Photographer of the week 4: Olalekan Okeowo, MADE PHOTOGRAPHY (TRANSCRIPT)


Hi there!
I’m here to share a brief story about me and how I got into photography. I got into photography as a hobbyist. I love to appreciate the beautiful things in my environment and anything that amuses me and stimulates interest.
I like to come out in the morning to appreciate the brightness of the day. I like to see people’s faces and see when they are smiling or even frowning. It was with the thought of how to capture those moments in a way that lasts, that the urge set in to get myself a camera to try and have a record of the things I love and appreciate.

I remember while in secondary school that I was the one preferred to take pictures whenever the need arose. Without anyone telling me what to do, I could take better pictures than my peers. So I continued from there, got myself a camera phone, and kept taking pictures, tagging my friends showing them to people. In fact I influenced my friends to start taking pictures, as they fell in love with what they saw.

As time went on, the need to start fending for my own needs came with responsibilities. But I never wanted to settle for a salaried-paid job. I can be stiff-necked about that and would rather take time to learn [a skill] to add value to myself. So I opted to learn graphics and did a whole lot of other things for my personal development.
Still I had growing needs and responsibilities and after a wide search I resorted to taking up photography as a career since it had always been a passion. If you ask me, there is nothing bad in turning your passion into an opportunity that will pay your bills.

I needed to take it to the next level and not just get onto the streets saying I am a photographer. I knew it was more than just buying a camera. I knew I needed to get trained to become an authority in this field. And I knew that if I wanted to excel, this relied on how much I knew about the business. So I went everywhere I could, did research online for materials and magazines to equip me with more knowledge. A friend brought an application form to me for a skill acquisition program. I promptly filled it and applied and that was how the race began.

The skill acquisition program was a two-week program and it was there I met great photographers like Mr Seun Akisanmi, eloPhotos boss and I learnt everything I know from him. I got the knowledge I needed on the job and started my own outfit – Made Photography.
During the course of my training other great photographers such as Shola Animasaun, Damilola Elliot, Michael Adebiyi and one person I mustn’t fail to mention, Leke Adenuga. Mr Leke made me realise that photography is serious business that is full of endless possibilities and that the only limit you have in photography is- YOU.

I have had a lot of challenges in photography. The major one: STARTING OUT. You need to be creative, you need technical know-how. You need to be spontaneous. You need to be business-minded and know how to get to your clients and convince them to patronise you because you are capable of delivering [even more than] what they need.
It’s not an easy task. You have to be up and doing. Think and do a lot of research. It takes all that and more. You need self confidence. You need to be sure that you can deliver in your own field. Not that when you get hired and you can’t present quality jobs to your client.

The most interesting part is when you present your clients with their pictures and they go, ‘Wow!’ and they fall in love with you because of those pictures (even though it was something that came out of your natural passion and you even know you could do better than what they already seen), that is a very encouraging high point.
Bringing joy and happiness to people is invaluable. That people really appreciate what I am doing keeps me going.

The next 5 years for me in photography? MADE photography will already be a household name. Even kids will be saying ‘I’m made, I’m made!’ It will be really interesting! Creating a beautiful image for photography and helping people understand its essence from behind the camera to the finished product is my goal. And when that happens; people will be saying Made was behind that.

The whole essence of photography is to make you see the beauty in the world & the universe, not just in an imaginary way…. making moments last forever. Freezing moments and making people want to keep [and treasure] those records with which they make reference to the past is what photography does. Imagine you have a lovely grandma that you grew up with And when you don’t have her any more, maybe 5 years after, you still have a picture of her when she was smiling, or when she was playing with you….it’s like she’s still with you. That is what photography does. It brings back memories that you want and makes them stay with you.

My advice for upcoming photographers is you need to love what you are doing. Give it your best. You don’t want to be in photography for the wrong reasons (e.g. If it’s what your parents or friends want you to do). If you don’t have a passion for it, there will be frustration when the pennies you earn stop coming or the people who were your reason for doing it are no more there. But if you truly love photography, you need to take it to the highest heights. Learn all you can and be an authority in it. You stand even before presidents to tell them what they don’t know about photography, because of the information you have.

Olalekan Emmanuel Okeowo
MADE Photography, http://www.madefotos.com
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PICTURE THIS: Episode 8. CLIENT SATISFACTION VS. PERSONAL SATISFACTION


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.

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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!

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.

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

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