Monday, 20 June 2016

How to start a photography career in Nigeria

The meaning derived from words said or written is usually dependent on the quality of pictures the words could paint in the minds of the hearers or readers. Pictures and images leave long lasting imprints that can span longer than words. This explains the rave for pictures. The social media have only increased the picture craze, making everyone a photographer ready with their phone shutter button, to capture moments for Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. This, however, doesn't displace photographers. We all still need that experienced photographer for our birthday shoots, pre-wedding and wedding pictures, matriculations and convocations. And there are no model shoots on runways and in pageants and for models' portfolios and bill boards without professional photographers.
Nigerians' embrace of this reality has made photography one thing a lot of creative youths would want to be involved in. The days of photography being a career for the old is now over, and ambitious chaps - male and female wield the camera proudly. It's saddening anyway, that very few photography institutions exists in Nigeria, and one isn't guaranteed on the value of information gained from these photography schools. The need to add photography as one of the courses to study in higher institutions, even just for a diploma keeps increasing. While little or nothing is done to improve the quality of information available to intending photographers, many ambitious and innovative fellows still have interest in the craft and won't stop at nothing to pursue their dreams.   

This piece is set to improve on the materials available to aspiring photographers and as well as serve as a guide to anyone who desires to venture into photography. I do not write as a photographer, but as a blogger willing to provide information that would help aspiring photographers in making the right choices when starting out in the craft.   
Every entrant should understand that photography is business and should be treated as such. Every business has set skills that should be acquired before one can venture into it. Photography requires a lot of skills which are not so difficult to learn when one is dedicated to learn and if the one has eyes for details and beauty. Every picture is a story, so every photographer is meant to tell stories in the pictures they take with exceptional craftsmanship. The budding photographer has to learn as much things about photography as possible before venturing into the business. One can learn online from YouTube videos and from different picture sites and blogs; by following leading photographers whose works they admire. Working with more experienced photographers and learning from them could be wonderful.  I wouldn't leave out the need to learn on the job, a lot of practicals have to be done as photography is basically practical.

The The young photographer shouldn't just learn the craft of the job. The one should also learn the business part of it. The photographer should know the various marketing techniques and know how best to use them. He or she should have a working price plan even though that, at the beginning stage, doing free or poorly paid jobs may be part of the package.   
The purchase of equipment is one thing that can discourage people from going into photography. The equipments are not usually cheap or easily affordable. But, the good thing is that one doesn't need all the equipments to start out. This is one part a lot of interested photographers miss. Whereas having a complete lighting system and the best of cameras and equipments is awesome, one can start with just a nice camera and a laptop and memory cards or flash. Pending the photographer's purchase of all the required equipments, he or she can rent some or even borrow or work closely with studios or photographers who have the equipments they need.  
Understand that every client is important. No one would want to pay for a photograph if it lacks a professional touch and no client would be happy to find out that his or her photographer doesn't keep to time. In the photography industry, time is of the essence and a whole lot can happen on every minute the shutter isn't in use. But, don't use the shutter wrongly, it's better a moment is uncaptured than captured wrongly. And a client won't forgive you for such flop. In photography, every client lost is lost with a thousand more as the industry grows on referrals. You can only gain referrals when your work speaks quality delivery and has this unique touch that only you as a photographer can give.  
Though starting, have a name for your brand. Even if you are the only staff of your company or brand, still have a name for it as the name you choose for your brand would guide you through designing your logo. As a starter, you may do a lot of free and underpayed jobs, but that should not deter you, as your quality would speak for you over time. Being a starter doesn't stop you from creating a price plan that would guide you when charging clients for your jobs. This would portray you as serious minded which is very good for business.   
Having a photo blog or website won't hurt. Or having a publication where you can display and show off your works. This is one way to let people know what you do. If you put up good pictures on your blog or site, it would definitely catch eyes that may get interested in purchasing your works or making appointments for photo sessions. Don't forget, no one would sell you as much as you sell yourself. And there's always a need to improve on your craft as photography demands loads of improvement on regular basis.   
Have fun telling and re-telling moments with your camera.   

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