A great photographer is creative, pays attention to detail and has a strong desire to explore. He/she will excel with time. Keziie is a such a person; extraordinary with a lot of heart. Read on to learn what inspires him and gets him to do what he does best.
Please tell us about yourself and your business, how did you start and what inspired you to get into the wedding industry?
My full name is Ekezie Pascal Onyenwenyi. I have always been called Keziie, so I am pretty used to the name. I am from Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government in Imo State, and I come from a very small and happy family. I studied at Madonna University as well as Imo State University. Prior to my university education, I didn’t see myself becoming a photographer. I wanted to be something else, work for a reputable company and carve a niche for myself. However, I looked at the future and my environment and I observed that it wasn’t going to be exactly rosy for anybody seeking a job except he/she creates it. I started off with music and learnt a little bit of audio recording, mixing and mastering, and I started making music for a bit. But then, the music business wasn’t so amazing. It was pretty much self-fulfilling, meaning that I will only derive so much joy from making beautiful music that was only going to be limited to family and close friends. That was pretty much the circle it covered. My work wasn’t able to reach a lot of people at the time, but then I was also growing interest in photography and didn’t take it seriously.
Prior to starting my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), I took time to think about what I wanted to do; if I wanted to further my education or find a skill. I came across an old friend who talked about finding a skill and carving a niche for yourself. I gave it a deep thought and decided to go for my service and use the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. During my NYSC year, I got the opportunity to work as a Project Manager with an Italian firm – AVSI (Association of Volunteers in International Service). I helped manage their social responsibility in the community. I was in charge of a reach out program for orphans and vulnerable children which required me to take pictures to document. My boss handed me a camera to take pictures. My first encounter with a camera wasn’t so amazing because I had to battle with how to get a very clear picture of the people. Sometimes, people complained that the pictures weren’t clear or they looked so silly, or something appeared. I realized I had to learn to take better pictures and that was how photography started for me. I read so many articles, and found interesting stories about the art of photography – the wedding and portrait aspects. I later realized that I probably should go into the photography business and I saved up most of my salary and when it was enough to get a camera, I got my first camera.
Would you start your business, if you were to do it over again? What would you do differently?
I probably would start differently because I wasn’t exactly pointing myself in a direction when I took to photography. I didn’t know I was going to end up being a photographer as it started off as an interest in taking pictures. I would have better prepared myself to be a professional photographer with proper training but it wouldn’t be that much different.
What has been your greatest motivation?
My greatest motivation right now is feedback from my clients. So far my growth in photography has been amazing and I am thankful to God. I have come a long way and have realized that what pleases me the most is the joy that my clients get when they receive their pictures. They are always over-the-top happy, always thankful for my work regardless of the fact that they paid for the service and deserve the best. This inspires me to continue to be amazing at my work, meet the various needs of my clients and give them the most amazing pictures and moments as the case maybe.
What do you think of the Nigerian/Ghanaian wedding industry? Has it changed over the years and how?
Of course there has been a huge change over time. The wedding trend continues to evolve and get bigger. There are new innovations and trendy ways of carrying out a wedding party. The change is constant and will continue. New things will come up and by the grace of God we will continue to grow.
What do you like about your business and working in the wedding industry?
There are so many things I love about being a photographer and in the photography business. It’s such an amazing and fun business. My passion and interest keeps me going. An amazing thing about the business is the flexible time frame. Instead of being the regular 9-5 worker who will wake up very early in the morning and rush to work to sit down for long hours, I get to my office at my own time and pace, and work at my schedule. I have a much better output without being under full pressure and working in a defined time frame. I am only under pressure when having fun taking pictures at work. Pressure now subconsciously becomes fun because I am testing my skills over and over again and pushing myself to the limit, becoming better and better. This is what I like about my job.
Another aspect of my work I love is the fact that I am able to make different couples happy for different reasons: capturing amazing pictures, and sharing moments and experiences together. So many amazing couples have shared different love stories that make me realize that life is beautiful in so many amazing ways.
