2 Debtors & 1 Security Man Later


It happened last week Tuesday. The head of security at the estate where I reside decided he was going to hold the residents to ransom. Apparently, majority of the residents in the estate were owing significant sums of money to the security men. Eventually he decided that the embarrassment route was the best way to go to make all debtors pay.

I happened to be one of the debtors. Ever since the photography conference we organized in May, I’ve been unable to pay my outstanding with them as I had to resolve matters with other debtors that were sending me threats. I had explained my case to the head of security at least twice in the last 4 weeks. My total debt was now N12k (at N4k per month). On this faithful day, he would take us all by surprise.

I got to the estate gate by 7:15am on my way to drop my children in school only to see that the gate was barricaded and my security pal was standing at the entrance. “Oga, we no dey open gate for people wey never pay their dues,” he blurted out.

“Good morning sir. You know if I have, I’ll pay you…I don’t have it yet…once I get it, you’ll get paid,” I pleaded with him. Truth be told, I had just N1050 left with me that day and was even ready to take him to my ATM so he could see my account balance. Over 70% of funds that had been coming into my account had gone to settling some of the 25 vendors I owed (interestingly the most soothing words of encouragement during this time came from my mum when she told me that it was a good thing that the vendors allowed me to owe them because only people with good credit & goodwill are usually allowed to owe such big debts….I pray my goodwill account doesn’t run into deficit)

15 seconds later, I was taken aback when he grudgingly opened the gate and allowed me to pass along with my daughters. He even waved my daughters goodbye. Once again, I had benefited from implementing some principles I learnt from Dale Carnegie (How to win friends & influence people) & Herb Cohen (You can negotiate anything). One thing I have learnt over the years is not to talk to people anyway, especially those that seem to be of a lower social status.

Returning to the estate at 8am, there stood a woman with her 2 sons at the same gate arguing with the security man. The woman was calling the security man all sort of names: You must be stupid, you idiot, who gave you the ordasity (hope I’m right with the spelling of that) to embarrass us this way….. She went on and on in insulting the man. The irony of the it was that she’s one of those that owes the largest debt. If I were in her shoes, I would resort to pleading with him as against insulting the gateman while her 2 sons watched the free tuesday morning nollyhood movie.

2 hours later, she was still at the gate. The gateman was bent on not allowing her to pass until she made payment. It was then I was reminded by my subconscious that people like this security man are more powerful than they look. I know the jobs I’ve gotten as a result of befriending people like that. In one scenario, a “door woman” recommended me to her sister in Abuja who happened to be an event planner who happened to be planning the wedding of one of the senators of the House of Assembly. The wedding would turn out to be one of the most interesting I’ve covered till date…..and that coming from the recommendation of someone other people look down on.

According to my branding consultant, this ordinarily shouldn’t be something I should be writing about as it might send a message that connotes that Seun isn’t a BIG BOY after all. The message I want this to send however is for us to be conscious and deliberate about how we treat people of lower economic or social status. Be careful of how you treat or talk to that gateman, househelp, cook, driver or people you think are less important. You’ll be surprised the doors they can open or close for you depending on how you treat them. You’ll be very surprised…
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

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MELTED, MOLDED & MADE BY eloPhotos Academy


I wouldn’t mind being called PROUD because I’m simply PROUD of who and what I have become over the past few months. I was a seed planted at eloPhotos for 5 months and now it’s amazing to say I’ve become a blooming & glamorous flower.

I used to wonder how Femi Adewuyi, Micheal Adebiyi, Toye Peters, Kikelomo Koleosho, Ronke Alao (to mention a few) do the magic, until the eloPhotos anointing fell upon me like Peter on the day of Pentecost. Well I think you all should know that not all interns at eloPhotos get this anointing but I am one of the privileged.

Last week I was at Female CEOs Roundtable, a seminar organized alongside an exhibition at Eko Hotels and there I met a friend and colleague whom we started this dream together at DSAP (Daystar skill acquisition programme). She was so surprised to see me as she jumped at me like a fan to a celebrity. She asked how and what I did to get thus far (“far” to her was the fact that I was covering an event at Eko Hotels & Suites) and so she was so convinced I must have stepped up my game.

I was so excited at the way she looked at me like a big deal. I started to blush and smile in happiness as I told her that have been to eloPhotos academy, showing her some of my works on my Phone.

“WOW, this is so amazing”. This was what she kept saying to the point that I was beautifully embarrassed. I asked her what she was up to and she said she had not even decided on what to do yet at the moment. I stopped to wonder if she meant she had been confused for the same 5 months I have used to become what she called AMAZING. It was sad to know, but I was glad I did take a bold step into success.

I would have also been in her shoes if had not taken a wise decision when my dad pushed forward either buying a camera or going for a training. I CHOSE to be at eloPhotos, I CHOSE to wake up 3 am every day of the week, I CHOSE to sweep the editing room, to wash the toilet, I CHOSE to trek miles under a scorching sun within Lagos to get work done, I CHOSE to face the deadly traffic of Lagos for at least 3 hours every day, I CHOSE to stay up at night for night shoots, I CHOSE to keep having Photoshop fever, I CHOSE to work hard, I CHOSE to have sore feet after standing for hours covering events, I CHOSE to stay up editing all night, I CHOSE to always be a part of memory painting, I CHOSE to be MELTED, MOLDED and MADE by eloPhotos Academy. I CHOSE to be who and what I am today.

Who am I, you still may ask? I am Temitope Adeniyan and I am an “AMAZING” Photographer!


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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

During & After A Photographer’s Internship


Its amazing how time flies so fast. It was just like yesterday when I started my six months internship training at elophotos. I still could remember how thoughts of uncertainty clouded my mind on how I am going to adapt to this six months of full dedication and commitment to professional photography. Indeed it was a huge task of life I have to face and overcome. As I pen down these words, am truly delighted that I am almost near completion of my internship and am so grateful to God almighty who has been with me all along.

Precisely, on the 1st day of August 2013, I started this amazing journey as an intern at elophotos. Ever since then, I have had the privilege of working, training and learning from some of the industry finest. Likes of Seun Akisanmi, Samuel Ijiyokunola, Ronke Alao, Babalola Tayo, Emmanuel Awosanmi, Afolabi Oloyede, Samba Owabie, Toye Peters and a host of others. These individuals have greatly helped to sharpen my skills and knowledge to become a better photographer.

In retrospect, I have basically acquired skills and knowledge on the technicalities of handling and using the DSLR cameras. I have greatly improved on the art of creating good composition. To a large extent, I have understood the science of photography especially when it comes to light, lenses and how best to use and manipulate them to create stunning images. I have known how to design album spreads, retouch and enhance digital images using Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Lightroom. Also I have had knowledge on how to use the Proshow Producer software to prepare wonderful music slideshows.

The last few months of my training has greatly exposed me to event coverage ranging from weddings, birthdays, naming ceremonies, burials, family portraits, studio shoots and a whole lot more. It has offered me the opportunity to strengthen my network base by enabling me meet new people, develop relationships with friends, colleagues, relatives and family members. I have had the opportunity of facilitating classes for beginners on the introduction to digital photography.

My internship training has given me the opportunity of attending various workshops and seminars. I have been able to participate in a two weeks intensive training on the introduction to digital photography, also I have attended workshop on composition and studio lighting, the “what ever it takes” held in Warri, TEDx Lagos, British council workshops, Creative Enterprise workshops, workshop on accounting and business management and a host of others.

The internship has also offered me access of reading wide range of motivational and photography related books as elophotos boast of a rich library. With the readily available fast 4G Shift internet at eloPhotos, accessing the internet for information is a whole lot easier. I have had the privilege of making personal research on photography and beyond. I have also had the opportunity to watch lots of youtube videos on photography. Also, I had occasionally visited other professional photographers’ sites that got me inspired by their works.

So what comes next after I must have successfully completed my internship at eloPhotos? For me the answer is quite simple. I plan on starting up my photography outfit. First and foremost, I intend to create a brand name for my photography outfit and build on it. I plan on registering a suitable outfit name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria. Thereafter I intend to create and develop my own blog and website. I will try as much as possible to effectively advertise and promote my brand name on social media.

Again, it is crucial for me to start doing jobs for family members, relatives and friends with the motive of not necessarily to make money but to build on my portfolio. I intend to make myself readily available to assist other professional photographers in covering their events. Also attending workshops, seminars and conferences will be a paramount focus as I would want to develop myself further. I have planned on attending the forth coming NiPHEC 2014 conference starting in April 29, 2014.

As far as photography is concern, there are a whole lot on my mind I have planned to do and achieve. Planning on getting a camera and other basic equipment, plan on getting paid jobs for events coverage, plan on having a studio and office space, plan on offering photography training services and lot more. But they say; the journey of a thousand mile begins with one step. As I wind down my adventurous internship journey at eloPhotos soonest, it is important for me to stay focus and take that bold step of getting to startup.

Conclusively, so far it has been a worthwhile experience at eloPhotos. I quickly want to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported and inspired me this far. Finally to Mr Seun Akisanmi, I really want to say big thanks for being such an incredible mentor, guide and teacher to me. Sir, you amaze me with your wisdom, insight and simplest of personality. I so much treasure the time I have so far worked with you. I strongly believe you are going to make a significant impact on the world of photography and beyond. And just like the popular Warri slang would say; Oga I greet you softly softly.

My name is Onos & I invite you to get ready for my entry into the professional world of PHOTOGRAPHY.

Proudly WEIRD & Loving It


So the weird Seun Akisanmi checked the dictionary for the meaning of ‘Weird’ and he became excited. The word weird has been commonly used to describe people who are non-conformists and won’t do things the usual way, but I was surprised to see that it also means ‘something supernatural’! That explains the reason behind what we do at eloPhotos. So please call me weird, because I am really of the supernatural breed. Anyway, only weird people will do things the way we do at eloPhotos.

I remember during the office devotion last Monday, when Mr Seun told us about how unacceptable it is to give excuses for not accomplishing a task.”All I want is result, No excuse is acceptable, however genuine it sounds” he said and I quite agree with him. The act of going the extra mile to get a task accomplished is one that we all need to imbibe.

Then came the Vision assignment – Describe a day in your life in 2020 – due for submission the next day before the close of work. I have heard my Pastor talk about the power of vision and Imaginations, but I just never found time to write it, or better put, I never had the discipline to sit down and picture such a day. But with a deadline in view, I didn’t have a choice than to sit down and picture myself in 2020. Believe me, its the greatest exercise I’ve ever done. The future became more real to me than ever. I encourage everyone to take that exercise too. Click here to read about my day in 2020.

