“[Digital photography] is all about self-determination, focus and resilience,” Kelechi Amadi-Obi, one of Nigeria’s digital photography pioneers, told CNBC Africa.
He explained that breaking into the photography industry and getting paid well depends on the quality, exposure and start-up capital behind a photographer’s work.
An advantage in this line of work is that the skills can be self-taught via the internet with minimal education experience required.
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While the competition among photographers in Lagos is tough, Amadi-Obi said that those who branch out into untapped towns could make it big regardless of skill level.
“If you leave Lagos and start a studio elsewhere, you may become a superstar because in Lagos there is a bit of competition in terms of quality and skills.”
He added that on average, most digital photographers take three years to break into the industry. In the first and second years, one focuses on improving the quality of their work and nurturing clientele. By the third year, they could have potentially made a name for themselves.
Also, because it’s a multiple ideas industry, photographers need to constantly create fresh and unique content.
“You have to keep it fresh and constantly create new products on a daily basis. If you are a person that wants to sit in your comfort zone, then photography is not for you.”
Keeping up with the ever-changing photography space as well as the lack of understanding around intellectual property, particularly in Nigeria, are some of the major challenges that photographers face.
“People tend to steal your work at will in this part of the world. They will steal images off the internet, add it into their website design and not pay any royalties to the photographer for it,” said Amadi-Obi.
Another problem is the lack of infrastructure in developing countries like Nigeria. In some locations, there may be no access to electricity and water which means that photographers have to be fully prepared when they go on shoots.
Lately, northern Nigeria has become increasingly difficult for photographers to enter due to the recent spike in rebel attacks.
“It’s very sad that as a photographer, you cannot drive freely through northern Nigeria anymore so our stories about the north have to be put on hold.”