Akua Boatenmaa Adjei, a 25 year-old communicator from the Ghana Institute of Journalism,emerged into professional photography as a learner who invested into building her dream business to the extent that she is giving big shots in the industry a run for their money.
Akua Boatenma (now Akua Boatemaa Oppong-Attah) is the manager of Universal Top Range Enterprise (a luxurious photo studio located in Mallam) & originator of an underground photography brand—Akiboat Impressions.
Some of her feats include handling photography for Miss Tourism Ghana 2011, Miss Communicator 2010 & 2011, collaborating with Crown Media to work on an advertising account, taking shots for both renowned and underground musicians, etc. She describes herself as “a simple and easy-going girl who takes life by the day”.
Myfirstcopybook caught up with Akua Boatenmaa at her office to find out her magic formula.
Myfirstcopybook (MFCB): How did you land into photography?
Akua Boatenmaa: I must say I have been passionate about photography for so long a time. I recall my days in Benkum Secondary School when I use to smuggled my analogue camera to school.
I think my practical experience at the Audio-visual Unit of the GIJ played a major role in my skill. The experience enriched my ability to take better still pictures, handle video camera, host programmes, etc.
MFCB: How did you finance this big project?
Akua Boatenmaa: This whole project started as a big joke; Before national service, a friend in the UK called wanting to know what I was doing with my life. I remember telling him I wanted to setup my own Advertising Agency. Funny enough, whatever I said to him that day was one of those things, but he kept it at heart.
After my one-year national service at GNA, I was back to the house because I could not land myself a job. My London-based friend called again asking about work. Little did I know he had bigger and better plans of single-handedly financing every bill. He set me up with office rental, studio equipment, etc.
Looking back, I noticed that my joblessness at that point in time was indeed a blessing in disguise.
MFCB: What challenges did you face starting Universal Top Range Enterprise?
Akua Boatenmaa: The professional camera, lens, soft box, lights, etc. I received were so complex and advanced. Though I fidgeted with the gadgets, I had no luck manipulating them fully. Many of the equipment were those I had watched on television as part of a Hollywood film project. I therefore had to Google information on how to fix the equipment in the studio. Then I started practicing professional photography by taking shots of friends like Maame Esi Mensah, etc. That give me experience and exposure. So Top Range Enterprise officially started operations in March 2011.
MFCB: Which people do you look up to in the photography industry in Ghana or elsewhere?
Akua Boatenmaa: I started uploading many of my works on Facebook so friends can see my works, and critic them.
On Facebook, I usually connect with renowned-Ghanaian photographers. Over time I started going to their studio to learn more about how to setup light professionally. I learnt the varied angles of taking photos and the effects each angle has on photos. Ralph Menz, Ben Bond, Gerald Annan Forson, and Kwayie Kuffour were of help.
Back to your question; inasmuch as I’m still learning from many photographers, I currently do not look up to any photographer; I’m self-motivated to be me (not a carbon copy of photographer A or B) . Because I know if I keep learning more and more, the sky will be my foundation.
MFCB: What is different about your service?
Akua Boatenmaa: My ultra-modern working environment made people in the vicinity prejudge us as expensive. That perception brought many people to us. “They went out of our studio with a smile because of the quality pictures, prompt delivery and affordable rate”. The “perfection is my name and quality is my trademark” kept me going all season in this business.
MFCB:What do you do to distress?
Akua Boatenmaa: I love watching funny movies and it gives me loads of opportunity to laugh and distress. I also love watching Shirley Frimpong Manso productions and others with nice photo shoot locations. At my spare times, I engage in voluntary activities to help the less privileged in society.
MFCB: Your final words to unemployed graduates and entrepreneurs?
Akua Boatenmaa: The likelihood of not getting a job after school is high. The inflating numbers of graduates out ways the number of scarce-vacant positions in the economy/job market. So whatever certification you hold—MBA, Degree, HND, Diploma, etc.—, work at identify your God given talent. Also, sharpen your skill, go out there and make the world feel your presence (with little regard for opposition).
MFCB: How do you wish to be remembered?
Akua Boatenmaa: By God’s grace, I want to be remembered as the all smiley young and versatile photographer/communicator who made it happen for her.