Have you ever seen a complimentary card printed on a film? That’s another weird part of us at eloPhotos. Our complimentary cards are uniquely designed to portray the creativity that we stand for. Coming in contact with our complimentary card should make you want to  associate with us.

In other news: So my sister, as I fondly call her is now a graduate! My stay at eloPhotos so far has been an exciting one, but meeting the great Ronke Alao has made it even more exciting. She’s such a lady you can never have a dull moment around. I’ve tapped from her wealth of knowledge and skills both in photography and other areas of life. Her human relations skill is just amazing. I am most intrigued about her attitude to work.

In the few weeks I’ve been around her, I’ve watched her dedication and loyalty to the organisation. You can’t beat her ability to relate a story. When she tells a story, you don’t have to wish you had a first-hand experience because she tells the story and includes all the emotions. I’ll sure miss her, but most importantly, I wish her the very best in her photography career. Now I become the only lady amidst these weird men at eloPhotos.

This new week is sure going to be better for me than the past week, as I look forward to acquiring new skills and knowledge and most importantly make the best of the resources I have at my disposal. Attached is a picture I took last week. What do you think of it?

Vegetables - Eat and Live

Photographically Yours,
Damilola Opawale

Ronke Alao’s Burden of Freedom


The day had finally come when my stay at eloPhotos as an intern would come to an end. Six months had gone by like the breeze but not without an impact. It was just like yesterday when I started out as a young and innocent student, (I am still very much young and innocent). 

Six months of learning, meeting interesting people, improving my photography skills, learning some accounting skills, learning to work effectively in a male-dominated office and with a boss whose personality is shrouded in mystery. I almost felt I had to take a college course named, “Understanding Mr Seun”, to even begin to unravel the mystery. 

I once had my sister in-law ask me if I was going to “do freedom” at the end of my internship program. She was referring to the ceremony that typically holds when an apprentice finishes his/her training. Though it sounded amusing at the time, I think there is some truth to the fact that I have attained a level of freedom. 

Freedom from having to leave home 5.30am and engage in the undesirable rush for a vehicle to get to Ketu; freedom from having to ride in buses that are three-quarter-filled with green plantain instead of humans, (Buses from Ketu heading to Ogba do this to me); freedom from being the “chief accountant” at eloPhotos and dealing with colleagues that aren’t sometimes helpful when it comes to keeping the books; freedom from washing the eloPhotos restroom every week and whenever a ghost uses it without flushing. So many things to be free from but what does it really mean for me?

In life, I have come to learn that freedom in itself can come with its burden. The higher you go, the more responsibilities you have. A servant/slave doesn’t have to think much or worry. You have your tasks laid out for you. Nothing is left to the imagination so you just keep working. I was no slave at eloPhotos and I had to engage myself mentally and sometimes emotionally, to accomplish the tasks set before me but sailing out on the boat of “freedom” to run my own show makes me aware of this thing called the ‘Burden of freedom’. 

When I wake up at 5am on Monday morning and remember I don’t have to be at the office or struggle at the bus stop; when I realize that the clients I will be negotiating with henceforth, would not be eloPhotos’ clients but mine; when I realize what I now do with my waking moments is left to me and I can’t blame Mr Seun for encumbering me with tasks, thereby preventing me from reading or doing whatever or when there is no boss to reiterate the need for me to practice on my Camera. Yes, the burden of freedom stares me right in the face. Not that I don’t know what to do or how to move ahead in this phase of life. I do and perhaps that’s the challenge.  Not knowing what to do can be a beautiful comfort zone that I sometimes wish I was clueless. 

The burden of freedom; it is knowing that you are free and answer to no one yet your freedom compels you to want to be a servant who serves others and bring them to the light of God whether as a photographer or writer. It is knowing that, though you are free, you were purchased with a price and your life is not your own. You still answer to God Almighty, the one who wakes you every morning and keeps your heart pumping.  Also, it is knowing that my destiny is somewhat attached to someone else’s and I need to take action on why my creator put me on this planet.

As the Burden of Freedom stares me in the face, I refuse to shrink back knowing it’s a good kind of burden. One that propels me to be all I was made to be and touch the lives I was made to touch in this journey called life. As the congratulatory messages roll in and farewell tributes drip like honey, I say to myself, “Ronke, bask in the euphoria but not for long. There is work yet to be done”. 

Ronke Alao
Founder, Everywoman’s Heart
http://www.everywomansheart.com

A Farewell Tribute to a Great Writer, Photographer & Friend


Twas just 7 months ago that our paths crossed. She came to our office 40 minutess late on an appointment to see Seun Akisanmi. She was considering the 6 month internship program we offer at eloPhotos Academy. Apparently she had done her research and concluded that eloPhotos was the type of place to give her the foundation she needed for her photography business. With her seemingly innocent outlook, I concluded after almost 1 hour of chatting that she was intern-material. The journey into photography destiny was about to begin for Ronke Alao.

6.5 months down the line, she has proven to be someone I learnt more from than she did from me. I almost feel bad for collecting school fees from her. Almost. With over 9,500 people following (or liking) me on social media, she has grown to be someone I’ll consider one of the 6 people I have as real friends. From her writing skills, to her interpersonal relationship gifts, I cannot quantify the impact she has made on her colleagues at eloPhotos.

This is just to express my profound gratitude for the contributions she’s brought to the eloPhotos table. No she isn’t dead. She just stepped up to another level. She graduated from eloPhotos yesterday (November 15) and if I were to be presenting an award for the best student eloPhotos Academy has ever produced since 2008, she’ll win hands down. If not for the fact that the tears in my eyes have been on ASUU strike for 5 months, our office will be flooded by now.

Thank you for being an inspiration with your writeups, photography skills & marital advice. eloPhotos will not be the same. Indeed you’re a photographer in whom I’m well pleased. Go in this strength as you conquer the world of photography with Ronke Alao Photography.

For those that might be wondering who this great writer is, here’s a summary of some of the writeups she’s put up on this site. Enjoy

How To Become The Star Of A Reality Show: A Script by Ronke Alao

A Day in My Life in 2020: Ronke Alao

Challenges Of Being A Female Photographer

A Poem Called HONESTY

The Day I Had A Dead FLY Served For Dinner

My Unforgettable Learning Experience at WHATEVERITTAKES Lagos

How I Almost Became A Blind Photographer

LAGOS: Why I LOVE & HATE This City

Photography Studio Rental in Lagos: Kiki Melissa Studios

A Photographer’s Guide To Covering FAMILY EVENTS Without Going BROKE

Training @ eloPhotos: The Weird Journey So Far

How BEANS Can Make or Mar Your Photography Career

WARNING: READ BEFORE YOU TRAIN AT eloPhotos

The FUN, The WEIRD & The RIDICULOUS

604800 Seconds In The Life Of A FEMALE Photographer

Rantings of a Weird Photographer

AFTER EARTH: A Photographer’s Perspective

Challenges Of Being A Female Photographer


It was a different kind of Tuesday for me. I didn’t have to wake up extra early, (though my "body alarm clock" somehow woke me up at the usual time), I wasn’t about to get on the road as early as 5.30am. Monday had been hectic with terrible traffic jam on Ikorodu road in the evening. I walked all the way from Ojota to Mile 12 and even beyond before begging two guys driving a private car to give me a ride to Ikorodu.

Before leaving the office that Monday, my boss had given me the assignment of following up with a potential client at Victoria Island, Lagos the next day. I, in turn persuaded him to let me go from home rather than have to report at the office first and he agreed. I was to be accompanied by my female colleague, (Dammy). My decision to go to the Island from home was well thought out. Why go through hellish traffic in the morning to get to the office and then set out on another journey to the Island when I could travel from Ikorodu to VI by water and be at my destination in less than an hour? Who needs more time to waste in traffic?

I left home at 8.55am and headed for the Jetty. On getting there, I bought my ticket and in a few minutes, I was sitted in the boat, looking like a pumpkin in the life jacket I had been given. Hoping for an exciting ride, and fastening my proverbial seat belt, I brought out my Blackberry phone and pulled up the Bible app as the boat took off. For some unknown reason, I found myself reading 1 Corinthians 7 – you know where the bible talks about marriage, fidelity and divorce. From the corner of my eye, I could see the guy next to me, spying and stylishly reading what I was reading. He read for a few seconds and looked at me funny. His gaze almost made me feel like I was staring at porn instead of reading the bible.

In thirty short minutes, we were at Victoria Island. It felt so good. I mean, Ikorodu to VI in 30 minutes! Like one of my pastors would say, "You can’t beat it with a stick!". I got off the boat and took a cab to the client’s office that took about five minutes. Even though I was extra early, I had to wait for my colleague so we could see the client in his office together. Our assignment seemed simple enough; inform him of the packages we had for a day’s coverage of event, what we charge and also show him a sample of our album.

Soon as my colleague arrived, we made our way into the office and after meeting the receptionist and sitting for a few minutes, we were face to face with the man we hoped would hire us to cover his birthday party. In fifteen minutes, it had become apparent to me that he wasn’t really interested in hiring us. He kept stating he didn’t like the design of our sample photobook even though we made it clear that we design an album to each client’s specification and would be glad to know what he appreciates so we can make a custom-design just for him.

When he was done looking at the sample album, the quiz session started. He wanted to know our ages, where we lived and why we chose to be photographers. The questions kept rolling in. Soon, I signaled to Dammy that it was time to leave. On telling our client that, he asked us to wait. As he went to a corner of his office hidden from plain sight, I thought,"Oh great, perhaps he wants to get us some change to spend in transporting ourselves back to the office". Nice right?

After what seemed like eternity to me, he emerged and asked me to come. I followed him to the office corner wondering what the drama was about. Just then, he handed me a few crisp One thousand naira notes and said, "Use that to get a cab to your office". I was slightly surprised at the number of notes he had just given us though I didn’t know exactly how much it was just yet. Then he said, "I’d like to see you privately. Let me know when I can see you alone". At this point, my suspicions were confirmed. He wasn’t looking for photographers but rather for a girlfriend. So after this married man found out that I was married, he still wanted to date me. I was nauseated. This had to be the most annoying challenge of being a female photographer I guess. When someone who is old enough to be your dad disguises as a client while he is in fact trying to date you; it gives occupational hazard a whole new meaning. A camera-carrying lady, in a pair of loose-fitting jeans and hair that fits somewhere between braids and dreadlocks becomes sexier than a lady wearing a mini skirt or some other outrageous outfit.

