Published On: Mon, Sep 28th, 2015

At Duduguy photography, we pay attention to details — Songonuga

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Kehinde  Songonuga is the creative director of Duduguy Photography, a thriving photography outfit in Lagos. In this interview with JULIUS JOHN, he speaks on his sojourn into the world of photography and what the future holds for the photography business in Nigeria amongst other issues.

 

When did you start Duduguy photography?

It started as a business in 2010. Photography is something I have always been doing. My dad had a big camera back in the day. We used it to take our pictures after school hours, we took it to parties, I was just so fascinated taking pictures. Then he got me a camera when I was about finishing secondary school which I used for some documentation.

Prior to setting up Duduguy Photography, what were you doing?

I studied industrial relations and personnel management at the University of Lagos. I worked with Robert’s Café where I managed the business in 2002 which was the beginning of my career. After that I went off to the UK  for my masters and that was where I picked up photography proper. When I came back I worked with Negris Limited, an oil and gas servicing company. I was there for three years before starting my business.

Do you just do wedding photography or you cover all spheres of photography?

I don’t do just wedding photography; I do a lot of art. I play around with emotions which makes my wedding photography different, because we base our photography more on emotions.

Yes it is a photo journalistic style but we are trying to really create memories. I do a lot of arts photography, I do a lot of architectural. Duduguy photography is not just one person, we are spread out. I have the knowhow of different kinds of photography, everyone in Duduguy has their own style. We do architectural, we do arts, we do wedding, we do fashion, we do corporate and we do general events.

Professionally what was your first job?

My first job professionally was in 2009, it was actually a client that called me from the UK after they had seen my work on the blog and they said they wanted me to shoot their wedding. At first I was a bit sceptical because I had always done photography just for the love of it and I never really charged anybody. I was able to do that and yes, that was the first I collected money from it.

I would say there was one I did prior to that, when I wanted to get into wedding photography, my mentor advised me to do a wedding photography for free so I met with someone whom I asked if I could shoot his wedding and he agreed. They asked me how much I was going to charge and I told them I wanted to do it for free. We did it and it was good.

What do you think is the most important skill for a photographer?

For me you have to have the eye for arts, that is you must be able to see it from a perspective others aren’t seeing it from. You could ask different photographers to take a picture of a particular thing and they will all come out with something different. You must also have a voice, someone must be able to see your work and know that it is you. Like there is a photographer whose pictures are dreamy, his name is Asiko and he is someone I admire his work so much. I will say your work should always speak for itself.

With a lot of photographers coming into the scene, what will you say is the unique edge for Duduguy photography?

Well, I will say we are a very stylish company, we were able to stand out initially before other photographers started coming up. We focus more on style, class and on emotions. I will say the edge we have over other photographers is that we always relate with our clients, we aren’t just there to do business, we try to build relationships, we are more vast.

How much is required to go into professional photography?

I can’t tell you how much is required precisely, but I will say it is not easy to set up professionally because there are a lot of things required. It is not a one day thing, for me I have been able to do this overtime.

What challenges did you face initially when you started?

People didn’t really take us seriously, they felt it’s just like every other photography. Some people within the industry have this scepticism about wedding photographers forgetting that a wedding photographer is someone who can do just almost any other kind of photography. It is built over time, you have to be resilient and you must be able to take risks. A wedding photographer is the one that works hardest out of the others. I do fashion and I also do architectural photography but when it comes to wedding, I know the length of time I put in.

Another challenge we face is that clients don’t really know the level of work that goes into it so they want their work back as soon as possible, they don’t know we have to work on it over time. It is not just photos, we think before taking the pictures, developing it also takes a lot of time.

Coming to the photography industry in Nigeria, what challenges will you say this industry face?

A lot of people don’t take photography as a serious profession. For someone like me, I went to the university, did a Masters, and worked for a while to have experience, so I have also put in a lot into developing myself, so I won’t just be like any ordinary photographer. However, times are changing; people are seeing that this art is really here to stay. Photographs cannot be taking twice, an artist can actually repaint what he puts down before but a photo cannot be taking twice.

There is also a lot of physics that goes into it like you have to think about the lightening, speed, exposure and so on. For instance you have to set a different exposure for where light is and where there isn’t.

What challenges do SMEs face in Nigeria?

Our biggest challenge is fund. For me I have been able to set up over time, over a period of four years. Now I have organisations contacting me to fund the business. Definitely power is a constant challenge, it is a big issue not only for us but all businesses.

What do you think the future holds for photography in Nigeria?

I believe it just gets better; today’s photographers are paying more attention to details. In the past we had a very few veteran photographer that wanted to really share details of the trade but now you have more people willing to share ideas with others . For example: Jide Alakija, Dotun Ayodeji, Asiko have been great influence to photographers.  People like us have also been able to share ideas with those coming up. There is a lot for wedding photography, we are going to see a lot more photographers, with more creativity, with better ideas.

What challenges did you face personally on the job?

We had issues concerning equipment, acceptance, and some clients talking you down simply because they really do not understand the terrain. Another is some photographers playing you down.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

I will say if you are willing to go into photography, you need a lot of time to get everything rolling, so you shouldn’t give up along the way because you have little challenges. Give yourself time, once you are consistent, and you are packaged properly, you will get to the point you want to.

Then if you want to do photography, focus on it, do not jump from pillar to post, may be over time, when you have built that brand, you can now diversify. For instance I am going into fashion because I have always wanted to, I gave myself time and I feel now is the right time to do something else

Where do you see your business in another five years?

I see it as a bigger business, a vast business, may be having a video production arm. Probably working with bigger organisations on a steady basis, having more photographers and being recognised outside the country.

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