If anyone said to you ‘entrepreneurship is everything they told you, and more’ they are right. Nevertheless, I must add that in Nigeria-where the economic system seemingly conspires to frustrate Entrepreneurs and SMEs, ‘entrepreneurship is everything they told you and three times more’.
If you succeed as an entrepreneur anywhere in the world, I will laud you. But if you as a Nigerian, doing business in Nigeria excels at it, then I stan and I stan well. You deserve our respect.
Nigerians have a tenacity that cannot be disputed. The creative way we go about beating a system that appears to only work against us would be applaudable. If only our creativity is not always channelled into devilishly ingenious ideas.
Speaking of creativity, Africans are über creative y’all. And once we channel that creativity into activities that we are passionate about, the result is usually explosive.
We caught up with Ebun Medessou in this Alexilore interview to talk about how she found photography, juggles family responsibilities, and her future boss moves:
Finding your purpose.talent.gifting.passion is not the same for everyone. Some of us figure out what we are passionate about early, but others do not always have it that easy.
They take on a string of activities, change careers, and when they are about a weeny bit shy of getting to the point of ‘everybody has a talent except me’, that they finally discover it.
“I felt just like this; like everybody had a talent-an art they were known for. I was the rare kid that didn’t have one single gifting. I was talentless”. Revealed Ebun Medessou, the personality behind the brand BlackPhotography that is recently gathering a lot of noise on the Gram.
“I stumbled into photography. When I was growing up, I never once was like, ‘oh I love pictures, I want to be a photographer! Nope. It was curiosity that led me here.
I studied Physics at school for my B.Sc because I understood it very well. I told you, photography was never on the horizon. Thinking about it now, I don’t think it would have been likely that I studied photography even if I had been exposed to it earlier. A lot of institutions in Nigeria don’t offer photography as a main course. Instead, it is taught as one of the subjects of courses, like Mass Communication. At the end of the day, you will be learning bits and pieces of photography and not the real thing.”
“Yes to furthering!”
this Kaduna based photographer said when I asked if she would like to go for certificate courses and international degrees in photography.
“Definitely. If the opportunity comes. I don’t really have sketched plans for the next five years, but I know photography is going to fill up a major part of my life in the future. It’s funny how things work out when you are busy not making plans.
My AHA! moment; when I decided I could do this for real, I mean get serious with photography as a career, was during NYSC. We needed to learn a craft. Photography was the only course in camp at the time that was free. I was like, ‘why not give it a try?’. Which I did.
“As I mentioned, I don’t have plans or a mapped out strategy. But I have always nursed the desire to teach photography. Finding my place in photography didn’t come easy for me. As you can see, I am self-taught. What I have learnt is by watching others. I would like to make it easier for those coming after me”.
The SHEO sounded really exhausted during our interaction, and when I probed, she revealed she is currently doing 2 jobs–if you want to call it that-partnering with a studio, and running her own business BlackPhotograhy from home.
“It’s been hard honestly. I do not have a studio at the moment. My working arrangement is such that I work with a studio, and I run my own photography gigs. It’s been hard trying to balance both. Somedays clients keep streaming in that I just have to call home and let them know I will be spending the night. I have gone 2-3 days without crossing the threshold of my house.
I have an understanding family, so that has been a plus for me. Like my mum and brothers give me their support, but I can’t really say the same about my dad. It’s not like we’ve ever sat down to talk about photography as a career, so I can’t really say if I have his full support. But I feel like, in his own way, he is understanding. He lets me do what I want, and that’s been very helpful”.
As a lady in a male-dominated trade, how does Ebun Medessou handle difficult clients?
“Laughs. Patience. I have had to learn self-control. Photography taught me this. You won’t believe the kind of clients I have sometimes; so demanding. I can give you plenty of examples. I have clients that will take their shots Now and expect the finished pictures Now. You try to explain to them that it doesn’t work like that, but well…
I had a client–two sisters-that I was to take their shots. After the snapshots, editing and all, one of the sisters came to me and said I was partial and showed favouritism.
I made her sister’s photographs more beautiful. It was funny because it was not like I knew them before, so why would I choose a favourite? She insisted she had to have her pictures taken again by another photographer. I was like ‘okay. Fine, have it your way’.
What she didn’t understand was that there’s only so much a lens and lighting can do to a picture. The rest is entirely up to the personality before me. Your attitude has to shine through the pose-to give the picture life.
I also encounter plus-size clients…you know, I am not trying to body shame. But I encounter clients who see a picture of a model, they save the picture, shop for the exact same clothes and come to me and demand I replicate the look. And I don’t know how to tell them, ‘girl, whatsup?’.
Sometimes clients give me a once over, ‘oh she is a lady’, and they dismiss me. They are like, ‘I don’t want a lady. I don’t think she can pose me’. And they say it to my face and other times when they think I am out of earshot. When the pictures turn out really good, they are like ‘oh wow’.
“If I had to arrange in the order of who I enjoy working with the most, it will be children.women.men. In that order.
Children can stress you out, but once you get them coordinated, they are absolute darlings; so flexible.so willing, and excited. And can bring your creative ideas to life. You can try so many things with them. Things you wouldn’t dare suggest to adults.
Women come next because I have these ideas…so many that I want to experiment with. I have always fancied model photography, shrugs so it figures”.
I had to ask if, amidst all this, she has time for self-care at all and what she does by way of recharging?
“Photography is very profitable. Especially wedding photography, but before you can get there; where you are earning the dough, it’s a process, and you have to put in a lot of work first. That’s where I am at-sowing the seeds.
Sometimes I get discouraged. I lose my creative mojo and I feel lost. What I do is give myself a break. I have other hobbies which I take up when I am burned out; I listen to music. Read books. Take long strolls, and use the opportunity to scout for new locations or I try to learn something new. When I am fully restored, I resume work feeling very much alive”.
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