Today our discussion has to do with something every photographer needs to address and the sooner the better – Client satisfaction or personal satisfaction, which do you value most?

Do you prefer that your client be more satisfied with your job than you are or vice versa?  Let me share a personal experience from a job we did for a client. We covered his wedding in November. He flew in from Canada where he is based two weeks to the wedding date. It was then I met him for the first time. We had to do a pre-wedding shoot quickly, and when I delivered the pictures he expressed some dissatisfaction with the editing. This [according to him] was because we did not remove some sideburns, some backgrounds and that he was expecting more [graphic] editing than we did.

I explained to him that yes, we can do that; but the type of editing we do is minimalistic, noting that what he wanted us to do with Photoshop could cost a lot more. But he still insisted. True, he had paid a reasonable amount as fees (equivalent to about $2200.00) for his wedding coverage.

This was a rare scenario, because I wasn’t accustomed to this type of editing (request from clients). So it begged the question, ‘should I please him or should I insist on what I want?’

I eventually had to re-edit all the pictures and it took longer than we planned. So we delivered the pictures a few days before the wedding. I felt satisfied that we accomplished it, but it did not end there. When we did the design for the wedding albums, we sent him a proof. He wasn’t pleased with half of the pages of the album and raised issues like how he did not want certain pictures to appear and how his sideburns (again) were not edited to his satisfaction. It left me thinking maybe it would have been better if he had contracted someone else for skin surgery before the wedding and save me the amount of time and detail required for editing. But I had concluded this is a client I was going to serve and chose to please him no matter what. We recently concluded the re-editing on his album and hope that he will be pleased this time.

I have met a lot of photographers who have faced clients who want this editing and that editing, portraiture, skin smoothing, background editing and some other editing that does not fit their style of photography. I think first of all, all the explanation of what is involved should have been done in writing before taking responsibility to be the client’s photographer and before acceptance of a photographer’s fees, because once this takes place, it means you have agreed to go the whole nine yards.

But even with all the documentation you will still encounter clients who still insist they want something more. It’s up to you to decide if you want to please your client or if you want to please yourself. Every photographer needs to address this. Personally, what I do is ask myself who pays my bills at the end of the day? And while a lot of photographers might feel differently about this there is a good chance that it might determine if they will remain in the photography business a few years from now.

Another experience I’ve had is with someone whom I hired to make a customized shoe for me. It turned out very tight when he delivered it. He explained that he’s only satisfied when he likes shoes that he’s made for clients and seeing them wearing the shoes, and that given another two months, the pair he made for me will expand.

I was like, ‘I am not comfortable in them, and I am the one paying for the shoes so I should care less whether you like the shoes or not. I should be satisfied because I am the client.’

Ultimately it is when the client is satisfied (I believe), that you get more referrals. Eventually I convinced him to take the shoes back since I was not satisfied, even though he tried to persuade me that they were ok.

That is something I try not to do with my clients. Many times when I take their pictures and they’re asking me which one they should select, most times I let them make that choice, as they will have those pictures in their homes for the rest of their lives. The ones I suggest anyway are usually not chosen. I could say,’ I like this picture where you are smiling’ and they would be like, ”No! my teeth are too out in the open. I would rather have you frame this one where I am not smiling….” Even though I don’t like it, my head is thinking, who pays for my overhead at the end of the day?

This should be addressed. I have met  many photographers who complain about their clients and they were never forced to take the clients on anyway. But once payment is received, it is binding, legal and almost like a vow, to have to satisfy the client.

This is my opinion, the more satisfied clients you have, the more likely you are going to be in business for a while to come. Interestingly the more difficult the client is and you strive to make sure he is satisfied, the more referrals you are likely going to get from such a person.

So a client might be asking for things that are seemingly unachievable, if it comes with additional cost, explain it to them and if they are insisting that they will not pay extra, still do it! Go out of your way to do a job that they will be pleased with at the end.

Client satisfaction or personal satisfaction? You may have to create a balance between the two. But ultimately if the client is satisfied, in the long run you too will be satisfied.

One other terrible experience that comes to mind happened when I did a job for a client who was a commissioner in Abuja [Nigeria]. When I met her to collect the payment for services I rendered, she actually threw the money (about $1,000 cash) at me, asking to take the money and get out of her presence. Apparently she was upset prior to my meeting her and she’d  had an argument with her personal assistant. That would normally make some of us angry, and feel undignified but it is in scenarios like this we need to act maturely. I tried to be patient and counted the money to be sure it was complete, and thanked her before leaving.

Try to be patient with your clients, make them satisfied and ultimately your business will be grateful [to you]  for it.

BB Pin: 271E3BC8

PICTURE THIS (Episode 7): The Importance of Insuring Your Equipment

In this episode, Seun Akisanmi shares his experience during one of the days of the protest in Ojota, Lagos. He stresses the importance of insuring your photography equipment.

Today I will be sharing my experience on one of the days of the just ended protest in Lagos State, Nigeria over the removal of fuel subsidy.
It all started on the second day of the protest at the Gani Fawenhinmi Park, Ojota. After taking my pictures. I boarded an ‘okada’ (a motorbike transport) on my way back to the office.
Behold, the bike rider tried to navigate a junction at high speed and skidded, and in what looked like a scene from Mission Impossible 5, we had a terrible accident. It was fatal. [While] I was injured a bit on my hands and side; the rider had ten times my injuries.
My cameras did not survive however. It was really-really sad, as my most expensive lens valued at $1,100.00 got broken in two. Also, by looking at the extent of damage to one of the camera bodies that was with me, you can get an idea of how fatal the accident was. I didn’t want to share this earlier because I wanted to use the lessons learnt for this episode [of Picture This].
If you are a photographer based here in Nigeria, especially Lagos, by now you should have an idea of how dangerous a lot of these motorbikes are. So my first [piece of] advice is this: The bike rider must have on a helmet and an extra helmet for you [the passenger]. This indicates to a large extent, whether the rider is less risk than one who does not have. My first mistake was that I boarded the bike of a rider who did not have a helmet – a dangerous freak!
Secondly, even if he has a helmet and he is going very fast, do all you can (it’s even ok to hit the side of his head) and shout to warn him. Make sure you don’t keep quiet. Voice out so you don’t suffer for nothing. Otherwise if at the end of the day something happens, all you will be getting is “sorry! Forgive me” and all that. No monetary reward comes with the emotional [and physical] tragedy.
Thirdly, (and by my opinion the most important) advice is this: For any equipment you have acquired, whether it’s the camera you have bought through amazon.com (like I recommend) or it’s your laptop that is related to your photography business; I strongly suggest YOU INSURE IT! I had procrastinated, because even my insurer called me just last December asking, ‘When are you going to pay premium on all your equipment that we have valued for you?’ I’d told them, I’m trying to get more cameras in January so that I can pay the entire premium at once. And here I am [in January] I have had the accident and while this [lens for instance] cost $1,100.00, I would have paid just about 5% of the value as premium.
If [only] I had protected my equipment with just 5% of it’s value (and it covers accident, fire and theft) in one of these new packages insurance companies are beginning to offer even photographers here in Nigeria, I wouldn’t be crying like I am know.
Of course I am grateful for being alive. I just would have loved to add it to my testimony. This [lens] was my baby. So, for any camera, even an expensive phone or any equipment that has to do with your business that you have invested over $400.00 (calculating it’s total value); 5% cannot be too much to insure it. So don’t procrastinate. Any major insurance company will offer you insurance cover for your equipment, and if you are being turned down, send me an email and I will recommend one for you. Or simply ask the insurance agent for the company covering your car or house.
I hope all these three lessons will be of help to you.

Picture This (Episode 6): Working with a Professional Photographer & Photographer of the Week

Today’s episode is dedicated to all the new photographers that have decided one way or the other to be an intern or assistant to a present photographer they respect. There are some rules I feel we all need to be aware of, so that none of us are in default of things we don’t know about.

First of all, if you have decided to become an apprentice, you should consider spending a minimum of three to six months. This should be enough time to learn the basics and hopefully give you a good foundation for your own photography business.

Once you have chosen who you want to work with, you should meet with the person and discuss all the possible rules that the photographer has. Some rules may seem funny but don’t blame them. It’s because of their experiences that they have set certain standards and rules that have worked for them.

For example, at eloPhotos we don’t have any public holidays. For some apprentices we have worked with in times past this really hurt them as they felt like, ‘Christmas day? Shouldn’t I be with my family?’ I feel it’s ok that for celebrating Christmas, we choose another day because we get jobs on Christmas day, like family portraits, weddings and so on that we have to cover and I can’t tell clients, who are ready to pay, ‘sorry, I don’t work on new year’s day!’

There are some other funny rules; like certain photographers will tell intending apprentices that without the apprentice having a camera, they can’t work with them. I don’t blame them either as previous apprentices they have worked with have destroyed their cameras.
Know all the rules and follow them to the letter.

Secondly, be conscious about how you talk about your new mentor. Know this upfront, there is no photographer or person that is perfect. A lot of us have flaws we are dealing with. You might have a professional photographer that’s temperamental. Be conscious of not discussing the weakness of your new boss with others. This is like sowing seeds for when you become the boss of your own business and you have apprentices under you. If there are issues you need to address with your boss, talk to him/her and not to outsiders.

Thirdly, (and this is one of the most important) if you are on a photography assignment, with or for your boss, all the rights for the pictures you have taken belong to that professional photographer even though you took them with your own camera. So even though this might seem difficult, (and you might be planning to use pictures you take for your own marketing purposes), all the pictures belong to him (I.e. Your boss) especially when he/she is paying you for it.

Many photographers have experienced this kind of scenario where the assistant uploaded the pictures from an assignment to their own personal website the day after the assignment. That’s why they (the professional photographers) won’t call on some assistants anymore.

Here’s my personal example: It was at a Christmas carol, I covered this for a colleague of mine. I took many great pictures at the event that included guests like an ex-president -[Gen Gowon rtd] and it made me feel somewhat bad that I wouldn’t be able to use those pictures as I would love to. It was a contract, and both parties understood the rules. As painful as it felt, I gave all the pictures to my colleague as the owner [of all the rights]’

At this point, please stay tuned for [our weekly segment] the photographer of the week [Samuel Ijiyokunola – Living moments photography]

Excerpts from youtube video

‘I used to work with an NGO with a focus on HIV/AIDS –treatment and education.’I enjoyed my job. When on field programmes, I took the pictures for our reports. When it was time to move on, I did. I knew I wasn’t going to pick up another paid job. Rather, I was determined to earn a living from my passion. I decided for photography and although the knowledge I had about it then could not give me the confidence to charge fees in hundreds of thousands for covering your wedding or for family portraits.