Back to the office. This past week, I had the task of designing the album of a funeral event we covered. We were hired by the sister of the late man. My Photoshop skills have improved but I do not yet have the skills of Onos – our current Photoshop champion. Designing such an album required some serious thinking. It wasn’t as straight forward as designing a wedding album in my opinion. Would you include pictures of the corpse? If yes, how many was sufficient? Would you include pictures of where your client got very emotional and probably had tears running into his/her open mouth? Eventually, we had to use our discretion, knowing that we could always tweak the design if the client didn’t approve it.

We interns also had to report to the office on Saturday to learn how to use SmugMug – a software made for photographers who need a website that displays their pictures beautifully. I think you should check it out at info’ to get $5 off your $60 yearly fee: …you can thank me later). It’s a photographer’s dream. We also learnt how to be futuristic in our thinking when it comes to choosing business names, website domains and the likes.

Perhaps one of the questions I was faced with and that everyone who calls himself/herself a photographer should ask is, "For how long do I plan to be in the photography business?". Perhaps you have other interests and dreams that are not photography-related, at what point do you intend to work on those? Would you do them side-by-side with photography or what’s the plan?

Planning the next three to five years of your life helps you make the most use of your time and other resources now because you know where you are headed. Don’t just let life happen to you, be deliberate about how you live it.

Ronke Alao
CEO Everywoman’s Heart
http://www.everywomansheart.com

A Day in My Life in 2020: Awosanmi Emmanuel


It is Wednesday May 27, 2020.

I am Awosanmi Oluwadamilare Emmanuel by name. I am a photographer, a part-time teacher of chemistry and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I got out of bed this morning at 5:00am after my alarm went off. I gave my favourite (my wife), a good morning kiss as she turned and asked “is it morning already?” Yes it is, I replied.

I went into the children’s room to wake them up. And together, the twins (a boy and a girl) and I went into the living room where their mother is already waiting to begin the worship session for the day’s devotion. This is my family altar where the day of the family is committed into God’s hands. The morning devotion lasted for about 30 minutes.

In my living room is a set of leather sofas, a dinning set, a mini bar, a book shelf with about 523 books, a television set and a sound system. The floor is tiled, the walls painted with patterns of cream and brown colours. Hung on the wall are collections of frames from my wedding, works of arts and other photo crafts to add to the beauty of the house.

My Favourite went with the twins to have them bathe, while I also went into my bathroom to brush my teeth and have my bath. In my bathroom, is a shower with a thermostat that allows me to choose the temperature of water I wanted, a relatively large container normally called a bathtub, a flush toilet which is water-efficient, a wash-hand basin, an electronic deodorizer, a medium size mirror, and a trash can.

Getting out of the bathroom, I put on my clothing for the day (among others for the week) which had already been selected and ironed from the previous week. Within 15 minutes, I was ready and by now my Favourite is in the kitchen packing up the breakfast for the Twins and I.

My kitchen is spacious enough to accommodate the two-door freezer, a microwave oven, an electric-gas cooker, cabinets for plates, pots, cutleries, and a double-sink basin. By 6:30am, I was by my car, a Toyota Sienna 2015, limited model. My favourite came out to the garage to hand over my breakfast as she went back in to help the kids get ready for their school bus arrival.

I drove out of my two bedroom flat apartment in Ikorodu at exactly 6:45am. I headed for the Institution where I would be teaching two classes apart from the three hours practical sessions I would be taking. I got to the Institute premises 20 minutes later, as my first period begins at 8am. Gone are those days when traffic used to be hectic along Ikorodu road.

Being a Wednesday, my classes were over by 12 noon. After spending few minutes with colleagues, I decided to return home. Getting into my car, I called a portrait client to remind her of the appointment scheduled for 7 pm in the evening as she had informed me few days earlier to give her a call by 1:00pm in order to confirm her availability.

On my way home, I decided to visit my wife’s boutique. She was glad I could stop by being over a week that I had time to do so. My wife’s boutique business is a unisex fashion store large enough for both adult and young, with four assistants helping her in the running of the business.

In the store are well-arranged and hung cloths, ties, tuxedo suits and shoes for men to the left, ladies wears, bags, shoes and jewelries were arranged to the right side of the store while the center was separated for children only. It is a place to shop for the family’s clothing.

Right from the entrance, the scenery was inviting. There are times I hear people talk about the boutique not knowing that it is my wife’s. They talk of the beauty they see from outside to the inside of it. Each time I walk into the place, I feel overwhelmed at the daily organizations, improvements and implementations put in place by my wife. There is always something new and unique.

By 2:30pm, I was at home. I had a snack for lunch while I relaxed for few minutes. I then decided to work on my computer system to edit some images from my last event which would be due for delivery in 7 days time. Editing is much more fun and easy to do these days with the new software in use compared to 2013 when I just started out in Photography.

That reminds me, today marks exactly 7 years I started the journey of photography that has transformed my life, with Mr Seun Akisanmi of eloPhotos, my number one mentor and still my mentor. Waoh! How time flies. I have got to call Ronke and Tayo to remind them of today. Perhaps, we could make out time to go celebrate him this weekend.

I almost got lost in my thought of eloPhotos and all that weird colleagues of mine and activities we engaged in during those times. Snapping out of my thought, I whispered thank you Lord Jesus. I have been on the system for about three hours now, editing. Suddenly, my phone began to vibrate. It is my wife calling to inform me of her soon arrival and that of the twins from School.

With the kids returning, I had to round up my editing and pack up the system. Both the twins and their mother returned home just few minutes apart. I checked my clock, it is 6:00pm. Great! My wife then asked if I would not be going for the appointment again? I replied, that I am. And with her persuasion, I headed for the client’s residence immediately, which is about twenty minutes drive away.

The client (whom I needed to show my works and also to give her a brief for the package of photography she requested for) works with a multinational company while her husband is a pilot. Getting to her place, the building in front of me is an edifice. Getting into the apartment is another story entirely. In summary, it is a well finished and furnished apartment. Many I have seen, but this is unique.

I was welcomed with a chilled soft drink but I requested for water instead. I was asked to have a sit as she requested for few minutes in order to inform her husband of my presence. The time I spent with them was short, as the negotiation period was fast to come to an agreement upon a charge. At the end of the brief, I was given some N10,000 to fuel my car back home. The experience reminded me of my colleagues, Ronke & Damilola, 7 years earlier.

Getting back home at 8:15pm, I met my wife in the living room with the twins fast asleep. We had the night prayers, after which I carried the twins into their room, tucked them in bed and gave them a good night kiss. I returned to the living room to have some chat with my favourite, discussing about the activities of the day. Soon, I realized she had started sleeping. So I asked her to go to bed and sleep while I remained to continue my editing from where I stopped earlier in the day.

What! 2:00am? It is a new day already. I got to go to bed now. Getting into the room, I met my Favourite coming out of the bathroom; she asked, is it morning already? I replied, oh! no, it is just 2:00am dear, as she lay back on the bed. I lay beside her and off to dreamland I went.

A Poem Called HONESTY


The event was Daystar Christian Centre‘s Excellence In Leadership Conference (ELC). We were all to report at the venue of the conference on Wednesday morning to attend the general session. Mr Seun was privileged to be one of the speakers; He was there to recite a poem titled, “Corruption: Not an Option”. Apart from attending the conference, I also had the privilege of babysitting Mr Seun’s seven month old baby, Ebenezer, who I like to call “Ebby”. She was calm for the most part but towards the end of the session, she figured my face wasn’t familiar enough so she started squealing. Babies have their special way of announcing, “I want my mama! This is not my mama”. It was an interesting experience.

Back to the conference, when it was time for Mr Seun to be called out on stage for his recital, he was introduced as Seun Ofure, (Ofure is his wife’s name). I remember thinking that was a stage name of some sort. Well, it wasn’t. He came up and re-introduced himself as Seun Akisanmi. The poem recital was complete with theatrics and a strong message; the crowd loved it. I didn’t think people appreciated poems that much. It got me thinking about my poem writing skill that I’ve kept on the shelf for so long. So I decided to share one of my poems with you this week and what better poem to share than the one that talks about one of the core values of eloPhotos: Honesty

Nothing speaks like it
Standing for the truth in every situation
Even when it isn’t popular,
Even when one stands to lose something dear- a job, an esteemed position, friendship… whatever – being honest at all times makes one outstanding.
An honest man is always dependable
You can be sure you’ll get the truth from him
No matter what- even when his neck is on the line.
In this age when it seems truth has no value
And it’s winner takes all
Do not be deceived, even dishonest people value honesty in others.
Employers value it in employees
Parents value it in children
Without it, friendship is nothing but a joke
It is priceless, so
Dare to be different,
Dare to be HONEST

Composed by Ronke Alao

Time to Say GoOdByE


hOuSe Of CrEaTiViTy!
hOuSe Of CrEaTiViTy!!
hOuSe Of CrEaTiViTy!!!

Starring: seun AKISANMI, ronke ALAO, Samuel IJIYOKUNOLA, emmanuel AWOSANMI, toye PETERS, tayo BABALOLA, damilola OPAWALE and onodje OSHEVWIYORE

Produced & Directed By: seun AKISANMI
Marketed and distributed by:
eloPhotos STUDIOs,
12b, Fagba Crescent,
Off Acme Road, Ikeja

GRAB YOUR COPY NOW !!!!!!!

Ok, enough of me being silly, and down to business. I am thinking by now, you should know I like to ask questions a lot through some of my articles you’ve read. Given that fact, I want to crave your indulgence this one time to ask some more. (I am very sure I am lying about ‘one time’ thou, lol)…..

Who invented the concept of goodbyes?
How come we have to say goodbyes?
And why do goodbyes have to be so damn hard?

I have said countless "goodbyes" in my life and with that, one will think it comes easy with time; it never does. If you doubt me, try saying goodbye. You probably wondering what’s so intriguing about Goodbyes that this guy had to dedicate a whole write-up for it. To answer that, it’s actually my last week at eloPhotos as an intern but before I take a bow, I want you to meet all the weird guys I have worked with for the past six months.

Seun Akisanmi
There is this Guinness advert punch line ‘my friend Udeme is a Great man’. For the guy to have said his friend was a great man, I am so sure he has not met Mr Seun. He is a very good example of who a leader should be; he not only tells you what to do, he shows you how to do it. He is never proud to admit his mistakes and let you learn from it and he is always ready to listen.

* He is possessed with a spirit of "creativity"
* He works round the clock
* His humility still amazes me till date
* He is a mentor I won’t have to learn to fire/sack and
* He is the only person I know and I have seen eat yam and plantain together since I was born.

Ronke Alao
Meeting her for the first time, you probably think she is a member of CCC (cool, calm and collected) but believe me when I say she is as weird as the rest of us. Beneath the bizarre and beauty, she is intelligent and inspiring. Whatever she is assigned to do, you can be certain she is giving a hundred percent.

