MEET ONE OF NIGERIA’S EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS : LAI MAKANJUOLA OF XI PHOTOGRAPHY.
Can we meet you?
My name is Lai Makanjuola aka Xi ThaGreatest, I’m a photographer and Art Director. Studied Beauty Therapy from Opral Benson Beauty Institute. And presently brand artiste too alongside working with a new magazine called Beauty Overdoze as the Creative Director.
Tell us about your background?
I am the 2nd of 5kids from Mr & Mrs Makanjuola, born in the UK, did my primary education there at WallNut Tree Walk, then hit came to Nigeria for the secondary education at Government College Ketu, Epe, before going to study beauty therapy. I’m from Abeokuta, Ogun state.
What was your most uncomfortable professional moment?
Well I have loads of them, but shooting Pastor Wale Adefarasin was a blast he then called me David Bailey who is still a legend in photography today. That gave me goose bumps!!!!
So, how many years have you been into photography?
In total now I’ve been doing photography for 3yrs.
Who have you worked with?
Well, Etisalat, True Love magazine, Blast Magazine, Nobel Afrique, Murtala Mohammed Airport 2, House of Tara, Lise Beauty Range, Green Magazine, Goldie and loads more.
Whose job would you like to steal?
All the jobs that come out of America’s Next Top Model… Love the creativity and dedication, that’s why I am into art directing now too!
Hmmmm, well while training with TY Bello about 4yrs back, she had an interview then and she just trusted me, while I didn’t, she left me to do a job for House Of Tara, with all her gbaski equipment and mehn, its was scary, because every one was looking at me for instructions and creativity, but the shoot started and ended but I could relax till TY herself saw the job and gave me thumbs up!. She has always believed in me more than I did myself.
Who are your biggest influences?
Jesus Christ Number one, TY Bello because she taught me all I know, J Manuel for his creativity and some cartoons for their humour.
What is XI Photography about and how did you come by the name ‘XI’ ?
Xi photography is about hyping the normal, making normal people and young brands seem as if they are superstars or extra-ordinary.
The name Xi is an acronym for; Xtra Impressive, Xtra Intelligent and also stands for the Xtra I (eye) I see things with. For instance when I shoot an amateur model, I gotta see her as a pro to make her look like pro.
What distinct you from other photographers ?
Being a lover of modern arts, makes me shoot differently, I’m a bit lazy technically but very deep in the arty part of photography. In person what differentiates me, is my love for cartoons and willingness to help in anyway I can. I may be deep in thoughts and art, but in person, I’m a simple guy.
Who is on your playlist at this very moment ?
I do a lot of gospel, old school or deep rap songs, so yeah, Nas- Purple, TeeKay Da NewBorn- Oh Baby, Tuface- True Love, 9ice- No be Mistake
What is your most marked characteristics?
My cartoonish behaviour and I’m also a listener too
Do you have any project you are working on?
TeeKay, Tipsy and AK48 are new musical artist I’m working on now, also got my books I’m about to kick off with, Beauty Overdoze, CHYPER SESSION (an event) and some art directing here and there. Also just launched my blog www.iamxi.com where you get to see hottest acts and a follow up on my works.
Okay … If you meet anyone dead or alive in the world, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
Not really anyone, but maybe my ex and just ask her for the umpteenth time to tell me why she broke up with me, just wanna know sha, cos she never told me.
Your advice to young photographers out there?
They should stay focused and be the best they can
HERE ARE SOME OF HIS JOBS;