On weekends, individuals that follow some Nigerian photographers on popular photo site Instagram would be served with breathtaking pictures taken at wedding ceremonies on their timelines. During the week, a cuisine of Nigerian street photographers flood social media platforms with original shots from different parts of the country, especially Lagos, and of both living and inanimate objects.
The pictures often look like they were taken by professionally trained experts but interacting with the ‘professionals’ reveals that most of them never had any form of formal training in photography, especially digital photography.
Instead, they are professionals from other unrelated fields as economics and medical science. But they all believe photography is an art that anyone, irrespective of professional, educational or vocational background, could practice as long as they are passionate about taking pictures.
In Nigeria and several other parts of the world, a career in healthcare is the dream of many youths because of the general belief that in addition to the prestige that comes with saving lives, the medical sector is always in dire need of capable hands which means there is always job security in the industry.
But professionals such as Adesanya Adeniran are looking outside the sector and are building careers in the art especially photography. Adeniran is the founder of Acepixels Photography.
“I started in my early days in the university when I used to take pictures of people, clouds formations, and sunsets with my then Nokia phone. I loved doing that and I got gifted a small point-and-shoot camera by a cousin. I started experimenting with that and I figured out that I could make something out of this. It’s been an enlightening journey since 2010,” Adeniran told AFKInsider.
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He said he decided to go professional in 2012.
In addition to his passion for landscape and lifestyle photography, he is paying his bills as an events photographer that covers weddings and corporate events majorly.
“I didn’t set out to make a career out of it; it started as a hobby and that still drives me,” he said.
Photography as a business
Internet is no longer the only technology driven creative medium that is attracting young Nigerians with good business prospects, the increasing avalanche of opportunities in photography is one of the reasons why many digital photographers are now operating in the country.
“The commercial side of photography like any other creative venture is attractive to those that are worth their pay. In every industry, you have those that come into it for the glamour and financial reward, but those that do it for the passion derived would always stand out. I’d say that being a photographer has taken a new identity and like any other business, everybody wants to be one,” Adeniran said.
“Money attracts a lot of them. I have a lot of people trying to go into photography because of money. It is not as attractive as they think it is,” he said.
Yusuf studied economics at the University of Ibadan but he trained as a photographer entirely online and at workshops. He does portrait, landscape and documentary, and has been involved in lots of projects including the Photograph a Child Campaign. He told AFKInsider that the good thing about the development is the appreciation of the local contents that are coming out of Nigeria.
“People have come to appreciate personal images and a lot of local contents are being generated,” he said.But he warned that only individuals with artistic mind should venture into photography as a career.
Present and future
Adeniran believes the industry is an emerging one that has lots of creative personalities and is gaining international repute especially with works of notable Nigerian photographers such as Kelechi Amadi.
Adeniran added that with the new generation of photographers in the country, creativity abounds.
“The business side of it can still get better as the average individual does not understand why photography vendors charge some substantial amounts for services; the new generations of Nigerians are beginning to appreciate and reward creative photography,” Adeniran said.
“We are also moving from just point and shoot photography to more internationally recognized creative photography, getting featured in National Geographic Channel (NATGEO) and other international journals. This is something I want to see happen for the Nigerian photographer,” he said.
Yusuf on the other believes even though the future is interesting, many Nigerians will miss out considering the impending threat to the industry posed by advancements in mobile phones technology.
“It’s an interesting future but a lot of Nigerians might miss it because of mobile phone photography that’d challenge the market,” he said.
While there is uncertainty about the future, the competition in the present day is fierce and some Nigerian photographers are already positioning themselves to remain relevant in the mobile-focused future.
They are doing this by venturing into other aspects of production such motion and still.
OladipoO’Fresh is one of such photographers and he heads freshpro multimedia.
From taking still images, he has now ventured into video production. One of his videos won the prestigious Nigerian Music Videos Award (NMWA). Even though the photography space in Nigeria is now a battlefield characterized with photographers taking the art to all new heights, He told AFKInsider that succeeding in the industry is dependent on the quality of productions which are adjudged by certain specific timeless rules.
“I’d say simplicity, sanity, cool graphics, cinematography, and great imaging are something to look out for in a very good production,” he said.