children · documentary · journalism · photography · work

THROW BACK THURSDAY!

For every interesting and captivating image a Street/
Documentary Photographer captures, there is a story and risk behind it. In my few years of being a Street/
Documentary photographer I have been through the the risks and threats the professionals ahead of me in the industry have warned me off.
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Risks/stress involved include hanging from dangerous angles or heights to capture images, getting dirty while crawling or lying to get that earthworm-view of a subject, climbing and jumping sometimes, losing one’s gadgets and personal effects during shoots, etc.
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Threats include security agents’ harrasments, hoodlums’ harrasment, citizens’ harrasment/brutality, exposure to wild animals, exposure to unfavourable weather, etc.
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I remember getting to a Fashion Show venue at Opebi-Ikeja in 2015, a private security/bouncer denied me entrance. After proving my mission at the event he wouldn’t allow me in. After a while of my persistence he allowed me in with the condition that I would ‘roger’ him on my way out. I agreed, and thought within myself as I went in, of how people view photographers as people at the bottom of the social/educational/
economic ladder. The young man may not have a quarter of my educational qualification but the fact that I carry a camera, he can’t imagine me being educated to that level or that my salary can probably be his own 6months’ salary or more. I dont blame him, isn’t that the way the society view us? I never bothered about him when I was leaving the venue. If he accosted me, I vowed to see to it that he lose his job or get a query at the very least but thank God his mother’s ‘head’ saved him.
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I have heard of policemen locking up photographers, seizure/destruction of cameras or equipment while they were taking legit images at legit time in Nigeria and abroad. I witnessed one of the police detention at National Theatre, Iganmu-Lagos. Those things come with the job. Though not all these security agents are bad, some have helped my assignments in time past though.
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The attached pictures were taken on Children’s Day, 2016 when I joined a group of Street/Documentary photographers in Lagos to celebrate the day with children of Makoko-Lagos. We shared toys, food and drinks with the children after which we moved around their community to capture images of their lifestyle.
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I was at the waterfront when straddling youngmen charged at us, growling. I ignored them and continued shooting, when one of them noticed me, he picked up a glass bottle lying around and bolted toward me. He was quickly grabbed by one of his comrades. I must confess, I was fear-stricken. If I had been hit by the agrieved fellow that day, I would probably be carrying a big scar on my scalp or face by now.
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So, everytime you see an alluring pictures of landscapes and street/urban/rural activities, always know that there are good, bad and ugly stories/events behind them.
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Kayode Balogun
Jan. 2017

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