Meet Benita, a Photographer with a Touch of Class and Panache - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Friday, December 6, 2019

Meet Benita, a Photographer with a Touch of Class and Panache

Benita, popularly known as Ben Teller is an upwardly mobile Nigerian Youth who is passionate about positive engagement for the Nigerian teeming youth population through her pet project called KUTA. Benita a graduate of Babcock University and she shoots her images with high sense of professionalism and panache. She speaks with The Business Package on her pet project, KUTA, what photography means to her, how she creates her image and her unique photographic style.


Who is Benita or Ben Teller?

I am Benita Nnachortam Nnenna, a daughter, sister, friend and young Leader. I'm also a passionate creative, Visual Artist and Story teller and founder of Ben Teller Media a Start Up Media Company that focuses on covering and telling stories of Programs, Projects and people that promote social Values and development.

You were a graduate of Babcock University, Ilishan, which course did you study and what is the correlation between what you studied in school and photography which you now choose as a vocation?

I studied international Law and Diplomacy; I was also pursuing a Diploma in Criminology and Security Studies but couldn’t continue due to accreditation complications with the Department. 

There isn’t much of a correlation speaking academically, however the University was where my love for story telling was discovered, I was no longer with my parents so no one to make sure I wasn’t doing something creative (what my parents used to fear will lead me to wretchedness) so when my phone camera became a tool of creative expression and I was good at it, by 2012 I started working as a trainee in a photo studio down my street during the holidays, thanks to friends who saw the potential of becoming a “Ty Bello”

The biggest take away from school was becoming aware of the global impact we make by the day to day activities in our immediate environment.

What does photography mean to you?

Creative Expression, Communication and medium of service.

How do you create your images and how do you arrive at those unique and incredible shots?

Being thoughtful is a big part of my creative process, I always have to understand and remind myself why I'm covering a certain event and most of the time I think about my images before making them, factors like composition, lighting, equipments and moment determine if a shot comes out remarkable or not, but consistency and patience with the work is key. I shoot nearly everyday but I only get outstanding images once in a while. I stay on it.

Photography today is big business, what has changed in photography between the period it was relegated and now?

Photography has changed much but not really, in one way it has changed considering the level of public acceptance, today the term photography is relatable to the average global citizen, for example if a non-professional photographer wants to purchase a Smart Phone, the quality of the camera becomes a criteria to buy it or not. Other times people want phones with larger memory size not because of the numbers they want to save but due to the largess of visuals they wish to store on their phones.

The current social-dynamics surrounding the photography industry has also increased demand for professional photography services with a handsome pay to follow. This happens in different groups/sectors of the society, whether family, church, institutions, private or public organisations e.t.c. The new era craves for more and more of visual communication and innovation is getting us there and beyond.

Despite the trend, photography hasn’t changed much in the sense that it still is about making images and preserving moments, this is what it was from the very beginning and what will continue to be at the core of the act.

What is your impression about photography today and its possible contribution to socio- economic development of the country?

Like I mentioned earlier Photography has a wider acceptance and demand in today's world. The reason however is because of the impact images have on the society, have you heard of the term Visual Culture? What we see daily become a big part of our culture, i.e way of life. Photography today involves using photographs as an informant, a mind changer, an architect of perception and more. It is at the centre of our everyday interaction. The photography industry speaking locally, generates revenue as the visual artists do their work well, their clientele become better represented, supported, “liked” or patronised, the country for instance is better represented today in the international scene than it was years ago, though this also comes with the bad but to a large extent you can say Photography today boosts the Tourism industry and builds the faith of any investor into a relationship/partnership or business.

It is part of our day to day socio-economic activities, it only takes the observant to notice this, remember the last time you went to a party, project or program whether private or public without seeing a photographer ? I don’t either, the fact is no one would invest in such a service daily if it adds no value to them even financially.

How do you come in contact with the Ogun State Governor,  Senator ibikunle Amosun and what has been your experience working with him so far?

One day Bayo Omoboriowo walked into his residency (John Tripod House) in Abuja, and while I was working on the study desk, he said something like “Benita, hope you’ve packed your things? “and when I asked why He said “You’re going to Ogun State”. I thought he was being funny but Bayo had me in mind for a job recommendation and it happened.