I knew I needed training. So I was asking around for where I could train. While in church, [Daystar Christian Centre] on a Sunday I picked up the church bulletin where a Skill Acquisition Programme was being announced. I put in my application and was among the chosen few.
It was at this training I met great minds like Siffre Abayomi, Damilola Elliot, Sola Animashaun, Segun Adebiyi, the effervescent Leke Adenuga, Ephraim Makati and my coach Seun Akisanmi. All of them were saying the same thing: ‘I am a professional photographer.’
I said to myself, ‘Sammy, you didn’t make the wrong choice!’

After the two-week training, I opted in for additional training and luckily I won the scholarship to the apprenticeship programme with eloPhotos. It was a wow experience.

Here’s to the trainees in eloPhotos presently: ‘Your boss, my coach [Mr Seun] is a Very Good-Badt Guy!’ He told me and some of my colleagues few days after we resumed the apprenticeship to pick our choice of camera [from his arsenal] and practice all we wanted because there was a wedding event that very weekend that we were going to cover.

That wedding was my first baptism. While I was trying to get an aerial shot of the groom’s entrance into the ceremony, I mis-stepped and my trouser pants ripped. Mr Seun asked to me keep going on, and so for the next three hours or so I continued covering the wedding, because at a point I didn’t even remember I had a tear in my trouser!

From then on, I kept enjoying it more and more as my knowledge in photography grew, sealing the fact that this was where I belonged. I had learnt a whole lot after the 6-month apprenticeship

He [Mr Seun] being someone who lets it all out without hiding [knowledge], guided me and my colleagues on starting out, and under his tutelage I founded Living Memories Photography where I am now the lead photographer.

“It’s been good, it’s been gracious and it’s also been ugly” I had a time once when I woke up thinking, ‘Sammy, aren’t you going to get a supporting career?’ But it’s at times like that I resolved and put my feet down! So I went out and while at a shopping complex that day, I decided, I wanted to have an exhibition!

So I told Mr Seun about it and he said, go ahead and plan for it! I didn’t have the money and even a camera as I didn’t own but rented cameras also from Mr Seun. I didn’t have prints ready to hold the exhibition with! Somehow, I got events where I got the pictures I used for the exhibition and it was just about the [penultimate] day or two before the exhibition that the money for it came.

It [photography] has been a learning curve. I learn from every job and event. A few days back a family had a joint party for the three girls (cousins) who shared the same birthday, different ages five, four and three years old.
Trying to get them all smiling and in the same shot seemed impossible, as per time it would be two smiling and the third doing something else entirely (like crying or frowning). One parent wasn’t helping by scolding them so I asked to be left alone and decided to try and take their pictures individually.

I had to do something; I started reciting rhymes and poems for them, and things that would interest kids. That was the first time I had to deal with three kids at the same time and somehow I learnt new tricks [that worked]. That’s how it has been for me.

I have a learnt a lot about how to relate with people.
Every day, I learn something new about photography, the business, packaging, pricing, negotiation, camera use, editing, and album design and so on. I read blogs and books, and watch videos and so on.
So all in all, it’s been fun!


I remember d first time I heard her voice
Twas the month of May
She called to inquire about her future with Photography
And left me with the desire to get my personal BlackBerry
Her questions were interesting:
“Are u sure u can teach me photography in 8 days?”
“Do you have a babysitter that can take care of my child during class?”
“How many installments can I make to settle the fees?”
The more she hurled more questions my way,
The more I doubted her seriousness about her “dream” profession
About 8 weeks went by
Until I came across her missed call
Apparently this lady was serious
She was calling to join the class that had already started
She was calling to ask for the account number to make payment
She was serious & that got me curious
I mean, she gave up her banking career
Because it took too much of her time
Transferred into the law industry
Though she was told there was “no money” there
And now she’s retiring into the world of Photography
I mean, what does this lady really want
She seemed serious & that got me curious
Well, her reasons will be OK by me
As long as she paid the school fees for her new dream
And then I finally met her
Or was it she that met me
Either way, we met
And it was in the middle of one of my photography class
I mean, why do these angels decide to always show up
whenever I need to concentrate the most
They decide to show up and it distracts me
Oh I was distracted quite all right
Thank God she sat in d class with her side facing the teacher: ME
Else my weakness would have been revealed:
The fact that I could not look straight into the eyes
of a beautiful woman for 5 good seconds.
I was distracted.
I was shy
I’m still shy
But I was impressed at her pace of learning
I mean, I had taught ladies photography before
& most of the time, I’ll have to teach a topic at least twice before it was understood
But not so with her
Twas as if she was the granddaughter of Albert Einstein.
She was intelligent
She is intelligent
And by the end of class she had taken enough pictures
to make you doubt the fact that she was an amateur
She was good
I mean very good
The type of “good” that could threaten TY Bello’s career in a few years
She was good
She is good
And very ambitious too
Truth be told: Ambition is her middle name
I mean, how many people will fix a date
For their photography exhibition while they are still undergoing training
How many people will join an international photography club
just so they could be eligible for an international photo contest
When they’ve not taken any contest-worthy picture
You guessed right: one person
At least she’s the only one that I’ve met
That’s like 1 person in every 200 photographers
She’s ambitious
Ambitious with a touch of Effizy (hope my spelling is right)
That is why I refer to her as
Her Royal “Effiziness”
She aims for the best
I had to convince her that she really did not need d top of d line canon camera
before she could get top of the line results
That she didn’t have to get 3 expensive studio lights before she could get expensive photographic results
She had big dreams
She has big dreams
And it was d way she went about her photography
That made me convinced about her level of seriousness
It dawned on me that this was a great opportunity
The opportunity of a lifetime
An opportunity to become the main photographer
that “groomed” the next Kelechi Amadi-obi, sorry, I mean d next TY Bello
So I made sure I gave my best to help her out
Beyond the 120k school fees she paid me,
I went above & beyond
And in the process of being her mentor
I became her protege
She began to inspire me
She continues to inspire me
Her commitment, her hardwork, her resilience, her persistence
I began to learn from her
If more entrepreneurs practiced all these,
Nigeria will have bigger & more successful businesses
So this is dedicated
To the protege that has become my mentor
To the student that has become my teacher
To the acquaintance that has become my friend
All within 7 weeks
To the one who has longed for a “poem” about her
This is the best I could do
This is dedicated to
Her Royal Effiziness


PICTURE THIS: Episode 2, Starting out in Photography (Part 2) & Photographer of the week (TRANSCRIPT)

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Picture This

Great day! And welcome to another wonderful episode of Picture This, your guide to photography. Once again, I’m Seun Akisanmi, and I’m going to be taking you through what we have for you today.

We started on a topic we titled, “Starting Out in Photography” on Tuesday and we will be continuing from where we stopped. No need repeating what we talked about, but the next major point that I will be mentioning for a lot of us that are starting out in the photography industry is….. “When you have decided to buy your camera(s), try to make sure you are not buying from Nigeria!” It’s sad to say, but the reason I don’t recommend buying any of your serious equipment here in Nigeria is: I am yet to meet a seller/ retailer here in Nigeria that sells these cameras, flashes, and lenses etc with warranties.

That basically means if you buy a Canon, Nikon, Olympus camera, lens or equipment) and any of it develops fault(s) within a month or two, it implies nothing will be done for you. I say this based on the experience I have had. Whenever you buy anything, check the receipt and ask, “does this come with the manufacturer’s warranty?” Good luck with the answer you get.

Most of the equipment we have purchased in eloPhotos have been bought through Amazon.com You might say you’re not travelling to USA or abroad to buy these equipment, but if it means looking for a relative who is, you are better off buying these equipment through them. Amazon.com is not just the largest online seller of equipment like these, but there are lots of companies that sell these equipments with warranties.

In fact, I recently realised that a company like Nikon for example, actually offer a warranty of five years on some of their lenses and cameras. This means if you bought a camera from one of their authorised dealers, if anything goes wrong with it within a span of five years, that is not directly your fault of course, just return it and they will repair or replace and send back to you.

Personally, I have experienced the wonderful customer service of Canon. We have our own Canon Pixma pro 9000 printer, as most of the printing we do is done in-house. It got faulty about 6 months after I bought it. I called Canon, “I have this equipment, and it’s not up to a year that I purchased it and it’s faulty. What are you guys going to do about it?” After taking me through a series of troubleshooting steps on the phone, we still discovered we could not resolve it. So they requested I send the printer back and in fact, they had sent a replacement for the printer even before I had sent the one with me to them! It was really wonderful. They trusted me and kept to their word. That is unlikely to happen here. I have bought equipment here, recently I got an external flash and in less than 2 months it became faulty.  In fact we have two faulty external flashes; and I am sure the company we purchased from locally will definitely not return our money or give us a brand new replacement.

So if you are considering buying any camera you have decided on getting, please do yourself a big favour; buy it from a company like Amazon.com or any online company that is considered an authorised dealer.

The next tip for those starting out in photography has to do with the ‘megapixels’ of the camera. I am sure we have heard a lot said about megapixels and cameras. Practically every 12 to 18 months, camera companies like Nikon or Canon come up with a new model that has more megapixels than the previous. The truth about all the ‘megapixels’ is this: the companies want you to believe that the higher the megapixels of the camera, the better the results you are going to get. To an extent this is not entirely true, and I want you to consider this when looking at the camera to get. The goal is not to get the highest megapixel camera and interestingly, the cameras with the highest megapixels are very expensive.

The fact that you need to ask yourself is, ‘What is the size of the prints that I am going to be making?’ If you are going to be making 5”×7”, 8”×10” or maybe 10”×12” print size, trust me, you don’t need a 15 megapixel camera or an 18 megapixel camera to do that.

The truth in my own opinion, is that for most practising photographers, especially if you consider yourself an event photographer, most of us don’t need a camera with more than 10 megapixels. I know in talking about this a lot of people will definitely get angry with me, saying “How can you say that my Canon 7D or 600D has this and I know the advantage?”All I am saying is it is one of the major things to consider.

I know a photographer who has a Canon 7D, a powerful camera by any standard. I think he even borrowed the money he used to purchase it. But he ended up only taking pictures that were being printed on 5”×7” paper. The truth about most of us starting out in photography is we don’t have all the money in the world.

If you are an advertising photographer, and most of what you will be printing is the size of a 5- storey building then by God, get the highest megapixel camera!

When someone tells me they have a $1,000 and they are just starting out, I usually don’t recommend spending up to half of it or more on the equipment acquisition.

