Octagon Rooms

The Impact of Photography on society and telling the African Story

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by The Moderator 1 Comment

The Octagon: Welcome To The Octagon.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Mo: Hi I’m Muhammad Yahaya , you can call me Mo. I’m an aspiring filmmaker/entrepreneur/inventor-innovator. I love to create, I’m in love with the idea of change and most importantly, sustainable change


Okolo: Hi, my name is Okolo Eboesomi. I run a photography outfit called ArcherConcepts Media which specializes in events photography services.


Solomon: I’m Solomon Abe, Creative Director of AFE Studios, I am a photographer with wedding and portrait photography as my forte, I also shoot other genre too. I tutor and mentor younger aspiring photographers.


Tokunbo: Hi everyone, I’m Ola-Tokunbo Aworinde. In the official photographer at the US Embassy, Nigeria.


Tayo: Hi everyone, I’m Temitayo Ige. I was a commercial photographer, but now it’s only a hobby.


Gideon: Hi Guys, My name is Gideon Gambo, am a Wedding, Lifestyle and Documentary Photographer based in Kaduna/Abuja.

Damilola: Hi , I am Damilola Onafuwa , a documentary photographer


The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Today’s topic is tagged “The Impact of Photography on society and telling the African Story.”

Nigeria and Africa has in last 5 years experienced the sudden emergence of a large number of what we can call pro-amateur photographers as a result of increased access to DSLR cameras and mobile devices with great camera technology. The conversion rate from amateur to professional photography has also spiked in last 2 years as more and more people are learning the necessary techniques and investing in equipment. Some have claimed said that the boom within the entertainment industry has also been responsible for this.

Regardless of the growth in the number of photographers, the African story is still not being told as it should and brands still look to foreign online stock stores to purchase images. It is difficult to find free or royalty images that capture the relevant views of Africa/Nigeria people or elements online.  

Are the people we have generally called pro photographers truly professional ? What are the top challenges pro photographers face in Nigeria?


Okolo: I believe a professional photographer is a photographer who earns most, if not all of his income from photography, and i think the major problem we have is that of specialization. You have one person doing 3-5 different aspects of photography and is all over the place creating poorly produced images.


Solomon: I think that a lot of persons venture into photography these days just to make ends meet, and not because they are passionate about creating great moments. Some of these people, haven’t harnessed the necessary skills as regards telling stories – they  just point and shoot.


Mo: I think they are professionals, and if not have the capacity to be professional. But the understanding of photography as a business is still quite limited. We have to acknowledge that it is an art first, and a business second. That will begin to widen perspective and create a variety of approach to developing a discipline or  a number of disciplines with regards to photography as an art and a business.


Tokunbo: In my opinion, the challenge photographers face at the moment is poor access to quality equipment, particularly due to the difficulty in accessing forex in the country.  As far as the use of the term “professional photographer” goes, I believe the issue is that anyone can call themselves a professional photographer without necessarily passing through a clear and defined curriculum or receiving a certification from a generally accepted authority.


Tayo: I think because there is no regulation of standards, almost everyone with a DSLR calls themselves professionals. If for example there was a level people were to attain before they can be called professionals then it would have been way better.


Tokunbo: This is as a result of the afore mentioned increase in access to DSLRs compared to the days of analogue photography and, more particularly, the better access to information through the internet and better networking and mentoring via social media and other digital platforms. All positives.


Solomon: You very correct, but I don’t think certification is the hallmark, because some people have gone through some programs and are not better than some self-taught or YouTube-taught photographers. I think it’s the ability to create stunning images (consistently) that makes you a pro, not certification.



Tayo: I think the reference to certification is basically about standards. A number of professional photographers do not hone true skills first. They do not find their niche before ‘coming out’


Okolo: I believe art is dynamic, it means different things to different people – What one person may consider bad, is what another will call exceptional. Just as Tayo stated, we should have a reference standard for all who practice the art of photography.


Tayo: As Okolo said, art is a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Mo: Standards are basically judged upon the principles of taste. And  taste is a wide spectrum, maintained only through the audiences/market for it.


The Octagon: More and more people who are taking great strides around the world seem to have been self taught or at least advanced their skill through this process of self teaching. Is it safe to say that anyone who commits over 50% of their time is professional or is it about how the public perceives what they create? or is it about earning a larger % of income from this.


Tayo: I know at least two top photographers that were computer scientists, who are determined not to settle in the field. They have continued to hone their skills over time. For some people, If they’re not driven by the art, then it’s going to be hard to produce stunning images People have undergone years of trainings, under study, one on one work critique, etc and we can see the results of all of that hard work and discipline.


Solomon: A person’s dedication to what he/she does (studying, shooting, post production). When a person dedicates his resources (time and money) into improving himself, then he can be called a professional photographer, it’s not about how much you make from photography, because that could easily be influenced by your marketing strategy.


Mo: Being professional is more about ethics and manners. Presentation. Being skillful however, is a totally different thing. Now when it comes to making a career out of it, I believe you have to be all in, 100%..


Okolo: Being a professional is not only about the % of income, there are other things like time spent on the trade. It’s just like the person who spends 5 yrs in the university, will come out with a BSC in the course of study. It doesn’t end there,  there is a constant self improvement aspect which involves certifications, and inventions. Also, skill and ethics is what differentiates one individual from another. Just like there are engineers who might not know the first thing about building a device. but they have the relevant degree.


Tayo: I agree. There’s skill and the there’s ethics.



The Octagon: How much in your opinion has photography in general (professional or amateur) impacted the Nigerian society?



Okolo: I’d like to answer that based on the different sectors. In fashion and entertainment,  it has played a very significant role in building brands and showcasing our works. However, in other sectors, I’m afraid we have not even scratched the surface.


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One Response

  1. Ife says:

    I’m glad this particular conversation has addressed our photography industry as a whole. I firmly believe that the art of photography drives the passion and in turn the intent. Photographers need to invest as much time, money and energy in honing the craft as they do in trying to earn an income and identify individual purpose within it, then the quality of what is being produced will in prove.

    As far as telling our story through photography goes, we need to place a value on what is ours and appreciate it enough to want to change the narrative. Nigerians (not all) aren’t there yet but there’s hope.

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