Samuel Ijiyokunola
My second boss of life. He is always willing to share what he knows, very innovative and hard working and before I forget sir, no thanks for all those punches to my stomach.

Emmanuel Awosanmi
The first time I met this my man, I was like who is this pastor but to put it rightly, he is a Weird Pastor. He loves God a lot, no doubt but whatever question you ask him not relating to photography ends up with a chemical answer (e.g: methane). He loves walking and won’t mind you walking with him even if it means telling you ‘the place no far’. Despite all this he is an amazing friend and brother.

Toye Peters
What can I say about this guy besides the fact that he comes to the office most days by road and water. Now don’t think he is an ‘ilaje boy’ (tribes of people born on water); he is just fortunate to live in an area where Government has promised them no roads. You can deduce from the statement above that he is tenacious and creative too.

Onodje Oshevwiyore Eric
Our in-house comedian and coincidentally, he is from Warri. (Can we then say all Warri citizens are funny?) They say; the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but for Eric, the way to his heart is to look beautiful and you can get him to do just about anything for you. He is intelligent and he is ‘Mr. do it well and calmly’ kind of guy.

Damilola Opawale
I have only met this lady a few weeks but I keep wondering where she gets her drive from. She is a 500-level medical student, learning to play the piano and also a photographer. (This is the part where I get to say WOW!!!). Whenever she is determined to learn something, pray you are not the available teacher because there is no escape route except you teach her.

With all this people starring in this movie, who wouldn’t watch it for 6 months and still want to continue watching….. Seriously from the depth of my heart I want to say a very BIG thank you to you guys for inspiring me and for being the colleagues I will always miss. I LOVE YOU ALL (can I get tissue and group hugs please)

As I take the much deserved bow, just be assured that wherever you see the MOB (Michael Omotayo Babalola) logo, that is my way of saying I came, I saw and I am conquering new grounds and by the special grace of God the ministry is moving to camp. (abi, every church now has a camp ground)

My Unforgettable Learning Experience at WHATEVERITTAKES Lagos


The much talked about WHATEVERITTAKES workshop finally held in Lagos after making its debut in Warri. This was to be the workshop that would help photographers stand out in the industry and I must say it delivered.
I was privileged to be a part of it. Four of the twelve participants were ladies much to my excitement. If you missed it and you are wondering if you missed anything, let me break it to you softly; you really missed out big time!  It would have been nice if I could share all I learnt with you but it’s like trying to describe what flying in an airplane feels like to someone who’s never seen the inside of an aircraft.

A lot of the valuable lessons I learnt are the kinds you don’t learn in photography books or even books that teach business skills. The words “Integrity” and “Profitablity” now carry new meanings for me. During the workshop, I had to think of why someone like Aliko Dangote would have banks lined up, trying to loan him money while those same banks might not be too eager to loan other businesses. It has little or nothing to do with the guy’s bank account.

The great thing about a workshop like this is the fact that you not only learn from the facilitator,you learn from colleagues at the workshop as well. It provided good networking opportunity. I was privileged to meet Dr Femi Adewuyi in person. He’s someone who has intrigued me ever since I heard of him; a medical doctor who does photography professionally.

The major questions I was faced with at the end of that day were those that might seem difficult to answer but are at the very core of success in the industry. Questions like: how long do I plan to stay in the industry? What kind of impact do I want to make? What are my plans for the next three years? Am I only in photography because of passion or do I carry a vision that inspires me enough to take action and do WHATEVERITTAKES to stand out and impact my family and the world at large? These are the questions I seek to answer for myself. How about you? What will you do? Will you read this article and move on to the next or will you take time out to answer these questions for yourself too? Remember, the future starts now!

by Ronke Alao

 

How I Almost Became A Blind Photographer


You never know how precious your eyes are until you come close to losing them or at least losing your sight even if the eyes remain in their sockets. Last week, I had reason to be grateful for the gift of sight.  It was like any other Monday at the office; busy as ever. The work day soon ended and my colleagues and I headed home. I got to Ojota and boarded a bus heading to Ikorodu as usual.

The ride was uneventful for the most part or at least till we got past Mile 12. From then on, the traffic was a nightmare, two lanes had been turned to four by impatient motorists and the super-impatient ones had crossed the median to face oncoming traffic; a phenomenon commonly referred to as “passing one-way”. As terrible as it sounds, this isn’t unusual on that road. It’s disorganized chaos that people who ply that road have grown accustomed to.

Suddenly, I heard a loud thump on the bus and wondered what it was. Looking out the window, I saw the most ridiculous thing ever; LASTMA officials picking stones and throwing  at vehicles on the wrong side of the road. Even though I understood that it was wrong for people to face oncoming traffic on that road, (and it is very unsafe too), I didn’t see the wisdom in law enforcement officers throwing stones at innocent passengers.

A few minutes passed as the journey continued. I decided to call my husband and let him know that I was almost at the bus-stop. Just as I finished speaking with him and ended the call, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt something hit my right eye real hard and felt water pour all over me. With one hand over my eye and my head bowed, I could hear my self screaming, “Yee, yee! My eyes”. I could hear the guy sitted on my left side saying, “Sister sorry o”. My mind was in a daze as I struggled to make sense of what just happened and also cope with the pain of something hitting my eye with such force.

At this point, I could hear the lady sitting by my right hand side, asking if I was okay. I asked her what just happened and she explained to me that it was LASTMA officials who threw pure water satchets at the bus. That was when I realized, what hit me was a satchet of pure water and it hit my eye with such force that it busted.

On getting home, I narrated the ordeal to my husband who was almost as irritated and pained as I was. I assured him I was okay and started showing him some of the pictures from our photo shoot the week before. While we both admired the pictures, I felt something streaming out of my nostrils, it was blood! Bright red blood was streaming out of my nose! My alarmed husband rushed to get me toilet paper to contain the bleeding.

My husband watched with concern written all over his face while I applied pressure to my nose area with blood-soaked tissue paper, assuring him that I’d be just fine. Well, after a few minutes of waiting for the blood to cease and it didn’t, I got a bit scared myself and told him I needed to lie on a flat surface. Off to bed I went. The bleeding subsided shortly after I got in bed.

As I laid in bed, I thought of the nameless, faceless guy whose “bullet” hit me and caused me all these harm. If I felt anything for him at that moment, it sure wasn’t love. What could a passenger like me have done to stop a lawless bus driver from flouting the law? What kind of city hires confused human beings (like the ones I had encountered that night), to enforce traffic laws?

The next day, I set out to work as early as usual, way before sunrise. It was later in the morning that I realized that my right eye was quite sensitive to light. It was fine as long as I stayed indoors but hurt really bad the moment I came out in broad daylight. This went on for two more days before my eye felt a bit normal.

Thinking back at the whole episode (after the emotions of anger and frustration had diffused), I, Ronke Alao, thought of how fortunate I was. Imagine if the LASTMA fellow had chosen a stone as his weapon that day and it hit my eye, doing real damage to it? I’d love to make a name for myself as a photographer but not as a one-eyed photographer. We as photographers tend to gush over our expensive gadgets and the new lens released into the market that is meant to see better than the human eye. As much as we value these expensive equipment, let’s always remember that we are blessed with the most precious “lens” of all, that can’t be ordered on a website: our very EYES.

 

LAGOS: Why I LOVE & HATE This City


As I drafted these words at 7.56pm on Friday , somewhere between Ojota and Ketu; I thought of how my week had been busy, fun, interesting and plain crazy all at the same time. It was a week that had two days declared as public holidays but I still had to show up for work on those two days. Two of my colleagues were allowed to stay home and enjoy the holiday while three  came to work. I was so jealous of those that stayed home. Sometimes I think my boss makes me work harder just because I am a woman. Giving you examples that illustrate my point is easy but I choose not to digress.

One of the most bizarre things I witnessed this week was on Ikorodu road, (you must be tired of reading my Ikorodu road stories by now but it’s too much craziness not to write about), as usual. I was in a bus heading home and the driver wanted to get on the express from the service lane but wasn’t patient. The traffic was pretty much “bumper to bumper” and the bus driver had blocked a private car. It was a big mess. The driver was asked to back up a little bit but he wouldn’t budge. Next thing we knew, the guy driving the private car got  out of the car with a horsewhip and whipped my bus driver!

I was shocked out of my mind and I don’t know where I got the guts to speak from but I started shouting almost uncontrollably. “Ha! What rubbish is this? Driver, please reverse o! This man must be an animal. Let’s get away from this spot”. I shouted amidst the driver’s cries. I was too shocked at the jungle justice being displayed by the man with the horsewhip. I was even more shocked to note that the other passengers didn’t seem to care much. ‘Why is Lagos so lawless and cold? And to think there are people leaving their villages in droves to come to this crazy city’, I thought to myself.

As we drove on, the driver talked and laughed about how the whip didn’t really hurt him and I felt like punching him in the head.

As much as I resumed at the office on the public holidays, I still had fun on Tuesday. That’s because my husband and I had a photo shoot. My colleague, Samuel, had found out that my hubby and I had not had a photo session since we got married so he asked that he take pictures of us and I couldn’t say no to such an offer. It was so much fun for me and a lot more fun for my husband  He couldn’t stop talking about it all day. For those longing to have a visual image of who the GREAT Ronke Alao is, attached are 2 clues to help you out.Ronke Alao 2 Ronke Alao

Another newsworthy development is the fact that I am no longer the only female intern at eloPhotos. Yes, I now have company in the person of  Damilola. Damilola is a 500level medical student who is making good use of her time while ASUU and the Federal government figure out a way to make up and stop bickering at each other. She is honing her photography skills and just when you think that is all this pretty, slim and attractive lady is doing; you find out she is also taking piano lessons.

You should know by now that I like her a lot. I admire her quest for knowledge and her interest in the arts. There is more to her life than bulky medical textbooks and dissecting cadavers. If you are wondering if she is single, come see me “in-camera” with your consultation fees. That’s not stuff I can discuss on a blog.

Now, for a list of things I am grateful for. I am grateful for the opportunity to be an intern at eloPhotos; for working with a boss that doesn’t mind exposing his own mistakes so you can learn not to make the same; grateful for God’s protection on the roads despite the antics of crazy bus drivers; glad I am learning how important record-keeping is in a business like this and learnt enough for my boss to call me the “Financial Controller“.

If you’ve been in the photography business for a while or you are just venturing into it and the idea of keeping a statement of income and expenses scares you, fear not. If you think promoting your business on social media simply means throwing a few pictures on your facebook page, think again. If you would like to stand out and make a name for yourself in this industry, would you be willing to do WHATEVERITTAKES? If so, register for the workshop taking place in different cities across Nigeria starting October 23rd. You owe it to your children, (born and unborn) to attend. CLICK HERE for more details.