What differentiates Keziie from others in your line of business and location? What are your greatest strengths?
There is a huge difference between Keziie and other photographers. To the best of my knowledge, the art of photography has to do with an individual and his/her creativity, mindset, personality and exposure. So I will speak for myself. My views and creative work are obviously different or would be different from every photographers’ view because we are all endowed with various skills and ability to come up with ideas and get creative on set.
Another difference between Keziie and other photographers is that I like to get really personal with my clients. I get close enough, understand my couple very well, know what they want and then deliver. I am proud to say that I always do a good job.
What do you expect from your clients (brides and grooms)? What don’t you expect?
I like to say that I’m open minded when working with a new client. We are all from different backgrounds, communities, and are brought up differently, so everyone has his/her own perception about life and how things should be done. As such, I don’t have a particular expectation from my clients. I just like them to come as they are and we will carve a niche, make chemistry and work together as a team.
What advice do you have for future brides and grooms regarding your type of business i.e. photography?
My advice for future brides and grooms is to choose your photographer wisely. Apart from amazing pictures, I really think that the personality of the photographer goes a long way in the course of work in getting your wedding photographs done. Believe me! Photographs are very special and important because they are going to be viewed so many years down the line. You are going to look back at your wedding pictures and have generations to show your stories so it should be as important. Photographs hold a lifetime of memories for couples. So choosing the right photographer is key for the purpose of getting amazing pictures and having an amazing time with an amazing photographer.
What is (are) the most rewarding aspect(s) of providing your service? What are the most frustrating aspect(s)?
I will start with the rewarding aspect. It is rewarding when I am able to put smiles on the faces of new couples, while having an amazing time working. Also, the money is rewarding. Photography is quite a physical business but also a profitable business.
Photography is challenging because it pushes me to the limit. I have had situations where I had to deal with difficult brides. I am not calling anybody difficult, it is just that there are circumstances where the bride, groom or the client as the case may be would react differently. I don’t expect a client to always be in a good mood, but sometimes when there is so much pressure and the client is not-in-so-amazing mood it affects the performance of the photographer. However, I always find ways around it.
Sometimes the job is stressful but then it is part of being a photographer. It is also interesting. I take time to personally work on the pictures because I get very close to my clients and when I take a photo, I have a finished picture in mind. This means that I have to sit down and thoroughly work through the images. But asides that, it’s an amazing process.
What advice do you have for up and coming businesses in your line of business?
My first advice to upcoming photographers is to tell yourself the truth. Be sure that you want to be in a line of business such as photography. Photography is a very personal business. It is a business that becomes a lifestyle. You are going to deprive yourself of being a regular individual to become a photographer and you have to be ready to deal with the advantages and disadvantages.
Secondly, you have to properly master the art of photography. Be very sure that you are well educated, and know how you are going to express yourself, show your art and creativity. Your work will always speak for itself and if you don’t get thorough understanding of the art of photography and you hit the street, you won’t make a good mark and will be dragged back to square one. It brings us back to the fact that you are supposed to have mastered the art of photography first of all before you get into it.
Another advice is to take your eyes off the monetary profit that you see at the top. Photography is a learning process. It would be good if upcoming photographers channel ample energy into studying, understanding and deciding if photography is really what they want to do before actually get into it.
What award(s), if any, have you received?
Yes, I have received an award from my family as the only and best photographer, from my mother in particular. I have also been honored with a few invitations to talk at Babcock University and University of Lagos. No physical awards per say but these recognition serve as awards to me.
What else would like to share with our readers?
Life is a learning process for us all. It would be advisable to live every moment as if it would never return, which is the case. If we value our precious time, we will execute our daily endeavors to the fullest and maximize our time. This would result in fulfilling your purpose in life. Let us not procrastinate. Whatever you have to do to be amazing, do it today, do it now. If you want to make a change, it starts with you as an individual and not the next person. Finally, whatever you have to do, put God first because by the grace of God, everything will be fine.
Thank you for this opportunity.