“Car to the Future” Photoshoot with the Amazing Duo

“It is more important to click with your subject than to click the shutter.”

Image by Mabel Echewune

May 27th is that time of the year when Banks, NGOs, Government Agencies and political aspirants create content to join the trendy conversation on social media for the Children’s Day celebration to promote their businesses and political agenda. At Read2Succeed Africa, this is our favorite time of the year to celebrate the students in public primary schools and to create content that inspires people to volunteer for programs that seek to improve the state of Basic Education in Nigeria.

As a creative photographer working with an educational advocacy group, I have a culture of telling stories through images to spark reaction amidst private sector, religious groups and potential individuals. My team and I had a brainstorming session on what the theme for the 2018 Children’s Day shoot should be, We came up with several brilliant ideas but decided on ‘Car to the Future’. With an objective to paint a picture of the Nigeria’s public educational system as an old dead car unable to take public school students to the future of work.

May 27th was approaching, it was time to secure the location and models for the shoot. It is crucial for the creative process to be guided by thinking about the subjects and the scenes before the shoot. After making inquiries on possible locations with old rusty cars, my colleagues (Teju and Hassana) and I headed to Independence Avenue, Central Area, Abuja Capital Territory to checkout an old abandoned police car. On getting there the police car was a no no for me, as it didn’t match up with the image I had in mind for the shoot. So we proceeded to the second stop for the day, a mechanic workshop located in Jabi Forest. The only dilapidated car we were shown in Jabi also didn’t cut it for the shoot as the mechanic taking us around for the search lamented that officers of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEBP) had recently come to clear all the old cars in their workshop, he talked with such annoyance as though the act of ensuring the environment was clean and safe was unethical. Looking at the mechanic I knew he was just really frustrated, his main concern was that he would not be getting the money he expected from us because we couldn’t find an old car we really liked for the shoot.

One of the major contributing factors to the success of the photoshoot was the students I picked from L.E.A Primary School to model for the shoot. Mr Raphael, the class teacher preferred I used his favorite students for the shoot but I requested for Destiny instead, an 11 years old boy whose dream is to be an Architect . When it was time to pick a female model, Joy caught my eye and I knew immediately that the camera would love her.

It was the day of the shoot, I woke up that morning not satisfied with our decision to shoot at Jabi Forest, but it was the best we could come up with in such short time. I headed out before it was 6am to search for a better location as I said to myself, ‘I need a car that will give me the winning shot’. From Utako mechanic shop to Wuye we found nothing befitting, no old rusty car matching the image in my head so I told the driver to take me to Apo Mechanic Village — 18.4 kilometers away which was a 35 to 40 minutes drive away.

Like they always say, ‘the early birds gets the worm’, the streets were quiet with barely any cars on the road and little or no distractions, then I sighted a car parked under a cashew tree just before Apo Mechanic Village. It was the perfect match, the exact image in my head and with the students I had selected for the shoot I knew I was going to get that winning shot.

Car to the Future

After speaking with the chairman of the area I secured the car for the shoot, a 1960 Peugeot 404, he assured me that he would talk to the mechanic who owned the car and that I should ‘bring something for the boys.’ I headed back to town to pick up equipments and the students. I arrived at Utako School an hour late but I didn’t care, my new discovery of the perfect car overwhelmed me — the car that would best portray the image ‘Going Nowhere Too Soon’.

The 2018 Children’s Day shoot for Read2Succeed Africa was super fun. I was surprised by the strong character displayed by Destiny and Joy, I didn’t have to say much, they were naturals, one minute they were laughing and the next they were into character posing for the camera. My intention wasn’t to put the spotlight on Destiny and Joy, I wanted above all to create a portrait of a dilapidated car that best described the state of public education in Nigeria, but my Amazing Duo as I’d like to refer to Destiny and Joy stole the show. Indeed, I very much agree that ​“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”-A​lfred Stieglitz.

The Amazing Duo — Joy & Destiny

PS. Thanks to the ever reliable team: Rukaiya Ibrahim, Solomon Yacs, Iyke Ibeh, and Anne Noah. You guys are the bomb.