It was about 11:30 am on a sun-kissed Wednesday morning when one of the Principal Partners of Penpreneur Associates met with MICHAEL OKIOGBERO ORUTOROJO, popularly known as Orus Michael Mofed at a lush hotel lounge in Surulere, Lagos.

Laughter and casual talk fluttered from politics to banking, youth awareness to indigenous talent and business management.

We are getting more oriented about politics and leadership… some might die in the process, but we are doing better and the youth are getting more confident about taking on leadership positions as the years pass…” said the man who has a taste for everything.

Penpreneur is excited to bring you the story of Love, Light and Life of Michael Mofed, CEO of MOO creative.

What is your name and tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Michael Okiogbero Orutorojo (MOO). People call me Orus Michael, some ‘Mofed’. Everyone in my family call me Michael. My growing up as the 11th child of a family of 11 was memorable. I developed a strong appetite for life quite early, and the camera was the only thing I found to satisfy that hunger. The dream of becoming a Lagos boy came true through an older brother, but since I knew little or nothing about what I could do, I embraced the initial dream of becoming an engineer. While on that journey, I realized no story is complete without an image and the real deal began. Within this length of time, I’ve made awesome memories, met great people, collaborated with great minds, traveled, etc. and these has made me to love life and love and it’s connection with light and nature. But most importantly, I’m beginning to have a taste of everything.

With these, you can say you know me… but trust me, you’d want to know more…

What do you do as a profession?
I am a storyteller. I tell stories through the lens of a camera. Some call us photographers, or cinematographers, but I consider myself a storyteller.
Of all the ways to tell stories, why photography?
No story is captured perfectly without illustrations. People, events, times, memories, culture – a photo always tells the story better. You can tell and understand incidences when looking at images.
What genre of photography do you specialize in?
I’m known to be a wedding photographer. I’m usually telling stories of love – the diverse nature of love and how it is qualified in our culture.
Why weddings?

Weddings are often known to be happy occurrences, but these occasions are also converse. Some people are happy and some are not. The bride’s parents have bitter-sweet emotions and the grooms’ too. At weddings, there are emotions that you can’t see on the street, and when they are gone, they are gone forever. MOO Creatives’ duty is to capture these images and help the couple retain them for life.

How did you venture into photography?
I was self-taught, really. In 1998, my older brother (who also took up photography from another older one) wanted to print photos off his MF2 Yashica camera, but still had three exposures left in the film. He called me to snap him, basically only showing me how to position the frame. It was a perfect shot. I wish I could lay my hands on that picture now.

I never handled a camera again till 2003, when I went back home and noticed that same camera had been abandoned because it was faulty. I fixed it myself and started shooting with the same MF2 Yashica Camera.

At the beginning, I never knew what I could do with photography. I just snapped anyone willing to pose and pay, till 2012 when I met Seun Akinsumi who gathered icons like Kelechi Amadi, Leke Adenuga, Adeplumtre etc. together for a seminar that became a total eye opener for me.

I decided to ditch the way I did photography altogether, but I couldn’t do much because I was still in school. I was researching and finally settled for weddings in 2014 – this is how I ended up telling stories of weddings.

How did you come about your style of wedding photography?

During the course of my research, I found out that wedding photographers in Nigeria exclude certain deep-seated moments of the wedding, like the traditional moments and focus on the razzmatazz and grandeur of the white event. I love capturing the white wedding and the traditional moments too, because that is where our African essence lies.

I love to document traditional moments mostly because there are details behind the customs and reactions at these traditional weddings that children and grandchildren will live to learn from in their own modern age and time. I pay attention to these details.

Are you saying there are cultures fading away when not properly documented?
Overtime, yes. I have observed that there are some things that are gradually being taken for granted. For example, in Delta State, the bride is required by custom to sweep the compound of her brother-in-laws immediately after wedding. The Yoruba groom and his friends also prostrate before the brides’ parents, but all these customary gestures are gradually being taken for granted.
What were your initial challenges as a photographer?

There were many, but the major one was public perception. People wondered why I ventured into photography after studying to become an engineer.

My initial intention was the second problem – why I ventured into photography was not exactly clear when I started out. I didn’t know I could change the world and conventions with photography.

The third was our system of education. We urge children to study what they don’t need. If there was a way the current educational system could be replaced with mentorship, it would make us all better as a nation. Once every photographer can overcome these two major challenges, they’d steer up confidence and surely beat the odds.

Is your brand only limited to wedding photography?
No. I do documentaries – lifestyle and cultural documentaries too.
Have you worked on any documentary or project?
Yes, I am currently working on the #9jaHustle which showcases the resilient spirit of the Nigerian hustler which I intend to finish in 2018. I am also looking forward to 3 more projects in 2018 which would be mind-blowing.
What would you say is your unique edge and why can’t it be copied?
I love this question so much. (Laughs out loud) I believe it’s my unique way of telling stories, and then there is my character, which may be copied, but can never be sustained. These are my unique selling points. Character and attitude towards clients keeps me unique and in sync with my clients. I’m like a family member to my clients and that intimacy helps me document them properly.
So would you consider yourself a success now?
Not yet (laughs). To me, success means different things to different people. So for me, I’m not a success just yet, although I believe I’m on that path.
If you say you are still on the path to success after ten years of experience, then what keeps you going?
Many things keep me going in this industry, asides money. It is the untold stories of the world I’m empowered to start telling that keeps me going. God is not partial – if some photographers can do great things with photography, I can too.
How do you push through your worst times?
Josephs dreams kept him going. My dreams keep me going. Keeping a clear picture of where I am going to keeps me going. I always say one has to believe in something. God or some other entity (general laughter), so whatever you believe in will reward you at the end.
Where do you see Nigerian Photography in the next few years?
Years back, Nigerians brought foreign photographers into the country, but now, Nigerian photographers are being hired to do jobs outside the country. Right now, Nigerian photography compared to what they have in America and Canada is still toddling, but in five to ten years, Nigerians who are currently doing great in the industry will see it to a point where we too can measure up to counterparts across the world.
What is your advice to youths who want to go into photography?
Many people are going into photography today, and many more are quitting, because it takes a whole lot more than talent and meeting the crème-de-la-crème of the society (because you will meet them) to be a successful photographer.

Create a mental picture and don’t lose it, so that when tough times hit, you will stand.

Don’t come into photography because you saw someone become a millionaire from it or because you saw a loop hole somewhere. There are loopholes everywhere.

You can find MOO Creatives on Facebook and Instagram @MOO_creatives


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