Under The SUN or In The Rain


Preparing for the week ahead and knowing well that the week should with the submission of my weekly internship report (a on or before 8:00am Monday morning stuff), I settled to fix this. But I had not gotten the inspiration to write through the weekend. Usually, I start writing Sunday morning and end by afternoon, but alas! Nothing has come to mind, this is serious gbege (trouble) o.

Then, at about 09:00pm, while pondering on what the past week was all about, two lines in the NYSC anthem;”…Under the sun or in the rain, with dedication and selflessness…” dropped on my mind. What could have brought the song to my mind that moment, NYSC anthem! I sang it about ten years ago, and here we are, having the lyrics cropping up fresh at a time like this…. I marveled. The words of the anthem are definitely pointers to Passion, Love and Commitment, this struck me absolutely. I then remembered what transpired in the past week established that these three (Passion, Love and Commitment) majors for Photography as well, even the week ahead poses to be tougher because of the lined up to-do list, something in me feels like a super human.

It was still post-NiPHEC, hands still on deck to make some deliverables; our Zambian speaker was still in town and still has an affiliation, as he hand-picked me as his Personal Assistant, so I had to fix personal things for him, not neglecting my office work which is primary. All these took me to some places, both pleasant and otherwise. Example was Aroloya in Lagos Island where I framed the certificates of Recognition for NiPHEC speakers. Very messy and disgusting, the previous day rain had worsened the situation. There are areas where I had to jump like a squirrel, tiptoe or even close my eyes because of some black water and stuffs around. And guess what, the best selling sector there is the Food market. I suddenly realized innumerable small-scale food canteens all round the place; there is virtually no corner you turn to that you don’t find at least five, and guess what, they had customers even taking turns to be attended to. Very alarming, cooked food in this kind of place! I was just seeing typhoid, dysentery… all around. Their air was not a good one as well, as the whole atmosphere was also full of smoke from Igbo (weed), I was almost holding my breath throughout my walk through the area, until I got to where i carried out my purpose of going to this amazing place (that was my first time).Where I did my framing job, show cased another story entirely. It established the reason why the rich will always be different from the poor; Excellence in Service Delivery and Customer Relations.

Truth be told, it is obvious the rich understands the concept of multiplying wealth, so their service delivery is outstandingly incomparable with that of some low class people. And they see whoever that complains as ‘’customers from hell”. Here is the response I got for ensuring I got a near neat and perfect job; “You are the only troublesome customer we have had in one year”, and I wondered what is wrong with the eyes and brains of other customers they had if the job I turned out from there was ‘trouble’ as one of the attendants voiced out.  I agree that some low class people deliver excellent service, those are the wise finding their way greatness. I wish seminars could be organized for the guys in that market to achieve excellent jobs and more satisfied customers.

”…Under the sun or in the rain, with dedication and selflessness…”, as it resonates, is gradually playing out because I don’t think I can or anyone else can pull through, especially absolutely dependent starters in this photography business, without upholding these lines.

However, despite the present staring challenges, I chose to see the positive and greatness because this is where Mosope belongs.

Has GRACE Finished Also?


The devil was all out for me this week, it was a week of test. I have not had it this hot before, but trust me, I seriously engaged him as well. I wouldn’t allow defeat, to the devil?! Oh no, that would be too costly, so I thought. I managed to counter question and comments he came up with. He gave me close shots that almost threw me off balance, no breathing space but I was stubborn to sure win. 

It was a very tough debate; all these took place in my mind.

What a smart dude, with a nice strategy. He gave me millions of reasons why it was stupid to take such decision I had made; ‘How did you even get to this point, this is not wise at all. Now look at you, your colleagues and former bosses’ advice will be justified, Better don’t go around them yet. Even your parents will not be happy. Now you are financially handicapped, you can’t even sort some basic things again. Oh my God, at least you still had little then & hope that it will be regular. Or you should have just joggled both together. So how would you get through this now?” These are few of the numerous points he confronted me with and I can bet you, I replied every as he raises each. It was hot back-to-back, we were both stubborn but little did I know I was already sustaining some injuries. As the day goes by in he week, he battle went on and on, he was strong still, I was becoming moody and struggling to be my happy self. Could it mean he is getting at me? No way! I pushed harder.

Then a twist came. Decided to change my display picture on Whatsapp to an old picture I took about two years ago, then my boss saw it. Can’t guess what really went on in his mind, but this conversion ensued;

Boss: Chai. Is it eloPhotos that made you loose weight? Cos you fresh in this picture o

Felt like a slap, concretizing the battle I have been fighting at.

And I replied; Awww, No money again, I faked a smile.

Then a blow-like reply came; “But has grace finished also?, Or you were only surviving on money? It is well. You see yourself.”

I just remembered the experience of Jesus in the wilderness when he had his own share with the devil. And he was like; “It is written…It is written…It is written”, then finally said “Get thee behind me Satan”. Wow! I jerked back to life, that’s the word I needed to kick the devil’s ass out. That was my “get thee behind me Satan”. Those words were definitely God’s deliverance for me out of the battle, very right on time and I am so thankful for it.

I must sincerely say here that the major and toughest battle we would fight in life is within, right in our minds, but we must find our “get thee behind me Satan” word after our several “It is written.” That is when you can have aaavictory and peace.

Wow! Week in, week out, learning seems just beginning and grace has not finished yet. I remain Mosope Onanusi.

A NEW DAWN


It’s a whole new dawn, and like a woman caught in labor pain and gain to bear her child, the year was pregnant with a new week. For me, my training session at Elophotos has begun; the seriousness to be timely, the discipline of study and mastery; my first week at Elophotos, a rebirth and eye opener of some kind.

The journey to be good an artist and of course to be vibrant at the business (and I mean the business) has long started, more like an inner war, a battle of self, a desire to be who I am.

One important question I’ve always asked no one but myself is “what it is really do I want and how far can I go?” Can I stand alone where no one seems to thread (even the close ones)? Do I bury my dreams and wakeup to the reality of general sentiments and norms? Question and quest still lingers strong and deep.

The facts and figures are clear; it’s a journey, not with buses on the roads, but one on purpose and destiny. We are here to fulfill an inner call, a voice whisper to no one but one; a call of duty, a trumpet to war, and a rise to mission. My dream of being a part of Elophotos academy has finally begun. The road is set straight, not without ditches and patches. One thing keeps the track; focus and then discipline, one without; a fall seems inevitable. The Academy offers me the platform, the belief, the profession and the spirit, a challenge to put to work.

The training started out on the Monday morning (11th of July), with understanding the basic photography equipment and gadgets with their classifications. Having the privilege to handle some of the professional body cameras was a delight.

Having shared the summary of his 10 years’ experience, the founder Seun Akisanmi was a delight to listen to…The up and the downs, the good, the bad and the ugly… The lesson for me was to be who I am in spite of what others want; to give the dreams and vision my all in which success is attainable, so also emphasizes was laid on the benefit and the importance of reading.

The week also saw us attending some trainings and meetings outside the regular classes. The Google training was one, it was eye opener, and a pointer to various opportunities that abound and yet untapped. The knowledge provides a space where the industry seems cranked up and everyone focused on some particular areas.

The week also saw us delving into the 360 degree photography, the practice session started out after the teaching class. We made out time to take shots of various sections of the close-by streets and roads. Fear ran through my spine just again, my fear of doing street photography hasn’t elapsed. Hope to be a conqueror of my fears, and enjoy the fun.

Elophotos has chosen to be different; to be innovative and a game changer. The desire to be the best, and turn out the best; best of artist, creators and the art. My name is OLUWATOBI; join me on my journey to photography greatness.

10 Years a Photographer


Fantastic,
wonderful,
this is beautiful,
lovely,
wow,
Seun, you’re too much…

These were some of the words being hurled at me by my 72 year-old grand-aunt when I delivered an album to her last week. The album was for the 80-year-old celebration of her husband. We delivered along with the album a type of frame she had never seen in her life: a 3D frame.

As she embarrassed me with the comments she hurled at me, I couldn’t help but express my shyness. I felt like a 2-year-old being admired as a beautiful princess by her dad. I felt happy, I felt shy. I felt speechless. Or what words could I have used to reply her?

It was then I remembered. I remembered sitting right in front of the same woman sometime in 2004. This time she was giving me the counsel of life. It was in 2004 I had told my dad that I neither wanted to pursue my accounting career nor did I want to do my NYSC. It was a blasphemous declaration and my father reported me to a few respectable family members to “talk sense” into my BIG head. So in 2004, I found myself in front of my grand-aunt receiving admonitions on why Accounting is a better career to pursue than Photography.

At the memory of the 2004 meeting, the words came out of my mouth without much thought: “And to think that this was the same profession you were advising me to give up in 2004”. She replied in a repentant way that she didn’t know this was the type of photography I meant.

Its been a while I felt that much fulfillment. Knowing that I pursued my heart’s passion instead of the career that would please my parents… Knowing that the same parents that were against the “photography career” have been my number 1 referrers… Knowing that the same grand-aunt that discouraged me from pursing photography is the same one of whom I’ve made over N500k from…. Knowing that I probably would not have made that much money from her alone if I were an Accountant. I felt fulfilled knowing that I had been photographing for over 10 years without any regrets whatsoever. My only regret might be the fact that I didn’t study photography in the University. But then all things work together for good.

The next day, I headed to the cinemas to watch what would later turn out to be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my 35 years on earth: 12 years a Slave. To think that was once the history of man. I was ashamed of the way I cried at the cinema. Watching the roll of credit of the 310+ people who made the film a reality, I found myself having a prayer meeting in the cinema hall, crying and wailing (as if a loved one had died in a fatal accident) and pleading wholeheartedly to God to use me to be an instrument of change in this generation with emphasis on the photography industry. My heart was overwhelmed. My heart was encouraged.

More than ever before, I knew that I was placed in the photography industry for such a time as this. And its only a matter of time before people realize that God can use anyone, regardless of their background or past, to impact a generation, a country or an industry.

Its been over 10 years that I’ve been a photographer and if I had to go back in time to start all over again, I’ll still choose photography as a profession. Ultimately, I’m confident that one day I’ll be the official photographer in heaven when the ultimate Wedding of all Ages will be happening. Till then, let’s start with the raising of 10,000 world-class photographers one day at a time. Till then, let’s start with the Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference.

Till then, I remain Seun Akisanmi…..and I’m proud to be a 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

The AKARA Experience


I remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I decided I was old enough to cook. I can still PICTURE our kitchen at Ilaka street, Ilupeju, Lagos. It was going to be my first memorable experience at cooking AKARA. I figured out that I had eaten and seen enough akara to know to prepare one. For my non-Nigerian fans who are unfamiliar with Akara, it is blended beans that ends up being fried in cake balls (I hope I explained that well).

Anyway, I put what I figured to be the right amount of oil in the frying pan and excitedly prepared for frying experience I would never forget. I poured in a few scoops of the blended beans and started stirring. Yes, believe it or not, I was stirring the AKARA in the frying pan. As I continued with the stirring experience, I wondered to myself why the AKARA was not turning out to be the solid small balls I was used to being served by my wonderful mum. I had seen her many atimes stir ogi (blended corn) and had assumed that it was the same formula for the akara that was. Served side by side with the ogi.

I was wrong. What came out of that experimental stirring experience was what I would considered scrambled akara. If only I had swallowed my small pride and asked my mum for the right formula for creating world-class Nigerian Akara. If only I had asked, I would not have ended up with a scrambled portion of akara.

