Anthony Obayomi is a fresh graduate of the department of Creative Arts University of Lagos. Anthony is a professional photographer who won the recent Lagos photo festival, winning a cash prize of $10, 000. He shares his thoughts and actions of how he came to become an admired professional photographer in this interview with Vasiti….
Please can we meet you?
My name is Obayomi Anthony, born 24th October 1994. I am a graduate of creative arts, (visual arts major), from the University Of Lagos (2017), I am a Photographer, and I currently live in Lagos.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I have been into visual arts (drawing, painting, etc.) since I was a child, I was also surrounded by a lot of printing houses and small printing press growing up and I think that contributed to my interest in images and how they are created.
Do you have a philosophy in photography practice?
I don’t know if this counts as a philosophy, but the essence of every image for me, is to tell stories, and I love to tell stories that are human centered, that reveal aspects of life that we tend to neglect or overlook in our everyday hustle. I want to tell stories that foster social justice, inspires tolerance among people of different backgrounds and beliefs, also to sort of balance out stereotypes/stereotypical opinions and discrimination.
Can you tell us about life as a professional photographer, especially the years spent as a student?
Just like most people will tell you about their jobs, I wasn’t very easy. Although my parents were very supportive during my years in school, I paid a lot of my fees and funded my stay in school for most of the years from the money i made from shooting for clients. It helped my family concentrate on the needs at home. The job got really intense sometimes, I actually even considered dropping out at several points but I had great support from my family and friends in school, so I was a able to stay through. Even with all the working and absence from classes, I still graduated with an upper credit, so I can say it was worth it.
Do you have a brand?
I believe it is best for an artist to be the face and name of his/her own brand, many people deal with artists based on personality and relationship, same goes for photographers, so Obayomi Anthony, and my face is my brand.
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
Actually it may be obvious that winning the NatGeo portfolio review prize would be my proudest moment as a photographer, but somehow it’s not. I have had many proud moments on the job, and the ones that stand out the most is whenever I finish working with or for someone and they at satisfied that my work was worth paying for. The look of satisfaction on their faces, or the positive feed back is the golden moment for me, I have had many, and those moments are more important that the any money, because they stay with me, especially at times when things may not be working out as I want them. It reinforces the value of my hustle, even when I have finished spending the money they pay me.
Considering the fierce competition in the world of photography, what distinguished you as one?
I don’t know yet if I have been “distinguished” as i have a lifetime of work ahead of me to prove that i deserve the prize. But so far it’s just been consistency. I believe in telling stories that are relevant, and i think the relevance and importance of the story in my folio contributed to getting the prize.
What has been the toughest experience you’ve had as a photographer so far and how did you overcome it?
I have had many tough experiences, Buying equipment is one major problem, the price on these cameras and gear is not for the faint hearted, I have been shooting for years and still can’t afford to buy a new camera, so that is a big deal and the exchange rates don’t even help when you are in Nigeria.
Another challenge has been, dealing with greedy clients who do not want to pay or try to dupe you in anyway they can, it’s painful when you do hardwork and someone feels you don’t deserve the reward for that work.
I’m still working on “overcoming” them, by building on the progress of older and more experienced photographers and with their advice, avoid some of the mistakes they made starting out.
What prompted your entry for the Lagos photo festival?
I actually entered my work for the critic, the review would have helped me improve on my work, even if I didn’t win because the judges would be pros since it was NatGeo.
I saw it on Instagram and then some of my friends sent me several messages about it, so I felt a gentle push to put in.
How did you feel when you found out when you won the award?
When I was called into the board room, I thought I was in top 5 or something like that, so I was expecting things like questions that may qualify me for the next stage. When I was told that I won, I thought they were testing me or joking or something. But when they didn’t say anything else for about 30 seconds or so I realized it was true. I felt really warm inside, I can’t explain it more than that.
You took some very enlightening and beautiful pictures as entries into the competition, what’s the concept behind those pictures?
“Bonafide Squatters”, is a documentary project I started over a year ago. The aim was to tell the story of housing problems in Lagos from a student perspective. I squatted for some years in school, so you could say it was inspired by my own personal experience.
Who is your favorite photographer?
I have many, both in Nigeria and internationally. Tom Saater is one photographer that I study a lot, I follow TYbello, bayo Omoboriowo’s work, Andrew isiebo too. Internationally I have been mentored by Gary Knight, and I sturdy the works of Pete Souza, and photography power houses like Magnum, National Geographic, LensCulture and more, I’m always looking for good work to droll on.
What piece of advice do you have for budding photographers and aspiring entrepreneurs generally?
Lol, I’m also still a budding photographer, but I know one thing that matters no matter your road is consistency, and critic. I can’t remember the number of workshops, seminars and books I have gone through just to keep improving.
So be consistent and show professional people your work, let them criticize it, you may find useful advice in the critic.
What do you think about Vasiti?
I know it’s a website for e-commerce among students, and that is a useful tool for young and budding entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
Thank you Anthony for taking time out of your busy schedule to grace us with this enlightening and motivating interview. It was a pleasure talking to you, keep up the good work!