With no formal education or training in photography, popular marathoner and cyclist, Dayo Akinbode, who recently held a three-day ‘Colours and Flavours’ photo exhibition in Lagos State, spoke to Sunday Ehigiator on what led to her sojourn in photography, even so with a mobile device
What else should we know about you?
I am 54 years old. I am not a professional photographer. I was trained to be an engineer, then along the line I became a Chartered Accountant, and then along the line I studied supply chain. So, I had no formal training in the act of photography
How did you become interested in photography?
I think it has always been in me but it didn’t come out until I started to travel. And after I retired, I was no longer in the rat race. When I came out of the rat race, I was able to stop, smell the coffee, smell the roses, admire my environment, and see the beauty in the whole world.
There is beauty in the whole world, but then in other places, I see beauty and the way it’s embraced. But this beauty isn’t as good as the one back in my country. So I decided to start capturing and documenting the beauty in Lagos.
Because when people talk about Lagos, what comes to mind is traffic, heap of rubbish, fraudsters, and that’s what few of them would tell you. However, every city has the good, the bad and the ugly.
So I said to myself, I’m a proud Nigerian. Let the CNN’s and the BBC’s talk about the bad and the ugly if they want to, I am going to showcase the good of my city. That’s why I started documenting this and sharing.
Some people then saw my work and said no, you can’t keep this to your phone just for yourself, you need to show the world especially Lagosians, so they see the beauty in their city and appreciate their city better.
How long have you been into this?
Since COVID-19 Pandemic struck; I have traveled a lot. In a whole year, I hardly spend up to 30 days in Nigeria. But when COVID came, I couldn’t go anywhere.
And being that I love to turn lemon into lemonade, I decided to put myself together and see what I can do, and that was how it began.
What has been the reaction to your works from the exhibition?
I’m even surprised because I did not expect the kind of reaction or feedback I’m getting.
When I sit with people and show them pictures on my phone, they are always amazed and short of words. They say they never knew those places were these beautiful.
So this kind of feedback makes me go out more to take more pictures and want to show the world.
Why photography with a phone?
Actually, I have all the big cameras that you can ever think of. But these cameras are heavy. And my pictures are mostly unaware pictures. They are candid.
I am a marathoner and cyclist, so while running or cycling and something catches my attention, I stop and record it. Even this morning, I was running through a dirty drainage and I saw these little flowers growing inside the dirty pond, I stopped and took the shot. And I titled that, Beauty in the Gutters.
You can’t carry those heavy cameras everywhere, but I go everywhere with my phone. So the phone is easily conveyed without anyone noticing you snapping unlike the big cameras. So that’s what gave birth to the idea.
How fulfilling has this been for you?
I believe in God and I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that you have a part, and even though you have rigmaroled and gone, you will eventually come back to your path.
So I believe I have been out of my part for 50 years with good pay. This doesn’t give me money, but it gives me fulfillment and gives me satisfaction.
It makes me feel, finally, I am pursuing what makes me feel fulfilled. Yesterday we had a group of trained photographers who came here to see my work, and they told me that they want to learn from me.
But I told them, you have nothing to learn from me because I didn’t learn anything and don’t have anything to give you. So it makes me see myself in a different light.
What is so attached with water that is common with most of your works?
Beaches are my favorite places. Anywhere I am in any part of the world, I wake up in the morning, and I ask where the closest river or ocean is. I even know the smell without even asking. And I can trace it. I am very adventurous. So I walk towards where the water is and finally stumble on it.
And if I get to a place the first thing I’m asking is, when sunrise is, and what time is sunset, because it differs from place to place, seasons to seasons. Even in Nigeria, it changes.
So my normal routine is, I wake up in the morning, go to the beach which is about 1.5km from where I stay. I want to get there just before the sunrise. I also target the blue hour which is just before the sunrise, and just after sunset.
It’s only a 15 minutes window within the sunrise or sunset. If you miss it, you have to wait for another day. So I love the water, I love the sound of the waves, so I can just sit there and listen to the sound of the waves.
How do you feel when Nigerians fail to see the beauty in their country?
It makes me feel very upset, because God has really blessed us with a lot of things. Good weather, beautiful landscapes, and flowers etc. Just peep through this window. It annoys me when you ask a youth what’s next, and his next thought is how to leave the country.
You see, that place you want to go, the people embraced what they had, nurtured it and made it what it is today. We have what it takes. We cannot wait for the government.
Everyone in your own little corner, do something that you can do. Little drops of water eventually make a mighty ocean.
I don’t wait for the government. In my little space, I do what I can and try to showcase the good side of my country. So I would encourage youth to take a clue from this as well, and together, let’s make Nigeria great again.