Fast forward to February 2014. During a conversation with one of the students at eloPhotos Academy, I asked him how many books he had read and digested on relationships and marriage. His response: “books don’t work for stuff like that, the Holy Spirit will guide me.” I decided it would not be a wise use of my time to argue with someone who felt it unnecessary to read books in order to get the right knowledge about an institution he was about to be contracted into for the rest of his life. Why didn’t the Holy Spirit teach the person photography, I thought. It would have been cheaper for the person not to have wasted financial resources to attend a program at eloPhotos Academy if indeed the Holy Spirit can teach us all things. Sometimes I think a lot of Christians can “overspiritualize” issues.
And herein lies my point. If you’re considering going on an adventure of which you know little or nothing about, it is only wisdom (or put another way, common sense) if you attempt to climb on the shoulders of people that have been there before. You do that when you spend time with them, read books and listen to their directions, advise and admonitions.

My emphasis is on the multitudes of people that are rushing at lightning speed to enter into the kingdom of photography. Many feel that they need no form of education and that all they need is a Nikon D4 (just like a young lad recently psyched the mum to invest N1.6 million to acquire). Its like waking up and deciding that since one needs to learn how to drive, the next step is to go to the car dealership and order a Rolls Royce.

It is on this premise that I’ve decided to focus with laser accuracy on raising world-class photographers via the platform called eloPhotos Academy & Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference (NiPHEC). It is on this premise that I’ve decided to do my best to make sure that people that care to learn from me will not repeat my AKARA experience. It is on this premise that I’ve deliberately unconsciously developed a weakness for accumulating over 150 books on photography alone….just so that I can get the right education as not to repeat my 1987 AKARA experience

Even if you decide not to use the aforementioned platforms to establish or strengthen your photography foundation, please make sure you get some form of education before acquiring photography gadgets that I can bet you won’t utilize up to 30% of its functions.

Even if you’ve already made the “wise” mistake of plunging headlong alone, swallow your pride and talk to someone that can help you be a better photographer and photopreneur (this applies to other industries also). Even with the little I know, I’m still learning everyday. I just finished talking to one of my colleagues I respect very much, Shola Animashaun, about how to handle a “copyright” issue I was having with a client. At the end of the conversation, I learnt how to better price myself for photography jobs for client like the one I was having issues with.

So before you use all that funds to buy the latest photography gadget (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE JUST ENTERING THE INDUSTRY), get some form of education that will hopefully prevent you from an AKARA experience. Better yet, take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Your photography destiny will not be the same.

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Contact us on 08120129149, 08023008873 or info@elophotos.com for a detailed list of options of classes to take at eloPhotos Academy. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness.

The PASSPORT Photographer


Some weeks ago a friend called me from church asking if I take passport photographs and of course my answer was “Yes”. He immediately said “ok, so how much is it for 8 copies?” I told him 5000naira. He was so surprised and he said the same thing you’re probably thinking right now: “Is it not passport, I can get 12 for N200 sef.” Of course it is just passport photographs and you can even get 20 for 200 or for free but the question is I’m I just an “ordinary” Photographer.

Sometimes in June, I did a free family portrait session for a potential client and (luckily for me) they loved it! Some days back, I got a call from them asking me to come take pictures for their anniversary and of cause they knew it wont be free, so I charged them. They were so surprised and they were like “just for pictures? It’s quite expensive we already marketed you to people and if its this expensive the won’t call you.” Of course at that point I knew they were not my client!

One reason I hate shooting for free is that the clients might actually not know the worth of what they are getting for free. And it’s sad.

You see, not everybody believed the gospel even when heard from Christ himself. They still didn’t drop their nets to follow him. In the same light, we should realize that not everybody is our client.

I hate it when I hear the question “is it not to take pictures?” But I’m glad to answer you here. Of course it’s just to take pictures but I’m not just a photographer. I’m a professional photographer. Not just because I use a professional camera, or because I trained at one of the best photography schools in Nigeria. It’s mainly because I’m different.

I’m sure you’ll doubt that until you get to see what I can do and some of what I’ve done. I am obviously not the best but I was worse. Feel free to ask for a “free” shoot (terms & conditions apply) & you should be convinced.

Attached here are photos I took last week. First, is the picture of elophotos academy most valuable gadgets: 2 books every trainee must read before the end of their 1st month. The second one is a picture of a solitary orange. During my practice session, I surprisingly saw only 1 orange on a BIG orange tree and made me imagine if it was just 1 person in the world, how lonely it will be. The third one is a picture I took practicing composition with patterns). I hope you find it creative.

Written by Temitope Adeniyan
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Contact us on 08120129149, 08023008873 or info@elophotos.com 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.

The HARVARD Client (PART 2)


And so it happened that I would find myself doing yet another job for the client from Harvard. This time around, it would be a portrait session for his family. It happened approximately 4 weeks after the incident in PART 1.

Location was at his mansion in Abuja. As at December 2008 when I found myself in his house, that would go down on record as the most beautiful house I had ever stepped into. It was situated in an estate in Abuja that I never knew existed. If you had taken a picture on the streets inside that estate, one would have thought you were in Dubai. It was that beautiful.

And there I was at 10pm preparing for what will also be the latest family portrait session I’ve had for a client. I was very conscious of making sure that I did not break or scratch anything. My guess was that I probably could not afford to pay for anything I accidentally damage.

The man’s 2 children had arrived from America the day before and had planned to spend just 3 days in Abuja. That night was the only time left for them to do the shoot. And so it happened that the session would start at around 11:30pm.

My first experience with the man had created an unconscious intimidating cloud over my head whenever I was with him. How else would you explain my being nervous in his presence. At one moment, he started directing the session and for some unknown reasons that created the impression within me that I was a LEARNER.

20 minutes into the session, my Harvard client would excuse himself to receive a visitor. I wondered within myself the type of visitor that would stop by one’s house at 11:50pm. Coincidentally, it would be the type that was the CEO of one of Africa’s biggest banks. Eventually, the guest CEO walked into the room we were having our session and his presence seemed to multiply my nervous quotient by 5. I was super nervous. Why? I can not say.

My nervousness increased when my client started bragging to his guest that I was the best photographer in town. If only he had seen some of the images I was taking. If only he could peep and see the blurry and dark images that I was trying to hide from him. “He’s the one that took my pictures during the event last month,” he continued. Although I knew it was a compliment, I don’t know why that gave me goose bumps.

Eventually the CEO’s visiting time was up and he would greet us all farewell. After he left, we continued the session from where we left off. 5 minutes into the session, I would eventually notice that my hands were shaking. I felt intimidated in the presence of this client. Perhaps I should have done some type of meditation before the shoot. Perhaps I should have taken some type of medication that would ease my nerves.

Matters got worse when the client’s son (who coincidentally happens to be attending Harvard also) asked me how much I was charging his father for the session. N100k was my reply. He shouted and asked me why I was so expensive. The father asked me the same question. I thought I had explained my charges to the man before agreeing to come to his house for the shoot. Perhaps the mistake I made was not to have come with a written document detailing the charges. I explained that N100k was the minimum I charge for going to a client’s house for home sessions. I assured him that I wasn’t trying to defraud him. His response? “Anyway, its for my house in America that I need the pictures for, so continue shooting.” I was more tensed.

(At this junction, its important to note that I don’t just write about my experience with some people just to narrate how terrible they are or how holy I am…the goal is that we learn one of two things from these “Super Story” encounters)

The shoot continued and a few minutes into the session, my N350k camera kit fell down. Remember that story about humpty dumpty falling down on a wall? This was worse. Eventually, that would be the last time my Olympus E3 camera functioned properly. Ultimately, I had to send the camera to Olympus in America for repairs. $500 later, the camera returned to me in pristine condition.

What hurt me more was the fact that I did not get a dime from that session. It wasn’t that the fallen camera damaged the pictures; we would eventually finish the shoot with my backup camera. The client eventually procrastinated choosing the pictures he wanted framed and I learnt key lessons that I doubt I’ll ever forget.

I learnt always to be confident no matter who I was shooting (even if the person is Jesus or Satan). I learnt always to have a backup camera for any job outside my office domain. I learnt to always ask for 80% of my fee before leaving the home of a family portrait client (especially someone I have never worked with before). I learnt to always put the strap of the camera on my neck during a shoot because if I had worn the strap, there’s a 99.999999% chance that the camera would not have gone the humpty dumpty route to destruction. I learnt to put it all in writing no matter what so that no one will accuse me of not informing them of my fees thereby resulting in unnecessary argument during a session.

That was December 2008. In 2012, I would eventually get a call from the same client requesting for a quote to do another job. I replied with a detailed email explaining to him that we still have an outstanding of N100k. He was furious. He called to explain that how can he owe me for pictures that he never did use. He explained that the presidency was after his life so he had to escape the country and seek asylum. And after 5 minutes of explanation, I found myself apologizing to him for not knowing what he went through.

But the lessons had been engraved in my heart the hard way. The Harvard Client will never be forgotten by this big-headed photographer. I am a better & wiser photopreneur because of him. So the next time you’re privileged to be one of the students in our Academy and I tell you to ALWAYS wear the strap of your camera on your neck (or shoulders), this is the reason why that rule came into being.

For one reason or the other, I have a funny feeling I might still do business with the HARVARD client one day. When that day comes, I shall by all means be READY.
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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

The Politics of Negotiating for a Photography Ambassadorship Deal


Sometime late in 2013, I got a call from a multinational photography-gadget organization. The company was about to launch one of their latest picture-taking gadget and they needed someone to be an ambassador for the product. I asked them why they thought I was the best candidate for such a role and they told me I was number one on their list because of the mere fact that I organized a conference that brought together photography enthusiasts and professionals in Nigeria.

Although I tried not to show too much excitement over the phone, I reckoned within myself that this was the break I was looking for. This was going to go down as the singular deal that will help resolve my over-N5million NiPHEC debt. I was excited, I was elated, I was nervous.

The gentleman at the other end of the phone proceeded to explain what the organization expected of me should I accept the job. They would require that I take pictures with their latest camera equipment and do a few writeups after I’ve presented the pictures at a conference that would hold four weeks later. That meant that I had only 27 days to travel the country to take pictures that would represent each state of the federation. WoW. Talk of excitement meeting adventure.

“How much will it cost us,” the guy finally asked. Over the years, I have learnt not to be too quick to give (a client I know little about) a price over the phone. I threw the question back at him. “What is your company’s budget for this?” He stressed that the budget for marketing had been depleted and that they were stretching themselves thin on this particular project. STORY! I ‘ve heard that before. Last time I checked, they made over $1.5 billion in sales in 2012 alone. But when it comes to paying for what will be a stressful task, the marketing budget is in red. In that case my middle name is “Clinton”, I thought within myself.

I asked him to put everything in writing and send me a mail to make it official. He promised to call me within a few minutes regarding what they were willing to pay. Ok by me. I immediately went to Google to do a little study about the product that was about to be launched in Nigeria. Impressive features it had.

I subsequently did what I always do when confronted with giving a quotation for a task I have never done before: I called one of my mentors. I explained the entire scenario to her and told her how I was considering giving them a bill of about N4 million. “So they contacted you too,” my mentor kidded. Apparently they had contacted her before reaching out to me and the bill she gave them must have been beyond their budget. Hence, their need for an alternative ambassador. She would later advice me not to quote anything less than N3.5 million. She promised to get back to me with more suggestions. Eventually, I never heard from her or the company again till 2014.

