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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Ayodimeji Olugbewesa On His Journey Into The World Of Photography

Meet Ayodimeji Olugbewesa, a young budding Nigerian photographer, whose  journey into the world of photography began with a Nokia N8 phone and consistent posts on social media. He is a self- taught photographer who learnt via the internet and by studying the works of his mentors. Read excerpts of his inspiring interview with The Sun below:

What motivated your decision to venture into photography?It all came to my consciousness when I bought a Nokia N8 phone few years back and started creating images with it and posting to my Flickr stream (Flickr is a photo site owned by Yahoo). My white followers saw it and loved the way I composed my shots and encouraged me. Also my friend, Bayo Lawson also called Blawz encouraged me. Blawz as at that time just started his journey into photog­raphy. He is a film maker now.

Prior to that time as a growing kid, I was often gifted with small film cameras like Kodak and Agfa. Then I used it to document my trips and events I attended. Then I’d give the film to my dad’s photo color lab manager to help me print it. My grandfather was a photographer. Before his death in 1996, he was the president of the Association of Photog­raphers, Lagos chapter. I kept on posting photographs with my Nokia phone and somehow Nokia noticed my work because I always tagged it with #NokiaN8 (Laughs).
One day, they did a blog post on one of my portraits with the phone. Nokia N8 as a device broke my boundaries in mobile photography and it raised the bar. At the end of the day, it isn't just the camera but the person behind the lens that matters more.

When did photography become a business for you?It became a business when I saw I could solve people’s pho­tographic needs and also I saw that I could make an income and forget about the pocket mon­ey I got often because it wasn’t enough. I was a student at Bab­cock University when all these happened and I was growing and my needs were growing too. I decided it was time to stop depending fully on my parents for my needs. Also, I saw I could build on this and create a business which would employ peo­ple. 

A lot of Nigerians especially those seeking admission see life from a myopic view. They only believe that once they are done with university the next thing is to go and look for a job and get married. I think there is more to life than this. People attend school with the mindset to work for someone rather than creating employment. This is one of the reasons why we have a high rate of unemployment in the country.

What certifications do you have and how have they helped in this pro­fession?I am a Microsoft Certified Pro­fessional and I would become an accountant next year. These have aided me a lot to plan my bills. Recently, I was commis­sioned by Unilever South Africa to create a documentary and I did the costing and law side of my business effectively without thinking twice. I didn’t attend any photography school, I am a self- taught photographer. 

I studied and learnt via the In­ternet and studying the works of several mentors like Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Blawz, Obi Somto, Jide Alakija, Joey Lawrence, Jill Greenberg, Jeremy Cowert, Pla­to, Julia Kuzmenko and Annie Leibovitz. I was able to define my style as a photographer quickly. I can gladly say I learned very fast and also my inquisitiveness aid­ed me a lot. I also learn by teach­ing other people what I know. 

I have held a portrait retouching workshop which was really helpful to photographers that attended and also I have taught Portraiture and Retouching at NiPHEC (Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference). The more I teach, the better it is for budding photographers in the industry and myself.

You are still in school, a private one at that. How did your parents take the news of your business venture?They were not pleased. They discouraged me because of my studies. I was told to aban­don photography and face my school work fully which wasn't quite possible. It was a compli­cated situation. The ice breaker was when I was interviewed on Channels TV and published in The Punch newspaper. I believe that was when they got the drift of how passionate I was about photography. It gave me a new purpose and different view of life.

What is photography to you?Photography for me is a way of life actually. It’s a way to express myself. It’s a way to solve other people’s visual challenges. From time to time, I create personal works, to express my feelings as a visual artist. You can easily be distracted with jobs that you forget to express yourself. Creat­ing personal work enables me to express myself as a visual artist

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