Bayo Omoboriowo and Tolani Alli are two young photographers making waves at the moment, setting the pace for aspiring photographers and currently changing the perception of photography in Nigeria.
Bayo Omoboriowo is the personal photographer to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammodu Buhari while Tolani Alli is the personal photographer to the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. In a public discussion, the duo reflects on the high and low moments they have experienced so far on their current portfolio.
How Do You Manage Risk And What Risk Have You Encountered On The Job That Really Shook You?
This is a difficult question because it’s quite sensitive but there are definitely risks that occur when am on the field. I mean how do I explain my gadget developing a fault without a prior notice on my arrival at an event. An incident occurred at the burial of Chief Mrs H.I.D Awolowo last year.
While a photographer was documenting me, the lens of my camera fell off, as I attempted to pick it, he photographed me, as I picked it he photographed and he also did when I was fixing the lens back into the camera. So it is not an easy task being the President’s photographer as some people might think.
When people see me disembark from the President’s plane, they might be tempted to think that is all there is to my job. Because usually, more often than not, this is the part people easily take note of, not knowing I sometimes have to take some risks that endanger my life. My tasks becomes even more daunting when I accompany the President on foreign trips because the security at a gathering where one hundred and twenty (120) Presidents are present is expected to be water-tight.
To survive the unforeseen challenges and risks that come along with my job, I discover I need to be battle ready always, so in the event of an unexpected occurrence, I remain unshaken. Now, if my lens breaks, I will find a way, there must always be a way. I have a smaller camera that I always put in my travelling bag, though its small in size but not in price.
So the question is not whether there are challenges but the point is there would always be challenges, but the way they are handled is what differentiates me from others. Among the many risks I also experience is striving hard to take the right pictures at events because of the scores of photographers jostling for the same shoot as me.
What Is The Distinct Role Of A Personal Photographer As Compared To Other Types Of Photographers?
A personal photographer is always connected with the subject, even as a media person, even if you are not photographing a President. If you are documenting a subject, you must be able to read the mood of your subject and that is reason for investing in a personal photographer. A personal photographer must be able to read the mind and mood of his subject as well as activate the use of his discretion. The essence of a personal photographer is the ability to know what the subject needs, when he wants to be photographed. Personal photographers exist because the subjects don’t necessarily need to rely on the images provided by the Press.
There is a general misconception in Nigeria about the pictures of public figures meant to be taken or made. Most people think it’s only images where the subject is smiling or exchanging pleasantries with people that should be taken or shared. However, far from that, there are other important shots which are normally side-lined by photographers, these are shots that reveal deep moments, showcases where the subject is ruminating, being emotional, and tactical. If captured, those are the true moments that are usually relished for a long time.
What Is The Price To Pay As The Personal Photographer To The President Of Nigeria?
There is a whole lot of price to pay, first and foremost, I have to be careful with what I say which is reflected in my images. However, the important thing is to be creative, irrespective of things we have to fight through, I need to creatively create a way out and create something that is creatively creative. (Laughs), I am sounding like a politician abi?
How Do You Cope Being The Personal Photographer To A Governor?
It is a tough one, and a test of loyalty. As much as I claim not to be in politics or that I am not a politician, there is politics in my job and I have to be able to manage it well. A whole lot of efforts go into making sure I capture the real moments of the subject. Therefore, it takes understanding not to only appreciate the eventual outcome off my work but the efforts I commit into making them unique.