Why I left architecture for photography
Damilola Elliott is an architect by training but his passion for photography developed in 1997 during a school project at university. The passion fully blossomed in 2006 when he decided to make photography a profession. Damell Photography’s creative director and lead photographer has revealed why he left architecture to enter the ‘flashy’ world of photography.
In conversation with LEADERSHIP on Friday, he said: “I started photography unofficially in 1997 when I was on a school project, but officially in 2006. I had always had creative and artistic traits in me. , so when it was time to complete my JAMB form I knew what I was going to study had to be in that direction, I didn’t want fine art and photography was not on the list of available courses.
“My next option was architecture. During our studies, we were given a project on street photography. This project was the springboard for my love for photography. Over the years, it became clear that photography was going to be my ‘profession.’ At that time, it wasn’t fashionable to be called ‘Mama Photographer’, especially when ‘Mama Architect’ was a softer option, so I had to navigate the very intimidating to convince my mother that this was what I really wanted to do.
“The transition was very difficult at first because I didn’t really understand the business side of things. I also had to learn a lot on my own before I could follow a few mentors. Their guidance (consciously and unconsciously) made the next phase very easy to evolve. »
He added that the services he currently offers range from portrait photography to wedding/event photography, architectural/real estate photography and industrial photography.
Speaking in more detail about the challenges he faced personally and in general in Nigeria, he said, “In the early years of his entry into this career, buying photographic equipment in Nigeria was extremely difficult. We had no local dealers, so everything had to be ordered overseas.
“It was also in the era of near-zero internet service. To make any overseas purchases, you had to go to the bank and make bank transfers with sort codes and all the added stress that goes with that. , those weren’t the most encouraging situations today some of the challenges still include accepting the career of choice, you have people who see photography as what you get into when you can’t find a ‘real’ work. They call it ‘a quick-fix type of work.’ The good thing is that this mindset isn’t the norm and it erodes quickly,” Elliott said.
Elliot added that photography is a very lucrative business, especially if you create a body of work that attracts a large audience, and added that this usually results in more business opportunities and higher incomes, which allows the practitioner to empower others within the production chain. .
As for the skills needed to get into photography, he said, “The first thing I would say is to have a creative and open mind. Then you have to have a really good eye for the details… training your eyes to see what others don’t see.
Speaking about the high profile events and personalities he has worked on, he said: “One of our most significant events was documenting The Experience Lagos…arguably the biggest gospel music concert in the world. world. We have been doing this since its inception in 2006.
“Over the years, we have had the opportunity to create photography for government dignitaries, entertainment and corporate figures, among others. We have also had the privilege of documenting social and corporate events outside of Nigeria.”
Over the years, Elliott has been able to expand from just one type of photography (weddings) to adding multiple genres. “This ensures that we are constantly responding to a wider variety of needs and staying fully engaged,” he said.
When asked how he’s managed to balance career, business and family, Elliott said: “I’m lucky to have a family that understands the intricacies of my job, so they make it easier to balance work and family. ”
Regarding what he intends to accomplish in the next two years and where he sees photography as an industry in Nigeria in the near future, he said, “I don’t intend to retiring anytime soon, so I see myself continuing to comprehensively document life’s special moments for a very long time.
“As for the photography industry in Nigeria, there is no doubt that it is booming. I see amazing Nigerian creatives and their work getting the international recognition they deserve.”
While giving some advice to upcoming and aspiring photographers, Elliot cautioned that they need to understand the intricacies involved because the profession is a capital intensive profession, he also urged them to hire mentors and continue to improve, because “creativity has no end”.
The highly sought-after photographer, while revealing how he coped during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown which brought outdoor and indoor events to a complete halt, said: ‘There is no There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown have impacted many aspects of daily life and business.
“To be honest, the first stages were quite difficult, we didn’t know how long the lockdown would last or even what to expect with this new virus. However, as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”
“We had to look inward to find solutions to the business shutdown. So the moment the full lockdown was lifted into a partial lockdown and restricted events started happening, we saw a need that needed a solution. Restricted events required that there be a drastic reduction in the number of physical guests at any given time in an enclosed space.
“This meant that, for a funeral service for example, the church which could accommodate around 500 people was reduced to around 100 people. With this development, many friends and relatives of the deceased could not be physically present at the funeral.
“In order not to miss them completely, we have created the hybrid event service. In this way, we (Damell Photography) have positioned ourselves to record and transmit the services live, using technology and social media. This allowed more people to view the ceremonies on their mobile devices and televisions in real time, without having to be physically present at the Elliott added.