You need to really plan well. Megapixels don’t always mean better quality always. In some situations, in combination with other settings, they do, but not always.

So make a wise decision and take my advice. Most of what I have shared so far have actually been some of my own experiences and also what I have learnt from the many mentors I have had both in person and the multitude of books I have.

I hope you are enjoying this show so far. At this juncture, we will feature a photographer that I respect, a great photographer in the making by the name of Lara Tiamiyu

Hello Everyone, My name is Lara Tiamiyu, I’m a photographer and also a model. I started photography as a hobbyist…. I could recollect that back then in school on campus, there was this guy who used to take pictures and I used to stare a lot at his lens, he had a very long lens then and I would wonder, wow, what is this? And even after the pictures were printed out; I would be like, wow, this guy is good!

I would always come round just to stare at his camera, especially the lens, but I never knew why I loved it then, I had no idea about it until after school. I realised that I spent more money taking pictures from this same [particular] guy, than even buying [lecture] handouts. I had many more pictures than my handouts.

My roommates then would be like “Are you ok? You don’t even have money to eat, you want to take pictures?” ‘Yeah, I just want to take pictures!”

I love moments, and beautiful things around me being captured. After school, I wanted to do photography but, I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t want just the normal photography shops I saw around that you go to and they have this blue background. They just take you, you stand, no action, no moment, they don’t capture anything! I didn’t want that. I wanted special photography. So I talked to a friend of mine, his name is Faith and he told me that he could talk to a friend of his, that might know somebody that can help or link me to a better photographer, in the kind of photography I want. He linked me to Ayoade Precious and I talked to him that I want photography so badly. I didn’t even go in search of a job after school, because I knew I wanted photography.

Despite the passion I have for modelling, [that is in-built, natural, I love modelling a lot] but besides that I wanted to be a photographer. Ayoade told me that he knows someone who is a good photographer in his church. So Ayoade introduced me to Seun Akisanmi and I went to his office and it all started from there.

And I was so impressed when I got to his office and saw books and was like, ‘Wow! You can learn photography by reading a lot of books. That was four years back and all the way it’s been very interesting. He told us to read more books, do research and it’s been fun, I’m telling you.

That’s because this is what I wanted to do and nobody had to tell me to do it.

My major challenge when I started out was getting cameras to work [with]. It’s not funny! When somebody trusts you to cover their wedding or an event that doesn’t happen twice. I went to a couple then and they were like, “Are you sure you can handle our wedding [photography] and really give us what we want?” And I said ‘Sure, I can!’ even though I didn’t even have pictures to prove.

They gave me the contract and to God be the glory it was wonderful. But the major challenge was getting a camera. To a layman photography is expensive and you should know that now. On this particular day I could remember, I had to cover a wedding. I had informed one of my colleagues that he was going to lend me his camera to use. But I was surprised when I called him a day before and he was saying, “Aww, Lara, I’m sorry, I can’t give it to you, it’s not available…” I said, ‘You should have told me! Who do you expect me to call now?’ I called someone else and it would take five hours before I get to him.

When I finally arrived the the venue [of the wedding], I was tired and exhausted. So where was the strength [I needed] to cover this event? How am I gonna tell the couple that, oh, I’m so tired? And it’s so gonna be obvious in the pictures, (because an image is all about the expression the photographer has in him or her. There is something about reflecting i.e. pictures reflect. To me, any mood I want my subject to be in, I reflect it to my subject. If I’m not happy, it’s going to tell in my pictures. I have to be happy to get those moments I want.)

I spoke to myself, ’Lara girl, you have to work. I don’t know [how] the strength just came from within! I started taking pictures and my God, it was wonderful!

Also apart from getting a camera to work with, when I started out; one of my biggest challenges was: GUYS! To me while I am on field working, my eyes always go to and fro not because of any other reason than, I don’t want to miss any moment. Like if there is woman behind me dancing who is so, overjoyed and I have to catch that moment. I have to watch everybody and so my eyes [could] come into contact with a guy once or twice and in his mind, he’s just thinking that the [female] photographer is admiring him.

I’m not! I’m only working and that is the way I love to do – My eyes are always everywhere. So if you see a female photographer looking all around, do get insulted and don’t think she is tripping. No, she’s not.

There was this particular day, while covering a wedding; one of the groomsmen liked me and I didn’t know anyway. My colleague overheard the discussion between him and one of the confetti ladies.

He was like, “I like that photographer! I might even ask her out” And she was like “Are you Ok? You are tripping for a photographer? Please don’t!”

When my colleague told me, I wondered, are photographers not human? Can’t they be admired for what they do or be taken serious? Why is it so? Please we need to change that perspective. We have many people who went to school of medicine or law and end up becoming photographers. That is what they have passion for and not the profession they tried to get into. So if you see [photographers] please learn to appreciate them. Anything you can’t do, appreciate people who do it, because you don’t know how to.

You could be a doctor and I’m a photographer. While I don’t know anything about giving injections if I gave you my camera, you can’t handle it. So respect me for that – Thank you!

I had been working on how to get to my [kind of] clients, the people I really want to work with. Some might not want to give you a check of two hundred thousand for pictures and they’re like”is there gonna be gold in the pictures?” That has been a challenge [too] really.

I wanted to do an exhibition at the Palms shopping mall, that was my target, but it was way expensive. So I talked to Seun Akinsanmi about it and he called me that the British Council was organising an exhibition at Eko Hotels and I had two days before entry closes. I wasn’t ready with my pictures and I did not have any [required] equipment. But the strength came, and I went around to get everything [needed] done and luckily, I had the exhibition and it was successful! It was a dream-come-true that was so rewarding.

I met people that on a normal day, I won’t have opportunity to talk to one-on-one, like the commissioner of tourism. Some of them came to my stand and La Royal concept to them was just a name. They asked “do you run this?” and I said Yes and they marvelled at a young lady like me doing something like this. Through that I got a contract to cover Calabar Festival. I t was a big one, and if I had not done that exhibition I would not have got the contact. I was really happy about it.

My dream wasn’t to have a big studio and be running it. I actually wanted to help and work with others to achieve their dream, in spite of the fact I didn’t know how. At this point, it’s changing, and La Royal Concept is not just about photography. Later on, in about five years, we are going to be adding a spa and salon in a mini-complex. The spa and the salon are all about beauty and photography is all about beauty and moments. I love moments a lot and I love capturing moments.

For those starting out, you really have to have a passion for it, and when I say that I don’t meant just liking it or just because of the money. If it is because of the money, I daresay you are heading for regret . You are gonna get out of it before you know it. So you need to do what you have passion for because at the start you are going to encounter challenges. It’s your passion that gives you the strength to move on, so without the passion I don’t know what could happen. God knows best. But please let your passion direst you. Do what you love to do and what brings smiles to you each time you do it. Each time I handle a camera I forget my sorrow. I forget everything behind me and I am always smiling. A client once told me I have been watching you and behind the camera you are always smiling. The inner happiness is there, it comes from within and it reflects. Pictures speak. If you are happy doing it, you may not mind of they are not paying your money and you never know what the free job is going to fetch you. If you are happy doing it.


So that’s it for today’s episode of Picture This, your guide to photography.

Let us know what you think of the show. I always say, if you like the show, you could always subscribe to this channel by visiting youtube.com/elophotos and clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button. You could also share it with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and if you like the show, just click the ‘like’ button there

But if you have any issues, problems or questions whatsoever, please let us know to make this a better program and also incorporate some of the questions you have. Till we meet next time on the same channel on Tuesday, keep talking those pictures.

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N141 per litre of fuel and the effect on the Nigerian Photographer

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Fuel subsidy removal, occupy Nigeria, coalition against fuel subsidy removal, how to download fuel, fuel price increase, Goodluck Jonathan, Most Cursed President……… just a few of the recent top google searches that brings up results that are associated with the Nigerian economy and people.

However, very few have thought about the effect it will have on the Nigerian photographer. Well here’s my take on that. I’ve already started feeling the impact. The pure water I bought for N5 on December 31st, 2011 has suddenly become N10 yesterday. The Maltina I bought on Jan 1 for N100 is now N130. My transportation to church has increased by 40% (now I’m considering attending church services on the internet). Thank God the price of my N50 gala has not changed (you see, there’s always something to thank God for).

With all of these increase in prices happening simultaneously, I began pondering if the key photography vendors would follow suit (i.e. print labs, frames, graphic artists, etc). I decided to call the MD/CEO of one of the top printing labs in Lagos, 5D Imagery. I asked if his organization was considering increasing the price of prints to photographers. All I heard was “OFCOURSE” before the line went dead. I tried calling back but my call was no longer being picked up.

MAYBE HE THOUGHT I WAS FROM CNN. Maybe the gsm network was busy. Maybe he was about saying “OFCOURSE NOT” before the line dropped dead. Maybe….. All I know is that I couldn’t reach him again. I started quizzing myself on the possible grounds they could have for increasing the price of their prints. I assumed that the generators they use at their facilities use diesel and not petrol. I assumed that the fuel subsidy was only on petrol. I assumed that they probably make about N1 million+ in sales daily and spend N20,000 in diesel daily. I assumed that a 120% increase in the cost of their fuel shouldn’t translate into a 100% increase in the price of their prints. Do the maths. I assumed that he’s a very reasonable man who wouldn’t increase his rates by more than 5% considering my calculations except for the sole reason of increasing the salaries of his staff that will be grossly affected by the fuel price hike. All these are assumptions. Time will tell what the final decision will be.

I proceeded to call another print lab to make the same inquiry. The staff at Replica studios was glad to tell me that they won’t be increasing their price at the moment. I was glad on behalf of the hundreds of photographers that patronize them. Please note that I’m not a fan of Replica studios; neither did I receive any compensation from them. We do most of our printing in-house and this report is a result of the journalistic tendencies lurking under my skin.

Another top printing outfit in Lagos, Fotospeed (located in Victoria Island), had not decided to increase their rates yet. So that settles the printing side.

As many of us are already aware that the cost of printing pictures is not the only cost we bear, there are still other areas (e.g. Frames, album designers/graphic artists, album binders, etc) that will be affected. The following are a few tips that I believe could be of help to those that care enough about their business to have read thus far.

