I arrived the city of Lagos in December of 2013 and fell right into the cutthroat world of media photography and sometimes I can’t believe I’m here…in the centre of it all. Allow me to start at the very beginning. Like every bright-eyed-bushy-tailed returnee, I came back home to serve my fatherland and was hoping to be posted to the Centre of Excellence, alas… I was thrust into the far away hinterlands of Oyo State where inspiration has gone to live its last days, or so I thought.
After painstakingly obeying the clarion call for twelve months, I was finally set free, the khaki shackles had been taken off and I journeyed to Lagos to begin my career as a runway and media photographer.
Let me be clear, I had no idea how I was going to achieve this, all I knew was that I was good with my camera, I love the runway and I was going to capture some interesting images. Nothing prepared me for the reality of the rigors of fashion and media photography! It’s harsh, challenging and most of all it’s a lot of fun. I am learning something new every day; first thing I learned was:
SIZE DOES MATTER! A LOT
It doesn’t matter whether it’s your sheer body size or the size of your lens or the size of your camera or the size of your camera bag or if your flash has that extension that looks like telephone wire or even the size of your “swag”….BIG! BIG!! BIG!!! The bigger the better.
People assume you know what you are doing when you carry around the bulkiest lenses and have the most unnecessarily complicated camera straps on your body! Wash!
I was slightly annoyed when at one of the many events I covered, there was a photographer with a giant lens and external flash trying to capture people that were barely two feet away from him under perfectly decent light. I won’t even front like I was not intimidated; I began to wonder what it is he was trying to achieve. Everyone kept posing for just that one photographer and I with my humble machinery would say the customary “look here please” and you could see the underwhelming look in their eyes when you are not wielding a flash in their faces and bending and moving back and forth like you’ve got ants in your pants. I looked through my camera and took my shot just once, no flash, just an adjustment of the exposure and a slight zoom. I was about to reach for my flash in my camera bag and just hoist it on there even if I won’t use it just to get these people to focus for a moment. All of a sudden, my trusty camera was looking like a faded piece of equipment without all the extra trapping. After tossing the idea around, I remembered what great images my camera and I had captured together and decided I wasn’t going to be bullied into attaching a useless external flash onto my camera, mind you, those suckers can be heavy and I’m pretty small so it can be tiring.
As the evening wore on I went off to take my detailed shots and found the other guy following me about(that’s not too strange as we all tend to stick together eventually at events), then he asked me to take a picture of him by the pool, he handed me his camera and it turns out homeboy had been shooting on auto mode all evening!
Sacre bleu! What kind of photographer shoots on auto with a very good quality DSL? Do you know what great things you can do on your manual mode? As if I wasn’t dumbfounded enough, he asked me to “set” the camera for him so that he could get the same shots I got at the pool! He might as well have banged my face in with a pan(like in the cartoons)I couldn’t believe this had me intimidated a few moments before.
I was flabbergasted but I had to comport (I also learned that people in Lagos never lose their cool, you gotta be calm and act like the sky isn’t blue)
I politely asked why he was shooting with a flash and such a huge lens and he smiled and said “it’s all effizy”!
I am done! I am so done! But then I realized something, this guy caught on faster than I did, you have to dazzle them with razzmatazz especially when you are in this town. It’s what they know, it’s what they love, it’s what makes them happy!
Lagos I salute, Eko o ni baje o!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100