When Kola Oshalusi decided that working in the medical sector was no longer his thing and that a career in photography was the way forward, he had his parents to contend with. They were worried about his lack of background in photography, and dropping the prestige of being referred to as a medical doctor — although he was just a laboratory scientist — was not what they bargained for.
He says, “It was war! You know, in Nigeria, as long as you work within the medical space, you are called a doctor, especially if you are a man. The hard part was you being called a doctor (that sounds honourable) to being called a photographer (that is deplorable).”
Kola Oshalusi. Photo Instagram.
But he overcame their initial hesitation and, in the last 13 years, has created a name for himself in the industry, built a business and a recognised brand name.
That was made possible, in part, by his mentors although he was directly trained by anyone of them. “I got lucky to be partly mentored by a lot of exceptional people, picked up a lot of other things, studied other people’s work,” he says. “It was easier that way to evolve and find a niche, I got better, understood the business, did short courses and learnt more.”
His company, Insignia Media Productions Limited, has evolved from being just a photo studio to being a full-fledged photography company, offering professional services to a clientele that cuts across different industries.
His journey into photography has not come without its challenges. However, Oshalusi believes the challenges are, essentially, part of life’s journey. Besides, he thinks challenges create avenues for him to learn and evolve, thereby becoming better at what he does.
Kola Oshalusi. Photo Kelechi Amadi Obi
“I don’t see challenges in what I do. I see them as ways of learning, evolving and getting better. I am learning to work with an effective team, building a team around my work, understanding that the creative process is not about you but about a team.”
With that positive vibe at the core of personal philosophy, Oshalusi has his mind set on being a beacon of creativity for others within the industry. On April 24, a conference his company bankrolls will hold.
With the Business of Photography Conference, he aims to bring together photographers, photography manufacturing and service companies, as well as photography retail businesses under one roof to discuss, learn, exhibit and sell, and buy everything photography to reposition the craft in the country.
He hopes the conference will help Nigerian creatives be more adept at managing the business side of their art.
Kola Oshalusi. Photo Instagram
“One of the things I realised working with creatives in the photography space is that a lot of them are fantastically creative but terrible business people,” Oshalusi says. “They could be Instagram celebrities with tens of thousands of followers, but nothing in the bank. I started seeing the huge challenges within the space in terms of business, relationships and mentorship.”
Although Oshalusi has not practised in the medical space in the last 13 years, he still shares a modicum of affinity for his first love. In fact, he compares photography with medicine.
“The beautiful thing about photography is that it’s got the widest field asides medicine when it comes to discipline; you have to major in something,” he says.