Photography is ART.
Very few photographers in Nigeria can confidently say that. To many others, it’s just another source of livelihood. Go around Nigeria and you see all sorts of well meaning people, claiming to be professional wedding photographers, but end up shooting just about every event. Some have been seen to have tried many acrobatic and dramatic stunts in the bid of showing of their photographic dexterity.
I remember vividly and with much nostalgia, picutres in those days; Sepia, black and white colours and funny look and feels. There’s always a particular pose (you will feel me because you probably have one in your family album), the posture of the character is either holding on to a leaf, a flower or a tree as if, if they don’t make contact with the tree, the camera wont snap or something. What i really like to know exactly is who’s idea was it? the foto’s or the foto-graphed? I am sure it’s the foto’s or else how did it become a generational pose? (check that family album again for more reference!)
It is important to know how photography influences our culture and lifestyle. I remember then, how youngsters, new couples (boyfriend/girlfriend); young and old, troop to a make-believe studio for a snap. After using more than enough powder (usually midnight talc, sweet sixteen etc) and selecting the best comb that suits your hair (usually they have all sorts in the studios); the photographer spend hours, adjusting your head and poor neck to get the right ‘alignment’.
Thank God for technology that delivered us from the dark dungeons posing as photography studios and liberated us to open spaces, fields and arenas where we became free to be ourselves and do as we liked (yeah, i took one falling off a tree during my NYSC). Then came the zoom lens era, Nigerian young dudes with entrepreneur flairs, after trying their hands on all sorts of businesses; barbing salons, running snooker joints, discovered photography. Getting to know its not only lucrative, but also an easy way to get babes, they rushed into it. And most girls eventually used up half of their feeding allowances paying for pictures while some dated the photographers ( I have no proof o) just to make sure that they capture every new outfit, hairdo and even their latest boyfriends!
So it was more of a means of sustenance. Many hardworking people paid their ways through schools with money made from it, others fed their families, while few steadfastly pursued it and today are professionals.
Talking of professionals in Nigeria, there are levels. With this new era, where fashion, modeling are lucrative business, photography is an important aspect that can’t be brushed aside. Unfortunately, very few photographers are in the market and are expensive to hire because they use sophisticated equipments and they have even more lucrative projects to pursue. Aha, your guess is right..that automatically paved way for the next level of photographers or should i say ‘foto’.
Many young boys and girls troop into studios and they come out as models at the other end. Anybody, i mean, anybody and everybody; pretty, handsome, the wanna-bes; dress up, feeling fly and cool, gather few bucks and they march into ‘these’ studios. With a black or white cloths as backgrounds, an improvised lamps stand for lighting effects, lo and behold what comes out of the usually sweaty exercise is an instant ‘models’.
Copies of these pictures are made and quickly distributed to the nearest and possibly farthest advertising agency or wherever they are needed (Page 2 girls, perhaps). One interesting fact here also, is there are poses and there are pozes, many most provocative stands and bends, try to convince the prospective clients why they should consider them as the brand ambassadors. Again i ask, who is suggesting all those poses, the photogrpher or who?
Wedding photography…Before I go into that, i will like to point out that most of our naija photographers are master of all!You see them at birthdays (1st, 10th, 21st, 40th, 70th, 80th…) the same one you see at burials, weddings, housewarming, naming ceremony…everywhere! There’s no area of specialty! It all shows that photography is more for survival than significance.
Interestingly, people that have natural flair for photography, have artistic eyes that captures extraordinary scenes out of the ordinary. They go out of their way to get, if not the best cameras but good ones and they keep these as their private collection only to be admired by few. The entrepreneurial ones go ahead to specialize in weddings or commercials. From their well packaged bouquets, you will see style and professionalism. From well designed nigerian photography websites and enticing contents, to great photo books; they DONT compromise on quality for whatever reason.
They give you much more than your eyes or mind can see, they capture and they preserve memories of special moments in such a magical way that simply overwhelms you.
They make you feel and live the photography, connect and interact with still visuals. That is photography! That is art! They know which camera to use and when, they understand photography concepts such as lighting, composition, subject to flash distance and depth of field. They live for the emotions and acknowledgments made when their work is appreciated and well rewarded. They are always looking forward to creating the next masterpiece.
Coming soon..Wedding photography in Nigeria..the good, the bad and the wowoh!