I am privileged to be serving as a Special Assistant & Official (Personal) Photographer to H.E. Senator Ibikunle Amosun (CON, FCA) The Governor of Ogun State. This is no small thing as it goes beyond "taking pictures" The photographs I make do not only feed the perception or inform indigenes of Ogun State, Citizens of Nigeria and the World at Large on current activities of a Statesman and it's no. 1 office of the state, it also forms a visual archive that embodies the history of a Leader. This is capturing, communicating & documenting a Legacy in the making and I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

I believe the Visual Documentary on the Governor and his journey as a leader of a state helps strengthen the communication bridge between the Governor and his people, Nation and the World at Large. I must also note that working with H.E has taught me so much, he redefines what 100% of a person is, you think you’re doing your 100% he makes you realise you’re on 30 and motivates you to push further. At the end of the day you learn that you’re capable of doing better than your best in service.

Tell us about your pet project KUTA, what is the philosophy behind and what programmes have been executed so far through it?

Kuta is a rising Art community in Ogun State Nigeria giving contemporary artists a platform to express themselves and impact  their community as they speak through art.

The initiative was conceived by Ben Teller Media and lovers of Art in Abeokuta Ogun State who seek to give Art more presence to enrich the creative industry of Ogun State.

In April 22 Kuta had its first gathering in Abeokuta, involving Mentors sharing knowledge with aspiring and contemporary visual artists and encouraging them in their creative endeavours and a lot more has happened since then see.

The Art Community brings hope of retaining culture through art and engaging creatives in lucrative ventures. It's the first of its kind in the ancient and rapidly transforming city of Abeokuta welcoming members across various institutions and works of life in Ogun State and beyond.

Late last year KUTA sought to provide a space for creatives to meet, network, have access to internet, create, learn and more. Today we have a Place called NEST by KUTA which is an ingenious space in the heart of the Rock City, founded for Creatives to Network, Co-work and engage in creative exercises. NEST also provides residency.
The space is open to players of all industries (no strict restrictions) within and outside the community – with focus on collaborating with innovators to run a sustainable ecosystem.

How can art be positively used to transform the life of the youths?

A quote by Victor Pinchuk on our website says “Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” This is true for KUTA. We believe and know that the Transformation of any individual may be seen outwardly but it truly starts from the inside, from shifting mindsets and breaking the ideologies that fuel old norms. If anyone truly wants to make a change in our society even among youths they shouldn’t focus on their actions alone, this is rather reactive, instead they should focus more on what informs the youths today and at the same time engage them in creative ventures by creating such an environment for them. e.g galleries, art centres, recreational parks, and events like art festivals, talent shows, games and more.

Art is more than just painting on a canvas or sculpting a statue, Art is the product of creativity and quest for innovation, it inspires any ordinary man to be intelligently productive.

Are you worried about the negative disposition of the youths in terms of descent to crime and negative engagement?

I am more than sick of it, I am disgusted, perplexed and grieved to hear the level of indecency brewing among youths especially here in Ogun state, such that goes beyond the physical, do you get me? Negative engagement has levels and when it start of involving the metaphysical; mental and spiritual I perceive it to be on an extremely troubling level. To worsen matters, people are beginning to accept these acts as a norm and who am I to blame youths who do not know any better? Our generation is one in need of Fathers, leaders who truly listen to desires of youths are our hope of raising youths that are directed towards making positive impact on their environment.

Most recreational outfits here that attract youths are “toxic” and emitting negative vibes if you ask me.  There needs to be a “state of emergency” approach to creating ventures such as Innovation hubs, Recreational Parks, Galleries and more to counter negative engagement among the youths.  Youths desire a way to put their emotions into movement or product and Art is part of the answer to that.

You attended a United Nations conference recently, what is it about and what was the take away?

The 2018 Winter United Nations Youth Assembly Summit was themed Innovation and Collaboration for a Sustainable World. Youths from all over the world gathered for this but my own mission was to learn how Young Leaders involve Arts and Culture in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030). It was a life changing experience for me and it made me more aware of the fact that no one will hand us the change we need, not even the United Nations they rely on people like you and me to lead where we are and do what is necessary to make the change we desire to happen. After my trip I made up my mind to work harder and smarter on the KUTA mission and stay longer than I had initially planned to stay in Ogun state even after my job under this present administration is over.

Your advice to the youths?

Find essence:  You were made, placed where you are and gifted with certain attributes for a reason. Find your purpose and please while at it do not subscribe to the confusing philosophies of men, turn to your Maker because no one knows a thing better than it’s creator. For me after I found my purpose in God’s plan, through faith in the Christ, everything about my life made sense, everything.

If you are a creative in Ogun State and environs I urge you to follow @kutanigeria on social media platforms and be a part of the community & movement  - #supportcreativity

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