Few weeks back, celebrity photographer and singer, TY Bello was taking shots of singer, Tinie Tempah for his ThisDay Style cover when a bread seller walked into the session. She was photographed alongside Tinie and the shot turned out beautiful. The picture went viral after it was shared on instagram, with many asking TY if the lady was a real model. The singer stated that she would really like to meet her and help her build a (modelling) portfolio if she’s really interested and added that she will find a way to track her down. Eventually she was led to her by a person who saw the picture on Facebook….. She wasn’t only given a makeover, she’s on this week’s cover of Thisday Stylemagazine. Can you beat that? Read excerpts from her chat with TY Bello.
“Olajumoke a bread hawker from the Sabo market bakery , walked entirely by coincidence unto our set of our Thisday style shoot for @tiniegram The moment didn’t look special at all. If anything she stood there a little confused .. Some people asking her to leave the set and others asking 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 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 felt she was beautiful enough to be a model.. Then maybe she was mean to be one .I was going to find a way to make it happen .I had 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 ..
Aso kan na ni mo wo kiri Lana ‘.. Jumoke the ‘model’ the Internet had been searching for 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 face book. A mallam led her to my studio that morning .
She narrated her journey to lagos …A hair stylist from Ire in Osun state but not making enough profit between she and her husband , a sliding door installer in from same village ,to care for their two young children .
At the invitation of a distant relative who knew someone operating a bakery , she relocated 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 ..well until 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 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 different 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 .
‘Ka ma kiri Buredi ko suwon ‘ she 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 .. Howbeit 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 @makemesalon and has been offered a additional internship with @sarisignature 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 been offered a modelling contract with the help of @godsonukaegbu from a @fewmodels .She’s also had @payporte reach out to her to be 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 Devine .
Just this morning ,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.