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‘Female photographers have edge in industry’

Mrs Fatima Latinwo hails from Ifon in Osun State but was  born and brought up in Ilorin, Kwara State. The 2014 accounting graduate of the…

Mrs Fatima Latinwo hails from Ifon in Osun State but was  born and brought up in Ilorin, Kwara State. The 2014 accounting graduate of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, Oyo State said her passion and love for photography has defined a different career path for her outside her course of study with the establishment of Fatty Bold Photography. The mother of one, in this interview, tells Daily Trust on Sunday her trajectory, struggles and successes in the industry.

 

Why did you choose to be a photographer?

I always like taking pictures with my phone. Then my sister advised me after I finished school to make photography my profession since I love taking pictures. I was skeptical but decided to give it a try. I went on Instagram to look for who will train me before a friend introduced me to the person that trained me in Ilorin.  

How easy was it for you crossing from accounting to photography?

They are two entirely different fields. I never thought about going into photography. I turned my hobby into a profession. When I told my mum about my intention of going into photography, she sounded confused and shocked. My dad couldn’t believe it as well, especially being an Islamic cleric.

How challenging was that?

People have mixed feelings/thoughts towards female photographers. But being one gives you an edge in the industry if you’re good at what you do. If an event is held inside a mosque, you have to dress modestly as you know you can’t wear your normal top and jeans/trousers. If you are not well prepared you won’t be able to take the shots you need, and you also need a male assistant.

When I started, I was the only one and I would put my hijab and other clothes inside my bag because you don’t know the kind of situation you might find yourself in, especially when you are going into core Ilorin. You won’t be able to cope if you’re not well dressed and some people will even doubt your ability just because you are a female. Also, being single as a female photographer is different from when you are married and with kids.  

What do you mean?

As a single female photographer, I go at late hours and shoot at very short notice. I’ll just carry my bag. That won’t be possible now with family commitments; with a spouse and a son. I have to plan. Then I have my freedom and can go anywhere, but as a married woman, there are some trips I won’t embark on. I got a job offer in Lagos last December but couldn’t go; that won’t be the case if I am single. I can even go to farther places.  

How have you been able to combine home and work?

I have a very supportive, understanding husband and family. If I have a job, I drop our baby with my aunty; even if it’s for a week, she will take care of him. In a situation where you don’t have people around you, you’ll probably have to get a maid who will be helping you to carry your child while you are at locations.  

How can you quantify the sacrifices you have made on this job to get to where you are today?

I was lucky I didn’t come through the analogue period and so I can’t really say I struggled. The only struggle I’ll say is normal photography hustle. One of the benefits female photographers get is the extraordinary support and willingness from the males who dominate the industry. You have to make yourself stand out and have a unique selling point to keep your customers because the males in our industry are very good.  

What would you like to change about the profession?

Pricing. When you agree on a price with a customer, he/she can get a cheaper price from another photographer and that is really affecting everyone in the industry; I am also guilty of that.  

How have you been able to deal with advances from male customers?

Being a professional is different from just working. When I’m at an event shooting, no man will have the nerve to even walk up to me to make such advances because I will be very busy. And you know Ilorin is a really small place. If you do anything, it will reverberate and tarnish your image. You have to be professional about your job; free of emotion unless you want to ruin your reputation or become a prostitute. We snap a lot of rich men whose wife gives us access to go into their homes and enter their matrimonial rooms. You have to be extremely careful, how can you be flirting with the husband of your client that gave you so much freedom?

Do you have any regrets?

The only regret I have is that I should have started while I was in LAUTECH. Now, I work for a lot of people. I took a picture that trended last year of five female doctors who are sisters; they are my clients. I used to go to their family house in the Asa Dam area. On an occasion I saw that since all of them were around, why not try something with all of them in their lab coats; they agreed. That was how I took the shot; it wasn’t planned, the next thing I saw was that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar reposted the picture and it trended. It wasn’t like I made a lot of money from it, but it exposed me more to people. 

Photography has taken me to some states in Nigeria and I am hoping soon it will take me out of the country.  

Do you think photography is a profession that women can take seriously?

Yes; photography is lucrative and expensive if you want to be up-to-date with the latest technologies. We have a lot of female photographers in Ilorin now.

How do you view photography in Kwara, vis-a-vis its cultural and religious peculiarities?

Photography business in Ilorin is a big deal and is growing rapidly. With what we have on ground, there is no need to go to places like Lagos to get a photographer except based on interest.  

How much have you invested so far?

More than I can quantify, because you need to keep on investing. Photography is expensive, accessories are very costly, but our clients at times don’t understand. They call it “ordinary photography” if you give them a price. My highest pay yet was from a client in France. Though she didn’t come to Nigeria, she messaged me on Instagram for a wedding at Osogbo for only soft copies.  

What are your plans?

I plan to have a big studio and establish something really big with a lot of people working for me. Photography has really developed over the years and lots of people are coming in now.

What is your message/advice to upcoming female photographers?

I’m still an upcoming photographer myself, but I urge them to be focused and dedicated.

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