Lade Falobi is an amazing teen photographer who uses photography to promote social good. She recently won the Teens Choice award for the best photographer. Enjoy reading about her journey into photography and why she is passionate about creating a social change.
Who is Lade Falobi?
‘Lade Falobi (full name Falobi Olamide Omolade) is an 18 year-old 200-level student of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan. Most importantly, Lade Falobi is a fine art and conceptual photographer.
I was born in Lagos, the second child of my parents, and have lived in Lagos for most of my life. I attended Ifako International Nursery and Primary School, and later, Home Science Association Secondary School, before getting admission into the University of Ibadan. My father was a journalist and my mother is a fashion designer and teacher.
Can you tell us what motivated you to start Lade Falobi Photography? How did you start out as an entrepreneur?
I originally ventured into photography as a way to reduce idleness during my gap year between secondary school and the university. At the beginning, it was just an extra skill to learn. After learning the basics of photography, however, I began to develop a love for it. I was (and still am) fascinated by the view of the world through the lens. It amazed me that the view of the world through the lens revealed deeper realities than the view of the world through mere eyes. I wanted to share what I could see with the rest of the world.
So, with the help of a couple family and friends, along with the little savings I had, I managed to buy my own camera in 2017. That started my career as a photographer. My brother used to call me Lade, which is my middle name, so I decided to use it as my brand name.
I started doing little photo-shoots within the University, watching YouTube videos, reading books, and scrolling through Instagram to get ideas, gradually increasing the quality, and therefore, value of my work.
Many young people have many noble ideas but they often feel handicapped by finances. Photography is quite capital intensive; your camera for example, must have cost you a few hundreds of thousands? What advice do you have for teenagers who feel handicapped by finances?
Well, the idea is to start little and grow big. Amazingly, there are a couple photographers I know who don’t even own their own cameras, yet are doing awesome in the field (even better than myself). What is important is access, not ownership.
Before I bought my camera, I had access to a camera, so I could use it to practice and hone my art. I used to borrow friends’ cameras for events.
Another way of getting access for me was joining the media department in my church. An easy way of getting access to photography equipment is by joining media departments of churches or organisations. Doing so helps to not only gain access to a camera, but also to get exposed to professionals in the field, who could help put you through.
This could apply to other fields too. Interning is always a good opportunity to gain access to equipment, e.g. interning with a local tailor to gain access to a sewing machine. Most importantly, don’t be content with mere access. You should also save up towards owning your own equipment.
Recently, you received the Nigerian Teen Choice award for being the best photographer in the female category? How did that make you feel?
It felt awesome! While I know artists should not look for validation from the public about their work, it felt good that someone was finally recognizing the work I’d been doing. However, I would have preferred it if the award was not by voting, but by merit.
What do you hope to achieve with Lade Falobi photography?
When I had to pick a niche for myself, I picked Fine Art and Conceptual Photography. These types of photography, while not very popular, fit in line with my goals more than others. Fine Art photography involves pictures that portrayed an idea the photographer had to show the world, while conceptual photography involves pictures that show a particular concept of the photographer. Photography for me, is an art. It is life. It is amazing to me how I can, with the right settings, portray the thoughts in my head to people. It is fascinating that I can take the same picture from different angles and portray different ideas.
I figured out that my photography could do more than just show the world what I see; it could be a way to help others. In accordance with the United Nation’s SDG 17 (Partnership for the goals), I started working with NGOs and small startups that had ideas that could help change the world. I take pictures of them carrying out their projects, so that they could show others, especially those who could give them grants to further aid their projects. By volunteering my photography, I hope to make my own impact, no matter how little it seems, to improving the quality of the world. I want Lade Falobi Photography to be “a spotlight shining on the harsh realities of the world, the gaping holes in the fabric of the world; not just shining, however, but also healing the holes by pointing them out to the tailors who have the power to sew up the holes.”
What would you consider your greatest achievement so far?
What I would consider my greatest achievement so far is the acclaim I’ve managed to attain as an awesome photographer who knows her stuff. While that is not a veritable award per se, I consider it my greatest achievement because it shows the improvement I’ve made on myself an my photography have had effects in the right places.
Do you have mentors? How did you choose them?
I don’t have mentors per se, but I have a few photographers whose works inspire me. Photographers such as Adrian MacDonald (Lexon Art), Temitope Dada (Dabest) and Musa Tukurah are big inspirations to me. I chose them because of the quality of their work and the amount of effort they put into it.
If there is a decision you wish you had taken earlier what would it be?
Well, I wish I’d paid more attention to classes on photo editing. That remains my weak point in photography, and I feel if I’d paid more attention to that aspect at the beginning, I’d have improved my photography more than I have so far.
How do you juggle your academics, your photography business and your volunteer activities? Do you have a super formula you can share? : )
Lol, I don’t have a super formula. For me, it’s all about priorities. There are moments where my academics take precedence over business, and moments where some of my volunteering activities take precedence over academics. I weigh the impact both would have on me at that particular time and pick which is more impacting. Also, during exams, I try to reduce the amount of jobs and volunteering events I accept, so I can focus more on studying.
How did your parents react initially to your passion for photography?
Well, my mum was the one who originally pushed me to learn a trade, and she has been supportive ever since. She has contributed money for me to buy some of my gear. I remember when I had some brooches made with my logo on it, and I gave one to her. She wore it everywhere with such pride. Sometimes, she’d compliment me on some of my work.
Most importantly, she didn’t belittle my work by restricting me.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to pursue photography as a career. One of my dreams is to own my own gallery and hold exhibitions regularly. I also hope to travel the world, documenting people, places, and events. Of recent, I have also gotten interested in using photography as a way of investigation. I hope to build on that, along with my photography. Apart from photography, I have other plans. I plan on majoring in advertising, marketing, and public relations, based on my course of study. I’ve found I enjoy those three in particular. I hope to work freelance with an advertising agency. I’ve also always dreamed of owning my own coffee lounge.
What is your advice to readers of the TeenAchiever and other teenagers like you?
My advice would be for them to, as cliché as it might sound, follow their dreams and never quit believing in them. It’s easier to start with the little things and build on them till they grow big.