Why I Would Not Be A Great Photographer


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My name is Lagbaja Alakori Tamedo, chief photographer at Lagbaja Alakori Tamedo Photography. I am one you would consider a professional photographer: one whose main source of livelihood comes from providing people with the photography services they need & want. I’ve been in the business now for over 1 year and I think its safe to say that I’ve “paid my dues”.

I recently sat down one saturday morning and attempted to diagnose the source of some of the symptoms I seem to be experiencing in my life and business. I realized that business has not been “moving” in the last 6 months as much as I thought it would and I decided to pen out reasons why I don’t think I will turn out to be a “GREAT” photographer in this industry.

First of all, I realize that I don’t seem to rub minds with photographer friends and colleagues that have been labeled as “successful” by many standards. I mostly hang out with fellow photographers that don’t challenge me to be a better person all-round. I realize that even though I’ve been to seminars where the likes of Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Scott Kelby, Shola Animashaun and Tunji Sarunmi have lectured, I still haven’t seen the effect on my business. Could it be that I procrastinate on the implementation of the advice given me by these people. I think so. I prefer gossiping with my fellow like-minded compatriots on how much better “technically” we are compared to those so-called “successful” photographers that depend on the use of Adobe Photoshop to make their works stand out. Heck, my pictures are wonderful straight out from the camera. ….Yet I seem not to make a comfortable living from this booming venture.

Secondly, I realize that I’m not too keen on making my customers satisfied no matter what. On the contrary, I seem to be meeting a lot of customers that complain and nag about how they want their face airbrushed or the background of their pictures changed to the White House. Why can’t they just understand that I don’t like any form of “advance” editing that will distort the state of my original artwork. Yes, I know they’re the ones paying but for heaven’s sake, I’m the one creating the images…I’m the artist.

All these people that call themselves “clients” are just so hard to please. I’m tired of returning their missed calls or calling them just to say hello and wish them “Happy Birthdays” & “Happy Anniversaries”. Their complains break my heart. If only they know how much I try to please……. Perhaps I should really consider reading the 2 books recommended by my psychologist Sam Adeyemi: 1) How to win friends & influence people by Dale Carnegie & 2) You can negotiate anything by Herb Cohen. Maybe the books will help. Maybe not. I would never know until I read them.

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Thirdly, I can’t seem to remember the reason why I decided to go into photography in the first place. Was it the passion I thought I had or was it because I was inspired by how much money could be made when I saw photographers like Yomi Siffre & Fred Eikonworld charging big bucks for weddings 5yrs ago. Was it just for the money that I ventured into this business. I can’t seem to remember. All I remember was getting a $4000 loan from my uncle Bill Gates Tamedo to buy the Canon 5d MK II kit that I started my business with. May God help me

Lastly, I seem not to have the capacity to collaborate with people that are bent on promoting the industry for good. For example, one would think I would be glad to witness the recent launching of a Nigerian photography magazine, PICTURE THIS. The first thing that crossed my mind was “who is this Igbo guy trying to rip us off by selling in print what we already know about”. Then to make matters worse, the publisher chose to use Kelechi Amadi-Obi as the front cover of the first edition. By what standard are they even using to say that he is a role-model. If only they know how much better my works are than Kelechi’s…… The point is, it’s just difficult for me to support or be a part of anything that will help the industry grow beyond catering for my bank account.

These are some of the reason why I feel I “MAY” not turn out to be a great photographer. Maybe I should consider being a make-up artist or carpenter….. May God help me. Perhaps more importantly, I should seriously consider attending the photography workshop organized by eloPhotos on November 4, 2012 at Ikeja.

This is my plight. This is my dilemma. Or what do you suggest I do to remedy my situation?

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FINALLY, Photography training for Dsap Set 7 comes to an end


So for the past 9 weekdays, we’ve been busy training a class of 67 students that decided they wanted to be professional photographers. Together with Mr Leke Adenuga (QF), we were able to teach what we felt would be enough for a good foundation in photography business.

Daystar Christian Centre started this project in 2010 in an attempt to reduce unemployment in the society by teaching people “how to fish” instead of giving them “fish.” For Mr Leke & I, this was an opportunity to impart on the next generation of photographers in Nigeria. I can only hope & pray the students would make good use of the opportunity they were blessed with. Time will tell.

Attached are a few of the pictures taken we were in class. I’ll really appreciate it if you just acknowledge how handsome I look in the pictures 🙂

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Minutes of “Take your photography business to the next level”


Feb 16, 2012
8am

Professional Photographers were admonished:

 To Be firm in their dealings with clients

 To try not to engage in agreements unless 80% of the fees have been deposited

 To Be professional in their dealings with wedding clients and should strive not only to collect 100% of their fees upfront but to also deliver on the jobs on or before the date promised.

