In this episode, we speak with Fiyin Atinmo, a portrait and fashion photographer who is also a medical student. He tells us about how he’s managed to build his career in photography while finding a balance between medical school and politics.
How did it all start? (what piqued your interest in photography)
I’ve always had a thing for beautiful images and cameras. My earliest memory is of me (Circa 2010) always asking my cousin for his camera at family gatherings to take pictures instead of sitting to eat.
What pushed me to start a brand and improve my skills was the opportunity, my friend, Henry, gave me in 2019. He walked up to me while I was reading and said he just felt like I’d have interest in joining a photography team he was putting together, and I should just show him what I could do with a camera he gave me. I still thank God for that till today.
What was the major challenge you faced starting as a photographer?
Funding to start properly. It’s a really expensive craft, and I had to do most of the initial fundraising myself; talking to cousins and uncles to help. It’s still a costly craft, but I balance it out with consistent skill improvement and, eventually, better-paid jobs.
You are also a medical student; how do you balance these two careers?
This is my most asked question😂. Well, I understand the importance of both in my life, but I still won’t put my education and training at risk because of my business. What I do is strict time management. I hardly take jobs during the week when school is in session. Very tough decision, but it’s for the best.
So are you planning to merge both Dentistry and photography in the future?
If an opportunity or idea presents itself, I’ll definitely take it. I still have other interests like Politics, Governance to pick from.
Politics??? You do that too?
Yes, I’ve been into student politics since my 100 level. I was part of Kuti Hall’s Student Representative Council, Assistant General Secretary, Public Relations Officer and now, Vice President of my faculty.
Wow… Let’s get back to photography, though. You said photography is an expensive craft. How did you source income to start?
It is actually really expensive to get standard gear to start up (Thank you, Nigerian Government!!). I spoke to siblings, cousins and uncles to help in any way possible. I also did a business collaboration with Henry (I mentioned him earlier), which made purchasing easier. I guess that’s why people say you need to be passionate about something to actually make it happen.
ASUU is currently on strike; how has this affected you and your business?
It’s affecting school, but I have time to work and improve. I don’t joke with any free time I get to work or improve. The only unfortunate thing is that I can’t pitch myself for opportunities I want because school will resume eventually, and those opportunities require all my time, for a long time (Again, thank you, Nigerian Government 🤦🏾♂️)
Have you ever gotten in trouble in school because of photography?
No/Not yet 💀 I try not to have them clash, and if they do, I always find a way not to have either suffer.
What is your worst and best memory since you started your photography career?
Worst memories would require four more interviews after this
LOL! Just mention one, then
I did a job for an elderly person in 2020, and after so much back and forth and personal expense, she totally spat on my work and refused to pay me to date. The worst part is that she’s a family member (or at least they said she was)
My best memory would be summoning the courage to text and meet Dr Nonso Egemba (Aproko Doctor) and his wife, Amaka. We’ve remained good friends, and they’ve given me beautiful opportunities to be better and do more.
What advice would you give anyone looking to get into the photography space?
1. You might be tired of hearing it, but passion and dedication are the main ingredients to improvement and eventually, success.
I’m not as successful as I want to be, but the little change that has happened came from those two things.
2. Don’t do it to impress people, do it because you love it. The day people aren’t impressed, you might be tempted to give up
Asides from Dentistry and photography, what do you do in your free time?
Student politics, public speaking, swimming, basketball and watching movies. I also enjoy being around my friends.
Thank you for your time, Fiyin.
Inioluwa from UPFOLIO.