BY EMMANUEL ASUQUO
Shola Animashaun is one of Nigeria’s leading photographers with exploits dotting the lines in and outside the country. An Accounting graduate turned photographer who specializes in editorial, wedding, event, commercial concert, model and sport photography. He is a member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA) who has five awards to his credit. Shola teaches photography in his photography Academy.
His camera lens has captured great Nigerian acts like Tuface Idibia, P-Square, Don Jazzy and Femi Kuti, just to mention a few. He has equally shot international acts like Akon, Jay-Z, Beyonce , Rick Ross, Rihanna, Chris Brown and so on.
His expertise has earned him big contracts from the Nigerian Telecom giants and this has expanded his clientele from countries like the USA , Brazil , Egypt, Dubai , Adis abba , Barbados and South Africa. The photo genius was on a photography assignment for one of his corporate clients to Brazil at the FIFA World Cup 2014. In this interview, Shola shares the story of his rise to the top, his early life, influences and other vital issues with YOUTHFUL VIBES. Enjoy.
Your journey into the world of photography
My journey into the world of photography started while I was waiting for my call-up letter (NYSC) way back in 2003. I noticed that I could use the waiting period to learn a lot about how to create photographs. My dad had Polaroid cameras while we were growing up and I remembered that all you had to do was take a picture, flip it and you would see the images taken only moment before. I thought about that and believed it will be a good experience if I can document my life as a Youth Corps member.
How was your growing up : family, education and social?
Memories of growing up was beautiful. I grew up in Ilorin with three brothers and two sisters,and had my primary education at Chapel Nursery and Primary school, Ilorin, and my secondary school at St. Anthony’s Secondary school , Ilorin. I studied Accounting while in Kwara State Polytechnic and graduated with HND in Accounting. As regards my social life, I was not the outgoing kind then.
When did you discover your photography potential?
That was when I gave up on photography to pick up a white collar job. Prior to the time, the only thing I was doing with my camera was taking pictures of myself and other Youth Ccorps members while I was serving in Katsina State.
When and how did you venture into full time photography?
I ventured into full time photography in 2006, that was after writing various job aptitude tests and doing several job interviews. I later landed a job with an accounting firm in Abuja but I rejected the offer. I was advised by two of my brothers that it may be a good time to start practising what I’ve been passionate about. So I had a meeting with the Accounting Firm’s CEO and told him that I won’t be able to resume work anymore. He asked me why and I told him that I would like to be my own boss. He wished me well and I left knowing I just burnt my bridge to a white collar job. I decided that I must make photography work for me and by the grace of God, it worked out well.
How did you manage the reactions from quiting a paid job for photography?
Well, some pitied me. I recall seeing one of my neighbours staring at me and shocked when she saw me at a wedding taking pictures. Some believed it can work and even gave me examples of people who had done in photography. You know people always have the opinion of what you should do and if they think you are going astray, they advise you. My mum wanted me to find a white collar job and do photography as a backup.
The journey so far: best and worst moments
The best part of the journey is that it gets better every day, you meet people who need photography services to project their businesses, and when you are able to solve problems with what you do, you are joyful. The worst was when I fell off a bike in Maiduguri while on assignment for a particular client. I still have the scar on my hand.
Assess the industry generally
The industry is growing and there is now an improved appreciation for photography than it was years before when people perceived photographers as nonentities. Now people want to learn the art of photography and even study how viable the industry is. In my opinion it can only get better.
Early and current influences
My early influences in photography includes Ade Plumptre, Kelechi Amadi, Mario Testino and current influences are George Oshodi, Joe Mc Nally, Chase Jarvis, , Trey Ratcliff , Scott Kelby , Philip Bloom, Lori Osterberg, Aaron Nace and so on.
Advise to the Nigerian youths who are interested in photography and those who are already in the business.
Please read widely , research always and share your knowledge and experience. That way you will help other people grow which will impact positively on the industry.