Olaoluwa Babasanya: Photography, Being A Mature Student & Mentors
28 year old Olaoluwa Babasanya is a final year biomedical science student. He is also the owner of Olaoluwa Photography, a photography business that covers different sectors such as weddings, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, modelling, studio work, and fashion photography. In this Inspire session, we talk about his passion in photography, his experience as a mature student and the importance of mentorship.
Tell me about your interest in photography
I have always loved taking in a good scene, a lovely piece of art, you know appreciating fine attention to details whether that be watching a film or just walking around. I do not believe there is a day I can highlight that birthed my interest, it has always been there. So I remember a couple years ago I got a Samsung S3 mini which had a pretty average camera, and I would just capture moments and scenes that caught my curiosity. I remember coming back from work at the time at about 1 am dead tired and I looked on from the bus stop and saw a beautiful row of light and felt like wow, I just had to take that picture.
I also remember experimenting a lot with different angles and lighting just for fun, then on my birthday 2014, my then girlfriend framed one of my pictures and bought me a Sony H300 and from there it was just strength to strength. I also cannot underestimate having friends around me whose work I looked up to, that motivated me to learn more and improve my photography.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
I love the creative freedom it brings, the opportunity to take a picture how I want to take it. I also appreciate how when you take a picture, with anything creative, there are no wrong answers just more questions on how can you improve what you have done. In this very rigid world of “standard of operations” and “fit in a box” institutions around today, we all need a creative outlet. Our Father is the Creator of creativity, we are meant to express it in our own unique ways, as with your platform, Lively Stones.
How did you get the funding to start Olaoluwa Photography?
I started with what I had initially, which was a point and shoot camera. Then I saved up some of my student loan and bought an entry level DSLR and a 35mm lens. From then on, it has been more of my student loan that has been used to purchase the equipments I have, which are growing in quality by His grace. God has been extremely faithful to me, I have found favour in seeking deals and buying pre owned items that maintain their quality, so they do not cost as much as brand new ones.
Where do you see Olaoluwa Photography in 5 years?
Good question. I never put limits on myself and if you see through my photography it is not boxed in to one aspect e.g. wedding photography or event photography. I enjoy them all, so I would love to have a studio or a couple, with a creative team working on all aspects of media. If that is where the Lord leads me then I would be more than grateful.
What makes Olaoluwa Photography stand out from other photography companies?
I would say our customer service, professionalism and quality. We strive to give you the assurance that when you decide to go with us, to the best of our ability each client has their specific needs met. It is not a problem for us to go the extra mile to make sure our clients are happy.
What motivated you to turn your passion into a career and how did you go about it?
Well for now it is still a passion, I am a born again Christian and my goal is to live out my purpose on earth. I do not know which route the Lord wants to use me in, so in the meantime I will develop my skills as a photographer to the best I can, improve my gear to quality, world class standard and keep learning. As with Science, my aim is to excel at both avenues and wherever the Lord wants to use me I would be prepared and ready.
What has been the most exciting thing for you at Olaoluwa Photography?
I would say working with more experienced photographers; me reaching out to them and being shown love, is really amazing. I would love to shout out my mentor Femi Onatuga, he is such a humble man with a big assignment (He is the official photographer for Pastor E.A.Adeboye) but you would never know. He was one of the first to encourage me and offer to take me on some of his shoots.
What kind of things do you do or have you done to improve your skills as a photographer?
I have watched endless amount of videos on youtube from essential to non essentials, just to gain a bit of knowledge from someone else’s experiences. I have mentors whom I speak to on things that are not clear to me, I have also invested in quality equipment to make sure it is not a liability.
What would you say is the biggest challenge for you as a photographer?
So far I would say timing. I would have loved to go on more wedding shoots, whether that is shadowing an experienced photographer or second shooting. However with the demands of final year I have not been able to go as much as I would have liked to. Also the gear can be quite expensive especially if you want the most suitable to do the job efficiently.
What you studied in university is very different from what you are doing as a photographer. How did you switch parts?
Yes it is, I really enjoy my area of Science, as much as we know in modern medicine today, we find out there is still a lot we do not. I enjoy learning to think like a scientist, understanding about diseases and infections, how they get in the body and cause damage, how the body responds, and how we can use our knowledge of that to fight them. However, the photography gives me the opportunity to exercise another part of me and just express myself. I love it.
Science brings a lot of analysing patients and samples, understanding the basis of diseases, staying up to date by constantly reading journals, memorising details as well as applying them. It can be quite rigid which is something that is necessary to provide uniformity but as you study more and attach more letters after your name you can stretch yourself a bit, For example over the summer I worked on a project testing the antimicrobial properties of heterocyclic compounds. As a biomedical scientist you have a defined role but when you go into research then you can express yourself. The photography just give me the control I want, it lets me present the world through my eyes. I love both aspects and I think they complement each other.
How do you balance your business and studying?
It can be challenging, but it is possible. It requires a lot of meticulous planning which I enjoy, there are times when sacrifices have to be made, but it has been a blessing. I have a great group of friends at uni who keep me updated and I practically live in the library so I don’t find it too hard.
As a mature student, what has been your major struggle and how have you overcome it?
I guess having everyone younger than I am was different, I would not call it a struggle. I am also blessed to have a baby face, so my age does not tell on me. More than anything I think I have been able to encourage and motivate some of the students to work harder and smarter with an eye on the future. It can get quite easy to focus on the present when you are in Uni, but I have been able to explain to them through my experience that this is not the end of it and you should have a backup plan for if your first choice career plan does not work out.
What advice would you give to any mature student reading this or anyone that feels like they are too old to go back to full time education?
I am actually not that old lol, however I would advise that you are never too old to improve yourself, never too old to learn and never too old to be a better version than you were. Short courses and longer courses are very good sources of staying sharp, relevant and desired in the work place. NEVER FEEL TOO OLD FOR ANYTHING, you can do all things through Christ who give you strength, don’t limit yourself.
How has your relationship with God influenced your work ethic?
It has encouraged me to be a more patient individual; over a shoot you meet different people with different expectations and different personalities. It is my job to respect them and be professional at all times. Also because my God is infinitely perfect I aim to put that level of detail and hard work in every shot, to make the next one better than the last.
You have talked a lot about the roles of mentors in your life and how they have helped you grow. Please can you let our readers know why they need mentors.
Mentors are extremely important, the Bible says without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. As I started, I found out I had a lot of questions on camera choice, shooting style, what is RAW etc. In spite of the internet and YouTube, hands on mentors are essential, they offer guidance, advice with examples, you get to learn from their experience and with favour, you can work with them and they will give you hands on experience, before you go out alone. I am truly grateful for my mentors and cannot stress their importance.
Apart from photography, what else do you enjoy doing?
As I mentioned earlier, I study so that takes up a bit of time. I enjoy serving in the church; I am involved in a number of roles. I like travelling, reading, watching documentaries, football, cleaning, cooking lol I have a lot of interests.
I would love to thank and appreciate, Yemisi and her team at Lively Stones for having me, it truly is a pleasure. Thank God for your platform and please keep us in your prayers. Thank you and God bless.
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