 To clarify all terms and conditions in discussion with the client, and where feasible; preferably face-to-face and not only through phone calls

 To make clear (especially on their invoices) details of discounts being given their client

Mr Seun further emphasized other issues including procrastination and the ethics of borrowing equipment from colleagues. He stressed that getting jobs whose net value are able to purchase a camera should rather be the goal of the photographer. This is where he also made distinctions on when and where some jobs should be turned down and that photographers must have standard packages with a pricing structure that is clear and unambiguous.

A website presence and its value was further elaborated upon and every photographer advised to maintain one where clients can view their portfolio, read terms and conditions, their different packages available and associated charges as well as discount options.

The issue of copyright laws was discussed to the effect that with the use of clients pictures for marketing purposes in formats such as online; documented detailing of agreements must be involved so that neither party can jeopardize the others’ interest either in the present or in the future. In regard to copyright infringements by the public, he put it that watermarking a photographers publicly viewable digital images and not emailing a previous clients pictures to potential new clients to view are best practices to be considered.

Attendees of the workshop also related their recent experiences with clients for the benefit of group discussions.

Shola Animashaun noted that twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows you show your expression. Twitter has 300 million users with over 100,000 new users joining everyday.

8 WAYS YOU CAN GROW FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER.
– Tweet regularly: tweet photography knowledge, quotes. Re-twit regularly suggestion to any contribution can determine some people to follow you on twitter. It is cool to start and contribute to conversation.

– Credit everything
– Engage with the big boys
-Watch your timing and consistency
-Use strategic Key words
-Practice reposting tweets
-Build relationship with potential and existing clients
-Discuss photography issues, follow fellow photographers i.e Zack Arias
Chase Jarvis
Joe Mcnally
Scott kelby
Scott bourne
Stobist
Thomas Hawk
Jeremy Cowart
Jasmine Star
Micheal Zelbel

Mr Seun took over after Mr Shola ended his session. He stressed the importance of being people of integrity at all times. One of attendees stressed the importance of being careful when partnering with other photographers. Mr Seun added that agreements should be made (sometimes in writing) even when partnering ith photographers you have never worked with before. for daily photography-related tips and articles, visit http://www.elophotos.com

The Dangers of Seeking Approval from Peers & Mentors


WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THESE PICTURES?
I’ve had quite a number of photographers who have recently sent me some of their works. They want to know what I think of their pictures. Most importantly, they want to know what I don’t like about the pictures. Sometimes I wish I knew the criteria for being a photography judge/critique. Is it by the fame one is perceived to have, or is it by the type of clients one is known to service….I’ll know the answer one day.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not casting down anyone for asking me to critique their pictures. On the contrary, I feel honored. Its just that many people don’t handle criticisms (or the lack of it) very well. Truth be told, most people that have asked for my opinion (one way or the other regarding their pictures) have great collections. Most people that take photographs that are considered “ugly” or “bad” usually know that within themselves. They know its bad enough not to ask for people’s opinion.

Many times we want to hear a large amount of people tell us how great our pictures are (myself included) so that we can feel good with ourselves and reaffirm what we feel we already know: I’M A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER.

Sometimes, I feel getting constructive criticisms go a long way in helping us get better. Sometimes we get depressed because we feel our works are not “appreciated” enough.

The following are a few comments I’ve heard read from critiques:

“Take it easy with the editing”
“I think the picture would look better in black & white”
“The pictures are too sharp”
“The picture is not sharp enough”
“Wow, I’m stupified by these pictures”
“Well done, great job”
“I’m so proud of you”
“God will take you to greater heights”
“May Allah bless the works of your hands”
The list goes on.

But this is the point I’m trying to get at. I feel a lot of us should be conscious of the fact that the photographer that’s your mentor may have a different style from yours. He (or she) may prefer black & white pictures and you may become sad because he didn’t click the “like” button on your colored pictures. He may dislike the fact that you made the background out of focus and you might be sad.

Yes, we may argue that our mentor knows better but we forget that we are all artists. Even the gentleman (or lady) that designed the Japanese flag must have gotten the “disapproval” of his creative mentors. How else can you explain logically a small red dot on a white background. But the government of Japan loved it enough to compensate the fellow for his work of art.

And that’s my point exactly: ultimately the opinion of the person that matters the most is the potential client that will be paying for your services. Sometimes the photographs you take that they fall in love with are the ones you wanted to throw in your recycle bin. Now you’re thinking twice because there’s a $1000 cheque in your hands that proves you were wrong.

Peers & mentors are good guides but they may sometimes not agree with your creative tendencies. Take their advice, but still carve out a niche for yourself. Don’t just take pictures that look like those of Jide Alakija, Tunji Sarunmi, Aisha Augie-Kuta or Kelechi Amadi-Obi. Take pictures that look like U: your style is your art. Sometimes I save some of my “blurry” pictures because one day they could be used for an exhibition somewhere. Hope I’ve not been misinterpreted thus far….

By the way, what do you think of my pictures? 🙂
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