1. Have a comprehensive website. In this day & age, a websiteless professional photographer is a unserious photographer. In fact such photographers should remove the word “professional” whenever they’re referring to who they are. The only reason for you not having a website should be because you’ve not taken any pictures and have not “launched” your photography business (and if you fall under this class of photographers, its ok to stop reading this piece now because the rest of the tips might not be as important).
One of the major advantage of having a website now is a reduction in your cost of transportation. Most clients that call me now already have an idea of the quality I bring to the table because they’ve seen my job online. Consequently, the major issue we usually discuss is how & when I’ll be getting a deposit. Even if they ask to see what the final album looks like, there’s a 90% chance that we’ve already sealed the deal. I can’t imagine going to Lekki from Ogba just to show a potential client my collections only to end up not getting the job. Not only would I have wasted over 4 hours for the trip, my transport fare (toll gate fee + fuel) will not be refunded. So be smart, develop your website TODAY.
N.B. You can still register for the forthcoming workshop on website development (Fire your web designer) by the end of January 🙂

2. Don’t give your clients any discount. If you’re a business person in Nigeria, you know what the normal buying protocol is: you ask seller for price of product, seller gives you her price, you ask for the “last price”, seller gives you a discount, you act as if you’re not buying anymore and further ask for a “final price”, seller is almost angry (in some cases, seller curses you & your father’s house) but finally agrees to your last price, you seal the deal with seller. Kapish.
Chances are you’ve given discounts to almost all the clients you had last year (don’t tell anyone but I’m guilty of that too). In other to cope with the increase in your “cost of production”, you’ll be better off not giving any discounts than to increase your price. Just tell your potential client “You know the current subsidy situation….you’re still getting a great deal because I have chosen not to be like everyone else by increasing my price.” I have a funny feeling that it will work.

3. Create other streams of income. Until now, all you did was take the pictures; you contracted every other aspect out and finally get a photo book a few weeks later. Well, maybe its time to consider contracting out those other aspects to yourself. Yes, YOU. If you pay someone else to design your albums, start designing yourself. Though it can be tedious, consider binding the albums and creating albums boxes for yourself. Better yet, start marketing to your fellow colleagues that might need your NEW services. You’ll be surprised the extra money you’ll save and make.

4. Sharpen your Unique Selling Point (USP): this is the time you need to seriously market yourself based on your USP. If you’re known to arrive early for events, deliver promptly to clients, design creatively or a good communicator, these are selling points that could help stand you out beyond the price you charge. Focus on them and bring the clients’ attention to the fact that it will be their loss if they don’t hire you.

5. Build a team. Building a team of photography assistants will go a long way in easing your burden. There are jobs that many photographers turn down because they are not paying what you charge. However if you present an alternative for the client that entails having your “accredited & reliable” assistant cover the photography assignment, you could charge lesser than your standard fee and still increase your income. If my assistants or colleagues are assigned to a job, usually the client saves between 20% & 50% in fees. Many photographers may not agree with me on this but with the right associates, you’re likely to increase your chances of going for a vacation earlier than you planned.

6. Choose your friends wisely. Yes, I know things might be difficult at the moment but it is times like this that I’m conscious of associating myself with people that have a plan for a future. I’m likely to be closer to someone who believes he stands a very good chance of getting a photography job (even if it seems the “market” is saturated) than someone who complains and moans about how its hard to make it in life. Yes, they might not be perfect but at least I’ll learn from them that which will help take me to the next level. That’s why I love photographers like Jide Alakija, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Shola Animashaun & Leke Adenuga to mention just a few; they share what they know with you and are not afraid of you ending up more successful than them.

7. Develop a long-term business plan. The situation presently is a temporary one. If you focus too much on it without a long-term business plan, you’re likely to end up with a 9-5(sorry 8am – 8pm in most cases) job sooner than you think. Infact, you should be thinking of incoperating the present fuel price hike as a strategy for taking your business to the next level. You may ask, HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? Trust me, this is a season of unprecedented opportunities for Nigerian photographers. If only you can see it…….if only

8. Take advantage of social media. If you’re not presently utilizing the potentials of social media (facebook, youtube, twitter, google + etc) you’re seriously short-changing yourself. I’ve made over N2 million in the past 18 months as a result of my “business” presence on these social media. Anyway whichever way you look at it, the extra income will be worth it. TRUST ME.

9. Be financially prudent. More than ever before, this is the time to be more prudent in financial matters. I’ve recently had to give up my love for a daily consumption of 100-150cl of Pepsi. Apart from having a negative impact on my health, it had an impact on my finances too. So far, I’ve not drank a drop of Pepsi this year. SO FAR. I had it replaced with a cheaper & healthier alternative: WATER. You might have to reduce your expenses (although some would consider some of these to be an investment) in chocolate, movies, partying, phone calls, & ………….. well you know what else you spend. It is high time you reduce or remove the SUBSIDIES on such items; it will leave you with more resources to invest in your business. Trust me, I’ve already saved over N1200 this year alone as a result of removal of the subsidy I previously allocated to Pepsi. Do the maths & you’ll discover how richer I’ll be by the end of 2012

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WANTED URGENTLY: A Videographer with Integrity

I’m on the verge of giving up on finding a videographer with integrity. This advert/notice serves as my final frantic effort in my search.

In the past 4 years, I’ve worked with over 4 videographers. The relationship usually ended when the videographer always seems to have a good excuse why he was delivering the DVD 1-4 months after the agreed-upon date of delivery.

In one instance, the videographer told me the reason for his 3 month+ delay was the fact that he just moved office and was busy “settling down.” I wish he had hinted to the fact that his “relocation” will affect the client to that extent. The client would definitely not have hired him.

Another interesting excuse given by another videographer was that his colleague was missing & presumed dead; therefore he couldn’t attend to the client at that moment. 3 months passed and you would think he would have gotten over the missing person so he could deliver the client’s job.

It’s just frustrating. A few minutes ago, I had a client who asked if I could recommend a videographer for her wedding and I had to tell her that it will be better if her close friends & colleagues recommended someone for her and not me.

Are there no more videographers with integrity. Somebody? Anybody? It’s so bad that clients wont even mind hiring a videographer whose job is rated 7 out of 10; as long as he is a man of his words and delivers when he says he will deliver.

Or was it part of their training to make sure clients are disappointed and never return to them? I’m beginning to think so. Somebody should please prove me wrong.

So this is my last clarion call to anybody out there that knows anybody that is a videographer with integrity. You must be able to vouch wholeheartedly for the person. There are hundreds of clients waiting to be satisfied with your services. Somebody help me! Somebody, PLEASE, help me!!!!

But then again, maybe I should consider adding “videography” to the list of services I render my clients. Until then, if you fit the description of “A VIDEOGRAPHER WITH INTEGRITY” you can send your details to seunakisanmi@elophotos.com

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Picture This (Episode 1): Starting out in Photography (TRANSCRIPT)

Great day, everyone and welcome to the show that we have been talking about for many months now. Finally, it has arrived! I’m Seun Akisanmi and I’m going to be your host along the way. I want you guys to stay tuned to this channel every Tuesdays and Fridays as we bring to you a fresh and inspiring episode of this show.

First of all, our goal is to raise the standard of professionalism in the photography industry. A few years back, I realized that there were a lot of photographers coming into the industry that don’t know how to start or what to do especially with regards to the business of photography. It is one thing to have a camera and it is another thing to run a photography business; hence the reason why we started a show like this.

The second goal (reason) for this show is actually to increase awareness and appreciation of photography in our society. Gone are the days that a child would tell his dad or mum that “Dad, I want to be a photographer“ and the dad or mum would slap the child. I want by the end of 2012, a three year-old child could tell his dad or mum, “Daddy,mom, i want to be a photographer like Seun or Shola or Kike or Lara…. & the parents won’t scold him/her for that. The goal is to increase the awareness of photography, so with the episode that will be showcasing as time goes on, these are areas that we will be addressing. Stay tuned.

Welcome back! At this junction, I feel it is important to explain that not every episode would contain all the segments that we have planned. In a previous upload, i explained that we would be having, for example, a segment we call, “PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE WEEK“, “PHOTO OF THE WEEK“, “PHOTO FACTS“ and different segments. You need to know that because we are trying to make it a short program, not all the segments will be packed into one episode. For example, we will be having on Friday, “The photographer of the week“ section and whatever else we need to discuss. I am just trying to let us know in advance so that you know you are ready. So stay tuned.

So, in this episode, we will be talking about what we titled, “STARTING OUT IN PHOTOGRAPHY“ and I will be giving some tips for a lot of photographers that are coming afresh into the industry.

My first and foremost tip for every new and fresh photographer in this industry is this; DO NOT GET A CAMERA. Yes You heard me right, I said “don’t buy a camera yet”. This is the one of the first major mistakes that I feel a lot of photographers make. They feel that once they have gotten a camera (at this stage we are in the revolution of photography, a camera is easy to get, it is affordable especially the digital camera, it is affordable and easily to get) they feel “now i know everything about photography“, “now let me conquer the world!“ But they are about to find out that what they thought was a “stepping stone” actually becomes stumbling block.

This is so because most of us were not taught in the University how to actually run a successfully business, how much more a photography business. So, if you ask me, I would rather you get a mentor first before you buy a camera. It is important you get a mentor i.e., somebody that is already a photographer in this industry. If you are talking about the photography industry in Nigeria, there are at least 20 to 30 great photographers that we could reckon with, & I’m sure you have heard of their names. So, if it means writing them, talking to them on the phone, associating with them, applying for an internship program even if it is for one day, one week, one month. If you ask me, I usually recommend a minimum of 3 to 6 months.

Associate with someone you consider a mentor before you buy that camera. Besides, considering the fact that this is an industry you know little or nothing about, don’t assume that even the camera you are getting is actually what you need, you never can tell at the end of the day after buying that camera, you realize you have actually wasted resources. So take my word for it, don’t buy a camera yet. Now you might be wondering what if you have already gotten a camera, “WHAT CAN I DO?“ Well, my advice to you is this, just sell the camera to me…….. I’m just kidding. But really, it is still important you look for a mentor because what it takes to make it in this industry is way beyond just getting a camera.

So, the next advice I will give those that are coming afresh into the industry is this, (and this is should in case you don’t happen to find a mentor or somebody that you can talk to or work with on an internship basis or learn from): GET BOOKS ON PHOTOGRAPHY.