Reporting LIVE from eloPhotos,
Ronke Alao

 

My Journey BACK into a PHOTOGRAPHY ACADEMY


…..Back at eloPhotos

“Perhaps we can talk at length on Monday. Try come to DSAP and ask for the photography section. We can meet during my break but be there by 8:30am” That was Mr Seun Akisanmi’s response after I informed him of my intention to return to eloPhotos since I was on a compulsory break from school work, no thanks to ASUU and Federal Government. I had been at elophotos for about 6 weeks, some 3 years ago during one of those long ASUU strike, it was an experience for me as I learnt the basics of photography, went with them for an exhibition at The Palms, met exciting people, the likes of Kikelomo, Michael, Lara, Samuel and Seun Akisanmi himself. It was an exciting experience as I had never met people with such creativity and passion for photography.

Spending the rest of this break to learn more photography would not be a bad idea. eloPhotos readily came to mind when I thought of where to go. I knew I was up for another exciting experience, if Seun Akisanmi agrees to having me around. So I dressed up early that Monday morning and out I went, to Daystar to meet with Seun Akisanmi as he decides how the rest of my break would be like. I got to the DSAP (Daystar Skill Acquisition Program) venue at about 8:30am, eventually meeting him during the break at about 11am.

What was meant to be a big favor turned out to be a disfavor, as it were! I had thought that after my meeting with him, he would ask me to give him some time to think about it or at most resume the next day.  With this mindset, I left home on an empty stomach. Even while I was waiting to see him, the hunger contractions were already beginning to intensify, but I held on since I would be back home soon, or so I thought. Alas, Seun Akisanmi announced to me that I would be going with him to the office once he was through with the class. At that point, I did not know whether to be excited or sad. Though I had to put up an excited countenance, but deep inside, I was sad, especially as the hunger contractions grabbed me! I wish he allowed me go home.

Apart from the hunger, I was excited to go back to eloPhotos again. “This is Dammy, she’ll be joining us, she’s been here before”, he introduced me to the other interns and they all gave a warm welcome in reply. That was how the new experience began for me.

Not much had changed at eloPhotos, except that the arrangement of the books had changed, there were two new shelves, one in the reception and the other in the studio, both filled with books, I was most excited to see the books again. Also there are also new set of interns who turned out to be one of the most amazing set of people I have ever met. The past one week with these people has been spectacular.

Ronke Alao, the lady intern who I had known so much through her interesting write ups on elophotos blog, I met finally in person. She was so kind to take me through Photoshop again. She’s simply Smart and eloquent! I love her so.

Tayo is another awesome person met at elophotos. This guy always had one thing or the other to do, and he always had this serious look, even when he’s jesting he looks serious, even his voice sounds ‘serious’. Trust me, he’s simply exceptional at what he does.

Emmanuel is an amazing guy, though i’v not spent so much time with him, but I was impressed at how supportive he was when I made the move at rearranging the studio. I also watched him run some humble errands. He is simply Humble!

Toye, this guy has made me laugh the most this past one week, even in his most serious mood, he’s jesting. If you ask me, Toye would make a successful stand up comedian.  But trust me, he’s simply proficient with Photoshop.

Onos, the tallest guy amongst us… Another comedian in the house. He’s one of the few people I have seen that make people laugh and still keep a straight face. I feel for this guy though, because other interns only need to start communicating in Yoruba and he is lost. He simply fun to be with.

My most amazing discovery about these people however is how much education they’ve got. They all have degrees in one field or the other but have decided to put them aside to pursue their passion in photography. That for me is simply WOW! And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My first week back at eloPhotos as a whole was adventurous and interesting, but most important, I have learnt new things and I have remembered things I used to know but forgot. Thanks to my new friends, and of course Seun Akisanmi.
I wont forget too quickly my trip to African Shrine in search of Porridge (lip sealed)!

I look forward to more exciting and learning filled stay at eloPhotos this time while trusting God for the call off of the ASUU strike.

The New Intern,
Damilola Opawale

A Hard Lesson To Learn


He finally gave his verdict on our unacceptable behavior of reporting late to work and our failure to meet  deadlines on assigned tasks. In a soft, polite and cool voice; my boss said “…with the exception of Ronke Alao, the rest of you guys are to embark on a 14 days leave just to re-assess, think things through and possibly refresh yourselves.”

The news of the unplanned leave suddenly struck me hard like a tornado and it left me totally speechless & confused. At that critical moment, all I thought of was the fact that I am going on an unwanted leave that would last this long. Honestly, just like the popular Warri slang would say “I come weak like dodo, I swear”.

On Independence Day, I woke up with disturbing thoughts that I have actually commenced my unplanned leave. Quickly, I turned on my television set to listen to Mr. President’s  nationwide,  live broadcast scheduled for 7:00am. It happened to be one of the usual sermons we hear yearly that the government is doing this and that, that Nigeria will get better. I sometimes wonder if such broadcast can for once be said without the words “fellow Nigerians” because seriously I have heard it more often than necessary. Anyway, I am one of those patriotic Nigerians that still have an iota of hope that despite our diverse cultural differences, problems and security challenges; this country can still survive, grow and become very prosperous. It all requires every one of us to have a right mindset and be actively involved in electing leaders that can represent us and uphold our mandate.

The public holiday declared by the government wasn’t going to be all rest either for me as I was meant to cover the 50th birthday ceremony of a lady to be held at Iteri Palace. Arriving at the event, I was so surprised to discover that I was the only professional photographer present for the party. The event started two hours way behind schedule due to the heavy downpour of rains that lasted for more than an hour. The whole party turned out to be very entertaining with plenty to eat, drink and lovely melodious music that thrilled every one present. I had an exciting time photographing guests of the celebrant who were mostly dressed in colorful Yoruba attires.

The rest of the week went really fast. On Thursday I and my colleague, Toye Peters went to cover the court wedding ceremony of Bisola and Olumide at the Ikoyi marriage registry. It was a special event for me as that happened to be my first time of covering a court registry wedding. It was indeed worth remembering as every moment I spent photographing the couple and guests present was worthwhile.

The traditional marriage ceremony was performed on Saturday according to Islamic rite. I had a bit of challenge photographing during the event as the bride’s uncle’s house which was the venue used was not properly lit. Also, the two sitting rooms used were so congested and the main sitting room where the couple and most of the guests were, had a brown ceiling. This made it difficult for the light from my  flash to bounce back. I had to tilt my flash head at an angle of 60 and 45 degrees while photographing.

In conclusion, it has been a great week overall as I have learnt in a hard way to be more disciplined, more time-conscious and that no matter what the situation may be, always learn to meet deadline on assigned tasks.

Photographically Yours,
Onodje Oshevwiyore

How To Become The Star Of A Reality Show: A Script by Ronke Alao


Watching T.V is not one of my favorite things to do. There seems to be so much crap, (excuse my French), on T.V. these days that sorting the good from the terrible programs can be time-consuming. At the top of the list of programs I consider terrible include reality shows. Probably because I don’t see the reality in them. They are scripted,boring and lack entertainment value in my opinion.

The only kind of shows that I know of, worthy of being tagged “reality shows” are those I see in ‘danfo‘, (Lagos Commercial buses, usually Volkswagen brand) on a weekly basis. You want real life drama, comedy or thriller? Simply find your way into a danfo headed for Ikorodu (or some other place where the traffic is horrible and you can be sure of being in the same bus for at least two hours).

There’s so much to write about what goes on in this buses that I get tired just thinking about it. Sometimes the bus gets so noisy that I almost wish we could go back to the days when no one had mobile phones in Nigeria. If it’s not a bunch of people playing music loudly on their phones, then it’s someone talking too loudly on the phone, raising their voice and cursing the person at the other end of the phone out. Of course there is always that someone who lies through his teeth, (sorry guys but I think men top the chart for this behavior), about his location. “I am now at Mile 12”, he shouts on the phone, when he is in fact still at Ojota.

I remember sitting next to a lady once who was answering her phone and the next thing I knew, she stuck the phone in my ear and frantically said, “Sister, please say ‘hello’ “. With a confused look, I said a hello to the stranger on the other end of the phone. Apparently, the lady was talking to a guy who was probably her boyfriend or husband and she was trying to convince him that she was indeed in a commercial bus and not riding in a private car. I am so glad my husband never has to do that; he’s my hubby afterall, not a monitoring spirit!

Like many people, I have my preferred seat in the bus and it’s usually just by the window. This seat comes with its perks. For instance, I can easily buy my favorite roadtrip snack – yogurt – in the slow moving traffic. The one risk I have to be aware of when sitting by the window is that of having someone from the street snatch my Blackberry phone from my hands right across the window. This can be a serious concern when I attempt to capture an interesting image of something happening on the street with my phone.  I try to avoid the front seat because that usually means wearing the seat belt. I believe in wearing the belt as a safety measure but in most danfos, the belt is just something you throw around your neck to avoid being caught by LASTMA officials. They are usually faulty and I believe some can actually strangle you in event of an accident.

For guys who need a free lesson on how NOT to toast a babe, all you need do is watch the drama in these buses. What annoys me most is when I inform a guy that I’m married and he doesn’t quit pestering me. Then, he goes ahead to answer a call from someone whose name is stored as “Sweetheart” on his phone. It makes me want to punch him in the nose and ask, “Why are you so shameless?”, but then I don’t.

Most danfo drivers have personalities that bother around aggression. Well, maybe Lagosians are generally aggressive but these drivers get a daily overdose of it; especially those that ply Ikorodu road. They drive recklessly and seem to forget they actually have humans as passengers. Sometimes, my ride home looks like something out of an action movie where the driver weaves in and out of traffic, faces oncoming traffic and slams on the brakes like he just saw a ghost. In most cases, passengers try to put in a word of caution but I’ve had a few occasions where the driver drove quite decently but the passengers were disturbed by this and kept chanting, “Driver,what’s your problem? Can’t you face one-way? I thought you could drive rough like the rest of them o.”.

There are days when I don’t board a danfo. I sometimes get lucky and find a private car owner willing to give passengers a ride for a fee. A few of this drivers act just as badly as danfo drivers sometimes but for the most part, they are well-behaved. One of such well-behaved guys was one who gave me a ride from Ojota to Ikorodu. We were in pretty bad traffic and even though I was seated at the back seat, I could sense the driver was quite uncomfortable. My antenna ears picked something he mumbled about having used ‘MistMag’ with no relief. I immediately knew he had digestive issues. The moment we got to a gas station, he apologized to everyone in the car and said he had to use a restroom urgently. No one dared complain. This guy had just charged us N150 from Ojota to Ikorodu on a day when commercial buses were charging N300.  He returned in about ten minutes, looking very relieved and full of appreciation. “Thank you so much, sorry for keeping you waiting please, thanks a lot and God bless you…”. On and on he went like we had saved him from terrorists or something.

