Rising Star: Meet Ayuba Tanko, founder of Ayuba Tanko Photography

Young people around the continent are doing extraordinary things with their skills. With brilliant ideas they come up with solutions that could solve many problems on our continent.

To BizzAfrica any such problem solver is a rising star that must be given the chance to shine. Dear readers our rising star for this edition is Ayuba Tanko, a photographer.

READ ALSO: Trailblazer: Meet Anne Amuzu, co-founder of Nandimobile

BizzAfrica: Tells us about yourself (name, family, and educational background)

Ayuba Tanko (AT): My name is Ayuba Tanko and I am the second of three children. I have just entered my thirties and I’m very single. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Psychology from the University of Ghana and I am also a product of Adisadel College.

BizzAfrica: So why the name Ayuba Tanko Photography?

AT: As far as I can remember my uncles and cousins called me that name, Ayuba Tanko, when I was little.

When I grew up I begun to like the sound of it and since it was not a common name it also made me popular in school.  When I started photographing people that was the name I gave them and it stuck. I felt it made sense to keep it as my business name too.

BizzAfrica: What were you doing before photography?

AT: I have been teaching since I graduated from the University but stopped along the line because I realized I could make some good money from my hobby (photography). I actually got my first camera when I was in SHS. It was a Minolta point and shoot film camera.

I wanted something to play with during leisure. It was a hobby. The pictures I took with that camera often came out very nice. Some of my friends who saw them really commended me and it felt good. But I never considered it beyond that. Never thought it would be a paying hobby in the future.

BizzAfrica: When and why did you decide to go into photography?

AT: It was about 2012 or 2013 that I decided to take my photography seriously. I always photographed for fun and for free. Prior to deciding to delve into photography and make money, I saved and bought a Nikon D5100, which is a beginner DSLR (digital single-lens reflex).

One time at a programme, I saw the photographer use a simple tiny digital point and shoot to photograph the event.

I found out later that he was paid. I was surprised to know that, because I had a DSLR and was shooting for free. I met a young guy of about 16 years old who had also shot a couple of family parties and was paid quite well. 

That really shook me and got me thinking. I realized that I could make good money from my hobby. So, I started learning and researching on the internet everything I could learn about photography, cameras, photographing events etc.

BizzAfrica: Do you have any professional training in photography?

AT: No! Like most professional photographers today, it was through trial and error and constant practice.

BizzAfrica: How did family and friends react to your new career decision?

AT: It was passive from the onset. They wondered how I could make a living from that. I managed to convince them that it was going to be a part-time profession. One time on facebook, one of the top commercial photographers in Ghana wrote that he had paid the fees of his kids for the next year from a job he did for a major company.

That excited me. It also gave me hope. In addition I knew young guys who were making very good money from photographing weddings and other social events. When my folks heard this, the pressure reduced a bit.

BizzAfrica: Where did you get the money to start up?

“One time on facebook, one of the top commercial photographers in Ghana wrote that he had paid the fees of his kids for the next year from a job he did for a major company. That excited me. It also gave me hope.” –Ayuba Tanko

AT: Hahahaaaa! As for the start-up money, it was through hustling. I got a job as teacher in a JHS some months after finishing my national service.  So I saved some money and after about six or seven months bought my first DSLR, the Nikon D5100.

BizzAfrica: How long have you been doing photography?

AT: Professionally, about three and half years. I went full time about seven months ago.

BizzAfrica: What kind of photography do you do (target market)?

AT: I photograph children events and portraits. I enjoy working with kids and being around them. They are fun and funny. However, weddings and adult portrait sessions pay most of the bills. I have not ventured into commercial photography yet, which also fetches a lot of money.

BizzAfrica: Is photography the only thing you do?

AT: Currently, I am a full time photographer.

BizzAfrica: Is it financially rewarding?        

AT: YES and NO. It is financially rewarding if you get clients who can pay your price.  When you value your work and you get clients who also have respect for you and what you do, they often pay your asking price. However, photography is an expensive hobby and even more expensive as a professional career. When you invest in it and you do not get the returns (financially if that’s what you are after), it’s frustrating.

BizzAfrica: What drives you in your line of business? (Passion or money)

AT: I started photography as hobby and it still is. I do some pro bono (free) jobs for NGOs and family and friends. However, photography is my profession now. It pays the bills.

BizzAfrica: Do you ever regret your decision to enter into photography?

AT: NO! I am loving it and I hope I can continue to carry a camera even in my old age. 

BizzAfrica: What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?

AT: The photography industry in Ghana is densely saturated. More and more young people are entering it by the day and they are doing wonderful stuff. You must keep up or you are left behind.

Sometimes you get a client and you give a package price and they don’t call you back. When you find out later, they have gone with the guy with the cheaper price. Money is hard to come by these days so people tend to go for the cheaper options. However, clients who know and want quality do not hesitate to work with you. 

BizzAfrica: So where do you see yourself in the next five years?

AT: Hmmmmm! I love kids and enjoy working with them. If all my plans work out, I see myself having a studio specifically for children photography in the next five years.

BizzAfrica: Do you think you will get there?

AT: I pray God leads me there.

BizzAfrica: Which is the biggest contract you have had so far?

AT: Hmmm! I think it was a wedding. It was a three-day programme. The family was fun, friendly and lively. The couple is still my friends.

BizzAfrica: What is your message to young people who think the only way to make it is through seeking non-existent white collar jobs?

AT: Photography is growing in Ghana. Some photographers are really making money. However, venturing into photography full time as a beginner will be hard. You would need some client base to start and that doesn’t come easily. I was advised by some pros I talked to not to start photography full time until I have acquired a client base that could refer me time to time. My advice to the youth is to take it slowly and learn the craft and the industry. There is no rush. In the meantime, keep your weekday job and do some photography during the weekends until you feel you are ready to go full time.

Reach him via:

Website: http://www.ayubatankophotography.com

Facebook: Ayuba Tanko Photography

Instagram: Ayuba Tanko Photography

READ ALSO: Intellectual Property Law: Protecting your idea


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