Ikemsinachukwu Jordan James’ love for camera started at the age of four, when his father gave him a toy camera as a birthday present. His fascination with the gift was so much that he couldn’t be separated from it.
So, when he was presented a real camera on his eighth birthday, the now Junior Secondary School (JSS III) student of Mercyfield College, Ejigbo, Lagos, began thinking of how to put it to good use, especially when he learned that pictures could be used to document events and tell or embellish stories. He developed interest in photography with special interest in documenting history.
“My father taught me how to operate a camera, when I was eight years old,” he recalled. “But I later went to a professional photographer to hone my skill. Initially, I just wanted to take pictures for my dad’s photo museum, but I later discovered that I could make some money, while still helping daddy.”
So, for two years, he was an apprentice at a photography studio, where he learned how to focus the lenses, identify lights and other related details. He had to combine his training with his schoolwork. His summer holidays were spent at the studio.
He said: “It was quite tough, as I also had to do my schoolwork and house chores. But I was able to cope by prioritising things. I have learned that there is time for everything. I drew a timetable that guided me on when to read, play and engage in my other hobbies. My parents were supportive. They reminded me of the things I should do and urged me to be strong and focused.”
After his apprenticeship, the teen photographer was ready to go into the field. At age 10, he started taking pictures of people at different events, covering political campaigns and even following tourists to historical sites on Saturdays and holidays.
“I ensured that my part-time job did not disturb my studies. So, I chose to work at weekends and holidays,” he said.
James has in his file pictures of some notable traditional rulers, filmmakers, politicians and celebrities, among others.
Impressed by his dexterity with the camera, when he was part of his campaign team, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Abia State Governor, described James as Nigeria’s youngest professional photographer, and urged him to pursue his dream wholeheartedly.
But is the job worth all the ‘stress’? He replied in the affirmative, saying money made from his part-time job augments whatever his parents spend on his education. He revealed that he made quite a handsome amount from his first job, which prompted him to put in more efforts to be on top of his game.
James said he got his first job through leads.
He said: “I started by taking pictures of family members and friends. With time, I began covering ceremonies, alongside other professional photographers. My dad is a curator at a picture museum and also runs a free library. He is always organising events for youths and women. Most times, he invites me to cover the events. I got some of my jobs from women and men that attend these events. I have learned that a job properly done brings another. I believe in hard work and in doing good jobs.”
Having handled high profile jobs, despite his young age, some of his peers now look up to him for guidance on how to legitimately earn money while still in school.
He said: “I tell them to do things they have passion for; positive things that would not destroy their lives. Once they identify their passion, they should go for a training to sharpen their skill. I also advise them never be in a hurry to make money.
“And for those already in one hobby or another, I advise them to be focused, humble and never forget the need for training and retraining.”
The young photographer, who looks forward to holding his first solo exhibition soon, also teaches interested youths photography and how to document events through pictures.