This is an interesting story that illustrates how God remembers the poor and blesses them through the rich. Nigerian Singer and celebrity Photographer, TY Bello, has put a lasting smile on the face of a young woman, Olajumoke Sunday Orisaguna, who hawks bread on the street of Lagos. TY had photographed Olajumoke by chance during one of her photo sessions. Olajumoke was just passing by the set, she made a stop and was photographed – a picture that changed her life for good.
After the picture was published, people started asking TY if the young woman was a model, and she replied saying, “it was was just perfect coincidence.” Olajumoke graced the picture beautifully with her photogenic charisma. On a second thought, TY thought the lady should be a model for real and went on a wild search for her. That was the beginning of Olajumoke’s modeling career.
“TY writes . . . A PORTRAIT WITH GRACE
“I only recently started thinking it was important to make ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of my photography sessions. I hardly make time to go through the footage simply because I find it uncomfortable looking at myself on screen and for the obvious fact that I sound weird and embarrassingly loud when I shoot.
“Yesterday, I sat with filmmaker @emaedosio as we combed through go-pro footages to see if we captured the very moment. Olajumoke, a bread hawker from the Sabo market bakery, walked entirely by coincidence unto the set of Thisday style shoot for @tiniegram. She looked a little confused, because she didn’t fit in and some people were asking her to leave the set while others asked her to stay.
“I signaled if it was ok to take her photograph and she agreed and I pressed on my shutter so she could move ahead. My main subject of interest was the Okada driver that had slowed down just before she arrived . Okada riders have that cool lagos vibe and always happen to add a bit of swag to street portraits.
“I was wrong to have paid her such little attention. Ever frame with her in it was perfect. I had found a second subject in the Tinnie’s story… A young beautiful hawker who could have served as a love interest of some sort. Digitally, I made the red in her dress match @tiniegram sleeves to create a connection between them .
“When the magazine came out last week and the images hit social media, I was proven right that this girl split the limelight with the main subject effortlessly… questions and comments started to fly: Was she a model? How did we convince the model to balance all that bread on her head?
“The buzz about her multiplied when I clarified that she indeed wasn’t a model at all but simply stumbled on our set. I immediately begone my search for her. If so many people felt she was beautiful enough to be a model. Then maybe she was meant to be one. I was going to find a way to make it happen. I had my assistants leave word with people in the area we shot her and to my delight the very next day, she showed up at my studio.
“Olajumoke, the ‘model’ that people have been searching for on the Internet, speaks almost no English. She explained how she had worn the exact outfit in our photograph the day before and someone showed her her own photograph on his phone from Facebook. A mallam led her to my studio that morning. She narrated her journey to lagos. She was a hair stylist from Ire in Osun state but was not making enough profit to sustain she and her husband, a sliding door installer in from same village, and their two young children.
“At the invitation of a distant relative who knew someone operating a bakery, she relocated to Lagos with her 14-month old daughter to give bread hawking a try, leaving her husband and older 5-year old behind. As I listened to her, I wandered if the beauty I had seen on my screen as I edited my image was a fluke. Then she smiled, I realized that I was wrong. I had in fact, underestimated the beauty of this 27 year old woman. As always, it was her eyes and of course her perfectly chiseled features that jumped out at you when she chuckled.
“This lady belonged in front of my camera. After a conversation with her husband telling him the story of our meeting, I decided I was going to photograph her that very afternoon. Within an hour, Bimpe Onakoya, one of Nigeria’s leading makeup artist and Zubby one of my favourite hairstylist were at my studio to work magic. They had both followed the story online and were more than happy to put in their very best for her.
Olajumoke, with her curly extensions out, revealed a short natural Afro that beautifully hugged her face. @Bimpeonakoya also had decided to keep the make up minimal. She stepped in front of my camera and I almost couldn’t recognize her. She moved differently too. Jumoke looked straight into my lens emoting like she had done this all her life…I knew we had found a star!”
“During the course of the day, @emaedosio who was making a short documentary about the process had asked her what she really wanted to do. Olajumoke explained that bread hawking wasn’t the most profitable business but put enough food on her table. It also put a roof over a head – a roof she shared with scores of other hawkers.
“She was a trained hairdresser back in Osun State but her family could not afford the necessarily ‘freedom‘ ceremony; a passing out ritual that gives a trainee a sometimes unwritten permission to start a full fledged salon. We all decided that the make over would be incomplete if it ended at the studio. Every one started to reach out to their contacts and through Bimpe we were able to get her a meeting with Ugo, the pioneer of Make-Me salon.
“As a result of the buzz she generated from the Thisday cover, our model is now close to starting an internship at Make-Me Salon, and has been offered a additional internship with Sari Signature, a famous Lebanese owned salon on the island island. To pay Jumoke her model fee from her first job in front of the camera, we called @_ujumarshall, one of Nigeria’s and matched her fees. She’s also been offered a modelling contract with the help of @godsonukaegbu from a @fewmodels.
“She’s also had @payporte reach out to her to be the model on their next billboard campaign. This is clearly only the beginning of another chapter in Jumoke’s story. Though it seems accidental, it’s clearly Divine. Just this morning, a mentor of mine offered to foot the bill for her accommodation, education as well as her child’s. This finally makes it possible to be finally reunited with her husband and older child.