Lola Adeniran wanted to be a photographer but took print media journalism in post secondary because she did not get accepted into her first choice. After a few years of working as a journalist, she returned to her passion and created her own business called Falanafoto.
Growing up, Adeniran began to show interest in photography in junior high where her science teacher, who also moonlighted as a photographer, would often talk about what it was like to develop photos in a dark room.
That same teacher would later show students, including Adeniran, how to take a photo and how to develop them.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing!’ Everything that I see I’ve captured. So it was just a love from that point,” Adeniran says.
During her time exploring photography, she began to develop her own style. With her Minolta camera, Adeniran shot portraits — a style she believes helps connect to people on a deeper level.
“I like the characteristics of faces. I like looking at lifelines, and freckles and scars. Those are what really create interesting images to me,” Adeniran says. ”The things that I do like to shoot focus more around a story. Every face, every hand, every freckle, every scar has a story to tell.”
At the time, photography was nothing more than a hobby. Combined with her other passion, literature, Adeniran began to see a career path in journalism. But her parents did not take an immediate liking to her choices.
“My parents wanted me a doctor or nurse. [But] that’s just, you know, African upbringing, or western upbringing,” Adeniran says.
“I’ve always loved the written word as well. So my focus in my studies has always been English. When I decided to go further into journalism, and then I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I can amalgamate the two, you know, photojournalism,’ that is kind of where they were like, ‘Well, you know, Lola is going to do whatever.’”
Eventually, they became very supportive of her wishes and Adeniran attended SAIT after taking some time off after high school.
Adeniran obtained her diploma for journalism. At SAIT, students in the program are required to take their first year learning the basics of journalism. In their second year, students are required to focus on their major: photojournalism or print media.
Denied for photojournalism, Adeniran instead went for print media. But she decided that this was not going to slow her down.
“It didn’t deter me at all from wanting to pursue what I wanted to do. And even though I went into journalism, I really knew at the end of the day, I wanted to be a photographer, I really did.”
Adeniran would also take photography workshops and classes on top of her other studies in order to obtain a certificate in the trade.
“It’s not one or not at all. It’s open yourself up and allow there to be other avenues that you can travel, just in case journalism doesn’t work out. You got something to fall back on.”
After obtaining her diploma, Adeniran became a mother and went on maternity leave. But she did not sit around.
As a freelancer, she worked with many operations, such as the United Nations Association in Canada, Global Canada and Where Canadian Rockies.
Eventually, she found a full-time job working with the Strathmore Standard where she covered concerts, highway crashes and even the 2013 Alberta floods.
“My beat was lifestyle and town council. And then I also did a lot of the photography for the paper. So I’d go and do events. I’d go and do you know, big checks being awarded to whatever foundation might cover the rodeo.”
As she continued to work in Strathmore, Adeniran would often converse with other journalists in the area, as well as some from competing papers.
Shannon McClure worked at a competing newspaper in the same town. McClure would very often see Adeniran conducting interviews or taking photographs at varying locations. She believed that Adeniran was a very meticulous reporter.
“She’s very thorough. She liked to dig into things to kinda get to know more,” says McClure.
McClure had also known Adeniran from their post secondary years, being in the same journalism program at SAIT, and had always known that Adeniran shone brightest when she was taking photographs.
“We both knew, like she knew pretty early on, that [journalism] wasn’t quite the right fit for her.”
Adeniran would continue to work as a journalist for several years in the Strathmore region until she decided it was time to follow her passions and become a photographer.
Becoming fully realized
Adeniran created her own business called Falanafoto, a Calgary-based portrait and boudoir studio. Adeniran works as the principle visual director.
“All that looks like age, body types, any race, all women are basically valued and accepted when they stand in front of my lens. And I make sure that it is done in a way that is always collaborative and always transparent” Adeniran says.
“The idea of creating very editorial work, but allowing that humanists aspect to come through a real to really capture the essence of the person come through.”
But Adeniran’s vision for her business didn’t end with its creation. She is also a mentor to others in the community.
Badria Abubaker,an independent journalist and filmmaker in Calgary, has worked on two films so far. After working under Adeniran, she believes that she has gained knowledge that will help her grow more as a documentarian.
“What I’ve learned from Lola is like really how to stand your ground as creators and not let anybody walk all over you,” Abubaker says.
“Working with Lola, it’s a very healthy environment. She’s very open minded when you do have ideas. She really takes in any suggestions that you may have, the input of the whole creative process of how everything is going to look. She really engages with us all…I feel like an equal.”
The inspiration for the studio name comes from Adeniran’s middle name Falana, which means ‘to be shown or created the way to follow.’
“I’ve always been the kind of individual who speaks my mind, who kind of is not necessarily the black sheep just kind of chooses what they want to do with their time, and where they want to do with what they want to do with their energy,” Adeniran says.
Over the years, Adeniran has worked with many different clients, all of which have left a profound impact on her and inspire her become better with each photo.
“They all affect my life. They only push me to get better and really solidify that I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
As her business continues to improve and advance, Adeniran hopes that she may be able to leave behind some sort of legacy.
“Right now, I’m a one-woman outfit, but I would like to be able to incorporate more of my journalistic background into it just because, again, the love of telling of the story.”