Oluwaseun Solanke is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dudman Visuals, a photographic firm. The Mass Communication graduate, In this interactive session with FLORENCE OLUGBODI speaks on his journey into photography and how the determination to survive has been his source of motivation.
What inspired you into photography?
(Deep breath!) Aside from the fact that I wanted to survive and be able to get daily bread, I have this passion for documenting people’s lifestyles and situations across the globe. For example, the poor African child. This deals with what normal African children pass through just to survive. This passion has actually pushed me into capturing amazing pictures that tell stories of these themes on international platforms and have pushed me to apply for a different contest. For example, I was part of the top 20 UNESCO skills in action photo contests in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
(Cuts in) How did you feel when you find yourself among the top 20 UNESCO photo contests you just mentioned?
Oh, I felt so great and excited. It shows I am getting there, even though I am not there yet, but it keeps getting better.
How do you get the person, place, or things in front of the camera onto the film just the way you want it?
For me, it’s fun. Actually, I capture most of my moments unaware after which I can pose the object to my satisfaction, this is after I have created a kind of communication flow with my clients.
Is there anything, in particular, you communicate with your photograph, and how do you actually get your photograph to do that?
Lifestyle is what I communicate. Photography, for me, is a lifestyle, I just see beyond my lens to achieve this.
So what motivates you to continue to take pictures economically, intellectually, or emotionally?
Survival! (Laughter). Who doesn’t get motivated when he/she needs to survive? The greatest source of motivation is survival. You need no one to give you any motivational quotes if truly you want to survive. Another motivation that keeps me going is how people appreciate me for documenting their lifestyle. To me, such goes a long way.
(Cuts in). You made mention of surviving as one of your sources of motivation, so how has it been so far?
The moment I remember I have dependants, I want to build an empire for myself, that gets me back on the track
What are the challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
(Deep breath). If I start we might not actually leave here today. The biggest challenge for me was my start-up When I started, I had no camera of my own so I started borrowing from colleagues and senior colleagues. It got to a stage I couldn’t borrow so I started renting a camera. It was a very tough experience because I would use half of the profit to rent and the other half on transportation to source and return the camera, as well as moving to the location of my job, such that at the end of the day I would be left with little or nothing. But the goal was consistency and staying in the game. So, that kept me going and glory be to God here we are today with more than enough gadgets but we are definitely trusting God for enlargement. A lot of challenges, but in all, God has been faithful.
So what are those things you’ve achieved with this photography skill?
A lot. I can’t even mention all but let me say the opportunity of meeting and discussing with great personalities. I have been shortlisted for the top 20 in various contests, both local and international. And I believe I will win one day
I have done so many photography lectures and training with a massive turnout. I was also featured on NTA Ibadan. I have been able to establish myself even though am still growing.
While I sponsored myself through school alongside my younger ones as the first child of the family.
Is there a particular camera gear or software that helps you to keep focused on what you do?
Yes. Nikon Gear is my love and favorite all the way. Also, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Fundy Designer, just to mention but a few.
Which photographer(s) influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking and career path?
I love everything about his style. TY Bello. Once you see TY’s pictures you don’t even need her signature before you know she’s the photographer with the fantastic image. Charlem Photography. A friend in the field but his positive vibes help me to actually do more and be myself. The Femilabi. His simplicity in this field is worthy of emulation.
Those are my role models in this field.
Do you think someone can become a multi-billionaire with this skill? Just how lucrative is it?
Yes, but consistency is the key. It’s a very lucrative job that makes you see life from a different perspective.
So can you advise people to take up this profession, and what are those things they should look forward to or expect in the course of the journey?
I can say with confidence that it would be an amazing ride, but as I said earlier, consistency is the key.
What advice can you give to the youth out there?
There is nothing more than being a boss of yourself, creating your own empire. I mean you cannot see a rich man or wealthy man working under somebody. They are all entrepreneurs, spreading their wings and tentacles. I just want to tell them that they should just start from somewhere. I started taking pictures with my phone before proceeding to an elderly man who taught me the nitty-gritty of event coverage, and then I felt I needed more. So I started self-learning and the likes. But then you will need someone to take you through the basics.
They should also move with the right person. In this century, knowledge has been made easy as there are a lot of things to leverage on. They should create a kind of network for themselves and know what they are doing.