Recently, I have been thinking about how my attitude and demeanor changes when I am on the road. I realized how I was letting the aggression and craziness rub off on me. It used to be that I would watch the madness around me and not be a part of it. In fact, I enjoyed watching the show unfold and be somewhat inspired by it as an artist. Now, it seems I have joined in the mindless discussions that sometimes take place in the bus. I once caught myself using nasty words to describe a driver to his face and I immediately felt shame. ‘Ronke, you are better than this’, I thought to myself.

No, I am not ruled by my environment. I am governed by the Spirit of the most high God living on the inside of me. I choose to bless and not curse. This attitude sets me free to be the best photographer I can possibly be. It helps me release the creative energy that my heavenly daddy stuffed on the inside of me.

Life in Lagos buses, everyday is a different reality show whose entertainment value surpasses the shows on Television. Who needs T.V drama?Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Yours Truly,
Ronke Alao
Writer | Photographer | Poet

A Photographer’s Guide To Covering FAMILY EVENTS Without Going BROKE


I recently had the privilege of being the official photographer at my niece’s naming ceremony. I was so excited at the news of her birth, not only because I just love baby girls; my excitement was also due to the fact that this second niece of mine was born on the birthday of the first niece . How cool is that? It was almost as if I knew her because I did a maternity shoot for her mum – my sister in-law – while she was pregnant with this baby niece.

A couple of days after the birth, my sister in-law sent me a message asking if I would “help cover the event”. Not wanting to assume that it was a request to do the job for free, I promptly said, “Sure!” and went ahead to send her the bill. No need beating around the bush, right? I explained what the package would include. Whether she was surprised at the fact that I was charging for the job or that I was charging the amount I had quoted is uncertain. She said she would get back to me and I knew that was a polite way of saying, “Never mind, it is too expensive”.

Later that day, I told my husband about the fact that my sister in-law wants to hire me and I am charging her such and such. Well, my husband burst out laughing like he had just heard the latest joke from Basket Mouth. I wondered what was so funny and also if he would laugh if I was the caterer and wanted to charge for that service. I politely asked my loving husband why he laughed so hard. He said he thought the fact that I would charge someone like my sister in-law was funny since I have a close relationship with her. If my accountant-husband who supports my career, more than anyone else I know, could say that…God help me. I explained to him that business was business.

Just when I thought I was going to attend the event as a guest, my able sister in-law got back to me and asked if I could just deliver edited soft copies. Sounded fair to me and we agreed on a price. The big day came around. I was supposed to be assisted by a colleague (Onos) but to my surprise, Mr Seun Akisanmi showed up too to assist.

It was a beautiful event overall and I was thankful for the opportunity to learn the following first hand:

1. Charging family members for your service as a photographer is sheer wisdom. Get comfortable with the idea. Even non profit organizations do have to make a profit to stay afloat. Blood might be thicker than water but it wont buy you a lens or camera.

2. Just because your client is a family member doesn’t mean you slack on the standards you have set for yourself. Give it your very best. This could be easier if you are being paid. At least it was for me.

3. Still talking about the money subject, (I am not money-crazy but hey, good looks and charm wasn’t enough to buy my camera. Nikon still wanted cash), no one cares whether you are being paid or if it is some random act of kindness on your part. So it may be better to charge for the service even if you don’t need the money. Once you agree to cover the event, you are the photographer. Yes, you are like any other photographer at that family event so you aren’t attending as a family member.

I didn’t get ‘special recognition’ as family member. In fact, my dad ‘warned’ me not to “flash light” in his granddaughter’s eyes while one of my brothers,(not the baby’s father), told me I was not supposed to eat during the event. It was all meant to be a joke, a serious kind of joke if you know what I mean.

4. Covering a family event can come with its own distractions while on the job. Family friends may not recognize the fact that you are there as a vendor. I had one or two friends of the family who kept calling me to come do this or that. They didn’t realize they were distracting me from my job. I had to nicely ignore their requests.

Hope those tips help the next time you act as official photographer at a family function. I ended up not eating at the event but was able to pack a bowl of rice to eat on my way home. I wish I had the opportunity to sample the assorted drinks served but hey, it’s okay, I got paid enough to buy myself a drink.

Photographically Yours,
Ronke Alao
CEO Everywoman’s Heart
http://www.everywomansheart.com

 

A BORING Writeup Without A TITLE


There is no better way we start off a new week at eloPhotos than with our usual sweet Monday morning devotion. It was a refreshing time of fellowship as we sang beautiful  praise and worship songs and had a brief exhortation from God’s word which was given by Mr. Seun Akisanmi. During the course of the devotion, he threw a question to us whether it was biblically right to engrave a tattoo on one’s body. As I expected, that created mixed reactions as most of my colleagues thought it was not morally right. My boss concluded by quickly saying that personally he feels nothing was wrong with engraving a tattoo on one’s body especially when it has the caption “Jesus Loves You”. His words arose some form of laughter but at the end I thought to myself that he could be making a good point.

At the end of the devotion, I and my colleagues were told by my boss that we will be required to design individually a 30-spread album from the last wedding ceremony covered and it ought to be ready by latest September 20. Honestly, the new assignment came to me as a surprise as I felt much unprepared. For a quick moment, all I thought of was the fact that I didn’t have a sound background on the use of Photoshop and Lightroom software’s for editing images and creating an album. It became apparently obvious to me that this will be a tasking challenge I have to face and hopefully overcome within
the stipulated time frame. I said to myself “so help me God”.

The day’s job started properly on a high note as we began the viewing and selection of the pictures we took during the Tunbosun and Dieko’s wedding ceremony. I discovered that some of the pictures I took were not “Tack Sharp”. For a moment I felt a little disappointed but my colleagues were so kind and thoughtful enough to offer me words of encouragement as there was room for improvement. Pardon me if I got you a bit confused with my terms: “Tack Sharp” is a photography term that simply means the images in a picture frame are still clearly seen even after zooming in.

At about 10:30am, a meeting was held to deliberate, brain storm and plan ahead of the second edition of Nigeria Photography Expo Conference (NiPHEC) that will be coming up in April 2014. In attendance were lots of prominent and established names as far as the
photography industry in Nigeria was concerned. Also present was the much talked about wedding photographer, Akara Ogheneworo. Honestly, I considered myself very privileged to have attended such a sensitive meeting. NiPHEC 2014 will be held in two major cities in Nigeria with the first three days of the conference being staged in Abuja from the
27th to 29th April 2014. Thereafter, the last four days of the conference will be held in Lagos from the 30th to 3rd May 2014.

The rest of the working week went so fast like a “tornado” with Thursday having the major highlight. Being mandated by my boss, Mr. Seun Akisanmi, my colleagues and I were motivated to put in our entries for the British council “Through My Eyes” competition that will be involving a pair; a creative writer and a photographer. The competition is all about doing 200 maximum words of creative write up accompanied with photographs to illustrate what is working now in our immediate community. After a few hours of brain storming, we eventually came up with a creative concept which will portray a comparison of the  orderliness of passengers entering the popular Lagos commercial danfo bus and the state government BRT bus. Executing the task was a bit of challenge in itself especially when we were shooting the BRT bus with passengers entering it.

The week ended on a colorful note as I was privileged to cover (alongside with my boss and the great Ronke Alao) a baby’s naming ceremony. This happened to be my first witness of a typical Yoruba child naming ceremony; trust me, it was indeed worthwhile. I got to the event venue an hour earlier, as it was schedule to start by 12:00pm. Funny enough the event didn’t start until about 1:00pm, something personally I wasn’t too surprised because of the “African man’s time mentality”. For me, the whole event was a good experience as it turned out to be fun-loving, interesting and it offered me the
opportunity to practice more and work on getting “Tack Sharp” images.

I have to drop my pen now and stop boring you with the details of my week. Until next week kindly note that this is Onodje Oshevwiyore and I am proud to be an Associate Photographer at eloPhotos Studios.

How BEANS Can Make or Mar Your Photography Career


I almost couldn’t believe it was already Thursday. I mean, what happened earlier in the week? it’s not like I was in a coma or anything, the week just flew by very fast. I do remember now.

My boss (SEUN AKISANMI, for those who don’t know by now) had hinted at the fact that I was forgetting important details easily, so was he. In fact, he had ordered a Memory Book, (no kidding, he really ordered a book that teaches how to improve one’s memory). The book had not been delivered yet so I did the next best thing; I went on a BEANS diet.

How would eating beans everyday improve my memory? I had no clue, but somewhere in my pretty little brain, I believed it would. ‘More protein, less starch’ kind of thing so the beans marathon started on Monday. I had beans for breakfast three days in a row. I also had half a portion of beans for dinner on two of those days.

The beans I had for breakfast was not any kind of beans. It is the type called Ewa Agoyin. For people who never eat outside or grew up in a palace, Ewa Agoyin means nothing but for those of us who grew up in a place like Agege, Lagos, you know exactly what I am talking about.

I had a few friends while growing up who I have lost contact with but Ewa Agoyin is one childhood friend that I still get together with. Whenever we hang out, it is as though time never passed. So, you can imagine why this beans diet wasn’t a huge challenge for me.

Whether my memory diet worked or not is debatable. I believe it did to an extent but I had to put a stop to it on Thursday. I was tired of what this childhood friend was doing to my marriage. It was making me speak to my husband in a language I normally don’t speak. By “speak”, I don’t mean talking with my mouth (let him that readeth understand). For the reader who is still having trouble understanding, the beans diet was making me make noises through the posterior of my anatomy.

As I thought about what beans had done to me that week, I was glad my embarrassing moments were in the privacy of my home and in the presence of my husband. What if those moments happened while I was out on a job?

Imagine you are shooting a portrait session of a couple in a quiet location. You already have them in your award-winning pose and you know the angle from which you would be taking the shot. It would require you getting in the squatting position. Your clients are all smiles, they have their pose right and everything is playing out just the way you envisioned. You get in the squat position and just a fraction of a second before you press the shutter, you let out a batch of violent-sounding fart. One so loud it drowns whatever noise your shutter might have made.

It’s almost painful to imagine for me. I think that would be a perfect moment either for the ground to open up and swallow me or for the trumpet to sound and rapture takes place.

Perhaps you think my feelings are exaggerated. Only a man would feel it wasn’t such a big deal. I remember once having a teacher that habitually farted in class and would simply say,”Ha, I ate a lot of beans”, as if that was supposed to make it all better for his students.