Here’s what transpired. Apparently, she had put a call through to the same organization to renegotiate her deal with them. The company eventually settled for her and I would find out in the media. I put a call through to the gentleman that had called me only for him to tell me that the event was cancelled and that he had to travel urgently to South Africa to handle other matters. Yeah right, and I’m the cousin of Obama. 2 weeks later, the conference would eventually take place and the pictures taken by their Ambassador (my mentor) with the camera will be showcased. Why the guy lied to me is still a mystery to me till date.

I felt hurt. Perhaps if I had not called my mentor for advice, I could have nailed the job. But how could I have known that she was my “competitor” in the deal of the decade. I felt hurt. I felt betrayed by someone I trusted. Or perhaps, it was just business and not betrayal. Perhaps.

But then I thought about it all over again. Perhaps there’s one interesting thing to learn from this. Apparently, I must be doing something right in the eyes of a multinational photography organization to attract such attention. In the eyes of the organization, I was on the same pedestal with the one I considered a mentor. If this organization was keeping track of what I was doing, then other organizations must be “following” whatever it is that I’m doing. Consequently, I encouraged myself with the assurance that more of such deals will be coming my way.

And come my way they would eventually do. Approximately 3 months later, I would find myself in the office of yet another multinational organization. This time around, I wasn’t surprised. They gave me a breakdown of what they would require of me if I were to be signed up as one of their ambassadors. And then the “how much will it cost us?” issue came up. I told them I would get back to them within a few days.

I went online to research about the company only for me to realized that their 2012 worldwide sales figure was over $2.6 billion. WOW. This was definitely a BIGGER organization. Which mentor should I call for “advice” now. I definitely was not about to fall down in the same spot twice. I thought deeply and eventually knew in my heart who to call. I decided the best mentor to call for advice on giving a fair price (to a large-scale organization like that) should not be based in my country. I decided to call my United States renowned photographer friend and mentor, Michael Grecco.

The 25 minutes phone conversation I had with him was like attending a workshop on “How not to shoot yourself in the foot as a photography Ambassador”. Thank God I called him. As a Hassleblad Ambassador, he had (and still has) enough experience up his sleeves. I would eventually submit an 8-figures fee that would be close to what my international colleagues were being paid. Although the company never did get back to me, I believed with all my heart that I didn’t over price myself out of the deal. For whatever reason, the company is yet to secure an Ambassador for their photography-related products.

I’m 101% convinced that greater opportunities and ambassadorship deals still lay ahead of my destiny regardless of what has happened. Till then, I’ll keep doing what I think I do best to keep attracting such attention from photography multinational companies. One day, something will click.

Although what my mentor did hurt me, I decided to add it to my repertoire of experience. Infact, I even sent a gift to my mentor so I could tap into that grace of being considered worthy to represent an international photography organization.

If it was you that a mentor hurt in such a manner, what do you think you’ll do? Be honest now.
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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

When Parents Are WRONG For The RIGHT Reasons


Recently I met with a parent who wanted to send his daughter to eloPhotos Academy. She had recently finished her WAEC exams and was waiting to do another exam next year. In the words of the parent, “we want her to while away time doing photography”.

I explained to the man that the training we offer is not for people who want to while away time. The training program offered at eloPhotos Academy is for those who have made a deliberate and conscious decision to follow diligently the pathway of photography till they discover the beauty of the light at the end of the tunnel. I told the parent that his investment in the training will be worthwhile if photography was what the daughter wanted as compared to forcing her to go and learn photography just to pass away time.

I would eventually ask the potential student why she was considering coming for a training in photography. Her response was surprisingly short: “that’s what they want me to do”. Something about the tone and mannerism that was expressed by her gave me the indication that eloPhotos Academy won’t enjoy training such a person.

Gone are the days when parents will instill their career of choice upon their children under the guise of “obey your parents in the Lord”. Gone are the days when most parents dreams & prayer is for their children to grow up to become doctors, lawyers, architects and bankers. If a child in 1980 were to declare to his parents that he wanted to be a comedian when he was grown, the parents might either give him “igbati”, cast out the demon in the child, or declare that their child was JOKING. We all know that now the comedy industry isn’t a joke.

Getting an education is good and I’m sure most parents mean well. What isn’t good is to ignore the innate abilities of a child and instill into their hearts the career we UNCONSCIOUSLY SELFISHLY want. The boy that seems to be prone to “destroying” gadgets as a small boy might be showing traits of an engineer. Such a child would most likely be unfulfilled if he ends up in the banking industry regardless of the money he makes.

This is the reason why I don’t shout on my daughter when it seems as if she’s talking “too much” or asking too much questions. Who knows, she might end up being a lawyer instead of the photographer that her dad is or the makeup artist that the mum is.

For this reason, we’ve added a pre-requisite assignment that must be done before we can consider admitting anyone to the 6 months program we run. One must write a 500-words minimum article on what a day in one’s life will be in 2020. There’s a probability that if you can’t see yourself in the 2020 photography industry, then perhaps spending 6 months in a photography school might not be a worthwhile use of your time especially if you just finished accumulating over 20 years of education.

I have a funny feeling we might not be admitting the daughter whose parents are forcing her to come study photography. As much as we need the money they’ll be paying, we’ll be saving the parents N150k of their money to use for other things. I’ll prefer if the desire to learn photography is coming from the daughter’s heart as compared to coming from the parents’ heart. But then again, what do I know: I’m just an accounting graduate who happens to find fulfillment in walking in his dream career: PHOTOGRAPHY
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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

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

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

The UNAFFORDABLE Photographer


So this photographer that I respect so much was covering an event where governors and dignitaries were present. One of the governors summoned him and asked how much his photography charges were for covering a wedding. The governor’s daughter was getting married in a few months and he wanted to hire the best hand in the industry.

“You can’t afford me sir” was the response the governor got. The governor was shocked “what do you mean I can’t afford you…I said how much do charge?” The photographer replied, “My services are too expensive for you.”

“Will you at least give me an idea before you conclude that I can’t afford you,” the frustrated governor demanded.

“Depending on what you’re looking at, my bill starts from $60,000”

By now the governor and angry and demanded that the photographer give him his complimentary card. And so contact details were exchanged. Talk about the negotiation of the century.

As much as I admire the photographer and would one day love to charge that amount, I must realize that the guy has been in the industry for over 15 years and had paid his dues. At this stage in his career, he knew what he was worth and people were PROUDLY paying him his fees.

Knowing that photographers like that exist, it gives me hope that one day, I’ll be like the unaffordable photographer. And no, it isn’t because I’m greedy but because I’ll attract people that will gladly pay for what I feel I’m worth. Till then, let me continue diligently building the foundations of what it takes to be an “unaffordable” BRAND.
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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

2 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Doing Jobs for FREE


In the past few years, I’ve had a few challenges relating to photography jobs that I have taken on. Here are two reasons why I don’t enjoy freebies.

A few years ago, I decided that the best wedding gift I could give someone was my photography. I volunteered to donate my services and deliver an album. I visited the person’s house a few months after the wedding and decided to ask after the album I had given them.

To my surprise, 90% of the pages of the album had been raptured. Either he had creatively made the pages invisible or something was wrong with my pair of eyes. The only page left was the last page of the album that had my company’s logo and contact details.

“What happened,” I asked him. He referred me to his wife for the best answer to my billion dollar question. I would eventually discover that after an argument session with his wife, he had gotten angry and decided to fight back by destroying what was precious to his wife: the wedding album.

I was shocked, I was furious, I was surprised. I pleaded with them to be conscious of telling their guests that that wasn’t how we deliver our albums: with invisible pages. If he had paid for my services, perhaps he wouldn’t have destroyed the album. Talk of anger raised to the power 3. That was when I decided that no one was worth doing a free job for.

The second reason is more psychological. You see, the way my accounting mind works is that it doesn’t seem to place priority on working on jobs that I had shot for free. Even if I was the one that offered to do it for free (as the case was for 2 church members, my mum’s 60th birthday and my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday), it’s just hard to discipline myself to churning out the final product on time. Perhaps if they had paid even a token of just 5k or 10k, I would have convinced my Igbo mind that they paid something.

That is why I feel so guilty whenever I meet any of the 5 clients that I did a free job for but haven’t delivered the album. Call it a weakness but I’m just tired of not having a clear conscience regarding owing clients deliverables.

So I thought to myself that if I could announce to the world and confess my sins it will not only force me to work on the outstanding jobs quickly (hopefully before the end of July); it will also make anyone reading this not to ask for a freeby from me no matter what. Even if I say yes with my mouth, its just difficult for my heart to sync with that decision.

So those are the reasons why I don’t like doing jobs for free (or even at a discount). Please help me be a better person by understanding whenever I refuse or offer to do a job for free. May God help me. May the God of heavens help me.
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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

Befriending the N200 million Photographer


So I found out recently that one of my photography mentors (of over 5years) has made an income of about N200 million from photography in the past 7 years. Even without knowing how much he earns, I had been fascinated with his achievements over the years.

I’ve learnt so much from him that would have costed me catastrophically if I had to make the mistakes myself without his guidance. More importantly, I’ve learnt that he has more weaknesses that aren’t palatable to me. Infact, despite my knowledge of his weaknesses, I made sure that there was an open channel of communication between us wherein he could still help out when I needed him.

Many people fail to realize that the mentor or person they admire has emotional and physical needs. A lot of people would rather be quick to get as much as they can from a mentor without giving something of value in exchange. I learnt this principle from my pastor years ago and decided to go with peace offerings on my first meeting with him: 5 high value photography books most of which were authored by his foreign mentors.

Apparently no one had ever given him books like that as a gift. I realized his time and knowledge were valuable and didn’t want to come across as ungrateful. The next time I called him, he had stored my name on his phone and just blurted out “Seun, how you dey?”. I was surprised but then again I wasn’t surprised. I had touched his heart and he was unconsciously bent on making sure he attends to my case whenever it showed up in his court of law. I recently updated my “account” with him by blessing him with a N100k photography printer.

Its a spiritual principle that many are not conscious of. Although, I can’t boast of having earned that much income in my years of photography, I was honored to have been considered a potential ambassadorial candidate by an international photography equipment company last year. Guess who my competitor was: my mentor. I would eventually not get the multi-million naira deal but I was appreciative of the fact that a world-class brand would consider me for such a deal. It gave me more courage to know that though my bank statement could not boast of N3 million, my N300 million retirement income was more feasible than I thought; as long as I have mentors like the N200 million photographer.

Some photographers miss it when they compare only the pictures that are being taken by other photographers. What they fail to analyze is how some photographers relate better with people to the extent that clients will pay premium price for their services.

The lesson to get from this is for us to be conscious of deliberating choosing the right mentors that will challenge us (and perhaps also quicken our steps) on our journey in life. Show me your mentors, and I’ll have an idea how you’ll turn out in 5-10 years time. I have over 20 mentors in photography because I’m conscious of where I’m going in the industry. But perhaps the bigger lesson to learn is to be conscious of being a blessing to the life of whoever you consider to be a mentor, coach or friend. That way, you’re likely to stand out in their mind whenever you contact them for help.

