Dec 29, 2017

Photography with a Touch of Sophistication

Meet a photographer who travelled from Jos to Germany to cover a wedding. 
A photo taken by Ditomatics
Plateau people often berate themselves when a foreigner comes to the state to start something that grows to become big. This is because it places a question on the seriousness of the people, something like, see the opportunities in your backyard that you have failed to take advantage of.

When I stepped into the photo studio, Ditomatics, at Zarmaganda Junction in Jos, I saw clearly that it was either the biggest or one of the biggest in the city.  Immediately, there was the question, in my mind, of who owns this? Where did he get the inspiration? What challenges did he face? And, how was business going after all the effort? I swore that I was going to find the owner so he could provide answers to these questions. 

When I did, I found out he is a Plateau man, after all. Datok Yakubu is a native of Jos-South, from Du end. He was, albeit, born and raised, in part, in the neighbouring Nassarawa State.

As to how he chose photography, Mr Yakubu said he guess that art seems to run in the veins of his family members –his dad, who is now a retired civil servant, had been a fine artist, drawing and painting. “When I was little, I used to see what he ‘is’ doing,” Yakubu said. At a time when he, the son, was without a job, a friend suggested he join photography. “My friend introduced me to photography. He ‘is’ feeling I can do better.”  He reluctantly went into it, but then discovered the boundless beauty there is in photography. Since then, he swore that he was going to pursue photography.
Since most of the photographers around often don’t dream big, only wanting to own and run something that provides money to make ends meet, it was the reason why I was curious, wanting to know who put the idea of a big photographic studio with highly sophisticated equipment in his mind. Yakubu said that when he started, there wasn’t digital photography. You had to buy a reel of film and follow the long process leading to the final photograph. However, what made his career big was digital photography. Yakubu said he was spurred largely by the desire for quality. Since there was no one at the level of the standard he was aiming at, it was the reason why most of the things he learned were self-taught. “When I left that place (places he worked before starting his own studio), ‘I am’ better than the person there.” He studied pictures he had taken to see flaws. Then he trains himself to avoid such defects. There were times he worked free for some people just to use the opportunity to hone his skill. It was how he got to where he is today. Now, the high qualities of his photos come from the sophisticated equipment, the experience and the software like Photoshop, which his studio also uses to improve the quality further. 

His other challenge was how to acquire the equipment to be able to achieve the standard he desired. There was no one around to help him. So, he resorted to self-restraint and grit, working and saving the little he made. Currently, the camera he uses costs about N1.3 and pays N650, 000 as rent annually. He said that for maximum efficiency he needed studio space. It was why moving to the current studio was necessary. 

Yakubu makes money through pictures taken in the studio, but also through pictures taken outdoors when he is hired to cover an event. It is where the bulk of the money comes. Just in the outgoing month (November), he covered the traditional wedding of a German man and a Nigerian woman. When the couple saw the quality of the pictures, they contracted him to cover the formal wedding in Germany. Traveling from Jos to Germany to cover a wedding proved to him that the effort he put in to raise the standard of his trade was not in vain. As a matter of fact, it has taken him to reaches he never envisaged.  

In addition to the commercial face of his business, there is the purely artistic face that gets him traveling to different parts of Nigeria, where there are cultural events. For this, he has traveled to Calabar to cover the Calabar Annual Cultural Carnival.

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