Passing gas loudly in front of clients would be devastating for a female photographer, I think. No matter what my male colleagues say, I believe a man would experience some degree of embarrassment too; except the clients in question are childhood friends of yours and you all played the game, “loudest fart”, as kids.

What’s the whole point of me writing an elaborate post on how farting can erode your ego as a photographer? Well, you know it’s the little things we never think (or talk) about that affect our business and reputation as photographers. Clients won’t remember your brand of lens and could care less if you used a full-frame camera or not. What they would probably not forget is how loud your fart was. So before you go on a beans diet, think about how it might affect your client relations and your photography career as a whole.

Ronke Alao
Writer |Photographer|Poet

 

WARNING: READ BEFORE YOU TRAIN AT eloPhotos


Believe it or not but God has a tattoo! It’s not of a skull, snake or even a scorpion. No, it’s something more beautiful: MY NAME. This was revealed at Monday’s weekly devotion and who else could have talked about such a radical idea but Mr Seun Akisanmi. He was sharing from Isaiah 49:16 where the Bible states “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” I had never seen that verse from that perspective but I am not one of those who think tattoos are a one-way ticket to hell. I would get a ‘Jesus’ tattoo myself if my husband approved and if tattoos weren’t painful.

Back to the Isaiah passage. Can you imagine your name engraved on God’s hand? Every time he stretches his hand, (and it must be a MIGHTY BIG hand to have all of God’s children’s name on it), he sees your name. That means you are always on his mind even when it seems he’s forgotten you. To think I came to eloPhotos to learn photography and I end up discovering there’s so much more to learn.

If you are a fun-loving person like me, you are probably just enjoying this write-up but if you have an analytical mind, chances are you are still trying to connect the title with the content. For your sake, I’ll get straight to the point. If you plan to train as a photographer at eloPhotos, let me warn you of a few things you are probably not aware of. Aren’t you glad you can get inside information from a trusted, outspoken and kind intern like me? Okay, here are 3 hot scoops to start with (you can get the other tips once you hire me for my photography services 1st).

CHORES
If you think you are all grown up and don’t do household chores anymore, don’t even sign up at eloPhotos. Here, it doesn’t matter whether you are the first son of your father and next in line to be crowned king of your village; you will sweep, wash plate(s) and run errands. You will learn patience as you interact with the rude and saucy Mama Laratu (our official restaurant Chef,huh, I mean Mama PUT).

PUBLIC ENEMY
If you are the type of person that would risk paying a little more for an item because you don’t want a vendor to insult you, don’t worry. You will learn some negotiating skills here that will turn you to a lean, mean negotiating machine – in a good way of course. Every kobo counts here, so if you pay a bus fare of N50 from Agidingbi bus-stop to say Testing ground bus-stop, you would probably have to listen to Mr Seun ask you why you didn’t negotiate to pay N30. I am not kidding. What better way to become Public Enemy Number 1 when bus conductors and market sellers lash out at you for daring to price their service/goods.

CAN’T WHAT?
If your favorite thing to say is “I can’t do such and such” or “It is impossible”, you will learn to change your vocabulary here. We don’t use such words here. Now, if you are a die-hard fan of those words and will want to insist something can’t be done, Mr Seun could ask you to go do it and do it you will. There is a zero-tolerance for excuses.

Well, you might wonder, “If eloPhotos is such a tough place to be, why has Ronke stayed this long?” especially when you consider the fact that I am the only female intern currently. Perhaps it’s because of the great people I get to work with or maybe it’s the little ways in which my life has changed. I think spending time with creative photographers brings out the “weird” in you. How would you explain the fact that I now sleep late and wake up early, I started writing again after one year of abandoning the craft, I am more futuristic in my thinking and I think really BIG. Thinking outside the box is something I now do effortlessly. I am beginning to set high standards for the goals I set for myself and recently started thinking of writing my first book.

Another important aspect of photography that I know I may not have been able to learn just anywhere but I learn quite well here is the “Business of Photography”. Yes, training at eloPhotos is no job for a lazy person but it ultimately brings out the best in you.

Photographically Yours,
Ronke Alao

 

604800 Seconds In The Life Of A FEMALE Photographer


The new week started like any other. I got to work at 7.15am, did some cleaning till about 8am and we started morning devotion. I had the privilege of sharing with my colleagues from the Holy Bible . The text was taken from Colossians 3:23&24: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

In essence, it isn’t only working in church that counts as working for God, our “secular” job should also be seen as working for God because it really is. So, even when the people we appear to work for are not meeting up with the expectations we have of them, we should remember that Christ is the one we are serving even on that job.

After devotion, I got started on the task at hand; redoing the photobook cover that I didn’t get right the previous week. About half an hour later, I started doing intermittent dances and singing funny songs. Whether I was simply happy or getting high on sniffing too much adhesive, I really did not know.

Several minutes later…I don’t know how long it took really, probably lost my sense of time temporarily. Anyway, after a while, I finished the photobook. It was better than the last but still not decent-looking. Mr Seun’s verdict? Well, I had to do it again the next day. Now I understand how it must feel for babies growing teeth. It hurt but I had to go through this experience…or do I really have to?

The ride home to Ikorodu after closing hours was rough. As if the terrible traffic wasn’t enough torture, the bus driver drove like he was practicing his next role as the stuntman in the movie, “The Expendables”. It was interesting to hear fellow passengers calling their loved ones to ‘report’ the reckless driver, as if that would somehow set him straight.

As we approached Ikorodu, I got so hungry and couldn’t wait to get home. On getting off the bus, I smelt roasted corn and could not resist. I bought a couple and sunk my teeth into it right there on the street. No time for observing dining etiquette, this was an emergency. The hunger was so intense that it felt like my eyes were popping out of their sockets.

I eventually got to the spot where my hubby usually picks me up and I was so glad to see him. He watched with interest as I “attacked” the corn. Though my husband isn’t a big fan of roadside foods and wouldn’t eat on the street to save his life, he knew this was no time to preach it to me. The corn was a life-saver.

My husband asked how my day went and I told him I had to do the photobook again. I was hoping he would feel very sorry for me and join my pity-party. Instead, he held me and said, “Don’t worry, it’s an opportunity to learn”. I instantly felt like there was a conspiracy somewhere and my husband and my boss were in on it.

On Tuesday, with the help of Mr Seun Akisanmi, I finally got the fundamentals of photobook binding and I made the best photobook ever! Completing the project was like reaching a waterfall after several days of walking through the dry desert. Sweet relief!

The evening commute was crazy as usual. I gave my husband periodic updates on where I was at . The traffic was terrible. He sent me a message saying, “I love you”. That melted the stress off me instantly. Just then, I noticed the guy sitting beside me in the bus was peeking at my messages. What nonsense, is privacy too much to ask for in a Lagos bus?

The rough ride to Ikorodu ended when I got off the bus. Was so glad to see my husband waiting for me as usual. I don’t know what these past three months, (that I have spent training at eloPhotos), would have been like for me if not for his understanding and support. I got in the car and heard the Mary Mary song, “Shackles”, playing. How appropriate. I felt so free having completed the photobook. I couldn’t help but do a wild dance in the car as my husband bursted out laughing. As I did my crazy dance, I wondered again if I was just happy or had sniffed too much adhesive. Who knows?

My day on Wednesday felt weird. Not having to do a photobook cover after being haunted by one for almost a week felt good. I got busy working on the monthly statement of expenses. I am not an accountant and I don’t play one on TV. In fact, I don’t enjoy counting cash or balancing accounts but somehow, I have been given this responsibility at eloPhotos so here I was. The more I tried to collate the figures, the more it seemed the number jumped off the page and mocked me.

I got done with the July statement and then had the privilege of watching Mr Seun do a kind of photobook we have never done before. I couldn’t possibly describe it. You have to see it to appreciate its beauty.

Thursday began on a rainy note; thank God I had my small umbrella. The commute to work would have been uneventful if not for the wonderful driver that thought speeding by and splashing me with water from the waist down was such a great idea! Interestingly, I had my earphones on at that time and was listening to my audio Bible. A few seconds after I got ‘sprayed’, the words I heard from the audio Bible was, “Forgive whatever grievances you have against one another”. God does have an interesting sense of humor, doesn’t He?

The main project of the day was a conceptual photo shoot of a depressed unemployed man, staring blankly at a sign that read “No Vacancy”. It was such fun. Elozi, a client of ours whose wedding we will be covering in October at Warri, came around to discuss final details and also to confirm the names of the photographers she’ll need to make airline ticket reservations for.

Somehow, I feel the week sped by pretty fast. Before I knew it, Friday was here. I mostly did administrative duties – attending to a colleague who needed to rent some equipment, burning CDs for past participants of NiPHEC and reconciling the account. Keeping the books have been such a huge challenge. It’s as though numbers don’t like me and play wicked tricks on me.

As I draft these words on my Blackberry phone, while sitting in a bus headed for Ikorodu, I saw an amazing sight. It was of a driver of a giant bus who took advantage of the almost non-moving traffic by heeding the call of nature. Yes, he urinated right there in the middle of traffic, on the famous Ikorodu road. When he was finished with business, he got back in the bus, it was then I noticed the bus he was driving had the inscription, “Lagos State Waste Management Authority”. Yeah, their driver sure knows how to manage waste!

Anyway, that’s how my week went down. Till we meet again online next week, here’s to hoping that my diary of experience at eloPhotos is of help to your photography career/hobby.

I’m Ronke Alao & I’m proud to be the ONLY female PHOTOGRAPHER at eloPhotos.

Cheers

Diary of a GHOST PHOTOGRAPHER


It’s MONDAY, August 19 and also World Photography Day Celebration in Lagos, Nigeria. My day at the office(eloPhotos) started with Emmanuel and I cleaning up. He swept while I cleaned the toilet and mopped. Shortly after, Mr Samuel and Mr Seun arrived.

Weekly morning devotion began at about 8.20 am with songs of worship and thanksgiving. Mr Seun shared with us the importance of being mindful of what we say, not confessing negatively, basically taming the tongue.

Devotion ended at about 8.45am. I went straight to the business of eating breakfast before heading out to Freedom Park, Broad Street on Lagos Island-venue of the World Photography Day Celebration -with two of my colleagues; Tayo and Emmanuel.

We arrived at the venue around 11am to a room full of photographers. Speakers at the event included Yemi Royal, Leke Adenuga ,Body Lawson and Don Barber. The interactive session was filled with interesting comments like “My camera is more important than my wife”, “We photographers don’t love one another”, “Some of you are carrying ‘cars’ on your shoulder”, “You don’t snap, you create images” and so forth.

