Wani Olatunde: Beyond Photography
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, my name is Wani and I'm a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Lagos. If I had to break down what I do to one thing, it would be simple - I celebrate women at every stage of their life. Coming into their own for a milestone birthday, getting engaged, getting married, becoming a mum, with their loved ones and families etc. - if it's important to a woman, it's important to me too. It's such a blessing to be able to do this for a living every day. #blessed
You must have studied a different course in the university, why did you decide to pick up photography?
I think photography probably chose me. I have a Masters in Electronic Engineering and then was an investment banker across 2 continents for over 6 years. But I've never been happier than I am right now. Photography is my calling and the gift I was given and I have worked hard to make sure I make the most of it. I get to make people happy, help them feel more confident, document the most important parts of their lives and the people they love the most. These are memories that will be passed down from generation to generation. It's a great responsibility but a pretty amazing one too.
How long have you been into this creative business?
I've been a professional photographer for just over 5 years but been shooting for probably 8-10 years.
Doing what you do can be stressful if not tough, how do you draw inspiration to make each session exciting for your clients?
I draw inspiration from my clients. For weddings, I spend time getting to know my clients before the wedding day so I understand their personalities and get a better idea of their likes and dislikes so I can tweak my vision accordingly. For my portrait sessions, my clients are fully involved in planning their shoots so I can bring their vision to life. I never want to impose my sole perspective on a client but prefer to collaborate with them so they are just as invested in and excited about the final outcome.
For general inspiration - I find it everywhere - movies, music, fashion magazines. I'm always collecting ideas of different things I want to do. Just need enough time to execute them all - lol.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far in the business?
Personally, my biggest challenge has probably been a lack of self belief and self value. I continuously have to put in the work to remind myself that not everyone can do what I do and what I offer is of value to my clients. I probably had the biggest breakthrough with this early last year where I really started to place value on all the different things I did for my clients and had taken for granted. And it turned out that valuing my work meant I attracted clients who valued it too and this was super exciting for me. Like most creatives, I want to work with clients who are excited about working with me as opposed to people who choose me simply because I am the cheaper option. It took a while to get here but I have so much to offer and I'm looking forward to forming new relationships and creating some amazing work this year.
Besides photography what other things are you involved in?
I'm a mum with 2 kids under 7 - so my time is pretty much split between them and work. I am trying to make myself more of a priority this year especially in terms of my health so I have more energy to keep up with my hectic schedule. I'm also committed to building my photography education platform this year as I feel like I'm finally in a place where I have a lot of knowledge garnered from experience to share that can help upcoming photographers evolve more quickly. So that's one project I'm definitely super excited about for this year.
Do you have any words for photography enthusiasts who want go into this line of business
Photography is a lot of hard work - so make sure you put in the time to evolve your skills so you are able to offer your clients the best of you. It's ok to shoot everything in the beginning - that's how you discover what you are best at and what you enjoy photographing the most. For example - I now know I hate product and real estate photography and don't take those jobs anymore - lol. Make sure you have a grasp on your numbers from the beginning - if you don't value yourself, clients won't value you either. Don't forget to experiment and have fun along the way. Enjoy.