There are a few things you should know about Lagos-based wedding and portrait photographer Wani Olatunde: She believes in the healing power of cookie butter. Some days, she pretends that her life is a musical, complete with super amazing dance routines. She always chooses her dessert before the main course.
She’s also a master at capturing the perfect blend of editorial details, gorgeous portraits, and intimate moments that make wedding days so memorable. She brings out the beauty of her portrait clients in a way that boosts their confidence and puts a glint in their eye.
And did we mention that she’s one of the savviest business people around?
We are so excited to chat with Wani this month and hear how she’s grown her photography business, who inspires her, and more. Oh, and Wani also believes the best conversations are held over mojitos–so grab the mint and lime, and read on for Wani’s thoughts!
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become interested in photography, and how did you get started as a wedding/portrait photographer?
I’m Wani – a wedding and portrait photographer. I always liked taking pictures but fell in love with the art of photography when I was working in South Africa, which is an incredibly beautiful country. I started taking more pictures and sharing them on social media (Facebook at the time, since Instagram didn’t exist yet, LOL) and the more positive feedback I received, the more encouraged I felt to pursue photography as a hobbyist. After I had my first child, I realised I couldn’t be a banker, mum, and a photographer – so something had to give. I left banking and moved into the brave new world of being a full time photographer.
What types of services do you offer?
I shoot weddings and portraits. But I like to tell people that I photograph women (and the ones they love) in every phase of life. So, from little girls, to teenagers, to brides, to mums-to-be, to mums, to grandmothers. We go full circle. 🙂
What does a typical day look like for you?
Ooh – it’s always a balance of kids and work. We start early with the school run and then get the studio ready for the shoot of the day. I like to take my time with each client, so I only book one client a day. They come in for hair and makeup, and we shoot for a couple of hours until we are satisfied. Then I pick up the kids, do homework, and then go back to whatever desk work I need to do – editing, culling, ordering, social media. Then it’s time to get the kids ready for bed, have some dinner, and #netflixandchill with hubby. I try to avoid weekend work if I don’t have weddings so I can spend more time with the kids, but ultimately it’s a balance.
How did you discover ProPhoto, and how has it helped with your business?
I can’t remember how exactly I discovered ProPhoto, but it was a long time ago back in 2010 when it was ProPhoto 3. I’m a researcher so I spent a lot of time investigating different website templates and at that time a lot of people were still using flash sites, which I didn’t love. I loved how intuitive ProPhoto was, and it was one of the prettiest templates around at the time. I also loved the versatility, the fact there were so many template options within ProPhoto itself, and that it was totally customisable. I’ve designed 5-6 ProPhoto sites myself over the years and the ProPhoto team (Steve, Ben, and Dan especially) have always been incredibly helpful with troubleshooting and even correcting bits of code. They are pretty awesome. 🙂
I absolutely love how I’ve been able to build two websites with ProPhoto that reflect my wedding and portrait brands so beautifully. And over the years, both clients and colleagues have brought up my website as a something that helps me stand out from the crowd. ProPhoto has definitely played a big role in helping me continue to attract the right kind of client and I’m a huge fan. I tell everyone about you.
Many photographers find it challenging to balance doing what they love (working with clients and shooting photos) and handling the practical aspects of running their own business. Do you have any tips/advice to share on how you handle this?
Aah yes – the biggest misconception of a newbie photographer is that photography is 90% shooting and 10% everything else. And once one goes full time, you quickly realise that it’s really more like 10% shooting and 90% business. It was a little bit of a rude awakening at first, but once I learned how to be a business person who practised photography as opposed to a photographer trying to make a little money, I saw my business grow in leaps and bounds. In terms of how to handle it – my two biggest pieces of advice would be to i) know your numbers and set your financial goals at the beginning of each financial year, which will guide your pricing and client negotiations and ii) outsource the mundane things you don’t enjoy doing or that take up a lot of your time. Outsourcing my editing made a significant difference for me.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were just starting out as a professional photographer?
That it is more business than shooting – LOL. And that taking great pictures doesn’t mean people will be banging down your door to hire you. Marketing is a necessary and unavoidable evil – LOL.
What is one of the most memorable weddings/portraits you’ve gotten to shoot?
Oh I have so many, but a recent favourite was a 10-year destination vow renewal in Jamaica. First of all – it was Jamaica!!! Ah-mazing!!! As a wedding photographer, I usually only get to see the beginning of a couple’s journey, so it was really special to help my couple celebrate this major milestone in their relationship. It was really beautiful being able to document their three kids bearing witness to such a special family moment. I loved it!
Where do you get your inspiration?
My favourite wedding photographers are Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina. I love the whimsical and oh-so-pretty nature of their work. For posing inspiration, I look to fashion photography quite a bit. For portraits, I am a keen and passionate student of the one and only Sue Bryce. She basically helped me build a successful portrait business from scratch and I’m a big fan of all things Sue. #weloveSue
What are some trends in wedding/portrait photography that you’re excited about?
Without a doubt – it’s more unplugged weddings in 2019 [in which couples request that guests turn off their devices and cameras during the ceremony]. More couples are asking for this and it’s so nice to be able to walk around the ceremony and shoot as you want without fighting a sea of iPhones and iPads. So more of that, please.
Do you have any new projects/ventures in the works that you’d like to tell us about?
Nothing I can reveal at the moment – there are always a million things in the works, but this year I’ll be focusing on more personal work, taking inspiration from classical art. So I’m super excited about that.
It was wonderful chatting with you, Wani! We can’t wait to see where your new venture takes your work!
We’re always up for a chat with creatives who use and love ProPhoto for their business (especially if mojitos are involved 🙂 ) so if you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Spotlight interview, please let us know!