There are presently a number of protégés that I have that I’ll go the extra mile to help them out because of the simultaneous investment they’ve made in my life. One gave me an apple (the fruit not the computer/phone) gift yesterday and it touched my heart to know she was concerned about my health (since an apple a day keeps the doctor away…or something like that). Another got me a small book. One recently took me to the movies to watch the latest Transformers at Silverbird Cinemas. Its not until you buy me that 2014 BMW 540i that’s in your heart before you touch my heart….the 2012 model will do just fine. 🙂

This is one of those writeups that I’m not sure how to end. However, whatever you do, be deliberate about the types of photography friends and mentors you surround yourself with. They’ll either make or mar your destiny. As for me, I’m grateful to God for bringing across my way the N200 million photographer as a mentor. Enough said.
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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

Becoming a Photography Mentor’s Inspiration


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

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

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

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

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

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

The SIKIRA Syndrome


Meet SIKIRA. She’s a lady in her late twenties who sells food beside our office. She used to sell only drinks and biscuits until many people in the neighborhood convinced her to open a canteen and start selling cooked food. I was one of those that told her she could make money selling food after she provided lunch for some of our elophotos academy students 3 years ago.

Apart from the fact that her food was outstanding, her personality was even more attractive. She was kind, courteous, and extremely friendly. And those traits seemed like the right ingredients that will go with someone selling food. Considering the fact that her “food” competitors lacked customer service, she was destined to stand out if she ventured in the business. Or so I thought.

Few weeks into the food business, I realized that a spirit had possessed Sikira. All of a sudden, she started insulting customers that came to buy food from her and her customer-service oriented nature went on a looooooooong vacation. She would frown at customers, shout at them, and with the support of her mother in the business, she’ll even tell some customers to carry their business elsewhere.

The interesting thing I discovered was that the more she insulted people – some of whom are her father’s age mate – the more customers kept coming to buy food from her. They kept coming for ONE reason: her food was delicious. So tasty was her delicacies that the thought of having her as my personal cook crossed my mind. I was surprised that people kept coming to buy from her despite the fact that she didn’t treat them with the utmost respect. But then again, I realized that a lot of us in this part of the world are “used” to being insulted and abused. Just look at the multitude of organizations in Nigeria with terrible customer service and you’ll wonder why they remain in business. MTN and Aero contractors will top my list of companies that fall in that category. Guaranty Trust Bank might eventually join the list if they don’t return my N20k that was swallowed by an ATM machine over 6 months ago.

It occurred to me that this was a BIG business opportunity. If someone that could provide the same service or product and simultaneously treat customers right, the sky is just the starting point of the profit potential.

Bringing the scenario back into the photography business. There are many photographers that have been in business only because the people that patronize them like the “products” that have been served them. The customer service however is another story. Our ultimate goal as photographers & business men (& women) who want to remain relevant in the industry for years to come – regardless of the introduction of new technology – is to build systems that are devoid of the SIKIRA SYNDROME. If we can achieve that, we might eventually not have to spend as much money in trying to advertise our products & services: our clients will become our BIGGEST & most effective marketers.

Until we get new companies that can provide the same quality of products and services that are offered by Sikira & MTN, we might just be stuck with them in the meantime. Eventually when a new food vendor with great customer service and delicious food (a combination that I’m confident is a possibility) arrives in our neighborhood, my colleagues and I have little or no option but to keep patronizing her.

Until then, I will do my best to make sure that the SIKIRA SYNDROME does not possess us at eloPhotos.
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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

The Hot-Tempered Photographer


I was recently told the story of one of my relatives that once ran a photography business. It happened that after delivering the finished product (albums, photo frames, etc) to his clients, he usually had a challenge getting his outstanding balance from them.

A client that owed him a balance of N20k would offer to pay 10 installments of N2k and my photographer “relative” will vehemently reject the offer. He would get so angry at the client that he would eventually tell the client not to bother paying the balance. He would repeat the same gesture to most of his clients.

This eventually became one of the main reasons why Relative Photography Studios is no longer in business. If you were in his shoes, how would you react to someone that owes you N20k and is offering to make 10 installments (or other seemingly outrageous offer) of N2k each?
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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

The N500 million Photography Studio


I AM SICK & I’VE COME TO SEE THE DOCTOR

Those were the words uttered by client G when met at my office on May 20, 2014. Judging from the fact that he kept to our 2pm appointment, I could sense that he was a disciplined man with a large heart. After hiring consultant Dee to help him set up a photography Lab/studio, client G had opened for business less than a year ago.

He would later discover (after investing tens of millions of Naira) that Dee was a fraud whose main goal was to squeeze out as much money as he could from his clients. One major error that G made was to seek professional advice from someone who wasn’t in the photography business. As a result of Dee’s consultation, G had used up what I considered unnecessary resources to set up a photography business that wasn’t turning out profit. He eventually attended the just concluded Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference and decided that the success of his business was dependent on him seeing a doctor. He decided the doctor would be me.

After he narrated the situation of his business, there were 2 things I was able to diagnose immediately: he had hired too much staff for a startup photography business & he had no marketing plan in place to bring the type of customers he wanted. He would eventually tell me of another client Cee that had hired the services of consultant Dee.

For whatever reasons unknown to me, client Cee had heeded the advice of consultant Dee and had gone ahead to invest N500 million in a photography printlab located in a part of Lagos that wasn’t too “photographer-friendly”. Eventually business didn’t turn out as expected and now client Cee is looking at opting out of the business less than 2 years after investing such an outrageous amount.

If only I had access to such funds, photography & photographers in Africa will not be the same. How on earth could someone take advice from a consultant who isn’t a successful professional in the field of photography….and eventually pour out N500 million (80% of which would go into the purchase of high tech cameras, printers and other photography equipment). If such a person would contact me now for advice, I’ll first give him one “hot” slap before proceeding with my therapy for his business.
And then it occurred to me that there are thousands of novices out there with the same mind set as client Cee. They think that buying a canon 5d mark iii as their main camera will make clients hire them. They think that having the best & most expensive printing equipment will automatically bring customers their way. They invest more in gadgets and fail to invest equally in the people that will handle the equipment and meet face-to-face with the clients. Perhaps it could be that they consulted people like consultant Dee.

If you fall in the category of clients with the mindset of client Cee or if you’ve gotten erroneous advice from consultants like Dee, there is hope for you. My name is Seun Akisanmi and I consult for businesses & individuals in the photography industry (& those considering entering the industry). If you want your photography business or career to standout in a seemingly congested industry, there are at least 2 consultants you should see asap: consultant Dee or Seun Akisanmi. Many have consulted the later and have no regrets whatsoever because ultimately their success becomes my testimony.

And if by any chance that client Cee is reading this, there’s still hope for your business…TRUST ME.

If you’re humble enough to consider hiring me as your consultant (or having me as your mentor), I’ll be honored to help set you up for success in the photography industry. Email me at info@elophotos.com or call 08120129149
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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

POOR PEOPLE DON’T LIVE HERE


Earlier this year, I was privileged to have been invited by Yetunde Babaeko to her house for a “small” social gathering. Apparently she didn’t like the way top photographers only saw each other during NiPHEC 2013; she wanted to create a networking atmosphere where we could keep in touch with each other without having to wait for a conference gathering like NiPHEC.

Present at the friday night gathering were photography mentors like Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Leke Adenuga, Seyi Body-Lawson & Uche James Iroha. Looking back, I’m not sure what exactly I had done or achieved to have been invited to such a meeting…..but that’s a thought for another day. It will turn out to be quite an insightful networking experience that I’m glad I was present at.

I listened ardently to the gist every other photographer was bringing to the table. From SEX to cigarettes to clubbing in New York to photographing stingy clients….it was as if I was in a seminar titled “How Great Photographers Think”. As if trying to soak in everyone’s gist, I found out in retrospect that the words of my mouth were few that night. I was there to appreciate and know more about how these photography colleagues of mine THINK. I had no regrets whatsoever.

I particularly enjoyed almost every discussion Kelechi Amadi-Obi brought to the table. Although some of our values were not in total alignment, I found myself praying to God for a mind as crazily creative as Kelechi’s. One of the experiences he shared with us was about his experience with a particular security man about a decade ago.

In what seemed like an attempt to understand how the rich think, Kelechi decided (in the early 2000s) that he would use the services of a creche located inside Shonibare Estate in Maryland. For those of us that might not know, owning a property in Shonibare Estate implies directly or indirectly that your net worth is over N1billion: only the rich live there.

The security men at the entrance of the estate would easily identify someone who doesn’t live in the estate by the type of car the person was driving. In those days, the reputation Kelechi’s car had was nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, he knew what he was looking for by attempting to “enter” the inner circle environs of the rich.

On one particular day, a security man stopped him at the 2nd entrance of the estate and after a quick psychological analysis of Kelechi & his car he blurted out (perhaps without much thought) “Poor People Don’t Live Here….where are you going?” He then told Kelechi that people like him (I.e. Kelechi) are not welcomed in a rich man’s estate like Shonibare Estate. Besides, he continued, that particular entrance was strictly for the use of residents of the estate. After much pleading by Kelechi to enter the estate (because he was going to pick up his child from the creche situated within), the security man insisted that he should turn back and use the main entrance.

Kelechi was offended especially because he felt that the economy status of the security man did not warrant him to make such a statement especially since he (I.e. The security man) was not considered to be in the class of rich men. He would think of what to do to make him realize that “Kelechi isn’t a poor man” (though his car might suggest otherwise).

The next day, Kelechi decided to use the same entrance where he was denied entrance. Upon discovering that the security man in question was not on duty, he gave those on duty N1000 and told them to have a great day. The day after, he did the same thing. On the third day, upon arriving at the same entrance and meeting the security man, Kelechi willingly put his “rich” car in reverse and headed for the next entrance. While reversing he noticed that the other security men were pleading with him to go ahead and enter but Kelechi would not bend to their pleas because according to the “rich” security man, “Kelechi was a poor man”.

Kelechi continued with his plan for about a week until the other security men started getting angry with their colleague for insulting a “rich” man like Kelechi in such a manner. Apparently, even the rich residents of the estate don’t tip them in such a way and here comes someone that treats them “well” but is being denied entrance by one security man because he didn’t have a beautiful car. Eventually the same security man approached Kelechi and apologized for making such a blasphemous statement. Kelechi’s point had settled in.

The moral of the story might not necessarily have anything to do with photography but I got an insight on how to handle situations in a non-conventional (but creative) way. You might take this the wrong way but I thought within myself that what Kelechi did was wisdom. He used wisely his actions to prove wrongly what someone said about him. I learnt that one shouldn’t be quick to reply people’s accusations with words. In most cases, its wiser to “do” than to “say“. If people “say” you’re a fool, prove them wrong by your “actions“. If people say you’re “poor“, let the combination of all your actions ultimately make them regret saying that.

Ofcourse, the ultimate wisdom is to realize that you can’t be stopping at every junction in life to be “proving” yourself to people that might think otherwise. Just focus on doing what you know how to do best and eventually they will see the results of your labour and change their minds about what they “thought” or “said” you were. Some people thought photography as a profession was going to be my worst decision ever. The same people that “thought” that have paid me millions of Naira for my photography services.

Enough of my babbling. Whenever you meet people that think you don’t deserve something, take it as an encouragement “pill” to make you focus on your vision and destiny. Ultimately and in due season, those who thought you don’t deserve it will realize that its actually people like you (Yes, YOU) that really deserve it.
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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

Why I Love UNSATISFIED Clients


On October 25, we covered the burial ceremony of one of our client‘s brother. Our client – a 73 year old woman – had hired us as the main photographer because she was impressed with the coverage we gave her for her 70 years birthday 3 years ago. Artistic, organized, well-packaged, creative….those were some of the words she used to describe the 70 birthday album.

