Why I dumped lecturing for photography —Tosin King-Adebayo
Tosin King-Adebayo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lydrol Photography, has worked as a broadcaster and academics before venturing into photography. In this interview by Olasunkanmi Oso, she speaks about her passion for photography.
You seem to have explored different career paths; broadcasting, academics and now photography. What birth the change?
I wanted a profession that is close to life and photography seems to be the best option for me. It tells me about the yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is the best history teacher.
Which of this career path do you derive pleasure from the most and why?
Photography is my best bet any day because it preserves our times (moments) in images. Just as the snake slither through the rocks without any mark, so also is a man who comes to this world without any memories of him captured in images.
Your move from academics to photography would come as a shock to many, what prompted the action?
One of the things that triggered my action was the rot in the academic sector. I could not stand the rot and the mess. I wanted something more for myself beyond bagging more degrees or being a Ph.D holder. I found joy conceptualising images and bringing them to life. It is as easy for me as the air I breathe. Porting from academics to photography wasn’t as easy as I thought. I faced a lot of criticism here and there and I remember vividly the reaction I got from the dean of my Faculty. He asked me why I wanted to dump lecturing for photography, considering the fact that lecturing gives me more “time” and opportunities. The decision was tough but I was determined to leave for a future I wanted. Photography wasn’t my dream profession despite the fact that I love taking pictures right from my childhood. Who would even consider it then? It’s either you want to be a lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant and so on. Growing up, I wanted to be an accountant, photography wasn’t part of the options to consider then.
What was your husband’s reaction to tow this career path?
My husband initially thought it was a joke when I told him about my resignation plans. It took me almost a year before I could convince him. When he saw my determination to leave, he grudgingly accepted it. He wanted me to be a Doctor of Philosophy in my field as opposed to my decision to be a “photographer” and I remember telling him then that what gives us fulfillment in life differs. Being a carpenter may be more fulfilling than being a bank manager. The story is different today, as he is my number one fan.
What is your definition of photography?
Photography means so many things to me. Photography like I said earlier is the best history teacher, because at the end of it all, whatever we do today becomes history (memories) tomorrow (future) so the best bet is to document your future now! Photography is like writing your own autobiography.
Photography has different spheres. Which one of them is your specialisation?
I am in love with child photography and portrait photography. I love taking pictures of children because it teaches me patience and makes me appreciate growth at every stage. To be a child photographer, you have to come down to their level, you have to exercise a lot of patience and sometimes you take up the job of a clown, among other things. Above all, understand the child you are photographing per time as every child is unique. Portraiture photography on the other hand helps me understand the personality in front of the camera.
How have you been coping with competition?
The answer is not farfetched; I do not see anyone as my competitor. I have colleagues who we work together on a regular basis to achieve a common goal. The sky is big enough for everyone.
Which branch of photography will you not venture into?
Nude photography. It’s out of my scope of interest/belief system as an African.
What were the challenges you faced?
Truth be told, it wasn’t easy at all. At the early stage, remembering all the words of my dean and those who kicked against my decision. I remembered a particular month when the whole income was less than N2,000 amidst NEPA bills, studio bills and so on. I suddenly realised my reality of the uncertain world compared to the certain, steady and well paying job I had. I remember a family member telling me to re-apply in the state civil service before things got worse since the income wasn’t stable. In her words, government job will give you more time and steady income. I discarded the advice because I didn’t see a future in it. Today, I am certain of what the future holds, even when it looks uncertain to the ordinary eyes. The ‘certain’ jobs are not even certain these days.
Where do you normally get inspiration from?
Everything around me especially nature. And sometimes, the personality involved may also determine the totality of the set design.
Who are your role models?
Mide Photography, TY Bello, Alade Photos (our family photographer who captured my early moments and more…before I ventured into photography), Aisha Augie-Kuta, Johnson Donatus Okhai Ojeikere (late) and Barbara Davidson.
Where do you see your business in five years?
I see Lydrol Photography evolve to Lydrol Studios. There are so many untold stories (both still and motion) the world is waiting to see. I see us completing our photography training for the physically impaired children across the six Geo-political zones in Nigeria. I am glad photography is now seen as a profession that is noble and not just a roadside business. It has a strong tie with history and as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words, beyond what words would say, pictures would explain more, little wonder politicians now engage the services of photographers more than ever before.
Do you have any regret going into phography?
How do you handle difficult customer?
You must have the sixth sense as a business owner, implementation of agreement policies, contract terms etc. This saves you from a lot of trouble and more importantly ,always have it in mind that patience can boil the hardest stone. I have come across some very saucy clients, even in the midst of tension, I try to keep my calm and use peaceful dialogue in whatever form. And when it’s beyond me, I switch to the “silence is golden” mode. Nobody can use what you have not said or written against you.
How do you normally relax?
I listen to good music and I also dedicate a part of me to catch up with gist of the day with children.