Modupe Oyekanmi needs little introduction. She is a professional/celebrity photographer, who has carved a niche for herself in the North. Modupe, who is the Chief Executive of Events Unlimited Studio, an outfit that offers photographic/Vediographic services has for the past 7 years, been covering class events in Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi and Katsina, including weddings of Governor’s children. No wonder she is called the Best Female Photographer in the North and her services are mostly sought . In this interview with City People’s Asabe Ndoma, 35-year-old Modupe speaks about her passion for the profession and how she has remained on top of her game
I read and learn from more experienced hands”, the highly energetic and focused mother of two, tells us how she has combined motherhood, being a wife and professional photographer. MOD as she is popularly called is also an Artiste, who has an Album to her credit “Hold on”. As she has severally been invited to Churches and programmes to sing.
Please give us a brief background about yourself
Modupe Oyekanmi is my name, formerly Modupe Ajayi. I am from Kogi state. Happily married to a wonderful husband with two children. I studied Human Resources Management, went for a short course on photography and now a professional photographer and also an event planner, but majorly into photography.
As a female photographer, how have you been able to cope?
Being a female photographer is very interesting. Sometimes when you are covering weddings the groom is amazed seeing a female photographer covering the event. A female photograper is able to adjust the bride’s gown unlike a male photographer who are not able to adjust such and if such should happen, the groom would be angry that the photograph is touching his wife. That is why it is interesting because you are free with both the bride and the groom. Being a female photographer, I am also free to enter the room of the bride unlike men, who have boundaries into such rooms.
For how many years have you been practicing photography?
I have been into photography for close to seven years. Actually, from my childhood, I liked photography, when I see cameras, I give a good pose if you want to take my photograph. It got to a point that my mom bought me a toy camera. My dad is a photographer, whenever I attenpted to use his camera, he would shout at me and say this is not a toy. Even my son plays with my camera. To avoid damage, I bought a toy camera for him. It is very nice growing up with the love for photography. It’s something I grew up with and loved it.
What is your experience being a female photographer, in a male dominated field?
The experience has been so great because whatever you find yourself in, you should grow in it, photography is growing by the day. You have to think, study, try to get a new style, different from what you have been used to. The experience it so sweet and so large.
What is the event that exposed you, I mean your defining moment?
I have covered many events, but that which brought me to limelight was that of the El-Rufais although I have been the the family photographer for years now, I mean the governor’s elder brother. But we covered El-Rufai’s son’s wedding, which was a plus for us.
The job that really brought us into limelight was during the 2015 election weeks before Buhari became president. Events Unlimited was prepared and ready for work. I remember then, a mother of a bride asked me, if we could travel to Kano to cover her daughter’s wedding because at that time the situation in the North was very tense. And I, being a positive thinker told her, that nothing would stop us and that we would be there to cover her daughter’s wedding.
And thank God, Buhari won the election and peace was restored. So, in the midst of wild jubilations we headed to Kano and Katsina and other crew members headed to Kebbi state, and that same week we came back to Kaduna to cover the El-Rufai’s event. So, those two events really launched Event’s Unlimited into a higher phase. We got unprecedented publicity during those events, especially on the social media.
What are some of the challenges so far in the business?
There are many challenges. A major challenge is knowing that you can’t-do the business alone, we work with vendors, caterers, and decorators. Sometimes, when you have a mediator or middleman in your business, it is a challenge to me, unlike when you have a direct contact with your client and know them better and create a relationship. This would engender a connection between you and the bride/groom.
On the ‘D’ day, such relationships ease tension as most brides minds are occupied and far away. So, to draw their attention you could just wink as you are taking pictures, and it would be understood. But if there is a middleman that means you will be meeting your client for the first time and the connection will not be there. Mostly, we don’t meet clients before the ‘D’ day if another vendor gave us the job. You need to have a relationship with your client to perform better at the event.
Another challenge is when some “quick photographers” want to take over the event from you, the official photographer, mostly you end up shouting at them to move back! but they won’t listen to you. Another challenge is the event people themselves, they want to take selfies with the couple, they would want to snap and snap and snap and not leave and when you tell them to leave, they get angry. It a big challenge for business, but we have been working on it over the years.
What should be done to address such challenges?
The Hall managers should be able to help their clients control the crowd especially those with “invitation cards”, while those without invitation cards, the Hall managers should also control the unofficial photographers, so that the official photographers could achieve their aim and everybody is happy.
Is photography a money-making profession?
Yes, it is money making I must confess to you especially when you know what you are doing and you work on your image and continue to improve on your skill, so that your work will always be acceptable.
What is your professional name?
I have a professional name called MOD, I am also into music, MOD is the name people call me musically. I am an artiste and my stage name is MOD.
What gives you an edge over other photographers?
It’s because I am a female photographer and I am free with the bride and another thing that still helps me is that I am free with clients, I ensure that my client is relaxed. I am also down to earth and engaging.
Sometimes when the brides head tie is falling off or not in place, as a female photographer, I would try and adjust it for her. But if a male photographer does the same the groom might be angry. I love being corporate. I love dressing my bride. I am also free with the guests. We play and talk, am not just there for only the bride. I have already heard one or two testimonies “they say I love you, you are not proud as some female photographers”.
How is it like being a mother, photographer and a wife?
They are two different jobs entirely, (laughs). Photography is usually at weekends and the children are not in school. So, it’s hectic, especially when I was breastfeeding.
I have been able to balance the two jobs. Sometimes, I travel with my kids because neighbours I could’ve left them with are also working, I have also been able to balance the two by planning. So, to avoid inconveniencing anybody, I take them along. They have now come to realise that mummy is working, my son even helps me with the tripod. I also brand my children too, so they are part of the crew laughs…
What advice will you give to the young ones who want to go into photography?
I will tell them that it is an interesting profession because it has two different aspects, which is the wedding aspect and the fashion. Both of them are very exciting, so I will advise them to do one of them or even both. Photography is sweet. Think of what aspect you will be good in, photography wants you to think wide, it makes you want to bring something unique out.
What are your likes and dislikes as a photographer
I like being honest and meeting honest people as well. I have a gift of detecting honesty in people. Honesty is very good, it would not hurt you, but it may deprive you of some benefits. I also have this gift to know if you are telling me the truth. I am also a very straightforward person. I will always tell any client the truth. It might deprive me of some goodies, but on the long run, you know that, I told you the truth.
I dislike nagging and people nagging because it distracts me and makes me weak at times. It does not bring out the best in me especially when I am working.
What will you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for good deeds. I want to be remembered for so many things especially in my music, I want to be remembered for transforming people’s lives through by my music.
What did you study in the higher institution?
I studied Human Resources Management, I went to a polytechnic. My ND was in public administration. I came to Kaduna Federal Polytechnic to do my Human Resources Management.