On most of the photographs that some well-known personalities in the country share online and social media platforms, there is a bold watermark with “Manuel Photography” inscribed on them.
These photographs are the works of Emmanuel Kofi Ohene Bilson who loves to be called by his brand name Manuel Photography.
From present to former Presidents of the country, Members of Parliament, politicians, chiefs, musicians, actors, television/radio presenters, Chief Executive Officers of corporate institutions, birthday parties, engagements, weddings, funerals among others, Manuel has worked with almost everybody.
In fact, there is no big event that you would not find the Chief Executive Officer of Manuel Photography with his camera and tripod stand busily moving up and down taking pictures. Besides taking pictures of people, Manuel equally has pictures with almost every well-known personality in the country for his personal collections.
It is no wonder he had won several awards for his works. The Assistant Editor of The Mirror, Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah (HNBQ), caught up with Manuel Photography (MP), the award-winning photographer, to share his success story.
HNBQ: What inspired you to go into photography?
MP: I believe venturing into photography was a calling. I am a professional graphic designer and worked five years in that area. I am a church boy so one day I was praying and there was an inner voice telling me to go into photography. So I promised to buy a camera for myself on my birthday which I did and that started the journey of photography. I didn’t learn it from anywhere.
HNBQ: What image of yours did the magic of putting you out there for people to know Manuel Photography?
MP: I started by taking pictures of some people but Ekow Smith-Asante, the actor, introduced me to Okyeame Kwame the musician and others. As a result, I go to do photoshoots of them and send the pictures back to them. Gradually, I started getting jobs from them and other popular personalities.
HNBQ: What kind of photography do you practice, just taking portraits or events?
MP: Currently, I don’t restrict myself. I do everything that the camera can take from parties, weddings, engagements, funerals, corporate events to individual photoshoots. I love to capture beautiful scenery so I take interesting pictures of anything I come across.
HNBQ: Do you work with a team or do you do your work alone?
MP: I started alone but God being so good I have a team I work with. They are made up of 12 photographers and videographers. I trained some of them and others were already into photography so I helped in polishing their career and I work with them now.
HNBQ: Which is difficult to work on? Wedding, funeral or shooting commercials?
MP: I have mastered my craft. However, I must confess weddings are mostly a bit challenging to work on. Sometimes you have some members of the client’s family or friends all call the shots. The clients are usually not difficult to deal with but those around them sometimes make the work challenging. However, you take everything in your stride and just do good work that would leave a lasting impression on the client no matter the challenge.
HNBQ: How do you charge, is it based on the personality or quantum of the job?
MP: Our rates are often based on the type of work you want us to do for you. Some would prefer just some few portraits from their events, others would like us to shoot from beginning to the end of an event. This obviously comes at a different cost.
HNBQ: That’s wonderful. Where did you grow up?
MP: I was born and bred at Accra New Town. I am an only child and my mum Fanny Bilson she is my everything. I am a Methodist and a strong believer of the gospel. I am also a chorister. I am just a boy from a humble background striving to survive like any other youth in Ghana. I am not married, in fact I am seriously searching.
HNBQ: Where did you have your primary and secondary education? Any other courses after that?
MP: I started basic school at the New Page School in Kokomlemle and had my secondary education at Asamankese Senior High School. Afterwards, I obtained an Advanced Diploma in Graphics and Web Designing, a certificate of Achievement for creating and managing website solutions.
HNBQ: What makes you happy?
MP: What excites me most is when I see my pictures going viral with people commenting and sharing them. It tells me I have progressed in my career and people are watching what I do.
HNBQ: What do you do in your leisure time?
MP: I don’t really have any leisure time. However, I love to travel around when I am not so tied to some events in town. That’s when I do my travel photography. I get the opportunity to document beautiful landscapes, cultures, customs and historic sites. As they say, pictures speak volumes.
HNBQ: What would you tell anyone who wants to go into photography?
MP: For anyone who wants to venture into photography, I would say just follow your passion or dream. If that works for you, just do it very well. The ways of God are not the ways of man. Just believe in the good Lord and he will lead you always.