She’s beautiful! She is a wife and a mother, and what we love about her is her ability to capture those moments that usually go unnoticed on one of the most important days of your life! Artsy Moments’ Grace Ukot asks what we all want to know about the CEO, Creative Director and Lead Photographer of Wani Olatunde Photography!
On your website, you are described as a wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer. Why did you follow this line of photography?
My wedding day was one of the biggest highlights in my life so far and 4 years later, I still look at my wedding pictures and remember what an amazing day it was. I wanted to be able to offer the same thing to my clients. I also just generally enjoy shooting people (with a camera). I am fascinated by body language and the way people interact and socialise; and weddings and lifestyle photography were a natural fit.
So, did you undergo training in photography?
I am completely self-taught, which means I ‘google’ a lot of things but I also invest in online education and books for specific areas I need to learn about.
Do you intend to venture into other aspects of photography in the long run?
Oh yeah! There are lots of areas of photography that I am yet to try out. I would definitely love to try my hand out at fashion and glamour photography to see where that takes me. I do love a good transformation.
For how long have you been in this business?
I left my banking job early last year to become a full time professional photographer. So this will be my first full year in business.
That’s really nice! So, have you experienced any difficulties being a female photographer in Nigeria?
I think people (especially men in Nigeria) are typically surprised to find out I am female because most photographers in Nigeria tend to be male but I find that the general public are generally much nicer to female photographers for some reason. We are perceived as less of a threat / irritation. I find that smiling a lot helps too.
Tell us, what makes the WOP brand unique?
I think that coming from an investment banking background, I really understand the importance of ensuring that my clients’ needs are met and often exceeded. So from the first time a potential client contacts me, I try to make sure I am able to add value from the very beginning, be it recommending vendors who will be a good fit for them or helping them figure out the best timeline for their day. I also want them to have fun and feel great during their photoshoot. At the end of the day, I really want my clients to feel well taken care of throughout the whole WOP experience. I think these factors as well as taking a more artistic approach to my photography really help WOP stand out.
What does a typical WOP wedding package and portrait package consist of?
All WOP wedding collections (as I like to call them) include 2 photographers, a minimum of 10 hours of coverage, a coffee table book or an album and high resolution images. Clients can then choose to upgrade the albums, include parent albums, slideshows, canvases etc. The portrait collections usually include a minimum of an hour shoot with 5 digital images included. Clients then have the option to buy albums, disc of images, wall art and much more.
Can you describe a memorable moment you experienced from any of your photo sessions?
Wedding wise – I definitely love it when the bride and groom are openly in love and just can’t get enough for each other. It appeals to the romantic in me. Portrait wise – I love shooting my son. It’s such a blessing to be able to capture his changing personality – these are the moments I treasure.
From your works, it is obvious that you love capturing intimate moments. It is a fact that all couples are not the same. As a photographer, how would you handle stiff/rigid couples?
I always think that if a couple look stiff in a photo that’s the photographer’s fault not the couple’s. As professionals, we need to know how to pose people to help them look their absolute best. Of course some couples are a lot more difficult to work with than others but if they are struggling to pose and look natural, I give them little stories or ideas to work with and catch the in between moments instead. At the end of the day, if the client is having fun, they will eventually relax and you can get some great images. I have had brides who absolutely hate posing and seeing pictures of themselves but I work them into poses I know will look fantastic and soon enough they are coming up with poses for themselves. This is where experience and confidence as a photographer come into play.
As a wedding photographer, it is obvious that there would be jobs for you to do outside the city of Lagos, can you describe the pros and cons of travelling for business?
Nigeria is such a diverse country, I would love to travel more to cover the different traditional weddings from the east to the north and showcase our amazing culture. However, given that some parts of the country are more dangerous than others, I definitely have to take that into consideration when deciding which jobs to accept. Plus, it does mean I have to be away from my son longer than I would like.
How would you describe the evolution of photography in Nigeria/Africa and where do you see the industry in the next 5 years?
I think there’s a growing base of talent who want to be more than just picture takers but looking to become artists. People are investing more in education and pushing the boundaries more. I love what Seun Akinsanmi (formerly of Elophotos) is doing to really grow the industry; from the free quarterly educational series to putting together the first ever large scale photography conference. A lot of people talk about making changes and growing the industry but he is actually out there doing it. So I definitely respect and applaud him greatly for that.
Are there people in the industry that you look up to?
Probably the person I most look up to within the Nigerian space would be Jide Alakija – who I mention regularly on my blog. Not only is he a talented photographer but he is a mentor to so many, extremely generous with his time and knowledge and he is constantly growing as an artist. He gave me the opportunity to shoot my first wedding and I will be forever grateful for his guidance and support.
Can you tell us the top 3 characteristics that you feel a wedding photographer should have?
Hmm… I would say: the ability to thrive under pressure; self-confidence, and great interpersonal skills!
What tool would you regard as the most important in your business?
All I need to do my job is a camera (Canon if you please) and a 50mm f1.4 lens.
Do you plan on training other potential photographers?
At some point, it’s early days for me yet, so I want to get my house set up properly before I start asking people to pay to learn from me. Right now, I’m happy to answer questions people have via Facebook, my blog and email.
What would your advice be to up and coming photographers, especially the Nigerian females?
Be confident, don’t be afraid to take chances, believe in yourself and your art and never stop learning. To the women – anything men can do, we can do better!!
Now, as a married woman, how would you compare the pictures taken at your wedding, and the ones that you have taken at other people’s weddings?
Photography has always been important to me and so I spent a lot of time and money picking the right photographer who really captured some beautiful memories, which is what I try to do for my clients.
Why do you think professional photography is a necessity for weddings?
Lol – given that I am a professional photographer, it seems like there is only one answer to this. But bias aside, the photographs (and video) are literally all you have left to remind you of your amazing day. The food and cake will be eaten, the band go home, the flowers wilt and the dress will be wrapped up in a beautiful box or sold, so when you want to tell your friends or even your children about your big day you pull out your wedding pictures. Good wedding photography shows what a pretty day it was. Great wedding photography makes you feel like you are right there all over again and that is the feedback I get back from my clients all the time – that they get to relive their big day every time they look at their pictures, which is exactly what I want.
Let’s get personal Wani! Did you always know that you would be a photographer?
Nope – it’s just one of those things that become clear over time.
How have you been able to balance life as a photographer, wife and mother?
It’s a struggle sometimes but we working mums need to make it work.
Which ceremony do you prefer taking pictures at: Traditional wedding or white wedding?
I enjoy the colours and outfits of the traditional ceremony but because I don’t speak any Nigerian languages, it can get a bit boring when you don’t know what’s going on. So I always prefer to shoot white weddings as I love every aspect of the day especially the couple creatives, where we get to create some magic.
What are your likes and dislikes?
I love brownies, musicals and big cats. I hate anything with more than 4 legs.
What genre of music moves Wani?!
I love my alternative / indie music – anything to mellow me out.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Emm – photography!
Tell us how we can reach Wani Olatunde Photography!
Thank you for your time! We hope to see more of your works, and we wish you success as you build your brand.