By Daniel Alfred
Photography in recent times has been transformed to a laudable career but to many, it still remains the roadside kind of job and business for the layman. This is following its initial practice where individuals disregard its practitioners.
But today, the case is different because photography has began to command so much respect despite the fact that so many in the business never passed through the four walls of a classroom.
In the case of John Kelechi Nmadueke popularly known by friends as ‘John the Beloved and not the Beheaded’, a nickname given to him from the story of John the Baptist in the Bible which he uses on stage as a musician.
Speaking on his life as a photographer, he said he is indeed a photographer but has taken photography as a hobby as he only uses it to sponsor himself and his music
The young man in his early thirties recounts his earlier days before venturing into the world of photography as he describes his life as a life God is specially interested in.
According to him, “It all started in 1999 when I first came to Lagos, I knew no one and was going to nobody’s house. I left the village for Port-Harcourt and later to Lagos. On getting to Lagos, where the bus I boarded stopped me was where I began my life.
I hawked water on the streets and went around with touts just to make a living because I knew no one until I was able to get in contact with a church where I played instrument, that was how life for me kicked off.
I learnt to survive in a world of no mother and father having left them in the village to find a life more favourable in th city.
As for my photography skills, I didn’t learn it from anybody. It all started when I lost my job, then I was working with a company but later began to have problems with the company and I was hearing the voice of God telling me to quit the job and start up my music (Gospel).
After my resignation, I had nothing doing then so I was looking for something to do but to no avail. God finally used my former Pastor who gave me a picture camera. The camera was bad and he asked me to see if I could put it together and if I could, I should go ahead and take it.
So, I collected it, repaired it, tested and found it was good. I took a shot with it, printed it out and it was good. That became the beginning of photography in my life as I have ever since used it to cater for myself.”
Notwithstanding the fact that everything about life is full of challenges, he never failed to recount his as the cruel intimidation he faced from other photographers being, that he started photography from the scratch and knew little about the business
“ I never served anyone and never went through any training.
I just had the belief that I could do it myself and I believed that God will help me and that I can do it through Christ and ever since, I have been meeting different kinds of people in the business.
Some were kind enough to explain certain things to me while some bullied me, saying that they spent a whole lot of money learning and have not come to teach someone else for free.
I tried as much as possible in the midst of humiliation to make sure I got something good, so that at the end of the day, people will see my job and accept it.
And now, the sky is not even my limit because right now as I speak, the business, I mean the wait-and-get kind of photography popularly known as PA-PA-PA in the Yoruba language, has helped me in raising enough money to facilitate my music as well as put food on my table. I thank God for the Pa-pa-pa, it really helped me a whole lot and most times it is where I get money to do other things.”
Speaking on his income rate on daily basis, he said: “At times I make a lot of profit because one thing about the wait-and- take kind of photography is being courageous.
We make a lot of profit from the business and in most cases, the reverse is the case. And when you use analogue camera with film inside, you can use up about eight rolls and that day you will make about N20,000 as profit, that is if God is really on your side.
But at times you lose because it is a game of risk. Most times when you come across an event where you have too many photographers, you will struggle and may end up snapping only one roll which might end up giving you about N3,000, though at times you end up not making any profit. It is just a game for the brave.
We have to shuttle from the place of event to the lab and most times the labs are not usually very close to the place of event. And because you don’t want to lose out, you must take the risk involved to make sure you get the pictures to the owners before the end of that day’s event. At times when we get to the lab and the lab is filled up, we have no choice than to accept whatever happens.”
“We usually don’t get invites for events, we just search for places where events are taking place and we just start snapping.
If the people like you, they will patronise you and if not, you keep trying. The business is really not an easy one and despite the fact that it is just a hobby for me, I don’t think I will give it up at all. Rather, when I become famous, I will like to establish the business in a bigger way and use it to support my musical career,” he said.