I had this challenge when I was starting out in 2006. There were little and very few people that I could actually call my mentors. I was fortunate to find about two people then: Tony Makati (thank you Makati for showing me the way) and Yomi Siffre, the lead photographer at Siffre studios. Thank God for these two guys and mentors that really helped me out there but beyond what they offered me, beyond the tutelage they provided for me, i still got some books on photography that helped me to better lay a solid foundation.
If you don’t have access to getting the hard cover books, get eBooks. One of the challenges we face in Nigeria is the fact that there are few bookshops that actually sell books on photography. In a way, you can’t really blame them because a lot of us (i.e. photographers in Nigeria) are more likely to spend N300,000 or $5000 to buy a camera than to buy a $20 dollar book. I’m sure there are a lot of places you can get a lot of e-books to download. Even if you have to “Goggle“ the keywords. Try search phrases like “I’m new at photography“, or “learning photography“ and the resources that will come up would amaze you: at least 100,000 results will show up.

At this point, there are at least 4 books that I feel you must do whatever you can to get (preferably before buying a camera). In fact, if you don’t have any money to get these books, sell your camera and buy these books and you will be glad you did.

The first and foremost of all the books is a book that has transformed my life. Interestingly enough, this book has nothing to do with the topic of photography. The title is “Outliers“ and it is written by Malcom Gladwell. It is the number 1 book I would recommend, not just for people starting out, but for every business professional.. Every professional, every business owner needs this book, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.

The second book I would recommend is a book titled “Teach yourself photography” and it is written by Lee Frost. It is a very good book and it comes with a companion DVD. Especially if you are someone that learns very well when you read on your own, this is a good guide to help you even if you have a mentor. By the way you can get all these books from AMAZON.com.

The third book is a guy that has really been a blessing to me, John Harrington. Although I have not met him in person, he’s a mentor of thousands of photographers. The title of his book is “BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS“. I got this book about 4 years ago and it is one of the books that helped me to lay a very solid foundation in my photography business. Do your best to get this book.

The last but not the least is a book written by one of the oldest photographers of our age (come to think of it, I’m not sure if the guy is still alive). His name is Tom McDonald and the title of the book is “THE BUSINESS OF PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY”. It is a great book that showcases the top 10 to 15 portrait photographer (a few years ago). It gives us an idea of their business models, how they run their businesses & how they do their marketing. Do whatever you can to get this book. The book is written by a photographer that has been in the business for over 40 years. Can you imagine? The guy has been running a photography business even before i was born. So learn from his mistakes and don’t repeat them all over again. Tom McDonald’s “THE BUSINESS OF PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY“.

Once again, all these books can be gotten on AMAZON.com. So sell your camera, do whatever you can to get these books and that will help you on your way to becoming a true professional photographer.

So by now, once you have gotten a mentor (& you’ve been trained) and these photography books, the next step is to get a camera. I’m saying this because by the time you read some of these books, you will have an idea of the type of camera that will fit the type of photography that you actually want to specialize in.

Once you’ve been trained, you’ll realize it was a good thing you didn’t buy the camera in the first place because that is when you’ll learn that some of these cameras have prices that are more than your university school fees or annual rent or mortgage payment. It is really important you know what you’re really dealing with here. Even for the students that come through our training program, at the end of the training, we still give them books to read because with the rate at which new information is coming into this industry, you really never can know everything. So it’s important you keep yourself up to date.

And at this junction, this is where people ask me “which camera should I get?“ That is a very good question. Which camera should you get? That is the question of the century. When i started out, I asked my mentors (Yomi Siffre & Makati) which camera they would recommend for me. And guess what? They gave me different answers.

Take Yomi Siffre, for example. The guy is a fan , a great lover of Nikon products. That was over five years old! The guy is still in love with Nikon. He told me, “Seun, if you are really serious with photography and you really want to make it, make sure you get a Nikon camera.” I listened to him, noted down his answer and went over to my other mentor.

So I asked Mr. Tony Makati,”which camera do you think I should get?” He told me,’’Seun if you really,really want to make it in this photography industry, make sure you get a Canon camera.” Come to think of it, Canon was his favorite camera then. And I can still remember when I was talking to him about getting a camera then; he was actually cleaning about three of his Canon cameras. So the question of which camera to get was an easy answer for him.

Makati told me to get a Canon camera. Siffre told me to get a Nikon camera. Then, I sat down and thought to myself,”is it true that the camera that people use (Canon or Nikon) is what determines how successful they’ll become?” Knowing the type of person that I was, I decided to go against their advice. I can be stubborn sometimes. I wanted to prove to these people that”If I don’t use Canon or Nikon, I would still make it in Photography”.

So I settled for a camera that none of them recommended for me: Olympus. And I think if Olympus were to come to Nigeria right now,they will consider me as one of their Ambassadors. (Considering the amount of Olympus cameras I own). The point I’m trying to bring out of this is the answer to that question,”Which camera should I get?”

And the answer to that question is: IT DEPENDS. It depends on your taste, it depends on the camera manufacturer that you are in love with. And my main suggestion is for you to visit a site like www.DPreview.com. The site provides independent, non-biased reviews of every camera that has been manufactured for the past 6 to 10 years. And sometimes even for Canon manufacturers, you could place two cameras side by side and compare. It is a site that gives you more technical information than you would ever need! That might be a good place to start. But I won’t come here and tell you,”Canon is the best, Olympus is the best or Nikon is the best!”

I know some people that could kill for Canon and they will tell you,”look if you are not taking pictures with Canon,you have not started your photography business”. But I tell them many times if pictures are seen as great pictures, how many people look at the picture and say ”Wow! I bet you used a Canon camera,” or “I bet you used a Nikon camera.” Most people just appreciate the beauty & care less which camera you use.

So if you are trying to settle on a camera to choose, go to www.Dpreview.com & do a research depending on your style of photography or what you want to specialize in. And whatever you conclude, whatever is comfortable by you is the right camera to get. Especially the camera that fits your budget, it’s really important it fits your budget.

One other thing you should consider when getting a camera: it is really important to get a camera that you know your colleagues or your mentors have. For example, it was not necessarily a wise thing thing that I decided to choose Olympus then because as at that point in time (2006), I was about the only person that I knew was using Olympus cameras. We had people in Nigeria repairing all these digital cameras and most of them specialized in the repairs of Canon and Nikon equipment. So I placed myself in a hot spot; I put myself in a corner. When I had any issues with the cameras, I was left alone to resolve it myself.

So if you are going for a Canon camera, it’s important you decide that it is because you know one or two people that have Canon cameras. So if you encounter a challenge with your Canon you could ask them for help. Same thing goes for any other camera choice. Of course, by now a lot of people decide to choose Olympus camera because they know someone like me that has Olympus cameras. Presently,we have Olympus and Nikon cameras & we are considering getting a few Canon cameras because I like getting used to all the different cameras.

So there goes the answer to that question,”Which camera should you get?” Whichever one fits your budget ,whichever one most of your friends are using and whichever one is comfortable with you.

So that is it for today’s episode of PICTURE THIS. Stayed tuned till Friday when we continue on what it takes to start out in photography. Until then if you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to send us an e-mail at picturethis@elophtos.com. We will not only incorporate it into the show somehow but we will get back to you as soon as possible.

One more thing that you will do for me is this: visit www.youtube.com/elophotos to subscribe to this channel. The “subscribe” button is right at the top of the channel. By subscribing, you become one of the first few people who get a notification once we upload an episode. So subscribe to the channel, share the program with your friends, “like” it if its ok. And if you feel we are not really doing well, please email me at picturethis@elophotos.com
Tell us what you feel we could do better & any help whatsoever you could offer would be appreciated. Let this be a partnership like I mentioned earlier and together we would help to build a better photography industry. Stay tuned and keep taking those pictures

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How much should a wedding client deposit before you’re bound to cover their celebration?

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That is a debatable question. Last month marked the 4-years wedding anniversary of one of our clients. The bride approached us to be the official wedding photographer of the day. Being a close friend at the moment, she felt she deserved a discount of some sort. I eventually agreed and told her the condition of the discount warranted that she would have to pay the full discounted amount before the wedding day.

It was a 2-day celebration and we eventually settled for N100,000 (approximately $650). After paying in bits & pieces she was eventually able to make a total deposit of N55,000 before the wedding. I explained to her that this wasn’t acceptable as a large percentage of clients who don’t pay their wedding photographer upfront usually end up defaulting. She explained that it will not be her story & that she will pay the balance not later than 2 weeks after the wedding.

My greatest mistake was to have agreed to her terms. As at the time of this writing the balance is still unpaid and they are yet to get their wedding album. The agreement was that if they didn’t pay the full amount they wouldn’t get any pictures; not even 1 soft-copy.

Sometimes I wonder what the couple would tell their guests & children whenever the wedding album is requested. If I were to go back in time, I would not have accepted the wedding.

That particular wedding made me take my wedding contract & agreement more serious. Now everything is written down and signed by the couple & the photographer weeks or months before the day of celebration. We’ve even had a client that told us after his wedding that he thought he was getting 2 albums and I had to ask him to check the agreement again. He apparently forgot.

One of the major conditions in the wedding contract is for the client to pay a minimum of 80% of the total bill before we will be “bound” to be the official photographer. In cases where we’ve worked with the client before, the client sometimes pays 100% before the event. Considering the fact that most of our clients are “referred” to us, there’s an assurance that we’re likely not going to disappoint on delivering what we promised.

So next time you meet a wedding client that is bent on paying 50% and balancing later, think twice. There’s been many scenarios in which the client is supposedly a trustworthy individual and I’ve been disappointed afterward. Besides, how come the caterer, musician, MC, band, decorator, & other vendors get between 80-100% payment upfront. It’s your call.

Structure the payment plan in a way that will favor yourself: the photographer. Even if my client were to pay my balance now, what album or quality package should I deliver: the package of 4 years ago or my present package (considering the fact that i did not give them a written agreement then)? Be the judge

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A Crazy Photographer’s 12 Goals for 2012

In no particular order of priority, behold 12 of the goals that I plan to achieve by December 31st, 2012.

1. Wash my plates after eating. It’s a weakness that many husbands and bachelors are guilty of. I plan to express my love more to my wife by washing my plates after eating. It’s the least I can do. Can’t promise to wash any other person’s plate but I’ll start with mine and see how it goes.

2. Spend 2 nights at the 7-star hotel in Dubai. I plan to document photographically my stay at this hotel. It’s one of the projects I wholeheartedly look forward to embarking upon. At $2000 per night, I better start taking my photography business more seriously and begin saving.

3. Photograph an event in Asia. I’ll prefer a wedding coverage to a rioters’ coverage. Either way, covering a joyous moment in an Asian culture will be fun. India will be good for a start

4. Host a photography convention in Nigeria. This is going to be BIG. Planning a 3-6 day convention will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and I’m confident it will be impactful. Watch out

5. Get an invitation to speak at a photography convention/conference in the United States and/or Europe. Don’t have an idea how this will come to pass but I’m preparing my speech/notes so that I’ll be ready once the opportunity comes knocking

6. Co-found a Photography Association in Nigeria. To help address issues such as the rights of a photographer & a standard level of professionalism, an association registered with the government is inevitable. If you’re interested in helping out, holla at me.