So it was a no-brainer for her regarding who to call for a “creatively artistic” coverage of his brother’s burial. I would later discover that she apparently had a photographer that she had worked with for over 30 years: Uncle J Photos. Apparently Uncle J had been hired as the backup photographer.

Fast forward to the week of November 14. We called her to book an appointment so she could view the designs before we printed. She went through the digital designs, gave some corrections and gave us the go-ahead to print.

4 days after the album was delivered, I put a call through to her to ask what she thought of our latest artistic endeavor. It was almost as if she had the answer premeditated because I was barely through asking the question before she blurted out a LOUD “NO”. I was shocked. I thought we showed the pictures to her before we printed.

She told me that when compared with Uncle J Photos’ album, that our album was not “a detailed coverage of the event”. I wondered what she meant by “detailed” coverage knowing that the album was just a summary of what we assumed to be key moments of the events. I concluded I would visit her on November 26 to see Uncle J’s album.

I eventually discovered that November 26 was the day her husband will turn 80 years. She didn’t want us to bother coming because she didn’t want to pay for something she wouldn’t be satisfied with again. Upon arriving there, they had just finished praying for the husband. The main celebration wouldn’t be until December 15 and I have a second chance to re-deliver a more “satisfying” album to her if I wanted to be part of her husband’s birthday.

I eventually saw uncle J’s album and was very surprised that it wasn’t necessarily “finer” than ours; it just had more pictures on each page than ours. Apparently the client wanted us to cram more pictures on each page of the album. By so doing, we would have proven to her to have done a “detailed coverage”. I gladly collected the album we gave her and assured her that I’ll do my best to please her (a promise I now realize might be difficult to keep when dealing with a 74-year-old woman).

She appreciated my kind gesture and spontaneously introduced and recommended me to 2 of her best friends sitting with her. “Elophotos is one of the best photography outfits in Nigeria“, she muttered to her friends. I was surprised she was recommending me despite the fact that I had not completely satisfied her. What if I had not showed up that day to ask for the album back? Perhaps I would have lost the opportunity to have another 70-something-year-old as a client. I’m learning to be more patient on this job.

It then occured to me that it is clients like these that please me. I appreciate clients that challenge me to do better than what I delivered for them the last time. I appreciate it when they give me feedback on how they feel I can satisfy them better even if the feedback is contrary to my artistic beliefs. At the end of the day, when I’m able to satisfy these “unsatisfied” clients, they will provide the funds that I will use to send my daughter to Harvard primary school, buy my wife’s N500 bathing soap and ultimately get my BMW 540i Active Hybrid classic. If I’m not ready to challenge myself to satisfy them, I might as well close for business and relocate to my family house in the village (Abeokuta).

May God give me the grace to satisfy the unsatisfied clients that come my way. For in doing that, I will ultimately be raising an army of eloPhotos passionate ambassadors and marketers. May the God of Light help me on this photographic journey.
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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

Why Your Best Client May Be Your Last Client


So I recently had the privilege of hiring a cobbler to do a customized sewing design on an album box I wanted to deliver to a client. I explained to him the design I wanted and emphasized the importance of delivering a neat job.

30 seconds into the sewing, I knew in my heart I would never work with this vendor again. His design was sloppy and neatness seemed to be enemies with him. I had planned to give him about 4 other materials to sew for me and decided right that moment that he will not lay his needle on another of my materials. At the end of his 5 minutes work of technical imperfection, he billed me N100. I hurriedly paid without negotiating; couldn’t wait to get him out of my sight.

If only he knew that I had budgeted N2000 for all things I wanted to sow. If only he had asked for my opinion on the sloppy job he just delivered. If only he had been more technically proficient in the carriage of his expertise. He looked at my expressionless face and perhaps thought he had secured a great client in me. I thanked him for his time and sent him away.

I immediately summoned my colleagues to share with them a customer-service revelation I had stumbled upon. Sometimes when we deliver our jobs to clients that don’t seem to say much (apart from paying and thanking us), we should be a little skeptical. It is important to prod customers that “seemed” to be satisfied and ask what they honestly think of your service delivery or product quality. Sometimes we’re happy for the $2000 we just harvested from our best client without being conscious of the fact that “our best client” might not have been completely satisfied. Hence we ultimately loose out from the $20000 jobs he would eventually bring our way.

Buttom line is for us not just to be quick to charge and collect money from our clients; we should try to be 100% sure that they are satisfied. For only 100% satisfied customers will help to be your loyal and faithful BRAND MARKETERS.

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

 

The Day I Shot Some Soldiers


I have stayed long enough in medical school to understand that almost everything has a technical term by which they are called, especially in the world of phobias. Phobia for almost everything has a name:
Claustrophobiafear of enclosure
Sitiophobia – fear of food
Anemophobia – fear of air
Coprophobia – fear of faecal matter
Anthrophobia – fear of flower
Phobophobia – fear of fear itself.

But fear of soldiers or guns, what do we call that? Or you think such phobias don’t exist? Trust me, they do. It was the worse thing that could happen to a harmless female photographer while behind the camera attempting to shoot some soldiers. Its interesting writing about it now, but at the very time it happened I wasn’t laughing.

The last two working days of the week was fun. Doing a funeral photography for the first, in the ancient city of Ibadan (I had only been there twice) was for me a fantastic experience. With that excitement, I jumped up and down, and from point to point, trying to capture interesting moments of the event. The service of song went well the day before the incidence am about to describe happened. So with that excitement, I went the next day, with my other female photographer colleague (the GREAT Ronke Alao),  to cover the lying in-state at the home of the deceased. Distinguished dignitaries were present at the event, so were their soldier entourages.

Just before the lying in state started, I decided to take photographs of other side events like the food session, the condolence register, a side view of the beautiful house etc. It was while I was doing this I noticed the soldiers standing with their guns and I thought that would also make some nice shots, thinking about it now, I realize how silly that decision was. Well thank God I did, at least, it gave me something to write about.

I didn’t even know what gave me the effrontery to move close to them in an attempt to take the shots. They stood in two groups, three soldiers in each group. I had taken a shot of the first group, and still feeling cool with myself, I started focusing my lens to shoot the second group. As I looked into the camera, I saw to my surprise the soldiers pointing their guns at me!!! Was that a pose or what I asked myself. Just then, one of them ordered me to come close.

At that point, all my excitement turned into cold flushes of fear and it traveled with turbulence through my blood vessels. I wished for rigor mortis (stiffening of my joint and muscles, the type seen in dead bodies; pardon my medical jargon) but my feet moved in the direction of the pointed guns. It all happened in a split of seconds, but that was long enough for my heart to travel down to my mouth. Thank God my boss had taught me about the importance of always having the camera strap on the neck, it saved my camera that day because I would have dropped it on the floor while shivering with fear, had the strapp not been on my neck.

“Why you dey snap us photo? Who you be? Who send you message? You no know say dem no dey snap soldier?”
– the soldiers asked me, All I could say was “Am sorry sir”, with a shivering voice. Another soldier ordered me to show them the picture of them I took. I quickly reached for the camera which was hanging on my neck and showed them the picture. They ordered me to delete it. “Yes sir” I replied and I reached for the delete key at once. “You sure say e no remain there”? one of them asked me wanting to know if I still had any other picture of them on the camera. “e don finish”, I replied, bending my knees with each response as a show of submission, respect and humility. They threatened that they would deal with me if they ever saw me point the camera at them again. Well, they really didn’t have to tell me that, I had learnt my lessons.

Just while I thought the discussion had ended and I turned my back to leave, one of the soldiers ordered me to come back, I obeyed at once. I was surprised when I  looked up & saw a pitiful look on his face, as if pitying me for all I just went through (I wondered what the look was about). “I for deal with you today, but na this your innocent look save you”. Was that supposed to make me happy or trying to put himself in my good books, or was he just trying to sound the last warning, I wondered. Anyway, I said a sober thank you and stylishly moved fast to leave the vicinity of the soldiers, before they changed their mind about the mercy they had had on me.

As I reminisce the scene, I couldn’t stop being baffled at how much fear I had for the soldiers. I guess I was more afraid of the gun than of the soldiers themselves. Well may be its more of phobia for gun then. I have a feeling they did all that because I am a lady, I doubt if they would have done that much ‘shakara’ if it was a guy. Well, sounds like some form of achievement. I can boldly say now that I have been at gun point because of Photography (what a heroic feeling!). I also couldn’t stop wondering why the soldiers would not want their picture taken and at how much of mountain they made out of a molehill. Anyway, you should have seen the way I avoided the soldiers all through the rest of the event. I made sure I kept my distance from them and our paths never crossed again.

Apart from that incidence, the whole event went smoothly, I had maximum fun doing what I love to do. Other than the photography excitement, it was an opportunity for me to think again about life and its essence. As I watched the remains of the deceased lie still in the casket and being committed to mother earth, I asked myself: is this where it all ends? Whether we like it or not, one day, this body we all carry about, and we sometimes tend to give all the attention, all of our runnings about, the troubles and cares and fears of this earth, will end in that lonely chamber called GRAVE. Of course with long life, we’ll be satisfied, but there’s still an inevitable end. This earth is more like a sojourn, there’s a place we all are returning to afterall. We seem to forget that fact sometimes, or do we simply not care about what happens to our souls when the body perishes? (That is if we even believe we have souls in the first place).

” What shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and looses his soul, or what shall a man give in Exchange for his own soul? Mark 8:36-37. Ponder about this.

I’m Damilola Opawale & you can call me the Soldier Photographer

 

Sentenced Without Being Arrested


I guess you might be wondering how one can get sentenced without being arrested but then again strange things happen. Few days ago, I was sentenced to 14 days community service and for a law-abiding, never once arrested citizen like me, I was taking aback by the judgment.

Timeliness, they say, is the soul of business. Recently I have been showing up late for work due to some seriously unserious reasons (I think that sounds confusing, but don’t be. Stay with me, I am taking you somewhere).

For the past 5 months I have been working at eloPhotos, waking up by 5 am each morning. I know that’s no news but when you consider that I am not a morning person and I don’t get out of bed normally before 8 am, trust me, 5 am is a miracle. Moving on. Once I am awake, the usual morning ritual begins (like having your bath and all, which by the way takes time…. Can’t one go on for 5 days without bathing? Just saying tho) before setting out by 6 am.

Despite the seemingly normal Lagos traffic, I always get to work before our official resumption time of 8 am. On an average, we close by 5 pm but I don’t get home most times until 9 pm or 10 pm and sometimes even later. Now you begin to wonder what I am doing on the road for 5 hours, or is it that I trek home. To tell the truth and nothing but the truth, I don’t walk; it’s traffic. I think it will be a bit bearable if it had just been the traffic but there is the big issue of Agege and rickety buses. I don’t know if it was intentional but almost all the buses plying that Agege route are old and scruffy. To add insult to injury, you can’t sit in a right posture in these buses, you always have to bend somehow and with all these you still get stuck in traffic. Combining all this and coupled with the fact that I don’t get weekends off (at home) and I still have to work has resulted in fatigue for me. Consequently I wake up late and show up for work late too.

Offence number ONE: Every week, it’s mandatory for us to submit a weekly report in form of an article on or before 8am on Monday morning and I have been defaulting on that by submitting late. I don’t do this on purpose but sometimes I just don’t know what to write or have any time to do it. To Mr Seun, all of the above are just unacceptable excuses and writing about it now seems same to me. So, guys if you catch me around your neighborhood in an orange jumpsuit cleaning gutters, don’t think I have abandoned my passion for a career with LAWMA; I am just serving out my well deserved punishment! Feel free to say Hi and don’t be a stranger.

