By Ajagbe Blessing Oyinkansola
I had known since when I was 12 years old that I wanted to be a photographer. The way the photographer had the power to freeze a beautiful moment was amazing and I loved it. The problem was, dad said he would rather die than allow me to do ‘wait and get’. That was how he saw photography, but it was bigger than that. Obviously, he didn’t get it. His dream was for me to become a lawyer and him being my father, he actually made to study law at university of Ilorin. He could make me study law, but he couldn’t take away the love I had for photography. Dad told me that I had to choose between becoming a lawyer and making him proud or, becoming a photographer and him disowning me. It was a tough decision I had to make, but I had to go with my heart. You should by now know the option I went for. If you guessed the second one, you have won yourself one million naira. Yay! On a serious note, I chose the second option and from that day, I, Kikelomo, was disowned. My mum didn’t have a say in any of this. She had to agree with dad because she didn’t want to lose her marriage. Dad threatened to divorce her if she took sides with me. So, I was left alone to the cruel and hard city of Lagos with just myself and my Canon camera.
My younger sister, Yemisi, was the Apple of dad’s eye. She was studying medicine in Unilag. Dad loved her to death and he could do anything for her. As far as he was concerned, she was his only daughter. I was a mistake that should never have happened. It’s hard to believe how a father could hate his daughter so much just because she was following her heart and not his. Anyway, Yemisi was turning 21 and she was throwing a party and she wanted me to come. Even though Yemisi was Daddy‘s girl, she didn’t have a problem with me following my dream. In fact, she was proud of me. From time to time we texted or called to find out about each other. I didn’t want to disappoint her, but there was no way I was going to that house. She could have organized that party anywhere but at home. I hadn’t been in that house since five years ago when I was thrown out like a piece of trash. I wasn’t ready to face dad and even mum. As a good mother, she would have supported me no matter what, but, no, she left me to suffer on my own.
Making it in Lagos is not as easy as people think o. Unless you know someone at the top or you have a lot of luck on your side, you will be anywhere but up. I remember when I had nothing to eat. I mean nothing. Not even garri. My sister, it was tough. I was living in a ‘face me I face you’ in Ikorodu. That place was disgusting. The foul smell of the gutters around were enough to fill you for the day. I began to see myself as the biggest idiot for leaving my comfort zone to a death zone, all because of ‘my dream’ that wasn’t even getting me any where. Was it even worth it? Maybe I would have been one of those big lawyers if I had followed dad’s will because he had plenty of connections. But, I had come too far to even think of giving up. So, I kept pushing. Going from one event to another looking for people who wanted to have their pictures taken. Those who said that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and ‘there is a light at the end of the tunnel’, weren’t wrong at all. It took four years of doing ‘wait and get’ to be noticed. I went to a wedding like I did every Saturday. Like any of the kind of my photographers would do, I asked a woman if she wanted me to take pictures of her and her family. Luckily, they did and I took their picture. It didn’t take that long before I had edited and printed out the pictures. Finding the family was a problem. They weren’t at th place I had left them. Looking for them was going to be difficult. You know how Nigerian weddings are na. It took me 45 minutes to find them. Just for 200 naira pisure. I don suffer. I saw their little son running around, stopped him and he led me to his parents. I handed the woman the picture and she showed it to her husband.
“This is nice”, he complimented. The woman nodded in agreement.I smiled. All my years of being in photography, no one had ever said my work was ‘nice’. That alone brought back all the hope I needed.
“Where’s your studio?” The woman asked.Studio. My one room apartment was my studio. Lol. I didn’t tell her that, I simply told her that I didn’t have a studio which was true.
“It doesn’t matter”, she told me. “You are a talented photographer. Why don’t you come to my office on Monday. We could use your talent”. She opened her purse and brought out her company card which she handed to me. That was when I knew who she was. The one and only Loibdressy. She was one of the biggest fashion designers in Nigeria. Wow! She looked much prettier in person. From what I had read, her story was kind of similar to mine. Her father was a pastor and he saw fashion as ‘a waste of time’.
Unlike my own father, he didn’t disown her. He let her be to see what she could make of it. It wasn’t easy, but she was able to prove him wrong.
I tried so hard to keep my composure, but I couldn’t help grinning like a little child who had just been given her favourite candy. I didn’t even know when I hugged her. So much for trying to keep my composure.
To cut the long story short, that was how I got my breakthrough. I went to her office on Monday and she told me that she loved for me to work for her as her company’s (Loibdressy) photographer. Without thinking once, I agreed. Who wouldn’t agree to such an offer? Anyone who had gone through what I had gone through wouldn’t think twice. My people, that was how I became Loibdressy’s photographer and from there a door of other opportunities opened for me.