May we meet you? Where are you from? What’s your marital status? And how many kids do you have?
I am Abisola Ijalana. I am a Nigerian Newborn, Baby & Child Photographer. I run M12 Photography @m12photography based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am an award winning photography, Female Photographer of the Year (ELOY AWARDS) 2016 in Nigeria. I was also one of the final three nominees for ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ (AWIEF AWARDS) 2017, held in Cape Town, South Africa. I am from Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. I am married and I have 2 boys.
Tell us about your job and how it all started?
My job involves photographing babies and children. It is a specialist field of photography. It is something I really enjoy. My journey started in 2010 when I did my first photography training at the DayStar Skills Acquisition Programme. Thereafter I have done several other trainings to improve my craft. Initially I did not start my career as a baby & children photographer. I started with weddings and events. With time I noticed that I had a flair and passion for photographing babies. I also noticed that this field of photography was not a specialization in Nigeria, as compared to the USA, Australia and Europe. I saw it as a niche market in Nigeria, and decided to specialize it. I then started studying the works of renowned photographers in this field. I have also done some trainings in the USA to improve my craft.
Has it been difficult juggling work and being an available mom?
I will say I have been able to cope with the roles. I have a very good family support system which has helped me a lot.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
The joy of photographing beginnings of life. I love the art I try to project when I photograph babies and children. They are life’s precious gifts.
Why did you choose photography? If you were not a photographer, what would you have been?
I will say my entry into the field of photography was divine. . I am a creative person. I try to see how ideas which I have in mind to be given expression. I liked taking pictures growing up, so when I decided to start a career photography became a natural choice. If I was not into photography, I will most likely have taken up a business in agriculture
How do you get ideas for your photographs?
To start with, ideas for my photographs depend on the age of the child. The age of child will determine the concept, poses, background, props that will be used. A photo shoot can based on what the child loves, cartoon characters etc. We can also have a traditional themed shoot where the child gets to wear native outfits. Creativity is very important in the art of baby and child photography. I sometimes look for inspirational ideas from the internet and also discuss ideas with parents.
Does being a Mom help you be more professional at what you do? Has your career changed in any way?
Being a mom has helped my career tremendously. Since I am a baby and child photographer, being a mom makes understand better children behaviours, temperaments etc which has helped me a lot in my genre of photography. Also importantly, practicing baby wrapping, posing etc with my first, helped me a lot when I was starting as newborn, baby, child photographer.
What 3 professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
1. The recognition that I have gained, as a specialist and role model in my chosen genre of photography
2. Being an award winning photographer, this is an indication of recognition of my contribution to photography in Nigeria
3. Being able to train and mentor a new generation of baby & children photographers in Nigeria
What would you say is one of the biggest hurdles facing the female entrepreneur in our current landscape?
I believe the female entrepreneur in Nigeria can achieve whatever goal she sets for herself. For me, there are no major hurdles affecting female entrepreneurs in Nigeria because of their gender. In politics, we can say yes, female are not yet well represented in political positions, but in entrepreneurship, a lot of women are running great busineses.
What advice/secrets can you share for managing your children, chores, and career
It is very important to maintain a good work-life balance to ensure that neither suffers. It is very important to have a great family support system. You must have a spouse who believes in you, share in your dreams and aspirations. As a career/ business person you must create time for your family, for recreation, bonding etc
What advice do you have for moms with desires to follow their own dreams?
It is very important for mums to believe in their dreams. They must have passion for their dreams. If their dream is a particular career path, three things are very important. 1. Passion 2. Requisite Skills 3. Mentorship
Passion will keep you going on your dreams when starting out a career or business. Running a business or pursuing a career sometimes has its own challenges, so passion ensures that you keep going on strong in the face of these challenges. It is also very important to have appropriate skills for your career. The skills acquisition maybe from previous work experience or training or you enroll for training programme. It is also very important to have a mentor. A mentor has gone through the dream path you have chosen and will be able to guide you appropriately.
Photo credit: Instagram/m12photography