Meet Ogun State Born World Class Photographer, 'Dayo Adedayo - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Friday, December 6, 2019

Meet Ogun State Born World Class Photographer, 'Dayo Adedayo

….Says, photography can take 100,000 youth off the street

British trained photographer , ‘Dayo Adedayo, a native of Okeliwo, Ijebu ife, in  Ijebu East Local Government area of  Ogun State, where he had  his elementary and secondary education  is a photographer with panache who is into Documentary Photography. The CEO ‘dayo Adedayo Photography was trained at  Westminster University, United Kingdom  and had embarked on an uncommon adventure which has seen to the publication of a number of books though his  exploits in documenting Nigeria through photography. Nigeria and Nigeria 2.0 stood out among his numerous works through which he has been marketing Nigeria to the world.  The Business Package  had an engaging session with him. Excerpts:

Is photography a big business today?

Photography is not a business. It is a way of life. There is nothing like a business. If you’re looking for money, you don’t go into photography. You hardly  see anybody, even in the whole country,  you can’t  point to anybody that has money when it comes to photography? It is not about money. You don’t have money, but what you have, nobody have it. That is the truth of the matter. And, what is that thing? You capture yesterday and nobody can recreate yesterday. It is in your pocket. You capture history because photography is about capturing the moment and once you captured that, that is it . Forever, nobody can recreate it. And that is what is it is all about. Photography is about loving what you know how to do. It is like a footballer, you don’t pay a J.J Okocha or Kanu Nwankwo to come and play, it is inborn, whether you pay them or not, they will still play. So, if you give them extra money, you’re just making them perform better. So, if you’re looking for money, you should go into Oil and Gas business, Banking or any other profitable ventures.
So, what does photography actually mean to you?

I have always been a history student, so photography to me is history. It is life. It captures things; you see things in a very different way than others. And, in general, photography is the best profession in the world for anybody to venture into because you will see things that people will pay for to see. It is not something that you force yourself to do just because you want to do it. It is just a pity we live in a country where we have no values anymore, everything is based on money and not everything in life is money. The way you do things is just different. But generally, it is the best profession anybody can find himself or herself doing.

Making it big in photography?

Just because Nigeria it is the way it is today, money should not determine a profession. What is money? Money is just a number. You can never have enough of it. So, to me, life shouldn’t be about money. The best things in life are free. And that is not money, so how much do we need? What do we need money for? To eat, to clothe ourselves and move from point A to point B. We can do that being a roadside sweeper without being derogatory. But photography gives you more than that. Because,  you see things, you analyze things and the ways you see things are completely different. It is just that technology had changed everything. In those days, my first experience in the darkroom, you know trying to develop your first film ever, the agitation, the water, looking at an image coming out of paper, and  the smell of the chemicals, it was just like magic. You don’t get that with the advent of technology. Having said that, it is still the best profession in the world because,  you meet different people every day depending on the genre of photography you are doing. If you love adventure, It is beautiful, you capture moments and seasons. You know it’s just like creation; you create something out of love, which is what photography is all about.

Your kind of Photography?

I’m into Documentary Photography but before venturing into that, I use to do social photography. I freelance for Ovation Magazine for a few years but with documentary photography, it gives you the freedom to do what you like to do. It gives you the freedom to pick a subject unlike when you are into social photography, which I consider the poorest of the poor in the photographic genre. In documentary photography, you can do anything you like. You can be creative, as you like.

Is Nigeria ripe for copyright issue in Photography?

Just like everything in Nigeria, we are still in developmental stage and the best way to do that is, you can’t be a lawyer without going to law school neither will you be a doctor without going to medical school and or be an accountant without going to study accounting. Photography is the only profession whereby you think that by holding a camera, you are now a photographer. It doesn’t work that way. No matter how good you are, in school, they will not just teach you how to take pictures, there is the business aspect if it which a lot of people do not understand. That is why you see a lot of people not making the kind of money they should make because they don’t understand the business of photography. With education, you know your right. For example, you don’t just take someone’s portrait and begin to make use of it anyhow and that happens a lot in our society. So, if you are asked to come and photograph, if you take a picture which is meant for people’s homes, all of a sudden, the following day, you start seeing it all over the place in the newspapers and billboards and things like that, people use it to campaign, you know when it has gone beyond what they commissioned you to do. So, they have to pay you something. Things should be properly put in place and without education, it is really tough. Whatever we do in life, we should always have an education, that’s my side of the story.

