Nigerian photographer Emmanuel Asukwo Okwong confesses why he never holds a camera@welEminent

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Some weeks ago a friend called me from church asking if I take passport photographs and of course my answer was “Yes”. He immediately said “ok, so how much is it for 8 copies?” I told him 5000naira. He was so surprised and he said the same thing you’re probably thinking right now: “Is it not passport, I can get 12 for N200 sef.” Of course it is just passport photographs and you can even get 20 for 200 or for free but the question is I’m I just an “ordinary” Photographer.

Sometimes in June, I did a free family portrait session for a potential client and (luckily for me) they loved it! Some days back, I got a call from them asking me to come take pictures for their anniversary and of cause they knew it won’t be free, so I charged them. They were so surprised and they were like “just for pictures? It’s quite expensive we already marketed you to people and if it’s this expensive they won’t call you.” Of course at that point I knew they were not my client!

One reason I hate shooting for free is that the clients might actually not know the worth of what they are getting for free. And it’s sad. You see, not everybody believed the gospel even when heard from Christ himself. They still didn’t drop their nets to follow him. In the same light, we should realize that not everybody is our client.

I hate it when I hear the question “is it not to take pictures?” But I’m glad to answer you here. Of course it’s just to take pictures but I’m not just a photographer. I’m a professional photographer. Not just because I use a professional camera, or because I trained at one of the best photography schools in Nigeria. It’s mainly because I’m different.

I think most photographers believe a camera is a symbol of photography, and as such want to be easily identified with it; in my case, I'd rather be the symbol, than hold it.

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