His name is Fortunate Umurname Peter. But he is better known as Fortune. He was born and bred in Bariga, Lagos but hails from Owerri. Although he started life from a very humble beginning, today, through every dint of hard work, Fortune is Davido’s official photographer. The young man went through a lot in life. At some point, he even had to drop out of school against his father’s wish. For several years, he was on his own, trying to make ends meet. At first, he started off as a graphics designer and later went on to photography after his aunt, Dr Harriet, got him his first camera which he used to push his hustle after he came back to Lagos from Owerri. Before his death on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, he paid City people Magazine a visit and was interviewed by City people entertainment reporter PRECIOUS POMAA and City People Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL. In this exclusive interview, he talked about his tough and humble beginning and how Davido changed his life for good. Read excerpts
Take us through your family and educational background?
My name is Fortunate Umurname Peter. I was born in Bariga, July 10, 1997 from a poor family. I am the 3rd from seven children. We spent 10 years in Bariga before we moved to Ikotun. I happen to be a very creative child. I started secondary school then left Lagos for Owerri when I got admission into the university but I couldn’t cope so I left school after my 100 level because of finance and some other personal issues. Though my father was really not happy but I just had to take that decision.I joined a print media and worked in the graphics department where I learnt graphic designs. I was an intern for a year and I kept working with them.
How did you get into photography?
I wanted something that could add to my hustle because I was not really earning big from graphics. One day, a guy came to our office with a camera and that was the first time I saw a camera in my life. Then, I asked the guy if I could make use of it. He asked me if I was able to handle a camera and I confidently said yes, is it not to snap? He let me take the camera and I couldn’t hold it well. He then laughed and said I didn’t even know how to hold a camera. His remark made a deep impression on me and it was a challenge to me. That day when I got home, I took my phone and I googled the word photography, so many things popped up and photography became passion and life, for me. I kept reading online for 6 months then I decided I was going to get a Camera. I called my aunt, Dr. Harriet Onyeachu in America that I needed a Camera. She’s a really wonderful woman. Even though she was disappointed in me that I left school, she still supported me from day one. So when I told her I wanted to get a camera she was like ‘are you not interested in graphics design anymore?‘Then I tried to explain to her that it was going to make my designs better. I kept calling to beg her and she agreed to get me a camera and after a year she sent me a canon T5. I was so happy. I juggled my two jobs together. Soon after, I sent a message to one of my big bosses, madam Emily Nkanga and she brought me into the industry. Though it took a week before she replied because she was always busy but she apologized for that. I had actually texted her because I found out she was working somewhere close to my area then. In the text, I asked if she needed assistance, that I could come over to help out because she was doing an NGO in Isolo and I stay in Ikotun. By the time she replied, she was already done with work in Isolo but she said she had a shoot the next day on the Island if I could come support and I said yes why not. I looked for money, went to the Island, supported her and she also gave me some tips on how to keep my game going. So, I told her that any time she has a shoot she should please call me. She did call me a few days after that she had a shoot in two days and she’s going to be shooting for Terry Apala. So I went and assisted her with no intention of collecting money. She called me for another job she had which was Alaga concert in ICM and she got me an all-access tag and I was so happy. That was the first time I shot a musical concert.
How was the experience like?
It was mind blowing because I met a lot of people and I was exposed. I also made sure I shot a lot of artistes and I was sending them DM and Emily said all the contents I gathered were all for me. I got so many artistes numbers.She told me how to go about it and my life was going on well. Then,Emily introduced me to Moses who happens to be Reminisce’s manager. I sent him pictures of him I took and from there we started talking and he was getting me all access tags to cover other events. I took a picture of Ehiz de Dada boi and from there we became close and he was also supporting and taking me for shows. I was covering events, exchanging contacts, sending artiste their jobs, they would post and give me credit. I was doing all these without getting any money. I was just happy, as far as my brand was going to be exposed, I really didn’t mind. Sometimes I tell upcoming photographers that money shouldn’t come first because you might get a job and get paid but no exposure,but at the same time, you can do a free job and your brand is heard everywhere.Though you need money but money is not everything sometimes. The main aim of doing all this was just to push my brand forward. Sometimes, I had events to attend but I had no money to pay my way to the venue. I can remember the day I trekked from Ajao Estate to Ikotun because I had nothing on me.