7. Write my first photography book. Still thinking of a title. So far I might settle for “Diary of a mad black photographer.” Or what do you think?. I hope everyone that has been encouraging me to write a book will not ask me for complimentary copies; you’ll need to purchase it so I’ll be encouraged to write more books. I’m still open to better title suggestions.

8. Start a clothing line. Don’t know whether to call it eloFashion or Seun Akisanmi but the designs that have been playing around in my head can’t be expressed in photography; a fashion design outfit is inevitable. I know its important to be known for just 1 thing but having multiple streams of income isn’t a bad idea. Anything to make me quickly get my edition of BMW 750i before it is discontinued.

9. Earn $1 million in photography income. Though my bank account balance might be reading $70, I believe this is the year of the manifestation of my millions…..in dollars. Watch out

10. Stop drinking 100-150cl of Pepsi everyday. Just discovered that such a habit is neither good for my health
Nor my bank account. I plan on replacing the Pepsi drinks with a daily dose of 3 litres of water. I just hope the Pepsi seller won’t go bankrupt this year because of my decision.

11. Read at least 10 hours of photography materials every week. This will be necessary if I need to keep tabs with the loads of information that will be added to the database of photography in 2012.

12. Write everyday in 2012 on my journey & experience in photography. This will be interesting. Doing a writeup on photography every single day…..will be challenging and fun. One down 365 to go. 2012, I’m ready for you.

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RE: 12 Nigerian Photographers

How do I start. I’ve gotten very interesting & controversial feedback (including the one in your heart you’re yet to express) from the list of 12 Nigerian Photographers to watch out for in 2012 (CHECK IT OUT). Like I mentioned clearly in the writeup, it is a very biased opinion on my part that is based on reasons that might not be logical to many; they’re not even logical to me.

Although I got “Thank you” messages from the people who made the list, my intention was originally not to encourage or inspire them. Many on the list might not look like anything at this moment but I was taking a big bet (with myself) that they’ll manifest within 12 months. And I didn’t receive any form of compensation for the PR either.

The people who made the list could in many ways be likened to the 12 that made the disciples’ list of Jesus; most were not people who you think should be chosen. Infact I have many photographer friends that can be on such a list. I definitely hope you’re not angry with me for not including you.

In my opinion (there goes Seun again with his opinion), if a photographer looks at the list and murmurs within that he/she is better than some of the names mentioned, that photographer did not deserve to be on the list. As much as many people will disagree, current technical ability was not a mandatory condition for making the list. My very-biased analysis of the photographer’s HEART was a big condition.

To crown it all, it’s not an ALMIGHTY list. In fact if you ask Jesus at the moment to write such a list, none of the names might show up. I would definitely hope that my name would show up if Jesus was the author, but I wouldn’t be upset if it didn’t.

I’ll be more concerned to make sure that my name shows up (& remains) in the BOOK OF LIFE. Just like there’s no guaranty many people’s name will remain in the book of life forever, there’s no assurance these people will still be in the industry come December 2012. The idea is just to watch out for them.

So next time we meet in person or online, please don’t be angry with me for not including your name. I’m just being a politician and it’s just my biased opinion. Better still, for a more comprehensive list of people who I think you should watch out for in 2012, check my Facebook list of friends. Last time I checked it was over 4700 and still counting. So forgive us our trespasses as we forgive………

Please, please, don’t be angry with me. PLEASE

Lessons From a Family Portrait Session

On December 21, I got a call from a gentleman who referred to himself as PA (initials for his name). We were recommended by his colleague at his workplace, Mobil Producing Nigeria. We covered the wedding of the daughter of his colleague last Christmas (i.e. 2010) and he loved the pictures enough to refer us. Majority of our clients call us because their family, friends (or enemies) recommended us.

“Do you do home service”, PA asked. My response? “You just spoke my language.” We scheduled the shoot for Dec 28 & I explained to him right there on the phone what my minimum charge for home sessions was ($300 as of the time of the telephone conversation…..& could have gone up as at the time you’re reading this :>). I didn’t want to drive for almost 2 hours to get to his house only for him to tell me that was beyond his budget. He was ok with the bill. I was happy that he was ok with the bill.

I took a sample size of one of the 13″ by 19″ frames I’ll be delivering because he wasn’t familiar with sizes & dimensions of frames. He would eventually choose the type of “standard” frame that will go with the 2 pictures he wanted. I packed my camera bag about 3 hours before we set out. Under normal circumstances, this was too late. I teach my students to always have their camera bag & equipment ready at least 12-24 hours before a location shoot. Thankfully I did not forget anything.

I made sure I ate breakfast before leaving for what usually ends up being a 6 hour-minimum ordeal (3 hours roundtrip for transport & 3 hours for the session). I never eat at a client’s house before a shoot, even if the client insists. I’m usually very anxious to get the main job out-of-the-way & receive a cheque than to sit down and be “making myself at home.” Sometimes I wonder if clients really mean it when they tell you to “make yourself at home.” I’m sure they wouldn’t have been happy had I ordered chinese food or pounded yam in an attempt to be free in their home. Anyway, I told him that a glass of water would be ok by me and my two assistants nodded in agreement to my requisition. Most clients that we do home sessions for are usually nice enough to offer food & drinks. In fact there is usually a 98% chance that I would end up enjoying a session with a client that offers food & drinks: they’re usually pleasant to work with.

It was interesting that though he was living in such a beautiful house with his wife & 2 children (maybe the family just moved in), there wasn’t a beautiful family portrait in view. Maybe it was in the master bedroom upstairs. All I know was that I was about to make their “living room” come alive with beautiful portraits. And, boy, did we get beautiful portraits. Like most of our family portrait clients, they wanted a high level of privacy with regard to their pictures; hence the reason you’ll see none of it on the internet except you’re a friend of the family and they give you the password to their viewing folder on our clients website (www.eloclients.com).

Before we started the shoot, I explained to him once again how the whole process works. The family changes into 2 or 3 attires (preferably matching in colors), we take as much pictures as their energy will permit, we upload the low resolution pictures on a passworded folder at http://www.eloclients.com & they choose the ones they’ll want us to frame or print for album(s).

With a glass of cold water quietly going down my throat, we began setting up our Bowens lighting equipment while they changed into their first attire. I always choose a spot or corner to put our bags or other small gadgets. It helps us easily account for anything we might have taken to the location.

Usually the first 20 minutes of the session usually doesn’t result in any “framable” image because the family is still trying to adopt to this stranger that calls himself a photographer.

I don’t just tell them to pose this way or that way; I engage them in conversations that will bring out the expressions that I want. To the 10 yr old boy, I would ask him how many games he has on his Playstation or what he thinks of the cartoon characters “Pinky & the Brain.” To the teenage girl, I would ask who her favorite R&B or pop artist is: Beyunce or Rihanna. And before you know it, you can hear the humming lyrics or Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” To the father, I would talk about how lucky he was to have gotten a lady as beautiful as his wife. I would tell him how beautiful his house is & how I would one day love to be able to afford the BMW 750i that was sitting in the garage. To the mum, wife & mother I would start by complimenting her on her looks or whatever she’s wearing (shoes, perfume, jewelry, etc). I would tell her how lucky she is to have a wonderful husband like hers. Usually & in most cases, all parties end up giving me the facial & emotional responses that translate into great & framable pictures.

I enjoyed the session and once again had to respond to their offer of hospitality: “What will you eat or drink?” “Malt will be ok,” I responded and my assisstants nodded in agreement.

I don’t know why but at the end of most of our sessions, I would not get a cheque unless I ask the client for it. Either they forget (yeah, right) or like the conductor in the average Lagos “Danfo”, they want me to forget. HOW CAN I FORGET. I asked for the “small rectangular” piece of paper and he gladly gave it to me. He ordered for an extra frame and I was glad I was about to start the new year on a really high note.

I was so happy with working with him that I offered to give him three 5″ by 7″ complimentary frames for his office. He was happy. My assistants were so happy with the level of hospitality received that they forgot the sample albums we took there. Now that made me unhappy because it will cost me un-budgeted funds for transportation for something that could have been avoided. I guess they learnt their lesson: never leave a client’s house without everything that belongs to you…..including the cheque. NEVER

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Changing Faces

By the mention of Changing Faces I know some of you are reminiscing (if you are in that age bracket) about an R&B all female(?) group that laced the nineties with some of their widely appealing songs. Ok, I forgive you. I had chosen this title for this post before It occurred to me too. (I know I have easily given you a clue about my age too)
Well, it so happens that this music group has as much to do with this write-up as does playing an Elvis Presley song at a ten year old’s birthday today! I can see you keeling over in laughter.
Indeed a ten year old whom I shall call ‘K’was having his birthday and this post is about that story and not the music.

I recieved a late call to help cover ‘K’s birthday the previous evening and by now I knew next to nothing about the client, except the address of the venue.

By photog instinct I reckoned a high FPS SLR camera would be useful to catch kids in their own world and at some point a fast lens would also come in useful if the rare opportunity ever came to take relatively still shots up-close that could be used for portraits. You know children are hardly listless when we adults are already exhausted. By now I can hear you guessing my age. Well let me fill your imagination with more: I knew by now I would be doing a lot of kneeling and squatting to get really good shots that would capture the world through a ten year old’s eyes and my back was going to pay dearly for the exercise.

I arrived at the venue even before the client or their guests were present, studying the light situation in every part of the room. I opened my camera bag and my jaw dropped when I discovered I had only a 50mm prime lens and two camera bodies! Nooooo!

    I cant go to desired wide angle with this!

When all those blessed little things start jumping all over it would be total disaster! Till this moment, it remains a mystery how I had swapped lenses into the wrong camera bags while getting ready to travel to the venue. Fortunately the ‘official. Photographer arrived shortly after and I teamed up with him and the rest as they say was a ”downhill ride”.

But when the official photographer pointed at the client’s family vehicle pulling up to the venue entrance I knew this was the opportunity to capture the celebrant’s expressions at the beauty of the venue, the decorations, cake and eagerly waiting friends.

Confined by my equipment selection error, I quickly trained my sights to frame through the viewfinder on the SLR now fitted with 50mm prime lens. I was cautiously aiming to capture his face as he came out of the car but it appeared he was looking downwards and just being led by his parents.