Tayo and I shot some fun pictures outside of the hall where the event took place. It was my first time at Freedom park and I think I like the scenery. After the interactive session, a community photo-walk was held. I chose to stay back though. I know, I can be boring sometimes. The photo exhibition followed right after the photowalk.

TUESDAY
I woke up with an upset stomach. Not the “I need to find the toilet fast” kind, but the “It feels like I had poison for dinner last night” kind of tummy upset. The pain was intermittent, I knew breakfast would be out of the question but that I could still resume at the office.
Got to the bus stop at about 5.45am and waited a few minutes hoping to get a vehicle headed for Ketu. It’s not unusual for private car owners to pick passengers up for a fee. That’s how we roll in Ikorodu.

Soon enough, a man driving a white truck showed up and beckoned. I ran a few steps to catch up and got in. It was then I realized he was only interested in picking me up. He ignored other passengers that ran up to the vehicle.

I said a faint “good morning” as we rode along. There was no response. I thought, “This is very strange, perhaps I am being kidnapped”. The silence grew. About eight minutes later, the man asked me in Yoruba, “Don’t you talk in the mornings?”.”I do talk”, I said with a laugh. At this point, I could feel the pangs of pain in my tummy a little bit. Perhaps if I took a nap, my tummy wouldn’t hurt as much, but how could I possibly sleep when I don’t know this mysterious guy who picked me?

“What is your name?” he asked. “Ronke”, I answered, wondering where the conversation would lead. At the mention of my name, he seemed surprised and said loudly in Yoruba,”Did I pick up a ghost this morning ? Please let me see your face?” Oh great! So now I am a ghost. Why does my morning commute always have to be like something out of a cheap Yoruba movie? The guy actually switched on the light in the truck to take a good look at my face.
I later understood his strange behavior when he told me his wife died a couple of years ago and her name was Ronke. He later asked what my profession was and I told him I was a photographer. I wasn’t prepared for his next question. He simply blurted, “Oo ka’we ni?”, which is Yoruba for “Aren’t you educated?” Hmmm, that makes me an uneducated ghost. Somehow to him, photography is a profession for the unlearned. Rather than feel insulted by his question, I was simply amused. I told him I was educated and not only that, but my boss is also a trained accountant.

He later asked about my marital status and I told him I was married. He then asked,”Is it okay if I snatch you from your husband?”. I didn’t know if it was a joke or some lame attempt to flirt with me. Either way, I wasn’t in for it. “No you can’t”, I replied as I winced a little from the pain in my tummy. He dropped me off at Ojota where I took a bus headed for Ogba.

On getting to work, I swallowed a very small clove of garlic, (no I am not crazy, just desperate), which helped with my tummy troubles but I still didn’t feel like I could eat. I did eventually eat beans with bread before closing at about 5:30pm.

Going back home after work came with its share of drama. The first vehicle I boarded heading to Ikorodu was abruptly stopped by policemen. Apparently, he joined the “express” from the service lane at the wrong spot. I got a refund of my cab fare and headed to Ketu to get a bus.

The next bus I boarded? So much craziness, from people fighting and screaming because of seats to the lady selling Vitamin C tablets that cure ulcer, (believe it or not, it sold like hot cakes).

WEDNESDAY
Had an uneventful commute to work. Got to work super early on Wednesday (7.03am). I went straight to my assigned chore – cleaning the restroom. I have been nicknamed “Restroom Officer” by my colleagues. I take toilet business serious. I am one of those weird Nigerians that believe the restroom shouldn’t be a place you endure but rather that you enjoy. It’s one of those things that set us apart from animals. The fact that signs like “”Do not urinate” are a common sight in our city is a shame. Using a clean restroom makes us feel human, I think…

Also worked on minutes of the last meeting held. Gosh, if people thought of the fact that someone had to type up minutes of the meeting, perhaps they would talk less, I hope.

Had fun interacting with the teenagers participating in the summer bootcamp before the start of class. Oh, to be young again!

Bunmi, one of the couples whose wedding we recently covered, came around to pick her wedding frames that afternoon. My colleagues and I had the interesting task of taking passport photos that are creative, ones we could make ID cards with. Whoever heard of a creative passport photo? It’s the weird element of eloPhotos that makes me love working there.

Getting home on Wednesday was a torment. I closed a few minutes past 5pm and didnt get home till 9.20pm! The traffic to Ikorodu was horrendous. Seemed like everyone was trying to run out of Lagos or something. At moments like this, the idea of me relocating to the village becomes very romantic. Lagos is crazy.

THURSDAY
It turned out to be one of those days that I could have sworn wasn’t up to 24hours. Got to work, did some light reading, ran a few errands and shaka boom! The day is over.
Going back home took a dramatic turn when the bus driver threatened to drop all the passengers in the middle of nowhere if he didn’t get all of his money. He said the Transport fare collected was N50 less than what it should have been. What is with bus drivers who wont get a conductor and think passengers owe them a favor of collecting their money for them? I tire o

FRIDAY
Oh sweet Friday. I am so happy I want to kiss the sky! My weekends are usually short but at least I get to have one to spend with my hubby this time. No events to cover this weekend, as far as I know…

My major project/challenge/weight on my shoulders for the day was completing the sample photo book I had started work on several days ago. Hand-making a photo book myself isnt my favorite thing to do. I tried to avoid doing this one but just as I was trying hard not to, Mr Seun (My boss) had things set in motion such that there was no running away from this responsibility.

Soon as I got materials ready for the photobook cover, I started work, got down on my knees and got dirty. After God knows how long, the photobook came out looking like a plastic surgery gone bad. Mr Seun wouldn’t accept it. He jokingly said,”If you deliver this to a client,he or she will get you arrested by the police” Then he told me I had to redo it on Monday. Honestly, the thought of doing the photobook again made a police arrest sound more appealing.

At times like this, I wish excellence wasn’t so important to my boss, but if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be working with him in the first place right?

Eventful week it was. Looking forward to the next.

Rantings of a Weird Photographer


I am Ronke Alao, member of staff, Elophotos. My work week starts on Mondays. Monday mornings are always hectic for me, not because I hate my job (like a lot of people do), but because I live in Ikorodu and work at Ikeja. Now, Ikorodu to Ikeja is only about 20 miles and that should only take 35 minutes of drive time at the most. It takes me about 30minutes to get to work – but only in my dreams. In reality, leaving home any later than 5.15am on Mondays, is a sure guarantee that I wouldn’t make it to work at 8am.

The crowd at the bus stop on Monday mornings could only have crawled out of fresh earth. Don’t tell me these people all live in Ikorodu. Apparently, some folks live in Ikorodu only on weekends and stay in “Lagos” during the work week. That means traffic on Friday evenings is also usually a nightmare because that’s when the ghost residents return to Ikorodu.

This write-up is intended to tell you about how this past week went but all I have mentioned so far is the traffic. Pardon me, it’s hard getting past it. The unique thing about Ikorodu is that a lot of private individuals pick passengers up for a fee. Usually about the same as what buses charge. Smart way to pay for gas if you ask me.

Some skills I have developed to cope with traffic include RWR, Bird’s eye and Bold face.

RWR
This refers to “rushing without rushing”. Rushing with 10 people to get in a car that will only sit 4 passengers is not my cup of tea. But there’s a way I crank up the speed of my legs without running when there’s a good chance I can get in a car.

Bird’s Eye
This is “stretching” your eyes to see far and beyond what the average eye sees. I can spot a car several feet away and figure out in the fraction of a second if it’s one that would stop to pick passengers.

Bold Face
My favorite skill of all, it refers to wearing confidence like a shirt and having a facial expression that commands attention. So sometimes it could be me attempting to get in a car even after the driver has indicated that he won’t be picking passengers. It could also be waving down a car that looks expensive because people usually don’t do that. I figure if I would be sitting in traffic for 2hours, I might as well be very comfortable.

A couple of weeks ago, I got picked up by a kind man (or so I thought)who decided to give me a lift to Ketu. He later told me he was going towards Ikeja and I was so glad. But just then, he started telling me he wanted me to have his baby! I thought,” this is the stuff Nollywood is made of”.

I don’t watch a lot of T.V and I always thought this was as a result of my busy schedule but now I think it’s just because my day gets filled with drama so why waste time watching boring shows?

You may have enjoyed reading this write-up and if that is the case, I say “thank you” for your time. If you are reading and thinking, “what is the whole point? What is her main message?”. I do not have a “point”. What you’ve read is simply the rantings of a weird photographer. You shouldn’t take life too seriously,take the liberty to rant sometimes. It’s healthy.

AFTER EARTH: A Photographer’s Perspective


I was privileged to see the movie “After Earth” at Silverbird Cinemas courtesy of my boss. Though I am not a fan of science fiction, I enjoyed the challenge of having to “analyze” the movie and see it not just for its entertainment value, but to see it through the eyes of a photographer. I went with my colleagues and we had one major assignment; to do a write-up on what we learnt from the movie as photographers. Highlighted below are the lessons I learnt.

Life Lessons
• Fear isn’t real; it is only a product of our imagination. Even where danger exists, fear only has as much power and influence as we give it over ourselves.
• When fear is given a chance in our lives, it paralyzes us and causes us to make irrational decisions that may put us in danger and then cause more fear. More like a vicious cycle.
• From time to time, we need to step out of our comfort zone not just to achieve greatness but to avoid living a life of mediocrity bound by fear.
• Experiences from our childhood can either help us be better people but it can also hold us back from living a full life as adults if we do not break-free of beliefs that hold us back or based on any truth. We sometimes need to launch out rather than playing it safe especially as artists.
• Things are not always what they seem. There are always exceptions to what people generally believe. The character played by Will Smith, (I think his name was General Cypher), told his son (Kitai) that everything on earth is inclined towards killing humans but Kitai “found favor” with a large bird who rescued him and kept him warm on a certain night when earth froze up.

Photography Lessons
Apart from the life lessons that I learnt from the movie, I also had moments where I could see certain scenes differently due to my photography background.
Layers: Understanding the concept of layers in photo shop was one that took me quite a while during photo shop class but it immediately came to mind when I saw the virtual screens that the General flipped through to see his son’s location per time. The screens weren’t all images of the same location but to me it looked like slices of f a block and I believe, helped me understand layers more.
Getting/Thinking Out Of The Box : Kata had to get out of the box of safety that he was in and do things he never thought he was capable of doing instead of complying with the “rules”. This is an important lesson as an artist, to step out of the norm, break the rules, do the unfamiliar in order to advance in one’s career
• The movie also had interesting composition in some scenes and use of light.

by Ronke Alao
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