He was told it was job for those who couldn’t achieve any academic success in life. He was told he couldn’t make any living from it. He was told to find a better job to do so he could provide a better future for his children. Yet, Daniel didn’t give up in pursuing a career he loves—photography. Today, through his stunning pictures and sharp videos, he has become one of the most sought-after photographers in Ghana. Read on as he shares his story on how he fell in love with photography with your favourite column in the B&FT— Inspiring Startups.
Daniel Kwabena Marmo is the last born of eight. He is a product of the St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Accra, and the University of Ghana, where he graduated with a degree in Information Studies in 2015. After school, he did his national service at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).
Daniel’s interest in photography began in his early teens. He often flipped through fashion magazines bought by his three sisters who are fashion designers, just to look at the quality of the pictures in them.
Then, fortunately for him, his father bought a camera. He would be the one who would always take the pictures when his family went out for an event.
During his secondary school days, Daniel, on vacations would use his elder brother’s smart phone to take pictures and try to edit it himself on the computer.
In fact, his interest in photography grew to the point where he began reading about famous photographers in the world and looking at the wonderful pictures they have taken that have earned them such recognition worldwide.
Due to his keen interest in photography, Daniel borrowed a friend’s camera and began posting pictures on social media just for the fun of it, with no business interest at the time.
How it turned out to be a business
While in the university, a friend introduced him to a group of young men who wanted a photographer to shoot the launch of their clothing line. Through that contract, it opened the door for him to meet some of the professional photographers in town. One of them is Gideon William Addo, who taught him how to use the professional camera.
The same Gideon mentored him and took him along when going for wedding shoots and other programmes.
Then, a time came when he was contracted to take photos at a religious event.
“After I showed the pictures to the speaker who came from London, he was awed. So, he asked me how much I make from taking photos and I told him I have not commercialised it yet. Then, he advised me to commercialise it because I could earn a lot of money from it if I were in the UK. He thereafter introduced me to a lady who was an expert in branding startups. She told me to take the business seriously by registering it and branding myself so as to be recognised.”
Daniel took their advice and initiated steps to register his business in the name Marmo Studios. It took six months, at the time, for the registration process to complete.
Within the six months, he went for the launch of a programme at the Accra Mall. That was when his beautiful pictures caught the attention of one of the managers of the shopping mall. Following that, he was invited by the manager to take photos of other events hosted by the mall. This was when he received his first pay check from photography.
His classic photography has earned him other high-profile contracts in the country. He covered the opening of the Kumasi City Mall last year as the official photographer; he did some work for DSTV; he has covered lots of high-profile events like birthdays, parties, and weddings.
For someone who started with having just about four contracts in a whole year, because of his excellent work, now a week hardly goes by without his services being engaged. So, business is good as usual.
A very effective method Daniel has used to market his photos is social media. He has accounts on Facebook, Instagram with the name Marmo Studios where clients can have a look at a wide variety of some of his pictures.
Again, another effective means of advertising is word of mouth and recommendation from people. He personally takes it upon himself to reach out to new clients at events, fairs, and the like.
His hard work earned him a nomination in the Sony Photography Awards; and the Hamdan International Photography Award in Dubai.
Daniel says his vision is to make Marmo Studios the largest film studio in Africa; and for him personally, he wants to be one of the best photographers in the world.
One thing that became a stumbling block to his interest in photography was the perception of society. Many entertain the wrong thought that certain jobs, including photography, are not for graduates.
This view affected the acceptance level of some of his family members who also felt Daniel would have better used his time to pursue a ‘better’ job than to do a job which they thought could not provide him a sustainable means of livelihood.
“Because I have knowledge in coding, some of my brothers and sisters thought I would rather want to become a software engineer. So, when I told them I would be a photographer they all expressed surprise and questioned whether that was the best job I could find.”
However, his late father threw his weight behind him and encouraged him to pursue a career he loves.
Secondly, a challenge that he is faced with is the cost of the cameras. Very powerful cameras are so expensive and with no financial support for startups in the country, most photographers are unable to purchase them.
The role of education
For Daniel, education has been the main difference between him and other photographers. By attending seminars, workshops, among others, he has come to know how to brand his business; how to write proposals and other important things that can help him lift up his game.
How government can support
Daniel thinks government should waive taxes on imported cameras so that, at least, they can become quite affordable.
Advise to young entrepreneurs
“Young entrepreneurs should focus on achieving their dreams and not pay too much attention to negative comments and discouragement from people. However, their dreams must be realistic and achievable,” he said.
Contact Marmo studios on 027 682 3777