As they approached the entrance where I already knelt shutter-button ready, waiting to snap up the moment he looked up, it struck me, that as this was his birthday, there was no need telling him to look up and smile, or was there ? But since he wasnt, as soon as he got close enough, I called his name (I had been told his name) to try to cajole him to smile for the camera. He looked straight through my lens and his face changed. He parted his lips to form a smile, and I could tell immediately. – ‘K’ was special – meaning he had special needs as he suffered from muscular dysfunction that made him almost unable to prop his head up and form a straight smile. But he was so happy at they way I called his name, I knew I had touched a chord in his soul that would vibrate for long and kneeling down had paid off because at his eye level, he had looked into my camera with glimmer in his syes that could warm up anybody’s heart.

I knew then immediiately that his facial expressions though largely mixed because of his condition, could not hide the joy he was radiating.

As I lowered my camera for the first time after the first set of shots, I watched him hurry to be among his friends and pose for another picture. I reasoned that ‘K’ was well aware of the difference in his appearance. But seeing that it did not hide his. happiness made me think that in spite of it all I wouldnt change a thing about him for that singular moment I captured on camera. I saw the real him in spite of his rapidly changing facial expressions, knowing that he will grow into a fine gentleman and he will be happy.

So as I put the viewfinder up again I felt tears trying to come up, but held back. And that I did until the event ended…..

While many of us would rather trade our imperfections and if we were ‘K’, the real treasure is in who lies within….. No changing face can beat that!

FIRE YOUR WEB DESIGNER: A workshop on designing, hosting & maintaining your website


Image by tourist_on_earth via Flickr

This is a 4-hours workshop on how to design and host your personal or business website. At last, you have no reason whatsoever not to have your own personal portion of the internet. In this workshop, you’ll learn:
1. How to buy & maintain your own http://www.yourname.com domain
2. Secrets that your Web designer does not want you to ever know
3. How to position your website to be easily discoverable by Google, Yahoo & Bing
4. How to administer & change content on your website within minutes
5. How to host your own domain for N2000 yearly
6. How to drive traffic to your website
7. How to link your site to your Facebook, LinkedIn, tweeter, yahoo, Google + & messenger account
8. How I fired my web designing/hosting company & saved over N100,000

Fee: N15,000 (fee includes lunch, 1yr domain name registration and hosting & 1 year free technical support)

Date: Friday January 27th, 2012 OR Saturday January 28th, 2012

Time: 9am – 1pm on Friday OR 11am – 3pm on Saturday

Venue: Agidingbi, Ikeja (Details will be sent to registered participants)

Facilitator: Seun Akisanmi, eloPhotos

At the end of this workshop, you’ll have your own personal website (e.g. http://www.lagbaja.com) up and running on the internet. We’re so sure of the value you’ll be getting that we’ve backed it up with a 100% MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE. If at the end of the workshop you’re not satisfied, we’ll give you a FULL REFUND.

Registration ends on January 23rd, 2012 or when a class limit of 20 has been reached for each day. Payment can be made into our GTB account: eloPhotos Studio Enterprises 0007361345. Send a text message to 08101590358 to confirm your payment & registration. You will need to bring your laptop in order to participate. For further inquiries, you can contact us on 08101590358, 08120129149, or send us an email at info@elophotos.com

Don’t just take our word for it, read the testimonies of previous participants

The workshop made it easy to own, maintain and update my website. If everyone out there has access to this kind of information, even a pepper seller can have a website presence. Funbi Ogunfowote, Kakadu Photography (www.kakaduphotography.com)

The workshop was an eye opener because I realized that the guy previously hosting my site was using the same platform I was taught & charging me 5times the cost. I don’t need him anymore because now I administer my site myself. Thanks to Seun Akisanmi for the wisdom shared. Lara Tiamiyi (www.laroyalconcept.com)

I would very highly recommend this workshop to everyone who wants to take his or her business beyond the shores of Nigeria especially photographers seeking good and sensible information aimed at developing and managing their domain. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are with the computer.  The workshop offered serious practical instructions for business owners. We were taught the detailed step by step approach in making our website & how to drive traffic to the site. Big kudos to eloPhotos for organizing such a workshop. All that is left is for me to decide on the pictures that I want to showcase on my website. Michael Agwunobi, Nobis Photography

Now I understand that you can start little and achieve great result after this short but effective course website designing/hosting. One doesn’t have to spend much to get your works to be easily discoverable on the internet. The knowledge was worth it & has enabled me to FIRE MY WEB DESIGNER. Michael Adebiyi, Michael Adebiyi Photography

The web design seminar was an eye opener. It made a mountain turn into a stepping stone for me and I think having a website can’t get easier than the opportunity the seminar unlocks. Olalekan Emmanuel Okeowo, Made Photography (www.madefotos.com)

Don’t procrastinate any longer. REGISTER TODAY.

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12 Nigerian Photographers to watch out for in 2012

English: Hotel photographer and a hotel guest ...

First of all, please note that the photographers mentioned here are in my own opinion. There are photographers that I know deserve to be on this list & if your name isn’t here, PLEEEAAAASSSSSEE don’t take offense.

Most of the photographers mentioned here are actually new in the industry & might not be known by many at this point. Their future is so bright that you’ll need sunglasses to view them. Also, I’m not being compensated for mentioning them. Most of them didn’t even know I was going to write about them.

Although they all have their weaknesses, I’m looking beyond that and presuming they’ll address them in the coming year. One common characteristic of every one of them is the fact that they don’t have a backup plan for 2012; its either photography works out for them or photography works out for them. I like that. I like people who burn bridges and put all their energy into whatever they’re doing.

Therefore, in no particular order of importance or priority, I present to you the 12 Nigerian photographers that are about to threaten the reign of the top names in the industry in 2012….. Get Ready.

1. Shola Animashaun (www.sholaanimashaun.com)
Forget Kelechi Amadi-Obi, forget TY Bello. If it was legal to steal a photographer‘s portfolio, I will gladly steal Shola Animashaun’s entire collection. His clientele & portfolios in comparison to mine makes me look like an intern. Let’s just say if I’ve spelt PH, he has spelt PHOTOGRA. An award-winning photographer, he was the official photographer for a number of celebrity shows in the past few years including Hip-Hop Awards & MTV Awards.

With the resources he has on photography (some of which has been useful to me) you’ll be angry with him for not presently running a Photography school. He says he wants to completely spell PHOTOGRAPHY before starting & I insist he shouldn’t wait for the perfect scenario: just start. Visit his site, follow him on twitter & Facebook and see why I want to be like him when I grow up.

2. Adio Olla-lekan: Made Photography (www.madefotos.com)
This guy is the undiscovered “Whiz kid” of the photography industry. He even looks like him too. He’s just less than a year in the industry and has taken pictures that I wished I took in my 3rd year as a photographer. Hence the reason he considers himself MADE. Just call him Mr MADE. I love one of his slogans: Forget Superman, trust MADE. Now, isn’t that catchy? Well, I think it is anyways.

He’s someone who will prove to you that it’s not all about the camera but mainly the person handling the camera. Although his website is just over 1 week old & might not have enough pictures to make you spend over 10mins viewing, watch out for him in 2012 and you will be ……………… (Fill in the blank in December 2012)

3. Lara Tiamiyu: La Royal Concept (www.laroyalconcept.com)
One of the best female photographers I’ve had the honor of working with, Lara is in a class of her own. Her beauty might be what will make you ask for her complimentary card but once you see what she can do photographically, you’ll definitely want her to be your lifetime photographer. Let’s just say if she covers your wedding, you can rest assured that award-winning images will inevitably be the results.

She’s one of the very few people who I can ask to cover an event on my behalf and not worry about what she’ll deliver. Her touch is almost……ROYAL. After her recently concluded exhibition at Eko Hotel, you can’t but wait to see what she’ll be up to in 2012.

4. Samuel Ijiyokunola: Living Memories Photography(www.livingmemoriesng.com)
Now this guy is interesting. In less that 6 months of starting, he has covered over 6 major events (5 of which are weddings), made over N500k & does not yet have a camera he can call his own. Call him a businessman, he’ll rather use $50 to rent a camera than to use $1000 to buy one. Give him a bag of cement & 3 months and he might as well present to you a completely built house. He’s very diligent and I won’t be surprised if he buys his first house in 2012 from the proceeds of photography. Though his website is not complete yet, stay tuned to his channel in 2012 and you’ll be surprise on how far a good business mindset can get a photographer within 12 months.

5. Olamide Oluwagbemile: Lamzy Photography
I can still remember the first day she walked into our training academy. I was teaching a class and almost forgot my next line. I thought to myself “Who is this model & what does she want with photography?” 3 months later, she would eventually turn out to be one of the most interesting students we’ve ever had. Her pictures are reflections of who she is: BEAUTIFUL & STUNNING. Although she doesn’t have a website yet that will convince you of her potentials, watch out for the next TY Bello in 2012.

6. Babatunde Ogunjobi: JOBI PHOTOS
A Unilag graduate of Physics, he decided to pursue his real passion 1 year ago. So far he has no regrets. When he presents to your wedding album, you’ll be amazed at his ability to make your wedding more beautiful than the wedding day itself. One of his strength is in album design & I’ll gladly give him any album to design on my behalf (although he still thinks he doesn’t know much). You can check back by the end of January for the link to his website that he has been working on.

7. Lilian Novo Isioro, Novo Images (novoimages.com.ng)
By the time 2012 is over, it is photographers like Lilian that will prove to Nigerians that what a man can do photographically, a woman can do better. Her passion for photography goes beyond the pictures she takes in the day; she even dreams about photography when she sleeps. As I write this, I just finished answering her question on what default settings to put her Photoshop in & the time is 1am. Her looks is to her advantage also; she’s likely to win a bid for a photography job with her looks alone. Hey, that’s my opinion. She doesn’t ‘hustle’ to take pictures; she takes her time. We’ll have the whole of 2012 to see how much territory she’ll cover. Guys, fasten your seat belts because Novo Images is on the horizon.

8. Afolabi Oloyede, 4Labi 4Fotos (www.4labi4tos.com)
His specialty is children photography. I mean he has photographed more children than Ansel Adams photographed landscapes. With the patience and endurance he has for children, he’s bound to emerge as the official CHILDREN PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC of NIGERIA. His present challenge is in trying to sort out the pictures to showcase on his new website. Give him until January to resolve that. He might not look like it but be on the lookout for the guy that firmly believes “anything is 4ssible.”