I am Babalola Michael Tayo (the weirdo that shot Aliko Dangote’s Daughter) and I am a repentant photographer.

P.S: if your dream is to attend eloPhotos Academy, be prepared to do #whateverittakes to stand out!!

 

Dee hOuSe of CrEaTiViTy


When I decided to learn photography professionally, I thought long and hard,did a bit of research before choosing eloPhotos. That turned out to be my second best decision ever, next to giving my life to Christ. At eloPhotos, you learn everything; meet the weird, nice and creative people. Come with me on this tour and let me show you some of what you are missing.

To begin with, there is a six unit course at eloPhotos that is mandatory. It’s called ‘Understanding Mr Seun’. For instance, In Mr Seun’s dictionary the words ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible’ was probably omitted. You don’t believe me right? Last week Friday, Mr Seun asked a colleague to get him a breakfast of yam and plantain (now who eats yam and plantain). After a few minutes, my colleague came back with an empty bowl. Mr seun took the bowl and went on a Yam and Plantain hunt. About half an hour later, he smiled into the office. I could have sworn he won a lottery but for the food he came back with. I kept mute as he explained he had to try seventeen times before he found a place that sold his dream meal.

Consequently, we have ” The Rule of Seventeen” which states that for every task you are assigned, you must have tried it seventeen different ways before concluding it can’t be done.

Mr Seun is no Super Hero but trust me, he is Super Human. He operates on ‘per second billing’, so you have to take initiative to keep up with his pace. He feels eating takes time, so get used to him eating his breakfast for almost 6 hours. He is a workaholic, so no lazing around. He is an inspiration and a blessing that deserves to be prayed for. Most importantly, he is a member of PDC (Pepsi Drinking Club).

At eloPhotos, you’re encouraged to explore your creativity. The unwritten slogan of our office is: if you can think it, you can achieve it. Imagine you felt this urge of shooting a pre-wedding session on the Atlantic Ocean and while you’re still thinking about a lot of things that makes the concept seem suicidal, you experience a mini diarrhea of the mouth and you let the idea slip into Mr Seun’s sensitive ears. You can as well be prepared for a Facebook and Google advert of an adventurous couple who are willing to tag along with your crazy idea.

Just in case you think it’s strange for a lady with twisted braids to be responsible and carry an ambition thrice her size, then welcome to eloPhotos. She is the only female photographer we have presently at the studio and she is good-good. Ronke by name, she is gorgeous, articulate, tenacious, a Jesus freak and an amazing writer. She is an inspiration and a model of a virtuous woman…oh, she is also married, so no coveting.

Another interesting thing is, we get to watch a sitcom every morning at the office titled ‘Meet The Laratus’. If you are hoping to catch it airing on a TV station, I am sorry to disappoint you, it’s for private viewing only. It stars; saucy Mama Laratu, her daughter Laratu (lousy replica of her mother) and two younger siblings. Every episode shows their bad customer service to clients in their little but ever busy canteen. You must be wondering what this sitcom has got to do with anything. To put you out of your mystery; they are just the ‘mama put’ we buy breakfast from.

I hope with this few points of mine, I have been able to convince you and not confuse you that eloPhotos is the right place to be. I am Babalola Michael Tayo and I am an inspired photographer…..

 

The VALUE of Your HANDS


A basket ball in my hands is worth less than $10. In Michael Jordan’s hands, it is worth $33million or more. A baseball in my hands is worth about $6 but in Roger Clemen’s, it’s worth $475million. A tennis racket in Serena Williams hands is worth millions compared to mine. If I am wrong, please correct me.

A rod in my hands will keep a stubborn goat away but in Moses hands, you know what it can do. A sling shot in my hands might kill lizards and possibly a few birds but in David’s hands, it is a mighty weapon of victory. Two fishes and five loaves of bread in my hands is just enough for breakfast. In Jesus’ hands, nations will be fed and there will still be left-overs.

A camera in my hands, I know what it is worth but in your hands I can not tell. As you can see now, it all depends on whose hands it’s in. You are meant for something, not everything. If all you do or run after is to be everything, your efforts would remain wasted.

Your purpose is what you are to do when you are alive. You are not a product of chance but of choice. Purpose is the genesis of performance and it must be discovered, if not you will be a spectator until you see yourself as a performer.

Your achievements will never emerge until you walk in the right path of your purpose. Production can not be complete till the consumer is satisfied. Being original brings you to relevance in the society.

In striving to be a man of purpose, you need not lose focus. Have passion and hold on to a strong desire that will keep you going. Many people walk and run but only a few people fly. Until you know who you are, you can not be known.

You need to understand your potential and also strive to make the most of it. Make yourself valuable in the market place.

This report is a product of the musings of the past week at eloPhotos. All glory be unto God for a purposeful week. Looking forward to another week. I remain Awosanmi Emmanuel.

My Best Pre-Wedding Shoot Yet: EWOMA & ROTIMI


So I had one of the best times few days ago when I shot Ewoma & Rotimi. Usually before any shoot I get a little nervous because most clients expectations of me seems too lofty for me to achieve. After cooling myself down with Gala and Ribena, the session started around 3:30pm after the last service in my church (Daystar Christian Centre). The major reason i decided on using the church compound for the location was because i was having a mild headache (perhaps from my nervousness) and I didn’t want to postpone the shoot or stress myself or the couple.

Rotimi who started out as a shy “groom” ended up performing beyond my expectations. I was assisted by my able colleague and Aliko Dangote Photographer, Michael Babalola and together we were able to come up with the pictures below. The camera i decided to use was one that i got in 2008 (Olympus e330 with a 50mm – 200mm lens) in an attempt to reaffirm to myself the idea of whether or not great pictures are made by a camera or by the camera holder. In this situation, i think the combination of my assistant (Michael) and the couple resulted in the following pictures. Let us know what you think.

How Much Is Your Hour Worth?


So I was having a telephone “consultation” session with one of my photography colleagues the other day. After I was through giving her my opinion of what she requested for, I asked her a question that momentarily popped into the gray matter within my skull: “How much do you think an hour with Seun Akisanmi is worth?” Her response was. more surprisingly spontaneous than the question itself. “$750 per hour,” she blurted out. Wow, I didn’t even know I was worth that much in consultation fees.

I explained to her that I was considering putting a fee on the telephone consultations I provide my “clients” because I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time on “telephone consultations”. Yes, I’m beginning to like money more than you’ll expect. It is because I’m beginning to believe it has potentials to solve some of the challenges I’m going though (like not owning a BMW 540i or a BlackBerry Q10). I believe if I don’t convert my most valuable resource (i.e.TIME) into money, I’ll probably end up realizing I’m running a non-profit organization and my wife and kids might probably leave me for not taking care of them. Hope you get my drift.

Don’t get scared now, I personally don’t think charging $750 per hour will bring an overflow of paying clients now. Besides I’m still reviewing it. Its one of the things I admire about one of my UK-based photography mentors. The guy charges between €100 & €250 for a few hours of talking to him on the phone. Ofcourse it seems ridiculous to people who have been used to getting “free” advice and education but he’s getting enough clients that sign up for his service and everyone is happy at the end of the day.

It is to this end I have reviewed how I spend my working hours. I suggest you do the same also else you’ll realize that one week of your life has gone without you being able to lay hands on what you’ve “achieved”. The following are 2 policies I’m adopting with immediate effect and I’ll be grateful if everyone can work with me on this.

First, I’ll appreciate if a prior appointment is made before dropping by to see me. I feel its a little disrespectful for someone to just stop by someone’s office without informing the person in advance. And when I mean advance notice, I’m not referring to calling 1 hour before coming; I’ll prefer if one can book 1-3 days in advance. Its so that I can achiever more with the time I have in a day. I just hope I won’t be misinterpreted on this issue.

Secondly, I’ll appreciate anyone that comes to our organization to help us be more productive by waiting at the reception. Sometimes its been a little difficult for new interns to ask people that know me well to stay at the reception until they’re attended to. Heck, sometimes its even hard for me to say. However, friends’ presence in our editing room and/or studio sometimes inhibits our efficiency because we end up discussing issues that will make a 1-minute Photoshop work last for 10 minutes.

Please don’t be offended. There is so much on my table now that requires me to be a better manager. Don’t worry, I haven’t started charging for telephone consultations yet. You can always add me up on BlackBerry (PIN: 271E3BC8) or send me an email at info@elophotos.com if you need to reach me.

I challenge you to ask yourself the same question I asked myself recently: HOW MUCH IS MY HOUR WORTH? Then proceed to make those difficult adjustments that will make you proud to be considered a world-class photopreneur.

Your Photography Coach,
Oluwaseun Akisanmi

A Photographer’s Greatest ASPIRATION


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your greatest aspiration?

Beyond A Photographer’s Viewfinder


My name is ONOS and here’s my photographic view of my first few days as an intern at eloPhotos Studios.

The week started on a different note with the Monday morning devotion back in place. It was a time where we fellowshipped with one another and committed the activities of the new week into God’s hands. It started with a few worship songs by Mr. Tayo Babalola and thereafter a brief exhortation was given by Mr. Seun Akisanmi. He talked about the power of the tongue as he emphasized on the need for us to be watchful of what we say to others as it will go a long way.

At about 9am, training commenced with intensive lectures on composition in photography by Mr. Samuel and Mr. Afolabi. Both facilitators made me to understand better that beyond a photographer’s viewfinder is the art of composition which is placing or arranging visual elements or ingredients in a work of art. Mr. Afolabi talked extensively on the famous Rule of Thirds that basically has to do with the photographer placing the subject off the centre of the frame. The rule of perspective, 70-30, 80-20, and 50-50, were also discussed in detail.

Mr. Samuel went further to say that good or correct composition is impossible to define precisely and there are no hard and fast rule to follow that ensures good composition in every photograph. According to him, there are only principles and elements that provide a means of achieving pleasing composition when applied properly. Some of these principles and elements he made mention of are balance, shape and lines, pattern, texture, tone, contrast, framing, foreground, background, lighting, volume, simplicity, subject placement, center of interest and the viewpoint/camera angle.

The facilitators expantiated on the art of composition, types of photography, and the forms of photographing on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to Mr Samuel the forms of photographing has to do with portraits and landscape. Some of the types of photography he mentioned and discussed were fashion, travel, event/concept, wedding, advertising/product, food, underwater, sport, war, aerial, documentary/street, portraiture, landscape/nature, wildlife, architectural, and lifestyle photography.

On Wednesday, Mr. Afolabi of 4labi 4tos and Mr. Adebayo of Twelve 05 photography talked explicitly on documentary/street and product/food photography respectively.

Training on Thursday happened to be very insightful as the pricing and business aspect of photography were treated in-depth by the lead facilitator Mr. Samuel. He advised us as upcoming photographers to never be too quick to give a price to a client over the phone. He said we should try to calculate all the cost involved. Cost that will be involved includes transportation, printing, producing album book, framing, camera/equipment rental, accommodation, design of album, creative fee, refreshment, and cost of going with an assistant and all these should all be considered during the calculations.

He went further to say that it is fair to charge 5% of the cost of your camera/equipment as an equipment rental fee. He also said that in calculating profit you either markup which has to do with using a multiplying factor or you use a percentage on your cost as profit. A client’s bill is the addition of the cost plus the profit.