Is photography your childhood dream? 
No, I stumbled on it really. It wasn’t something that I woke up one day to say I wanted to do. I’m a very shy person; people will find that very hard to believe. Those that know me will say ‘dayo, you’re lying. But, it started when I was eighteen when my elder sister gave me a camera as a birthday gift. I started taking pictures without knowing that this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. So, by the time I became an adult that’s what I kept doing. Since, I have known myself. I have never given any of my close friends or family members physical money on their special occasions. Usually, I give them pictures or framed pictures as gifts. You know if you give someone money, if you give out one million dollars, they might end up not knowing what they spent the money on, but if you give them picture(s) it will be there forever. Even, if I am not alive anymore, you will still say, Oh! ‘dayo gave me this.  It started from there and that’s how I started on a very low level of social photography, then it got to a point where I said I need to know more about this thing. So. I decided to go to school. I started as an amateur. There is more to photography than weddings and portrait pictures.

Education Background?

I studied abroad actually. I went to one of the best universities for photography in the United Kingdom,University of Westminster. You know in the U.K, each University is known for a profession. The University of Westminster is among the top three that is known for photography. I did my National Diploma in photography at the Westminster College in Battersea, London. University is not the best place for you to start photography; it is more theoretical than practical. My training at the Westminster College helped me a lot at the university, if not, I would have struggled. It was very competitive to get into the University of Westminster; you have to have a serious body of work, as we don’t do exams. I will advise people to go to proper school. For instance, Auchi Polytechnic is offering a course in photography. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria. My OND was in photography and my higher degree was in Photographic Arts. I intend to go back to school one day, my dream is to have a PhD to be known as a doctor of photography. 

Your photographic Projects, books and all that?

"Nigeria 2.0" is my last book and the best because your last work will be your best.  All of my books are pictorials. I’m a Photographer. It’s just telling the story of Nigeria with pictures. The truth of it is that we have seen Nigeria, but how many people are even opportune to have seen the vast landmass of Nigeria, the waterways, the vegetation, the landscape across the country to tell the story. Conservatively, those of us that have been opportune to see virtually everything we are less than a million out of the 200 million people. 

So, I should count myself as very being lucky. But coming to my books, there is no better way to build the legacy for generations yet unborn because of those who were there before us with the exception of Sunmi Smart-Cole who must have written like three or four books, none before him does. You can see the way we were before. Then, SHELL did a book about Nigeria. It wasn’t that comprehensive as mine. They got most of their images from the Niger Delta because that’s where they operate. There is nothing much actually.  

There is this other one by National Geographic which is even less than that of SHELL. There is someone I respect so much, even though we’ve met only once, George Oshodi, he is the master of the Niger Delta. There is nowhere in the Niger Delta that George Oshodi hasn’t been to, all the nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta. So, I doff my hat for him. I think he has two books on photography about the Niger Delta.  There is also Uke Ude who is based in the United States of America. He is a portrait photographer and his book is wow!. 

I have all of these books I am talking about. You know, I have to do a lot of research on my work to see what other people have done. I am going to be very modest. I will say I am the first Nigerian ever that has done what I did solely to photograph Nigeria comprehensively. Nigeria 2.0 is the 2nd edition actually. My first edition was simply named ‘’Nigeria’’. We’ve sold out of that. We’ll soon sell out of 2.0. I will say 1.0 even did much better than 2.0, because it was the first of its kind, and I was actually surprised by the reception which propelled me to do 2.0. 

From my experience across Nigeria, it is not as bad as people think  it is.  It is because we don’t know ourselves and I want this on records. I wish I have access to the President. There should be a consumption tax of nothing less than N500,000.00 during the summer holidays for people going out of the country. Let us know ourselves, what are the main challenges we have in the country, unemployment, security, lack of infrastructure etc.  The major cause of all this is education. Without education, there is no way we are going to know ourselves. With education, comes knowledge and education is not just about going to school to have a certificate.

