Mariam Olanike Olopade is a 24-year-old documentary photographer based in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The graduate of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta, has made a name for herself in the male-dominated industry. She speaks to Daily Trust on Sunday about her job and the challenges of the creative industry.
Photography was not my choice; it was my mum’s decision in 2013. After I completed computer training in 2012 she suggested I learn photography from one of her friends. I declined and told her about my decision and passion to learn tailoring from a friend’s mum. But you know how it is with our parents, their opinions must count. That was how I underwent a forceful three-year photography training from 2013 to 2015 before I gained admission into MAPOLY.
But I wouldn’t count that as learning photography because it was a local process; I barely knew anything aside from going to the photo laboratory to print hard copy images.
Fast forward to September, 2021, I decided to learn a skill because I was bored after my HND. I gave photography another trial and here we are. I see myself as a budding photographer, and with digital photography, I continuously tell stories through visuals. My genres are photojournalism, documentary, events and portraits.
I am looking forward to launching my mobile photography business this year. The motivation is to report stories on child’s rights through images and videos, to
offer info-visual documentaries, birth new ideas to storytelling, pronounce aesthetics and preserve memories.
I am not so well occupied for now, but I go to the studio every day to assist my facilitator and sometimes do my personal works. I also take time to do street photography and landscape with my mobile phone.
What are your goals as a photographer?
My goal is simple. Like Tolani Ali, a documentary female photographer and official photographer to Vice President Yemi Osibajo, I want to be a creative and official photographer to someone with high hierarchy in government. I want to be known as a documentary photographer and journalist on child’s rights.
A photographer must at every minute fuel his/her passion for photography; it is very important. Also, the ability to think creatively outside the box to create something unique. The industry is overfilled and there is competition out there. To stand out, one must be able to picture a great idea.
What has been your experience as a photographer and journalist?
Being a photographer and a journalist is a little distraction for me. To balance it I have decided to do less writing and more picturing since they aid each other.
What distinguishes you from a roadside photographer?
I am totally different from a roadside photographer because I am in the media and technology world. I am learning and I understand photography as an entire course and not just a skill. I attend classes by facilitators abroad and am looking forward to acquiring professional courses and certification from top photographers internationally.
What was your parents’ position when you took up photography?
My mum would have been happy I am doing photography in its real sense if she were alive because it was what she wanted. But my dad supports anything I do so far it is legal.
Which of your shots do you cherish most and why?
My favourite project of all time is the “OLUMO ROCK” documentary which was taken with my mobile phone. I was able to tell the story to an extent of the beauty of the historical rock.
How do you improve your craft?
Like I tell people, photography is expensive, and to keep acquiring skills means you have to spend a lot, but all thanks to YouTube and facilitators who have been helping in ways to limit the expenses. I watch YouTube photography video classes a lot.
At what age did you venture into photography?
At age 15, but officially in 2022 at age 24.
What is the biggest challenge that you foresee in photography as an industry?
I foresee a blackout of creativity, a lack of finance to run personal projects and gears.
How do you stay motivated in your work?
My motivation while working comes from my mood. If I don’t feel like retouching, I won’t open my laptop. To stay motivated, I try to place myself in a happy and lively mood.
Describe a time when you failed in this role and the lessons you learned?
I have failed many times, cried, felt like giving up when there was no money to get photography gears when I would work on an image several times and still get rejected. When my hard-earned photography equipment got spoiled a few days after purchase and many more. Truth is, sometimes some circumstances happen to keep us focused. I am not shaken!