Recently, I was stuck when I had to take a portrait for my first book (watch out peeps), wondering where I would go since there are more photo shooters in Lagos than there were snipers in the battle of Stalingrad. I quickly remembered someone whose exhibits I had been following for a while. I gave him a call and an appointment was fixed. But the session turned out to be a lesson in life instead of just a photo shoot.
A cool Friday morning found me on 12b Fagba Street, a cool, quiet area of Ogba in Lagos. The warmth with which his workers greeted me in the reception made me feel like a film star on Hollywood boulevard. The first thing I noticed in eloPhotos was a shelf of books and more books and of course they pulled me like a variety of Zinnias singing a fragrant romantic song to a butterfly’s soul. To my amazement they were all on photography, books that could fill up the whole library of Pergamum, all on a single topic. The room also had beautiful framed pictures hanging on the walls like priceless stamps in a philatelist’s collection. The wedding ones were mesmerizing because they were sprinkled with the stardust of creativity but the one I particularly liked was the one in which the photographer froze time for any avian lover to appreciate a green bird on a banana leaf. It was masterful artistry inducing sheer delight.
Noticeable on the bookshelf was a plaque from an American university showing a degree in Business Administration. By now the questions were twirling in my brain like clothes in a washing machine. Then behold the man, he walked in, short sleeved with baggy pants and after the initial niceties, I went into my Gatling gun mode and started firing him with questions. Having a foreign degree in Nigeria is about the fastest way to climb to the top of any career ladder. I would have expected this guy to be in an office, decked to the nines in designer garments, with his whole person buried up to the neck in papers and not this so relaxed dude toting a camera before me.
After observing Seun Akinsanmi’s style and imagination, the way he ensures that every snap is a shot of passion, it dawned on me that his studio has painstakingly been built with the bricks of devotion and dedication.
As I left the hallowed grounds of this temple of photography, the one word that kept popping up in my mind was PASSION!
Passion, the exceptional quality that never says no, it is what kept God on until He finished the world before He could rest, it made Churchill stand strong before the steamrolling might of the Nazis, it caused James Cameron to stay on the Avatar project for twelve years, it was what initiated Marco Polo and Columbus to discover new worlds, it brought David Livingstone to Africa, it is the ingredient that spurred on Vince McMahon into building a billion dollar industry from wrestling, it crowned Mohammed Ali the greatest, turned John Grisham into a bestselling novelist, eggs on a city bred zoologist into the Amazon jungle to save a species on the brink of extinction and made Mother Theresa sacrifice all for service. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, George Washington all had this ingredient (PASSION) in prodigious amounts.
A life without passion is akin to being served a Mexican dish cold and without the chili sauce. Passion is what gives life a rush, without it our relationship with God dies, marriages become nonexistent, businesses go bankrupt, and life becomes boring and mundane like an interminable carousel ride instead of the exciting exhilaration of a bungee jump.
The other day I saw the new Thai prime minister speaking on telly in a banking hall, since the sound was hushed I could not hear what she was saying but I could feel her passion. Passion is what makes you go the extra mile when others have thrown in the towel; it is what keeps you awake at night burning the lamp like Florence Nightingale, when others are frolicking with Peter Pan in Morpheus induced dreams, it is what makes one a burning flame when others have become the charred remains of yesterday, it turns an ordinary night into a fireworks extravaganza when mixed with a canoodle with your spouse. IT’S THE FUEL THAT KEEPS THE WICK OF VISION BURNING!
It would be well to note that passion like fire is useful to potential only when it blazes in controlled and defined conditions. Outside these restrictions, it can become negative and dangerous. Examples are Hitler’s mad quest for world domination or sexual passion outside the confines of marriage. Such passionate flames usually leave in its wake, disaster, torched destinies, burnt feelings, toasted futures and scorched lives. It culminates into a conflagration of destruction but positive passion is healthy, life without it is cold.
What is your passion? Are you true to it? The answers to these questions are what will make your life either a butterfly kiss or a nuclear powered smackeroo! Discover your passion, give it wings and you will soon start living beyond the limits of gravity.
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch