Becoming a Photography Mentor’s Inspiration


“You must be proud of all the amount of photographers you’ve trained by now,” the lady in red asked me. Bimbo was a 2010 graduate of eloPhotos Academy and would eventually turn out to be one of the few that kept in touch with me even after leaving eloPhotos. Though the transition out of eloPhotos wasn’t a smooth one (I actually “fired” her), she had grown into someone that would eventually inspire me and believe in my dream enough to empty her savings of N330k to invest in Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC). She was at my office recently to express her concern about the fact that I wasn’t as rich as someone who had invested so much in the dreams of others.

“Actually, I’m not proud. I’ve since lost count of the number of people I’ve trained because many of them seem not to be putting into practice what they learnt at eloPhotos.” That was my blunt response. She would be one of the 30% that seemed to be standing out of the 100% eloPhotos Academy Alumni.

I explained to her that never in my entire life have I been clearer about my calling in life: to be a change catalyst in the photography industry. I explained to her that though I might not have gotten my dream 2012 BMW 540i Active Hybrid car yet, I feel like the diamond miner that is 2 inches from hitting the biggest gusher he had ever seen. I explained to her that despite her concern for the debts I owe, I would eventually come out better and richer like the latter days of the biblical Job.

But my greatest fear is for the many graduates of the Academy that do not practice the tenets we preach: INTEGRITY, PROFESSIONALISM, CREATIVITY, EXCELLENCE & TIMELINESS. My greatest fear is for the many graduates of Harvard University that are only proud of the certificates they got but aren’t doing much societal transformation with the education.

Until I can boast of a significant number of protégés that inspire me by standing out of the crowd of ordinary photographers, until I can boast of an industry void of mediocrity and people willing to sacrifice their integrity just for the next morsel of bread they eat, until I can boast of a society where photographers would be invited to key economical summits to discuss ways of combating unemployment in the society, until I can boast of photography being on the same pedestal with Law & Medicine, until then, my pride can wait.

If you (yes, YOU) happen to know who I really am and where I’m going in life, you’ll consider it a privilege to call me a friend or photography mentor. Sometimes my advice and/or admonition might come across as too strict or mean, it is so that we’ll turn out to be an inspiration to someone at the end of the day. Although I might be an inspiration, mentor or coach to many, my soul would not be fulfilled until those that consider me to be an inspiration turn out to inspire me by becoming shining stars in their field. Until then, I can’t afford to be proud. Until then, I will not rest.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

Advertisements

Knowing When to FIRE Your MENTOR


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Photographer’s Greatest ASPIRATION


Have you ever asked yourself what your ultimate goal is as a photographer? Where will all these picture-taking skill get you at the end of the day? What will make you fulfilled the most as a photographer? What will put a lasting smile on your face at the end of your photography career?

These are questions I believe every full time professional photographer should ask perhaps before proceeding further in this increasingly growing “okada” business. Perhaps if the answer is clearly known to oneself and written out on a plain sheet, then we would have a clearer idea on the pathway to take to reach the desired destination.

Is your end game as a photographer to buy the 2013 BMW 540i series (like some photographers I know of)?. Or is it to buy a 6-bedroom Duplex on Banana Island? Or perhaps to own an apartment in Donald Trump Towers? Or will you be fulfilled using the photography riches you get in 25 years time to build an estate for the homeless? Or will fulfillment come in the form of being the first photography professor in the University of your dreams?

As long as you have a clear goal, I don’t believe these aspirations are necessarily wrong. The important thing is to have an ultimate goal at the back of your mind. Perhaps it will give you renewed energy and focus on your journey to the land of Photography Destiny. Perhaps it will make you be a better manager of the resources entrusted to you at the moment. Perhaps it will make you realize how much more important you need to build a solid foundation in this increasingly growing & challenging profession. Being prepared is key here. The amount of time it took to build the foundation of the World Trade Centre is not the same time it took to build the 3-floored building where you leave (unless maybe your building is the White House).

As for my ultimate aspirations. My ultimate goal on earth is to have made a foundational and institutional impact in the lives of at least 10,000 photographers thereby helping to take photography as a career to the same enviable position where law & medicine are placed.

My ultimate heavenly aspiration is to be the official photographer that will cover the wedding ceremony that will witness the unification of the church to Jesus Christ. Its the grandest of all wedding that will ever take place (in eternity and in time) and I will be there as the OFFICIAL Photographer to document it. I do not know the camera I’ll use or the amount of albums my Lord will order but I will be there for the coverage. That is my GREATEST ASPIRATION.

My name is Seun Akisanmi and I’m proud to be a PHOTOGRAPHER that will fulfill destiny.

What is your greatest aspiration?