By Smart Emmanuel
We recently sat down with Fabian Madu, CEO of Fabulus Photography, world class photo studios he built from scratch with passion rather than money.
Fabian has been a lifelong entrepreneur, starting with his first photography business from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State Nigeria. He juggled multiple jobs throughout his days in Auchi Polytechnic, working as a photographer and other menial businesses.
After his Higher National Diploma at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos in 2009, Fabian started a photography business with nothing in his pocket, except dream. His girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife emptied her N40,000 naira savings to pay for the shop he sublet from a friend and today, the journey has paid off.
Here are the excerpts from the interview;
Can you tell us how you ventured into Photography?
I started the business when I was in school, I started from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State .I picked the interest from a photo Journalism course. In Auchi Poly, they believe in practical work. At every assignment given to us, I always came out on top despite the fact that it was analogue we were using which necessitated us to process the photographs in the dark room ourselves. My lecturer then motivated me to take a career from this, in his words “you are so good, why don’t you build a career in photography?” that was what prompted me to get my first analogue photo camera, Pentax. It was bought for me by my sister .It was from there that I started hustling with the camera, I will take photographs, rush to lab to develop them and give to the students, they will pay me for it, I was making money.
Will you say that is your motivation to be a photographer today?
Actually is part of the motivations. Also I see many photographers they live very well and couple with determination because whatever you want to do in life , no matter how many people did not believe in you, if you are determined to make something out of it, you will make it.
Is it not because you could not get a job after school ?
No, but what rekindled my interest in photography business was my internship with ThisDay newspaper after my National Diploma at Auchi Polytechnic and after I finished with them, there was no money for me to proceed for my HND programme, I started taking instant passport photos for people, the money I made from there was what I used to buy my HND form at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Lagos in 2007. Fortunately for me, I met another lecturer, who happened to be a very good photo Journalist and a photo-lecturer at NIJ, Mr Boye Ola, he motivated me a lot to go into photography professionally.
What will you say were your challenges when you started this business?
Finance was my major challenge just like many SMEs in Nigeria, when I finished my HND, I had nothing to do. At that time, I was already over aged for NYSC and when my mates were going for NYSC, I was issued exception letter. After searching for jobs for some weeks without getting anyone. I said to myself, I am good at photography and I have the passion for it, so why should I continue to look for job everywhere when there are none and if you get a job, the pay is so small that it will not sustain you throughout the month. So with the help of my girlfriend then who is now my wife gave me 40 thousand Naira, that was all her savings at the time(laugh), I used the money to look for a small shop but I couldn’t find any in that amount because all shops were about 50 thousand Naira at the time. I was lucky to meet someone who wanted to sub-let his wife’s shop after she ran away that was how he took me to the landlord and I paid the remaining part of the money for the year only, I did not pay as a new tenant , that saved some money for me too at the time. That was what gave birth to FABULUS PHOTOGRAPHY proper and the rest is history.
Now, what are the monumental achievements you have achieved in the photography business?
I have a lot, I have been able to document a lot of peoples’ events through lenses. I have made a mark in the lives of so many families and I have trained a lot of people who are doing very well in the business of photography, some of them are well known in the industry. That is on the business side.
On the financial side, by the grace of God, me and my family don’t lack anything, I am currently building my house and taking care of family needs with ease and I have other assets that I wouldn’t want to mention here.
What is your advice to any young graduate who is out there roaming from office to office, looking for jobs?
My advice to them is, even if you don’t have any passion or have a craft for now, swallow your pride that comes with certificate especially in this part of the world, go and learn a skill and you see the passion coming up when you begin to make a living from it. In Nigeria today, the only security is what you know and you can do for yourself, even those working for big organisations are not secured, that is why you have to start from little before you know it, you will start employing a lot of people .
What is the most disgraceful or disappointing job that you have ever done?
(Laugh)…Just like every business especially the one that relies on technology like photography, there are bounds to be technical problems sometimes. There was a wedding i went to cover, I got home and in the process of downloading the video into my laptop, the memory card got corrupted, i tried to recover the video, I could not, everything went blank!….i was almost arrested if not for the intervention of many elites in the area and I was spared. I felt so bad for ruining that aspect of the wedding. The lesson I took home from there was not to rely on one equipment for any coverage, I use at least two cameras to cover a wedding or any event now, just to have back-up in case of any unforeseen circumstances like the one I mentioned earlier.