How to Almost Become a Photographer

During one of my spells as a freelance programmer for a consultancy firm in Abuja some years ago, the amiable Managing Director contracted a photographer to come do a photoshoot for the members of staff and for us the, well, backpackers. Two metal things- which I later learned were called light stands, two huge light bulbs, a photographer and an assistant that looked more like a magician’s assistant judging by her dressing and poise. “Swinging hips must be an essential part of photography”, I thought. I’m loving this.

Few hours and hundreds of shots later, the photoshoot session was over and I briskly walked up to Edmond T, the photographer. “Bros, no vex oo. Dis your camera go be like how much”, I asked. “Well, this is not really a big camera but you can get the used one for about 100k”, he responded casually. “100 WHAT?”, as I swallowed the expletives I was about to unleash on the innocent man.

When I got home that day, I did what any self-respecting photography enthusiast would do. I separated a crown cork from its parent beer bottle that contained some ice cold brew. “100k!”, I regurgitated my thoughts as the liquid gold flowed down my parched throat. Then came the silver lining; Edmond T puts his camera up for sale at a measly sum of N50,000. I paid N30,000 upfront, got the camera and proceeded to the world’s largest library; Internet, baby!

 Hundreds of hours on, more hours with Bryan Peterson’s and Michael Freeman’s books and I was already theoretically grounded. Oya now!

“Now you have a small camera chief, what can you do?” asked a friend who would have a closet full of plaques if “The Headies” had a category of awards called “Clueless Cynic of the Year”. I answered him with a collection of work, mostly pro-bono. My journey so far has included shooting weddings, street photography, editorial work and my favourite of them all; teaching photography. Well, teaching the little I know so far to people who are interested. I became a facilitator for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Skill Acquisition Program, shot some really interesting cultural activities and many more things that make me happy.

I am not a photographer, even though I hope to be a great one someday. I am just a concerned fellow that likes to talk with images. It has been a journey of gratitude and learning. I am grateful for the kind of people I have met in the field; I am grateful for my stubbornness to keep studying something until I can teach it to a complete novice.

I have learned that it is more about the person behind the equipment than technical specifications, I have learned that there is still more to know and understand about people and their stories, I have learned that self-improvement is a religion that should not be trivialized, I have learned that happiness is key. Above all, I have learned that I am an “L” to the “E” to the “A” to the “R” to the “N-E-R”, if I wasn’t, why would I say I am?

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