9. Dipo Odetoyinbo, Black Child Photography (www.blackchildphotography.com)
Dipo assisted me in the training of 59 new photographers in October, 2011. He’s so competent a teacher that I felt comfortable coming to class late many times; I knew he will take charge. He happens to be my mentor in all things fashion. His dress sense is so “successful” that its hard to believe that he’s just over 3 years old in the industry. His photography is as breathtaking as the designer blazers he has in his collections. With a training academy in the works for 2012, he’s bound to be a potential mentor for the floodgate of photographers that will troop into the industry come 2012. Watch out

10. Shade Ishola aka Sha-Sha, SazzyE Photography (sazzyE.shutterchance.com)
If you ask me, I think this lady is not on planet earth. She has such an interesting mind of her own that makes her…..misunderstood. After forsaking the destiny of a fashion designer, she’s bent on making it in photography or else….. Her hunger and thirst for righteousness photography will definitely get her somewhere if she hangs on. Even if you think her gallery is not enough to wow you at the moment, be on the lookout for the top lady fashion photographers in 2012. I’ll be on the lookout for her myself.

11. Deola Oludimine, Freez Photos
If there was an award for the fastest album designer, Deola will win 2 years straight. After a recent trip to Kenya where he trained some youths on Photography (courtesy of the Redeemed Christian Church of God), he’s considering starting what he calls Freez Business Institute. I wish him well. With another training engagement booked for Zambia in March 2012, he’s bent on making Photography an enviable profession. His website, freezphotos.com, should be up & running by the end of January. Stay tuned

12. Damilola Kuku, Supzie Xpression
With a stature that will make potential clients think she’s still in secondary school, Damilola’s specialty is bent on getting some mouths remain wide opened. When she recently told me she wanted to specialize in Nude photography & New Born, I was taken aback. Its one area that few Nigeria photographers dabble into. Apparently (according to her) there is a high demand for such pictures and not enough supply. May God help her in meeting the demand. Although I am yet to see a picture she has taken, I’m taking a big gamble that she will stand out. I pray she proves me right else my prophetic photography career might be over before you know it. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of her canon 5d kit, you should be anxious to see what will become of her in 2012.

13. Seu….., sorry I forgot it ends at 12

So that’s it for my biased opinion of 12 Nigerian photographers to be on the lookout for in 2012. It has already been labelled interesting, political & funny. What do you think?



The Premiere of PICTURE THIS

You’ve been asking which TV station will be airing PICTURE THIS. The mystery ends now as we reveal the channel we decided to air the program. Suggestions & comments should be noted here or sent to picturethis@elophotos.com

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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?

Goodbye to Pictures on Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

It is with a heavy heart I write this. As at 3am on December 20, I completed the deletion of over 90% of our pictures on Facebook (facebook.com/elophotos) and our main site http://www.elophotos.com. I felt that was the best decision to take at the moment.

I got a call on Dec 19 from a client friend that we covered her wedding 2 years ago. She had just been presented with the maiden version of a new magazine, Wedding Shakara. Her wedding pictures were printed in the magazine and she was calling to find out if I gave them the pictures. Apparently they had downloaded the pictures from our page on facebook where we had it showcased for the bride (with her approval and permission) & her friends to view.

The pictures were used without the permission of the photographer or the client. There has to be a professional law in Magazine Publishing 101 that states the unauthorized use of pictures. Maybe I’m missing something.
The client was shocked; I was disappointed. I was disappointed because this is not the first or second time this has happened in the past few weeks. Just a few days ago we had a potential client visit our office only to be surprised that we were the ones that photographed the much publicized picture of a girl, my 3 year old daughter, fetching water with a waste bin. The client had recently seen the pictures in a newspaper without any photo credits.

It is painful because the unauthorized use of such pictures increases the probability of a client not trusting the photographer; especially if a privacy agreement prohibiting the unauthosized use of such pictures was signed in the first place.

I remember another client that called a few months back to ask if I was the one that gave the Style magazine (This Day Newspapers) her picture for use on an article. She didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t give them the permission to use the picture; especially because the magazine imprinted ‘photo by elophotos’ at the footnote of the picture. I would have thought that a media outfit like This Day/Style Magazine would have sought permission before using such pictures.

But then again, maybe the fault is mine. If the pictures had been watermarked, potential users would have contacted us directly for either purchasing the license for use or getting the appropriate permission for publicity. Even with the concept of water-marking ones pictures, we’ve had our water-marked pictures used on a cd-jacket cover that was used to sell cds.

Perhaps the rules might be different in the journalism world. Perhaps the unwritten rule is that “if the picture is available on the internet, you can download and use to your satisfaction.” Perhaps there are other laws I am unaware of with regard to pictures & copyright. Will somebody please enlighten me on this matter. This Day, Wedding Shakara, anyone….please enlighten me.

I guess I should stick to uploading client pictures to passworded galleries online. That might help curb this a little. Either way, it is to this effect that I had to delete over 90% of our pictures on facebook & elophotos.com (including the photo album of the Superstar, Supermodel ANUOLUWAPO).

I apologize to all our fans that will miss all the pictures. We will attempt to watermark all the important pictures and re-upload them to our website before the end of January 2012. Apparently this is something we ought to have started years ago. Forgive us our trespasses as we continually learn the art of this business.

Although I know that water-marking the pictures still won’t stop those that are bent on using them, it will at least reduce the unauthorized use of such pictures. I just wish there is a way facebook could provide the option of not allowing some pictures to be downloaded. Till they get around to doing that (if they have done that already, please write me and let me know how to activate such features), I’ll stick to water-marking and using sites like Smugmug.com or wordpress.com that provide the type of security I need.

If you’re a potential client reading this, please understand that this is the reason you’re not seeing as many sample pictures as will make you convinced we’re capable to meeting your photography needs. Just give us a call & we’ll arrange a meeting for you to be able to view as many works as your time will permit. Either way, our site (elophotos.com) will once again be pictureful before the end of January, 2012.

And the award for the most ROMANTIC GROOM OF THE CENTURY goes to…..

The pastor had just finished preaching the usual sermon on LOVE. The next item on the agenda was not on the agenda. It was a surprise. The minister brought up a lady that was to sing a very special song dedicated to the bride from the groom. The bride seemed surprised because it wasn’t in the to-do list of the planned wedding.

The lady began to sing. I think she was related to Beyoncé, Whitney Houston & Celine Dion because she sang with so much grace, anointing & talent that….

“Like oil upon your feet,
like wine for you to drink
Like water from my heart
I pour my love on you……”

She sang with such grace and anointing that I I felt goose bumps all over me

Suddenly but not surprisingly, I witnessed the bride’s face leaking water. She was touched by such a romantic gesture. I was capturing the moment from a little distance off with my 50-200mm lens on an olympus E1 camera. I was shooting at the 200mm end of the lens.

The bride’s face was leaking, the groom was smiling, the atmosphere was romantic & I was crying. Wait a minute, I WAS CRYING. I was so touched by the beauty of the song and the groom’s gesture of love that I thought the song was dedicated to me. I’m sure even Jesus must have wept at the sound of such a beautiful voice singing such a beautiful song; only that it wasn’t dedicated to Jesus or the photographer. The teary session lasted for about 15 seconds for the bride & 45 seconds for the photographer.

Anyway I thought that was really romantic of the groom. Although that was back in 2007, I have not met a groom that pulled off such a surprising romantic stunt till date. And the award for the most ROMANTIC GROOM OF THE CENTURY goes to Dr. LANRE AJAYI

Hope the romance is still as hot as I witnessed it on your wedding day.

The best act after the curtains closed.

I met her and her dashing handsome groom-to-be about a month before the planned wedding day.   I came to a quick conclusion that she really knows what she wants and how to go about getting it. I sensed she would not let any chance to tweak every thing into shape pass her by.

I guessed that if you positioned everything in perspective, she must be quite meticulous, thus far, and creatively so. For a start, if she wasn’t tall her groom-to-be compensated adequately. If she was tan brown-skinned, her groom was more than three shades lighter.  That she was careful to choose what represents her well was not left in doubt – here she was with eloPhotos about talking the wedding pictures.  

I couldnt help imagining if she had a role to play in Hollywood movie,

she would probably do well as a producer/ director and actor at the same time.

When the day finally came, I got to see that begin to play out.

By now we had gotten through with post vows photo-shoot the day earlier in her beautiful princess A-line gown with the debonair groom. That previous day, We had to work on the groom to bring out the smiles we needed for the great pictures for the larger part of the shoot, but while the chief executive director was fully on hand to ensure that happened,

the bride played her role(s) effortlessly

It was the traditional engagement ceremony on this second day that was the main event. As our job was to make sure every moment was well captured, I did more than a little bit of exercise, and my colleagues can testify. That It was a warm West African day wasnt any help either. May God bless photographers. I was very conscious that it had become humid under my shirt, from the aerobics, but we dont give up, we go on.  

I found out as the ceremony progressed that the bride’s mother was actually from my hometown, but I wouldnt let that out at this time, because that new level of familiarity could become distracting from the main focus, my lens on the right subject at the right time.

I was so devoted I thought.

The bride was playing her part well, because she always seemed to know where the cameras were and as soon as she knew they were trained on her, she had ample poses and smiles for our shutter buttons to splurge on. Fashion shoot? No. Top wedding photography in progress.

Just as I was heaving a sigh of relief that the MC had brought the ceremony to its logical conclusion, I felt somone tap on my shoulder. I had only managed to draw my last ounce of strength or so I thought to close my camera bag zipper.  Then my colleague broke it to me that, just outside the venue, some close friends and associates wanted to have pictures taken with the couple.

Nooooo! If this wasn’t fair to my ears, I was sure the bride would be even more tired than I was and the groom too.

Gosh we already had soo many pictures taken!  
‘Well I didnt sign up for this,‘ I thought. When I got to the spot where the fun melee was coming from under my colleague’s supervision, what I saw hit me like meeting an unexpected old friend on the bus.   The groom was all smiles,  really, radiant glowing smiles. This was priceless, as it didnt come out as brilliant during our shoot the day before. When I surveyed the brides face too, I could see some inner light had been switched on. Oh my goodness, these were great post-reception pictures I would be missing forever!

On their own my fingers began to fumble with the zipper on my bag and in a flash the camera was out and snapping away in tandem with my colleagues.

It was awesome

and sooner than I imagined, the tiredness I was feeliing dissipated. Many times the groom literally swept the bride off her feet and cuddled so close to her you could feel the love through the lens.

So although we almost had a script we followed when working with this bride so that ‘every moment captured’ was not in doubt, but some of the best moments came through when the curtains had been drawn on the whole movie! And we were there to capture it!