My people have a popular saying: ko si ireje ni nu foto, meaning, there’s no cheating in a photograph. They are wrong.
There’s always plenty of cheating going on in all of those photographs of huge models on billboards, who have been photoshopped to perfection.
Having also worked in advertising for close to two decades, I know enough about photoshopped images. I bet my people hadn’t heard of Photoshop in design and what it can do to an image, otherwise, they wouldn’t have come up with such a silly expression.
Even the phones we use today have inbuilt software that enables you edit an image, to cheat on photos taken, that’s why you can snap like a 100 shots and finally post just one or two on Facebook or Instagram, after of course, altering the images a bit. Have you ever wondered how come the photos of some of your friends differ from what they actually look like when you meet them face to face?
Aha, now you gerrit!
Why am I talking like this?
A few weeks back, I attended a function, an anniversary celebration of a good friend’s soft sell magazine, Yes! And as you must have observed these days, paparazzo are everywhere, invited or not. You don’t need to be a celeb before these photographers snap you to a twinkle. Step out of your car and pra pra pra pra, they have taken like a million shots and before the party or event is over, they have like six or seven of your photographs printed out and you must pay for them, abi? The image is yours, so you feel bound by some uncoded law to pay for these photos. If you don’t, “they will give it to juju people and you know the rest of the story.” Tufiakwa!
(Read Wole Soyinka’s massacre of paparrazo here)
Anyway, so I was there o, and before I could compose myself for a shot, I saw more than four to five flashes bulbs go off. I didn’t even know what angle to present so I could be photographed properly. I wanted to capture what was to my mind, “a truly gorgeous look”.
I had dressed well, makeup intact, dusted my oily nose before I came out of the car, lipstick in place, hair well arranged…hummn.
I forgot about my 15 seconds of stardom until after the event when my friends and I were making our way to the car and about two or three photographers bombarded us with our pictures all printed out like a glossy magazine. I quickly searched for mine among the sheaves of glossy printouts.
Forgive my excitement, I’m a woman, I like to see myself looking pretty and chic. But alas, I was given the most unflattering pictures of myself, the worst kind. There were about 6 or seven pictures of me and I literally shrieked from pain when I saw them because save for one or two. I looked terrible. So bad that one loud mouth friend took one look and burst out laughing. “See your fat face, Jesus!”
Then I rebelled, I looked the ‘photo’ (in Yoruba speak), referring to the photographer and asked him, “Who is this?”
I saw his confusion, “Hanty, na you na, you no sabi yourself again?”
“So when you dey take photo, you no dey sabi say you go stand for angle wey person go fine?”
I asked him, now thoroughly pissed, as I stared once again at the pictures in dismay; he caught me from the side where my short braids had fallen lose and looked spiky like a hedgehog, my face was fat and oily making my makeup look riotous, my nose huge like plastacine a naughty child had flung to the wall, while my wide forehead looked even wider making my eyebrows look like wings. I gasped in shock when I saw one with my double chin looking like triple chin. Omo I wanted to cry.
“Am I expected to pay for this?” I asked the photographer, who at this time was busy looking out for the other guests among his glossy printouts. My friends were laughing so hard, I felt like stabbing them. I did, with my eyes but it didn’t stop them from laughing, still.
The silly boy finally got my drift, “Hanty, this na you na, na as you be I photo you.”
At that point, I abandoned my friends and began to march towards my car in self-righteous indignation. If I had the strength, I would have frozen this photo boy into a pillar of salt but I forgot my laser lenses at home.
I would have loved to teach him a lesson, show an example to all those other photographers to learn to take good shots instead of making some of us pay for nonsense and claiming its us in those pictures.
I was marching so hard with my heels clicking and clacking with rapid precision, the image of North Korean army at march past came to mind.
The boy followed me, not even cluing in on the fact that he was in mortal danger. I stopped, he didn’t even realize I could harm him! He couldn’t see the fire shooting from my nostrils? “I’m not paying for the photos!” I said again.
Then I heard the oft said expression, “Ko si ireje ni nu photo” na as you be, na so photo go capture you.
Ehen? This boy is dead today!
Thankfully, my friend who didn’t want me to commit murder of any sort, had run after us, he collected the offending photos from the boy, destroyed them and paid the boy half of the money with a warning, “Next time you dey take woman picture, make you dey look well.”
Only then did I relax the clench on my jaw, that photographer came close to being completely annihilated.
Going forward, if any ‘photoboy’ imagines I will pay for pictures that don’t do me justice, he better have another think coming.
Read more from Peju Akande