On Friday, training sessions continued with Mr. Samuel lecturing on light and the use of studio lighting gadgets. Series of practice sessions were done inside the studio and later outside the premises with the use reflectors to bring in more light to a subject. The day ended with a studio shoot session that involved two models, a makeup artist and a hair stylist where I assisted in holding the reflector and adjusting the main and fill light.

Finally during the cause of the shoot, I noticed that the models had their preferred sides which they loved to be photographed. The makeup and hair style done on the models helped to enhance their looks and make their beauty quite flattering. I also found out from my colleagues that photographing models may not be lucrative as compared to shooting weddings. However, models are certainly the most easy and beautiful clients to shoot and will most likely be repeat customers year after year when they need to build up their portfolio.

My name is Onos & I’m proud to be a PHOTOGRAPHER.

I’ll Shoot for FREE if…


I’ve been recently having a number of proposals from potential clients asking me to shoot for free. These requests inspired the pictures below. Hope I’m not asking for too much? What do you think?

The Caption on the white board reads:
I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER. I’ll shoot for FREE if you’ll take care of my family, pay my kids’ school fees, pay 4my accommodation &buy me a 2013 BMW 540i.

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Photographer of the week: Dipo Odetoyinbo


Transcript of the interview session with renowned Photographer, Dipo Odetoyinbo (Black Child Photography)

When did you KNOW you wanted to become a Photographer?
My journey into photography has been a love affair. I have always been artistically inclined. I’ve been into fashion, I’ve done a bit of drama and I sang for a long time. It was when I went to serve in Kano state, on the way from the orientation camp to the village where we were posted, there was this beautiful scenery. The journey lasted about an hour and was over in the blink of the eye. It was the beauty of the scenery that struck me and I felt I had to capture that beauty. I guess that was where that ‘knowing’ first started because I knew I wanted to share this beauty with the whole world.

Tell us more about your career in photography and the challenges you experienced.
I studied Microbiology in the University of Ibadan, but from my second year I knew it wasn’t it for me. I needed to do more with what came to me naturally. I needed to do a little more self discovery. I had good grades and all that, but I knew art is where I am really very good at. That very point, I decided to make it a career. I started out as a hobbyist taking pictures of landscape and nature and a few portraits. I started posting my pictures and it seemed people liked it and wanted more. A lot of people asked me to come and take their picture and I said no, no.
I was so strong and I had to do something about it because even as an amateur a lot of people felt I could take it professionally. I decided I could, but I didn’t know what the business side of it will take. Although I had been into business before I knew running a business wasn’t simple. I knew I could do whatever it takes and that I could imagine myself still doing this at age seventy.

The challenges I had are the same that faces most of us artists. The case of doing something you love so passionately, but when it comes to the end of the month it’s not like someone is going to pay you. The real challenges were the business side: how do I create this beautiful work of art and get someone to pay me for it? I also came to the point where I knew I had to do something that was relevant to as many people as possible. Art is a medium of self-expression but I found after a bit of research that I had to be more relevant.

Who were your mentors when you were starting out?
It’s funny people can inspire you but you haven’t met them personally. I have largely been self taught. But I read the works of so many great people for inspiration. I read a lot of Bryan Peterson’s books and Scott Kelby. I knew more of what was going on the international scene for a year of so. But since I was to be based here in Nigeria, I needed to know what people around here were doing. I met Mr Leke Adenuga of QF and he showed me quite a bit of how to go about the business side of it. Also through HO9 I met Kelechi Amadi-Obi, I met Barret Akpokabayen, and a few others & they have been very instrumental in helping me out.

Getting into wedding photography, I remember meeting Mr Seun Akisanmi who really showed me the ropes of the business side (before that I had made many blunders!) and it was like a corrective measure. I also had a few assists from Michael Adebiyi, who went with me to some weddings and would help cover some and he was really instrumental.

Which Photographer on earth do you admire the most?
Strictly speaking Work and personality wise, one of the people I admire most is Kelechi Amadi-Obi. Just looking at his works alone has been so inspirational. It’s because of the aesthetics and the fine-art. Meeting him one-on-one has also inspired me and because he makes me feel like I can do it too.

Tell us your worst photography experience so far?
I think I have had so many experiences that have made me re-consider this business. I remember a few years back I was called for a series of jobs by the same client, a party, portrait session, two events and so on. After we spoke he deposited some money into my account, promising that he will pay the balance later. So I focussed on delivery and I did all that I could, including getting a make-up artist for all the coverage. So when I delivered everything and it was time to get my balance, he started dragging.

The mistake I made was that I did not sign a contract with him and delivering all without collecting much. I had invested my own money for a lot of the work and it [must have] seemed like I had a lot of money and I had made my profit and that was why I still had so much balance to collect.
That has been the nastiest experience so far and till date I have not collected that money.

What is that one WOW “client” experience that you wish could be repeated with all your clients?
I won’t site one client in particular. I have several clients who have become big-time marketers for me. That just really excites me; when you work for somebody and they go out of their way to ensure that every one they know hires you, if they can afford it.

How far are you willing to go with this “Photography”?
Like I said , it was a love affair for me initially, and I didn’t stumble into photography just like that, but I made up my mind that whatever it takes I am going to make it work. I believe it’s finding out your own niche and doing what makes you stand out and not doing what everybody else does. So many people are coming into the industry, (that’s good because it gives it a prestigious look) but having so many more graduates who are leaving their degree and coming into the business, shows that it is such a fantastic industry and it requires differentiation and stating in your area of strength for it stand out.

Why should a client hire you amidst the sea of photographers in Nigeria?
For me I like to ask a lot of questions and find out a lot about the client to be able to fashion out what works for them to bring out the best. A lot of people want to look exactly the way some of my works appear and I have to explain to them why I took the pictures they’re looking at in a certain way. I think my attention to detail stands me out. For my pre-wedding shoots, I usually want to go all out.

Are you affordable?
I think I am quite affordable. That is relative, because I have a lot of very good work out there that I am sure of. So I have created different packages for weddings. On the average it starts at $900 (N150k) and goes up depending on the options that go into the package based on what the client needs. It all depends on what the client needs although we have a whole gamut of packages that cover what clients usually expect.

What is your advice for newbies coming into the industry?
I would say spend time learning and training. It’s not every one that holds a camera that is a photographer. Learn how to take pictures, learn the art and very importantly learn the business side of it. The business aspect of it is very important to whatever it is you are doing.

Assume you wake up on Feb 20, 2020 what will your dream day look like?
I have always loved travelling. I guess it would be the day I get a call from South Africa to come do a shoot there. I said South Africa because a lot of photographers are trained there and peoole still come from all over the world to get their training there. By then , I would [want to] have an outfit that has really grown and I would have a lot of people under the same umbrella and I would have branched out into a few other fields I won’t mention now. Photography is the good foundation for the other things that come with it.

Any plans for a training platform for apprentists?
I keep getting phonecalls from people saying they want to come learn photography, but I have learnt that talk is cheap! Then I remember approaching one of my mentors once for that kind of request and I had to do a re-think when I realised I wouldn’t have the kind of time it was going to require. I had to look for another way around it. So as much as I love to create a platform for others, not everyone fits in and even though you have just a few rules, they take it for granted. I love to share knowledge so I have an internship program right now but that can’t accommodate many people, but as time goes on I intend to take on more people.
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Black Child Photography is a Visual Communication Outfit geared at providing our esteemed clients with high quality images that speak to the viewer and passes across pre-planned specific messages to targeted audiences.

www.blackchildphotography.com
Email: blackchild247@gmail.com
Telephone: +234 80-2360-1026, +234 80-9056-9305

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For tips on growing your photography business, “like” our facebook page (facebook.com/elophotos) or add us on your bb: 271E3BC8

PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE WEEK 5: Kelechi Amadi-Obi (TRANSCRIPT)


We met with Kelechi on Valentine Day’s eve and had a heart-to-heart talk. He just concluded a photo session with Jay Martins and was eager to share with us about his journey so far in photography. The following is the transcript of the 45-minute interview that ensued

Tell us who you are & how you got into photography?
My Name is Kelechi Amadi-Obi. I went to secondary school in Government college Umuahia, after my primary school (Library Avenue primary school, Umuahia again) so I pretty much grew up in my city. Right from childhood , I had always been fascinated with visual arts, usually the best artist of the class in primary school. My primary school was next to the library (hence it’s name), in fact my mum was the headmistress of the school.

My house was next to the school. I had developed the habit of research early and going to the art shelf in the library. Whatever craft I needed to learn I knew early on that I could learn it on my own. I discovered great wisdom hidden in all the books. I became obsessed with trying to master the wisdom of any book I was reading.

By the time I finished secondary school it was obvious I could communicate through the art of the visual though I never thought about how to make a living from it. I didn’t see any gallery or museum or art school in my area. I’d never met a real artist and only read about them in books. So I thought it was something only done in Europe. So back then, when I would make a drawing, I would tell my little sister then that ‘This is a masterpiece!’ I tried to visualise myself [being] like Rembrandt, Van Gogh or Picasso, but it all seemed like a fantasy world.

But when it came to choosing my career, this was story: My family is a family of lawyers. My father was a high court judge and only two professions were recognised in my house; you were either a medical doctor or a lawyer. So I chose law after passing my JAMB examination and gained admission into University of Nigeria (Nnsuka) [UNN]. It was there, [UNN] that my eyes were opened and In fact, I attended ACCA exhibition in Bonna gallery in Enugu then. I was in the midst of real artists. I thought ‘this is it! People actually live this kind of life!’ I immediately grew comfortable with that, and while I was studying law, I was practising my art, and became popular for it. I chose a brand name De’ Zulu (from a movie Chaka De Zulu, who I thought really kicked ass) for business name.

It was in my third year I made the decision I would become a full time artist after I finished law school. But I was not going to be a drop-out because people would misunderstand me. I also found out that in law, there were some things that would benefit me.
After finishing law school, I settled in Lagos with my aunt (Aunty Nnena) and by then my father was late. The only thing I could afford then was a cardboard paper and pencil. So I said, “Great, let’s start making art!”
Freshly out of law school, that was a stubborn and ridiculous thing to do.

It was atop my aunt’s balcony I started making art-works. The first time I went to shop for frames for the artworks the owner of the frame shop asked, ‘’Are these works for sale?’’ I answered, ‘oh, they are N10,000 each” and he bought all five of them! I thought, wow! From nothing to N50,000…. I blew N25,000 immediately on art materials.
I went back to continue with painting. I was amazed at how easy it was to sell those artworks. A friend of mine who was also a fellow artist, came around and found what I was doing interesting. So he said he knew a few people who are collectors. He packed all the works I had that morning and in the evening he came back with N100,000 cash after collecting his commission. Incredible! It became clear I could make a living in Lagos as an artist.
Eventually I had an exhibition, followed by another, and the rest is history. I became popular and was absorbed into the art world of Lagos.

Gradually I was using the camera to take photos for my paintings as reference materials, and as I did I realised I needed to master lighting. More of my paintings were of the human figure and I needed to photograph models for them. I liked to look at the way light falls on the body in the different shapes and forms. I got deeper and deeper into controlling the way light goes into the shutter, through the aperture to make an exposure. So I could thoroughly underexpose a picture or slightly over-expose it to get a kind of feel [I wanted].

While doing that I had mastered the little intricacies of photography. It struck me that some of the photos I was making were already finished artworks. I started hanging out with more artists. I would visit the likes of Don Barbar (even he had collected some of my paintings he found interesting) and he would take me to his dark-room to develop some prints. I was amazed that what I saw was just like my paintings. I then started using Uche James Iroha’s dark room while he was working in Dolphin Studios in Surulere to process my works which I shot in black and white. Soon after, I got my own dark-room. This made my interest in photography come up even more.

