Her face lights up when she is called the next big revelation in Nigeria’s photogrpahy space. She was so determined to learn the art that she started taking pictures with a 2MP camera android phone. Sekinah Adeyemi, a mechanical engineer by training, is passionate about photography and is training her lenses on sights and scenes that will make her a global household name. Currently working as a business analyst at the strategy department of leading energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, Sekinah in this interview, speaks about the critical role photography can play in climate protection and how Sahara provides an environment that empowers her to pursue her dream
How did you get into photography?
I started my photography journey with phone photography as a fresher in the university in 2012. I had started with a 2MP android phone, after which I ported to a Samsung S4 zoom (a phamera- phone & camera) with which I was able to explore much more of photography. At the beginning of 2015, there was a photography challenge (helloproject2challenge) that I participated in and it brought out my creative side. I was fortunate enough to win the cash prize that came with the second stage of the challenge and that was what motivated me to continue photography. Later in 2015, I attended a photography conference (NiPHEC) which was a major stepping stone into my photography career. At the conference, I learnt most of the basics of photography that I know today and I met a number of great photographers who encouraged me to continue with photography even though I didn’t have a professional camera. After the conference I did a project with my ‘phamera’ tiled – Everyday Unilag which was aimed at showing people the campus of university of Lagos from another perspective. In 2016, I got my first camera and then interned with a photography team (The Look trademark) where I got the necessary experience practicing photography professionally. Currently, photography is a second profession for me; on days I am not in the office, I am viewing the world through my lenses.
Which photographers would you consider as your role models?
I have a number of role models, majorly Nigerians because they have been able to shape the photography industry locally beyond just their works but through their intentionality in building the next generation of photographers in Nigeria. Photographers like Seun Akisanmi, Aisha Augie Kuta, Bayo Omoboriowo, TY Bello, Ademola Olaniran amongst others have played a major role in shaping my photography career directly and indirectly. Beyond their highly inspiring works, their professionalism is one which has greatly changed my perspective about photography over the years.
Engineering or photography which is your first love?
This is a tough one, but I think engineering is still my first love. If I could love both of them equally, I will.
What role do you think photography can play in shaping development narratives?
Photography is a very strong tool. It can drive positive change when used rightly, but if used otherwise can have a negative impact. If photographers use their works to drive/promote the right issues affecting our world today, it can spur up initiatives and positive action towards addressing key challenges in the society today. For instance, photographers can help drive the movement on the SDGs, by taking up photography projects to show the current challenges and why it is imperative people act on the goals. This can in turn galvanise people to act towards achieving these goals.
Do you have plans for an exhibition to showcase your works?
I plan to do so in the nearest future. I have a number of things I would like to do before I have my first exhibition.
How does your employer Sahara Group support your passion for photography?
At Sahara Group, I have been given the platform to express my creativity. There’s always an event, activity or engagement where I can volunteer to capture the spectacle through pictures. Sahara bristles with so much creativity that is quite infectious. There’s a clear acknowledgement of the fact that the organisation is interested in you being much more than what you studied or do at Sahara. So this helps me keep in touch with my other love, that is photography. In fact, my colleagues at Sahara are my biggest fans and the environment motivates you to explore your other self outside of the core work which by the may still gets done excellently well.
Gender equality has been a topical issue in recent times. Is this a campaign photography can drive?
Sure, I believe photography can drive such campaigns. Like I mentioned earlier, photography is a strong tool that can be geared towards social awareness and development. There are a lot of untold stories of people who face a lot of challenges in their career because of the gender bias in the corporate world today. Photographers can also join in this campaign by taking up projects showing victims of gender inequality, and tell their stories to the world as well as the appropriate authorities; from there the necessary actions can be taken. Images and videos are one of the best evidences in the court of law today; hence we need photographers to channel their works towards issues like this to show its intensity and the need for action.
Sahara Group recently launched its GreenLife project aimed at environmental protect any role in the project?
There is the common saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photography brings energy to life and would eternally be a strong medium for getting people to rally around desirable causes. The Sahara GreenLife Project is Sahara’s environmental sustainability initiative that aims to inspire a behavioural shift towards environmental protection in Africa. I’m sure we will be using pictures to highlight the issues around climate change as well as point the African continent to a future that promises sustainability for mankind on planet earth. Last year, Sahara Group had an Instagram photo competition tagged The Greenest Love of All. The campaign focused on using the medium of photography to celebrate the people, places and things which best depict the promotion or violation of environmental consciousness and eco-friendly sustainable practices. To make the competition to all, participants were asked to send in pictures taken with their smart phones. The response to the project was amazing with entries from different locations in Africa. So I am quite confident that photography will certainly play a very prominent role in the Green Life project. The project alreasy has a volunteer in me so you can look out for my pictures. Through pictures on Sahara’s social media handles, many people are already joining the campaign as volunteers. Indeed, the pictures are making a compelling case for environmental sustainability.
What are the challenges do photographers in developing countries contend with?
The challenges are quite numerous, but the major one I would mention is copywriting. Most Nigerians do not respect the intellectual property of photographers, from using our images without permission to duplicating our pictures without proper referencing or royalties paid. This has been a major issue in the media industry for years and it will take a lot of collective effort and awareness to curb this menace. Other challenges include access to capital, security threats and proper insurance policies for the photographers and the equipment we use, as the business of photography is highly capital intensive and has a lot of risk like any other business.
Do you have plans to take on photography on a full time basis?
Well, yes. I plan to do so later in the future when I get to a particular stage of my career. In as much as the pictures may look so beautiful, the business of photography is one that needs a lot of skill, knowledge and wisdom to run successfully. Everyone can take pictures, but it takes a lot more work to run a successful photography business.
Sahara has been known to look out for creative traits in prospective employees. Did your love for photography give you an edge?
Sahara Group truly has an eye for creativity that makes you think on your feet. This is the way we say it at Sahara; the organisation gives you a canvass and you are empowered to paint away, bringing your unique abilities and strokes to the table. This ends up birthing excellence which is replicated across Sahara Group’s businesses and locations. I guess my photography skill propelled me into a creative hub that helped me shine during the recruitment process which was quite engaging, refreshingly different and unorthodox.
What would be your choice locations if you had a blank cheque photos hoot sessions?
I am a huge lover of nature; hence I would choose Kenya (Safari), Seychelles, Egypt (The Pyramids).
How can your would be fans connect with you?
Now you are making me feel like a star. My Instagram handle is @adey_sekinah.