It goes beyond that because according to an African adage ‘if you don’t travel, you’re going to be married to your neighbour’. So, the tension we have in the country is because we don’t know one another at all. All of these things are based on perception and we are wrong after all. The Igbos believe they are the best. The South-South people believe they are the ones feeding Nigerians; they want to take back their oil and be living like the Arabs. The Hausas believes they are the best in terms of administration. The Yorubas believe they are the most educated, sophisticated and truly in charge of the economy of the country and can stay on their own.  At the end of the day, because we’ve not been opportune to go into each other’s territory and know each other, the politicians use this all the time to divide us. My postulation is that, this country should be shut down for two weeks once in a year completely, nobody is working, go on holiday, then if you’re going abroad during those two weeks, each person will pay N500,000.00 on the consumption tax. What we will get is, we will move across regions. 

Prior to that time, the manufacturers will have the best of their sales because people are travelling back to where they came from; some other people are going to other parts of the country. There will be massive productions in the factory. And once they come back from holiday, you know we have to start all over again for the New Year. That is aside the other holidays. I’m talking from personal experience of what I have seen in Nigeria. The average Nigerian is the best human being you come across in the world. I’ve been to several countries in my life and have interacted with people a lot. The average Nigerian does not see tribal marks. They do not know the cap you’re putting on. They do not know whether you speak any native language or not. All they want in their lives are peace, money, shelter and food. 

Government has no business building roads, building rails and airports across the country. The government should rather provide the enabling environment for investors to bring in their own money to provide these infrastructural deficits. Then, the government should now spend money that should be spent on infrastructure on education and health, to develop the citizens. That is the only way we can develop this country. In ten years, Nigeria can become a changed country. From my experience in Nigeria, Borno state alone can feed Nigeria without blinking  and sell excess food to other West African countries. 

We are talking about rice, by the time you take Kebbi, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, they can feed the whole of Africa. But because we don’t travel, those who are in Lagos believe they are the best, those who are in Kano believe that there is no one as good as them. For me with my profession, what I have seen in Nigeria, no amount of money can pay for it. 

Creating employment through photography?

Yes, opportunities are all over the place. If I’m to break it down, let me just use one small example. How photography can easily take about conservatively 50,000-100,000 people off the streets. I will start with the Presidential Villa, Abuja. It is only in Nigeria that you will cordon off, government or public places for people not to get in. The State House in Abuja can easily conservatively take 1,000 people off the street. How? You will have nothing less than 100 photographers working in that environment, taking pictures of tourists. There will be people selling foods, drinks, memorabilia and what have you, across the villa environ. And if you look at the value chain, you will have nothing less than 5,000 people. This is being conservative. That can happen when you look at the value chain. If you do that at the FCT, you can now replicate that 37 times, across the country including the FCT. You will look at the State House in Ogun state, Lagos state, Zamfara, all the way from Abia to Zamfara State etc. 

But, the way we are is that everything is just cordoned off from the people that are paying those who are there. It’s like a cult session. You don’t know what’s going on there. Meanwhile, it belongs to the people. So, imagine, you replicating that across the country if it is done in a very decent manner, so it’s not that you’re going into the President's office or you’re going into the Governor’s bedroom. There are places where you can’t reach. If you don’t work in any of the government houses, you will not even know how it looks like. For me, it is of no consequences because you’re only there temporarily, at worst four years, at best  eight years, someone else will come whether you like it or not. If that person open it off, what are you blocking. 

I have been opportune to photograph some Governors in their offices and that has always been my discussion. ‘Oga’, why are you blocking these things off? And these things are in the public domain. I've never had any incursion into those places because of my work and this is what people want to see. How do we inspire the younger generation? Oh! I've seen the Villa! They will now be inspired to say I want to be the President, I want to be this, I want to be that. Then number two, we do not have the art market organized in Nigeria; we need large organized art  market, in Nigeria. 

They're still scattered all over the places. There should be a daily market or weekend market where you know a certain area you can go and access artistic material. Like Abeokuta, you have a cultural centre, where photographers, artists can come and display their wares. And you know they will be there on Mondays, Tuesdays or Saturdays and Sundays. You know a particular day of the week, so those who are interested in that kind of business will know they have to go and source for their art materials. 

