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Bunmi Ajakaiye: Body Size & ‘Agbero’ Voice! Essentials For a Lagos Photographer

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Being a female fashion and media photographer in Lagos probably isn’t the easiest thing. In fact it is one of the least glamorous jobs out there especially, if you like to get your shots no matter how low you have to crouch or how uncomfortable it can be.
You hardly have time to be dolled up because you need super comfy clothing that allow you to move freely and also allow for fresh air if you’ll be outdoors. Unless you go from coverage to studio photography where you can be all glamorous with pictorials and make a silhouette shot look like you have just discovered the meaning of life, then you have to make do. I would prefer that actually but I don’t have a studio so, life…lemons…..lemonade!

So far my journey has been interesting, challenging, once in a while degrading but most times fun. I am learning a lot and experiencing even more bizarre things. For instance, the other day, a fellow photog asked to see some of my shots and after I showed him, he seemed slightly impressed but proceeded to adjust and change settings on my camera, my own camera…in my mind I had removed my gele and tied it around around my waist while jumping up and down yelling “I have suffered!”

Please don’t get me wrong it’s good to learn from others because I’ve actually met some guys who have been real good to me and given me great advice, but this guy just ended up throwing my whole system out of whack! That’s a whole other story. Anyway, on to the second thing I learned thus far:

BODY SIZE
The taller and bigger you are, the better for you. I can’t tell you how much better people respond to my taller more masculine counterparts and many times people will question your skills because you don’t look like you can even know. I googled and found that people generally trust and feel safer with people who are taller and bigger because they can “see what’s going on better”. Maybe wash, maybe not.

I also can’t begin to tell you how many times I have gotten to the photographer’s pit early, set up and no sooner would some random fellow photographer or video person materialize right in front of me or shove me aside unceremoniously. At one show I started out at the middle of the runway and by the end I was somewhere at the edge of the runway out of the light and with the worst angle, I don’t even know how I got there with all the shoving and stylish moves the guys make. They can be rough sometimes so I don’t like to challenge too much lest I put my equipment at risk. I remember one time I got there early and took prime position and later on, another guy came and asked me if I can move so that he can have my spot. Now I had to stay calm but in my mind, I was Don Corleone and I just puffed on a cigar and signaled for “the boys” to deal with him! But alas I just smiled and said no.

Once in a while they acknowledge me with an inaudible apology and other times they don’t even see me. For example, at a particular runway show, I arrived late(biggest mumu mistake for a runway photographer) and one thing with runway is that it’s all about the angles and where the lights are rigged. It’s not always evenly lit, there is that “jackpot angle” where you get the best everything . So since I came late I respected myself and looked carefully for a spot that would suffice and that spot was on the floor at the front. I crouched over and settled in. Twenty minutes and a slightly crooked back posture later, another guy came and just plopped right infront of me taking up my entire frame! Now I am almost always the only girl in the pit so I try not to over emphasize that by whining or acting like I should be treated specially or anything. I tapped him on the shoulder and politely asked him to move, he looked back like I wasn’t there, I tapped again and he moved a bit but I had to bend uncomfortably to get my shots. I had no time to flog him or shoot him with Tyrion Lanister crossbow in my mind because the models were moving very fast and time was of the essence. Barely a second later, I heard one of the other photographers growl out(in an almost agbero voice) for him to move out of everyone’s way and just like that, he laid down flat on the floor, no story!

Great! So now I’ve learned that I should either double in size by my next event or perfect my husky agbero voice…..both of which I am failing miserably at and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of this particular tunnel! But am I tired of it? Nope! Would I change it for the world? Never! (well maybe a studio of my own and a body guard!)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Photographerlondon 

My name is Bunmi and I am a photographer and writer in this crazy, ridiculous and absolutely exhilarating city of Lagos! I feel like I am on a wild rollercoaster ride as I keep learning new things and seeing some “American wonder” type stuff along the way. Your girl is a learner! Read more at:  http://www.fashionfinancials.blogspot.co.uk

4 Comments

  1. Adenike

    November 11, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Hmmmm…… I feel you. I am also of average height and find myself having to contend with the taller guys. So I’m either climbing or crawling to the front for the best view. Thankfully I’m not usually in lagos but the few events I’ve shot there have indeed been interesting.
    In addition to the agbero voice, you have to train your biceps as you’ll be needing to ‘elbow’ half of the 60 ‘official photographers’ from your way.
    I try to doll up but end up sweaty with half my ‘eyebrows ‘ gone.
    In addition, if you cover events like weddings, do remember to keep a scarf (was once stranded in front of a mosque as I no cover my hair ) , and a long skirt (in case you find yourself wearing trousers to a church that does not permit it for women)
    I wouldn’t give it up for anything though… The back, shoulder (from hauling around all that gear), and foot pain can be eased with a good Thai massage I hear.

  2. stella

    November 11, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I understand you perfectly though am a wedding photographer.No be just tall photographers,video men nko,they have a sort of “beef “with photographers every time and for all those church people with issues over trousers and head covering,their case is for another day.I was sent out once throughout service because of that,thank God i had backups. Nice writeup Bunmi,cant wait for the next.

  3. MICHIBLISS

    November 12, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I am a 19 year old photographer with a small frame and I can testify to the treatment I get when I tell people I am a photographer, I just smile at them and their comments and I try to stand proud and tall wherever I go. FEMALE PHOTOGEES ROCK JOOR

  4. Tosin

    November 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    🙂

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