Benita Nnachortam is a young photographer who tells visual stories with her photographs and she is also a photographer to the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun. She is an inspiring young artist who is sure that where she is today is preparing her for something bigger in the future.
Meet Ben Teller.
Can you tell us your name and a bit about yourself?
My name is -Benita Nnenna Nnachortam- but for my work I go by -Ben Teller. I am 22, a graduate of International Law and Diplomacy, Babcock Uni and I served at Ministry of Justice while working partime as a Photo Studio Manager. Asides photography I’ve worked as a radio presenter while serving.
At what stage in your life did you decide it was photography for you?
The art in me for most of my life had been underutilised …by 2010/2011 i became fond of using the phone camera ( i remember nokia c7) i was in school then and sometimes female friends would leave their rooms or hostel just to come meet me at mine for a phone photograph…it could be their phone or mine as long as i was the one shooting it. Close friends noticed and one advised i take a step further by training on photography. By 2012 i started using proper cameras and i haven’t let go since then.
Did you get any training at all in photography?
I look out for the best, but i start with whatever opportunities i have got …I tried to get training from TYBello through Wimbiz Office in Lagos, but they called and she had enough interns…i tried a couple more including Camara studios, didnt work …lastly i walked up to a “baba foto” down my street and said i’ll work without pay as long as i get to learn, that was my first. Soon a more luxurious photographer picked interest in me and i worked with her for free when on break…till i graduated ……
Which photographers have influenced you?
In no order – Tom Saater, Yagazie Emezi, Andrew Esiebo, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, HKB FiNN , Bayo Omoboriowo, Tobe Ifeanyi, Uche Okpa Iroha, Emeka Okereke, TY bello, Pete Souza, Tolani Ali, Kelechi Amadi Obi. But i’m mentored by HKB FiNN a visual artist who ensures i don’t waste my youth by making dumb decisions. Apart from practise and work experience…I’ve participated in Kelechi Amadi Obis Fashion Photography workshop sponsored by Diamond TV of Diamond Bank. I also reached a good point in documentary photography after travelling to 16 States around Nigeria with Diamond Tv and Invisible Borders …for the #discovernigeria #borderswithin2016 projects see hashtags for photos and more or visit www.diamondroadtrip.com.
Currently, you’re documenting the Governor of Ogun State, how has it been so far?
Lately i picked interest in Bayo Omoboriowo’s work after the road trip i attended the Photographer’s Collage workshop by John Tripod in Abuja and he liked my work. Many things have happened in my career mostly short term projects but all have led and prepared me for where i am now. How has it been so far- a great learning experience, i know its a preparation for something else in the future but in the mean time its challenging and I like it. I try not to let it get to my head, i stay out of politics, focus on the work and keep going…i miss my mum sometimes and I cry secretly when i’m bullied, but i keep going.
For how long have you been doing this?
I’ve been doing this since late October …God got me here, God will lead me through…thats the truth behind where i am. If i leave it out, its all lies.
What advice would you give a budding documentary photographer?
Go Out! But before you do aim to make a picture that informs the viewer.
Can you tell us a few challenges face Documenting for an executive Governor?
These Executives are busier than we imagine – So i’m learning to be ever ready. Its like having your life on stand by.
Is there like a group of photographers who document the Governor or is it just you?
I am not in any group. …however I met 2 photographers here.
You were at Bayo Omoboriowo’s book reading some days back. How long have you known Bayo and how has he inspired you?
I’ve known Bayo since July 2016…Bayo is truly passionate about His craft and his light only affects you if you get close. Let me put it this way “He is a believer, He sees more than just ‘snapping’ pictures and I believe that too” seeing him fly with that attitude is very inspiring….Plus he listens, he is interested in your improvement and makes sacrifices to support you…that sounds like inspiration and more to me.