Between professional and amateur photographers?

Our photographers behave anyhow due to lack of education. I watched the investiture of awards on MKO Abiola, Gani Fawehinmi and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe last week. Looking at photographers running up and down, I said to myself, this is a security nightmare. There is no training, the media houses don’t buy the right equipment for these men and women and in the absence of it, what you get is chaos. You are going for a state function, where you know you can’t get close to the Governors or the President; you will be cordoned to a particular place. It is not even the sanity but solemnity of  the event. The very good example you made about Harry and Meghan. You hardly see any photographer, but, the event was very well captured. The only person since I’ve been in Nigeria that has done something close to Harry and Meghan is the current Vice President, Professor ‘yemi Osibanjo. During the wedding of his daughter, nobody was allowed in with cameras, even phones were taken away from people. That is the way state functions are done. An image can damage four or eight years of good work. So what do you now do? You control those images, the ones you want the public to see is the images you put into the public. 

Working with Ovation?

Oh! We met at a wedding in London. I was covering a wedding and it has always been my dream to work for Ovation. If you have any event and Ovation didn’t cover it, you have to do your event again. I always envy their lead photographer then, Bodise Wilson.  I didn’t even know the guy was a Nigerian, as you cannot put his name as one. Eighty per cent of photographs in Ovation in those days till 2002 was by him.  This is how I joined Ovation. There was this wedding in London, the couple commissioned me, Ovation was also there to cover the event as it was a big society wedding. Dele Momodu saw the way I was working and he was impressed with my attitude to work. We talked and the rest they say is history. 

In the spate of a few years, I saw things that people will take their life to see. I used four passports to travel in less than two years travelling the world. There was a particular incident I will never forget in my life. I came in from Spain that day; I went to photograph Barcelona Football Club when Patrick Kluivert was at the top of his game. As I was arriving at Heathrow airport after about four days away, I got another call from Mike Effiong that Mr Adedayo, we’ve been trying to get you. I said I was airborne sir, then he said ‘‘you have to go to America, go pick and pick up your ticket at the British Airways desk’. I went to America , to North Carolina , did a week there, then I came back to London again and there is another job waiting for me, I have to  fly to Germany. For  about a month, I was practically living in the sky. And, it was a business class all through. Dele Momodu will buy business class tickets and lodge me in the best hotel money can get. He will always say, it is when you are comfortable, no stress that you can take very good photographs and don’t forget to use your Mamiya. I went to America, North Carolina, did a week there to do some work, came back to London again and another is waiting for me. I had to fly to Germany. I was living in the sky for like two months. It was a wonderful and beautiful experience. 

The story of Dele Momodu has not been told. Every time I read negative things about him, I just wonder the kind of people we have in this country. He has helped so many small and medium businesses in this country that he himself do not know what he has done for people. But the Ovation story has not been told. People just see a celebrity, they see things and just think it is easy. The ‘Bob D’ that I know hardly sleeps up to four or five hours a day, he is always on the road with four or five phones looking for exclusive stories and going places where his contemporaries would ever think of. For a brand that came from nowhere to be known across the globe, he deserves a national award. 

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, because of the kind of politics we play, people who do not have anything before going into politics become very rich and you just think they are better than someone who created something out of nothing. Ovation took me around the world. It exposed me to what I wouldn’t have been able to see. Ovation took me to the top. This I will eternally be grateful to Dele Momodu for. I will sing his praises any day and any time I have the opportunity to do so because a river that forgets its source will dry up. I call him an angel living on planet earth. 

Younger generations?

There are too many brilliant guys that are even better than us in every way. We have too many younger ones who are doing fantastically well. They are too numerous to mention. The best social photographer in Nigeria today is Ademola Olaniran. You can google him and see his works. In photography, everyone has his own form. When you talk about weddings and portraiture, write it down, nobody beats Ademola Olaniran. Demola is under forty and he is doing fantastically well. You also have Aisha Kuta, she is from Kebbi and she is into Documentary Photography. There is also Bayo Omoboriowo, Blaze Otokpa, Tolani Alli and several others young and upcoming photographers that I pray will be better than all the previous generations put together to make Nigeria great.

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