) perhaps due to the excitement that has been brewing up regarding next year’s edition of Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference.

The good news about next year’s NiPHEC is that it will be holding in 2 cities in Nigeria: Abuja & Lagos. April 27-29, 2014 will witness NiPHEC in Abuja while the Lagos edition will hold from April 29 – May 3, 2014. We’re still ironing out the details and will keep you posted regarding venue and seminars to be made available.

Expect to network and learn from world-class photographers like Joe McNally, Jide Alakija, & Aisha Augie-Kuta among others. Other speakers will be announced hereafter. Registration for the conference will open in January 2014.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to our sponsors (Nikon Africa), attendees & facilitators who made NiPHEC 2013 a memorable experience. Next year’s edition will be greater. For those that attended this year’s conference and are still having problems with getting their certificates, kindly contact us at info and we’ll do our best to resolve it.

For more information regarding sponsorship for this event or if you have any suggestions or ideas that will help make the conference a memorable one, kindly send us a mail at info.

You’ve received this mail because at one time or the other you contacted us at eloPhotos or NiPHEC. If you’ll prefer not to get any of this newsletters from us anymore, we apologize for the inconvenience caused and we’ll appreciate if you could scroll down to the buttom of this message and click the “Unsubscribe” button.

We look forward to hosting you at NiPHEC 2014. For updates, kindly follow us on Youtube, Facebook & Twitter.

Photographically Yours,
Seun Akisanmi, NiPHEC Convener

 

The Psychiatric Ward Nurse


So I met this gentleman on March 2 and he stopped me to tell me that I looked very familiar. I said I couldn’t remember his face (something that rarely happens) and he told me he can remember me clearly. I asked from where can he remember me and after 4 seconds of thinking he concluded: Psychiatric Ward Yaba.

I assured him that it definitely wasn’t me and he asks me “Are you sure?” I was 100% sure. He asked if I had ever been to the psychiatric ward and I told him NEVER. Apparently he is a nurse at the ward and was on his way to his office.

If you were the one that had this encounter what will be your response?

Anyway on a NiPHEC note, If you missed the 50% discount of seminars at the forthcoming Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC), you can still choose your seminars, register and get 20% on most classes if you register by March 28. Hurry, LIMITED SPACES available. Visit www.niphec.com/seminars for more details

As you register, the psychiatric ward will not be your portion in Jesus’ name