That was the question I asked the gentleman facing me during a meeting we had at Intercontinental Hotel some months back. Earlier in the year, I had been contacted by representatives of Canon U.K. and after months of negotiating online & offline they decided to partner with the brands I represent to help preach the gospel of photography in Nigeria.
Fast forward to May 1st. We were meeting at the 8th floor of the island hotel to put final touches to the proposed 25 city NiPHEC-Canon tour. And that was when I popped the question. 5 feet 6 inches tall, Luar came across as someone who didn’t know how to mince words. He would not hesitate to bare his mind. Along with his meeting partner – Tera – they would eventually mention 3 salient points that made me take mental business notes.
His first point was that they decided to work with me because I had been consistent over the years. Apparently they had done their research and saw internet evidence that buttresed the fact that we had been organizing workshops and trainings that eventually culminated in the convening of Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference in 2013. Apparently it took us 4 years of consistently going about our business (without their support) to eventually get their attention.
His second point was that it was obvious we were not into it solely for the money. One thing that stood out for him during the months of negotiations was when at a particular junction they offered to pay a particular cash amount that would have settled both present and previous year’s cost of running the conference. We turned down the offer and made a counteroffer that was nonfinancial in nature and would include them supporting the 25 city tour. Apparently they were impressed. Apparently some other guys would have told them to “f**k off, if you can’t pay us this amount of money, your brand can’t be associated with ours.” They were impressed that we weren’t in it for the short term satisfaction of financial gain; we were in for the long run fulfilment of a vision of a better photography industry.
His last salient point was that they saw that I had an online following of at least 200 people. I was a little surprised that he mentioned 200. I thought there were cooler Nigerian photographers with better pictures than mine with tens of thousands of followers. Just 200? For them 200 people following a brand with a similarly vision like theirs would be strategic to partner with (even though they were careful with the way they used the word “partner”). According to him, if 200 people get the message we’re preaching, it will eventually become 2,000 people which will eventually become 20,000 people which will eventually become 2 million people. And since they’re coming into the game for the long run, they’re ready to key in to the vision while it’s still a mustard seed.
The 90+ minutes with Luar & Tera were more insightful than I had envisaged. The meeting brought to my consciousness the fact that there are companies outside the shores of this great country looking for people who will help them propopagate their gospel. And these companies are literally searching the internet to see who they can partner with. When they find the right partner, they’re ready to compensate well as long as the person or entity will deliver. I had to rethink the content I have been putting out online.
What if I had not posted enough evidence online? What if Google had not given them a search result that resulted in them contacting me? What if they did not have a great reason to choose me? Perhaps I would not be enjoying the perks of what it entails to be working with an international brand whose vision is to transform the Nigerian photography industry and help place it on a better pedestal on the global map.
What if they had not chosen Seun Akisanmi? I may never know. For now let me just heed the voice of the Canon 5d Mark IV that is beckoning unto me to take some creative hyperlapse of Lagos.