It was all just fun, and I wasn’t making a dime from photography at the time. Until a guy (also a photographer himself) came in from Germany to curate an African art exhibition, as part of the biennial, in Bamako Mali. He wanted to have eleven photographers. Someone had told him about my collection of nudes and he came around, looked at them and found them quite interesting. And since he thought they were good enough for the exhibition, I got invited to Bamako Mali. Uche James Iroha, TY Bello, Amaeze Ojekere (representing his dad) and others from diaspora, Mali and Senegal, South Africa were all participants in this exhibition. It was like an art exhibition Olympics for Black Africa!

There were curators and scouts from all over Europe. Some of the curators from Italy came over and after liking my work, they invited me to come and exhibit in Italy. They took my contact [info] and sent me tickets .
Upon returning, myself, Uche James Iroha, TY Bello and Amaeze Ojekere came together to form a group called Depth of Field – a collective of artists who wanted to spend time creating work. And soon we were exhibiting in France, Germany, England, New York and we became very popular. That even sucked me deeper into photography. While this was happening it was my work as a painter that was providing my upkeep.

Gradually people & advertising agencies came to me with briefs for an artistic advertising shoot. When they came I would say, Sure, I’ll work with you, but these are my terms…… Then they would say no, and propose things like N30,000 per scenario. My response would always be , ‘Sorry, I don’t work that way. If you want to call me, you pay for my day and that starts from N150,000 to N200,000. You want me to work for you, it means paying premium for my time. I had gotten advice from Don Barbar about the advertising agencies not having respect for photographers and how not to let myself be treated that way.

So I would walk away from big jobs, but when I did get a job [on my terms] and the brief was given to me, I wouldn’t sleep over it. Even if it was a brief on Still Life photography, I would spend the night, the next day, and so on, studying about it, test-shooting it and then do some more reading again until I mastered it… just to make sure I deliver on my promise.

So if I had been given N150,000, I will make sure I deliver a N250,000 – quality of work. The philosophy then was if I gave the client more, the extra that I was giving them was actually payment for advertising. This is because the person I was shooting for will then go round telling others, “this guy is awesome!” It worked like magic. So while I didn’t get many jobs, the ones I got took a lot of time, a lot of people banged their phones on me, saying who is this guy? Because I would not shoot at the price they were calling. I told the ad agencies, ‘the guys who were doing jobs at N20,000 0r N30,000 per scenario were shooting themselves in the foot by doing too many jobs, and having no time for research to perfect their skills or even money to purchase equipment.’ In the long run you advertisers will run out of good material to work with and you will be compelled to import photographers from the UK, costing you more than three times my bill. So I am actually saving you money!”

As if I was clairvoyant, it happened just as I said. The ad agencies got stranded when big clients came from overseas looking for a certain quality of work and very few photographers who could deliver that quality.
That was how I began and continued to grow, and since then I have not changed [my principles]. Over the years I have been researching continuously to learn new tricks to push the threshold of my craft. I want to be in the place, where the most difficult challenge is what I want to face, so that when I conquer it, it becomes normal [to do so], and then I look for another challenge, more difficult and I face it.

So as time went on, I started enjoying my own personal shoots and I make sure that even in spite of all the commercial work one is doing, I find time to express myself as an artist and that is where I am now.

Please enlighten us about how the issue on copyrights apply to photographers in the Nigerian photography industry
Under the copyright act , the rights to a work of art, resides in the person who makes the work of art. In relation to photography, it is the photographer. It does have exceptions, where such rights are limited, like if it is an image of an individual, there are circumstances where you must obtain a release from the individual. You don’t go shooting somebody’s photo and then go selling it for a corporation to do an advert with. THAT WOULD BE INFRINGEMENT and you could be sued. Somebody’s right ends at the point where another person’s begins. But if you got a model release that tells you that you can do whatever you want with the image, then there is no problem.

If you are taking pictures of landscape or even people in a crowd, you won’t get sued. In terms of doing commercial work it Is still applicable. Whenever you do a shoot, under the law, the rights to those images still reside with you. Photographers are advised to, in writing, give their clients license to use their images for definite time duration within a definite geographical area. That is what you are being paid for in addition to your expertise. If it is not written, the right still resides with the photographer automatically.
How do I deal with this? When I am having a client relationship, my interest is to make sure the client gets what he wants. A lot of people who are into advertising don’t even want to use the images for more than 6 months. But if they indicate that they want to use all over the world, say for twenty years, then you bill them accordingly. The usage matters and that is why I advise that you put this into consideration.

Even though it is a shoot that is for one scenario, it is the usage that determines the billing. It is based on what you have told me that it is to be used for a product [packaging]that I come up with my bill of N1.5 million. If they complain that “isn’t it just for a single scenario?” – I tell them If you have commissioned me to shoot the image for use on your product [branding] I cannot restrict your usage in terms of location (country), time duration or even format. In that case it will even be a disservice not to give them the rights, but your client should know that different types of usage attract different kinds of fees. It is as simple as that.

Once an oil company called me to do a shoot for their oil rig. After we had discussed on the fees, they were like after the shoot is done, I will sign a relinquishment of all rights to the images. I said in that case therefore the agreed bill then increases by 800%. If I am not to have any relationship with my work forever after, even to put it on my website, then I will bill you for it. I ended up not working with them and I was very glad I didn’t.

I think what we do serves a purpose beyond just taking photographs. We are people with opinions. As a photographer, you are a storyteller, a chronicler of history, and our work also promotes social engineering and influencing culture.

For me, photography is your first impression. When someone says Nigeria has a bad image, I take it very literally. What Nigeria has is bad imagery. Bad photography. We do not have enough people being patronized by the right people. So you may visit the Nigerian embassy in France and see booklets about Nigeria, full of tourists’ photos, pixellated because they were stolen off the internet, with absolutely no regard for the photographer, while at the airport in Capetown, I see uncountable numbers of coffee table books in a mad duplication of excellence. Amazing South Africa, so many [different] books [with pictures] taken by excellent photographers who have spent hours trying to duplicate (recreate) these images over and over again!

This reflects in their economy as people see the place [South Africa] and keep trooping there in spite of the violence. We haven’t even started [over here] with photographing our environment – I tell you! It’s amazing!

Could you explain your typical workflow from when a client engages you to when you deliver the images?
The first thing is you get a call. Usually it goes like, ‘’Mr K, we have this brief we want you to shoot – please can we know the price?’’(The price is the first thing they jump to…) continues ‘’It’s not a complicated concept, can you tell us how much you will charge?’’ I will respond that at this stage I don’t think we should be talking about price, but you can send me a written brief of the concept so I can go through it to see if it is what I can deliver to you adequately.

So I stall, and if they are people I have not worked with before, I try to set up a meeting to discuss their concept. Because whoever is on the other side [of the phone] is probably comparing your price with those of others he has written down on the paper in front of him. To him you are just another photographer over the phone, until they see how you are going to execute their brief and solve their problem. I believe this is more important than the price I am going to charge.

So when we meet, and I see the brief, I will itemise what is needed (costs) e.g location and let them also know the latitude of the most extreme scenarios (unforeseen) of the cost of equipment and time! At this point, they may say “it’s just three people smiling!”… I say that means three scenarios and this is what is required, the lighting needed, the method of making them smile and so on, the casting for the kind of feel needed and even for the seemingly simple smiling requires the right type of model.

So through it all I am trying to bring my own expertise into the brief and by the time we are through [discussing] I give them the bill and tell them they have to pay 75% – 80% upfront or we don’t have a deal. (Ad Agencies can make thirty days turn to sixty days and you start wondering, has their client paid them? And they could have been paid a long time ago and be telling you that they are still being owed).

So we establish with the client that they are ready and the date agreed is solid. When they come for the shoot, when it’s done, we have a little time for re-touching (most ad-agencies want to do their re-touching themselves) and then we look through the images and give them the best ones in high resolution.

And if you are shooting PR images for an individual say maybe an artiste, again it starts when they call, concept is discussed and we set up a date and they pay their cheque. On the day of the shoot, we do our work and we give them low resolution files that are watermarked ‘for view only’ for them to review in the comfort of their home and decide the specific ones (up to the number that comes with the package) that they want (I rarely go beyond 20 images), so that we can edit them.
For weddings and events those now include physical media like books and even CDs that will attract different prices.

How do you market to get your clients?
I’ve found out there is no better marketing than referrals [from satisfied clients]. Unless you want to do mass marketing and you have a factory of photographers that cater for everyone. You are the premium brand. You are not just a commodity, you are a brand. It is each person that has experienced your work that goes to tell 10 other people that you are good. So the dilemma now becomes how do you convince someone who has previously used a service similar to yours for N150,000 to pay N1.5 million? Well I could include a discount say 20%, but I never start negotiating without a rock bottom walk-away price that I will not go below in my head already.

The way to become a brand that attracts premium fees is as simple as this: be a promise-keeper over and over again. Let everyone that uses your services always come back when they see that you have over-delivered beyond their expectation. And it’s not just coming back alone but telling others with passion about how they think they underpaid you the worth of your work. So my best advertisers are my clients who I have paid for their advertising by giving them more than they came expecting to get. I will not charge N5, but if I charge N2 million I will make sure he [the client] gets quality work that he cannot bring Nick Knight from New York for N10 million to do! That will leave him wondering, did I underpay this guy?

Even if it is a free job, forgetting about the money, make sure you convert that client to a moving billboard. Whatever you do, make the client happy and satisfied. Also some clients may not be happy with their job, and I may even offer them a refund until I find a way to give them the satisfaction needed. It is all about integrity and client satisfaction and once people know that is what your brand is you can charge whatever you want.

What do you want to tell newbies in the photography industry?
Passion is required! But passion is not enough. You must understand that this is not a lazy man’s job. So it is passion that makes you do all the [grunt] work happily and gives you advantage over the person who lacks passion.

Some just want to photograph beautiful ladies without understanding the details of how the camera works and all that.. the physics, the mathematics and f-stops and all that doesn’t make it so seem so glamorous. So fiddle with the camera and learn how it works and if you are sure that this is what yo want to do, do not sleep – shoot!

With every squeeze of the shutter release, you must strive to take a better shot than the last. Put in your all. If it was easy , everybody will be good at it. If you have passion for it, you will succeed.

What where you attempting to achieve with the introduction of MANIA magazine?
It is one of my projects that developed out of frustration. I love shooting fashion, though the local fashion industry is not as lucrative as the other advanced economies that have understood the economies of scale. They can design a shirt and Prêt-à-porter & 2 million units of it are sold in one week. Crazy amount of money! The Dolce & Gabbanas are dressing the world in jeans, selling belts and perfumes. So on the catwalk they are merely having fun, the big money is in the factories in China churning out their products. So when it comes to paying a photographer they don’t bat an eyelid paying you N200 million!

Over here the industry has just started and it’s lacking that kind of energy and money. But I love fashion. A lot of the magazines cannot afford the work I would love and that made me feel limited. So I created that magazine to open that creative box to show what is possible so I could break the glass ceiling above my head. So far it’s been beautiful, tough but beautiful. We were publishing bi-monthly before but now we are going monthly.

What final words do you have for fans & clients that are watching/reading this?
Do what you love, work at it! But don’t ask me for pocket money!

To view more of Kelechi Amadi-Obi’s works, visit his website at www.kelechiamadiobi.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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