How did you come in contact with DMW?
It was through my friend Yola who used to manage Dj Olu. I knew him when I did back to back free jobs. I told him I wanted to give something to Davido and he said I had to go through DMW president who happens to be BANKO.Yola did all the link up and pushing and he arranged for me to see Banko somewhere at Ikoyi.Luckily for me, I saw David and I gave him the respect by lying down to greet him. Banko left with David so I took that opportunity to know the people around him and also exchanged numbers with a lot of big guys there and later, he came to collect the design from me and put it behind his phone and said he will show Davido. I took that opportunity to collect Banko’s number and I saved mine on his phone started texting him and sending pictures even though it usually took a while for him to reply or even pick my calls. But I was not worried, I continued trying to create the relationship. Time went on and I told Banko I would like to work with them and he said that was not a problem that he would work things out and asked if I would work with Mayorkun or Dremo and I said no problem. I met Asa who happens to be Davido’s manager at an event and I took a picture of him and Davido. The picture was saying something and that was me being creative as usual so I edited the picture I sent it to Asa. He said thank you, uploaded it on his page and still gave me credit. Banko promised that he was going to call me for Gidi fest but he travelled. I called and texted but he didn’t answer me, then later I heard they all travelled to South Africa. When he got back we linked up and he still gave the same promise saying he would be linking me and giving me updates which he did this time. He gave me different updates DMW had. He asked me to go to a video shoot they had at a studio in Maryland but before I got there, due to lack of funds and a mistake in the address, I got there late. They were already rounding off and I just went on to still shoot what was left. After the shoot, Davido saw me and called me by my name, Fortune. I was so surprised and happy inside me. I felt that if Davido could know my face and my name then I was making progress. It was late and I couldn’t go home, I went to the Island with them and left the next day. After a long time of working and not getting anything, they planned their 30GB concert, I attended, took several pictures and I was the one that took the viral picture of Wizkid and Davido hugging after the show. David followed and sent me a message on Instagram asking me to send him all the pictures on WhatsApp and from there, things started building up and I was talking to Asa since he had assured me that I was going to work with them. Chioma’s birthday came up I went to the birthday party. I took pictures that went viral and people started recognizing me more. After that, Banko added me to DMW group chat and that’s where everyone in DMW is. I started sending pictures of everyone there. I will give Banko and Asa credit, they really tried. They pushed it until it worked out. Davido called me and promised he was going to get me a new camera and a laptop once he gets back but he forgot so when he came back I asked Banko how far with the Camera Davido promised to get. He reminded Davido about the camera and David asked me to choose a camera and laptop I wanted and then order it with my phone so that he would pay with his card. When I told Banko David asked me to get any camera I wanted he said I should take a ‘mad ass’ camera so I found a good camera online which was about 7000 dollars with the lens and the laptop for 3000 dollars. I felt it was too expensive and I was scared to tell them so it wouldn’t look like I am extorting from them but I still put it together and I told Banko and he said okay, not knowing he sent a message to David and that was how I ordered the camera and Davido paid for it with his USA card and told his friend, Black Tycoon, to pick it up for him and I was tracking it from my phone and when the camera finally came, I signed a deal, had an agreement with the management and started travelling with Davido to anywhere he’s going and things have been going well. I just got back from London, the biggest event David did in 02 ARENA and he sold out.
How has working with Davido changed your life?
It has really changed my life because I came from nothing to something. He takes me out, gives me jobs, introduces me to people, get me stuffs and assists me. I am proud to say that I have won David’s heart.
So who are the people you’ve worked with?
I got portfolio for Davido ,Pogba, Popcaan, Lilbaby , Cassanova, Mayorkun, Wizkid , Jidenna, Tiwa Savage , Burna boy , Patoranking , Akon, DMW and many more .
What has been your parents’ reaction after you left school and all?
My father was angry with me.He said I needed to plan my life and go back to school. I got angry with everyone because I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want anyone stopping me from that but right now my father is proud of me. Everyone is proud of me.