Celebrity Photo Journalist, Tope Brown Tells asabeafrika the extra-ordinary story of his fun-to-fame success


TB and GDA shares a joke over one of Tope’s shots before the interview commenced

The prologue!

In the issue 108 of Ovation International Magazine of year
2009, the inventor of the brand and one of Africa’s most influential publishers,
Bashorun (Dr.) Dele Momodu described
our celebrity guest today in the following words “Tope is every publisher’s
delight. He is young, playful and sometimes exuberant.

Tope Brown & The G D A endorse a copy of the Ovation brand

That is what his job
demands and Tope makes good use of this rare combination of raw talent and
exciting character”. The Ovation publisher who was referring to the great works
in that  particular edition of Ovation
magazine  which
is equally one of their collector’s item series and a limited edition in honor
of  the nuptials of one of the beautiful
daughters  of the then President and
Commander-in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces, President Umar Yar ‘Adua,
Nafisat and the present Governor of
Bauchi state in North East Nigeria, Malam
Isa Yuguda
 which he equally tagged
“Nigeria’s wedding of the Year” on account of the large volume of high caliber
guests that throng the occasion from across all sectors of the Nigerian society
and walks of life was giving a salutation to Celebrity Photo Journalist Tope Brown Olowoyeye.  The publisher’s editorial on Tope Brown in that spectacular edition
of the magazine gave him out as a rare asset in the to-do list of the media
organization as Chief Momodu started
by describing how Tope’s skills and diplomatic prowess made a success of the
Presidential occasion “The meat of our gargantuan operation was to unleash our
ace of aces, Tope Brown on the
beautiful cities of Abuja and also Katsina.

I must say that Tope was in his element while on this
epic assignment” The publisher noted with a sense of pride and continued “He
got thousands of exclusive shots. His rapport with the celebrants was
incredible. Tope is a Yoruba who was born and raised in the northern part of
Nigeria, Kaduna to be precise. He speaks impeccable Hausa, and understands the
culture and customs of Muslim families. Tope became our biggest asset at this
one-of-its-kind wedding, just like he did when Aliko Dangote’s daughter got married in Kano last year. For this
great work of art, Tope has won for himself the publisher’s prize that comes
with a handsome gift of half-a-million Naira”.   With
the aforementioned narration, we might not need to do more introductions on the
personality of our brand new guest on this blog today. Last Saturday, September
6th, Tope Brown an
accomplished Abuja based Celebrity Photo Journalist was in Lagos for a special
event and we met him inside his posh Hotel room somewhere on Lagos mainland,
South West Nigeria where he for the first time in his 12 years of working with Ovation magazine opened up to us on the
story of his grass-to-grace success as a leading Celebrity Photo journalist and
Ovation’s number one Paparazzi. Get your favorite drink and snacks nearby as
you enjoy the story of Tope Brown on
your classy devices only on your number 1 Africa Celebrity encounter blog asabeafrika
Tope Brown…..The world according to the camera lens
Tope Brown reveals the secret of his success to the G D A

My name is Tope Brown

Asabeafrika asked Tope to describe
himself and with a smile playing round his cheek, he did “I believe a lot of
people know me across Abuja and Lagos as one of Ovation Magazine’s resourceful
photo journalists. I still remain the one and only Tope Brown that you all
know. I still work with Ovation International magazine
and I am their number 1 paparazzi. I
am always loyal to my boss Chief Dele Momodu because he has
really changed my life in so many ways. In fact, he has changed my worldview;
after God I can give it to him before my parent because Dele Momodu has given me
a platform to express my creativity and equally to achieve other things and I
can say God has been very helpful, it has been wonderful working with such a
giant personality and a great organization”

“Tope is a Yoruba who was born and raised in the northern part of Nigeria, Kaduna to be precise. He speaks impeccable Hausa, and understands the culture and customs of Muslim families. Tope became our biggest asset at this one-of-its-kind wedding, just like he did when Aliko Dangote’s daughter got married in Kano last year. For this great work of art, Tope has won for himself the publisher’s prize that comes with a handsome gift of half-a-million Naira”.  

The Ovation Number 1 Paparazzi in a hearty chat with the GDA
Tope Brown…..Creativity is my lifestyle

Life as Ovation’s number 1 photo journalist
brown has taken shots of over two hundred events in Nigeria and across America,
Europe and Africa with majors in celebrity photo shoots, we wanted to know what
it feels to be a number 1 for a world class brand like Ovation and here he tells
us how it feels “The story does not even start and end in Abuja, it is a
worldwide thing. I represent Ovation anytime, any day, anywhere
because I am a very reliable ambassador of my organization. If I bring in any
event, I do proper follow up to see that we get to the bottom line which is
getting the dues and dotting the rules.

The job might be from America, UK,
Canada or South Africa; anywhere in the world, what matters is quality
publication which a lot of our fans and clients enjoy with the Ovation
brand and being a photo journalist working with a world class magazine like Ovation,
a lot is expected of you in terms of quality photography, creative shots and
tale-telling personality pictorials. It is a very exciting experience and God
has continued to support me, showing me mercy, favor because I wont lie to you
it is not that easy to be Ovation’s
number 1 paparazzi.
Our commitment comes with lots of envy, backbiting and
all sorts of bad talks but I remain very strong like a Russian’s gut and with
God, nothing can be impossible”

Tope Brown with an Abuja big friend
Boko Haram & the new behavioral
tactic of event coverage up north

Brown who is equally the Abuja/Northern operation bureau photo chief for Ovation
was asked to narrate his work experience since the beginning of the wave of
Boko Haram insurgent attacks bedeviling the north and his response says much of
the situation on ground “Really, I won’t pretend that everything is going well
with our northern coverage. We are not as free as before again in terms of
social gatherings and event packaging in the north, especially in the North
Eastern part of Nigeria because majority of our clients are northerners.  They are the best lovers of the Ovation
brand because most of their wedding ceremonies, if Ovation is not there the
event are not complete.

Tope Brown with wife & his parent on his wedding day on March 13, 2010
Tope Brown with famous music star Tuface Idibia aka Tu-Baba

Ovation must be there and let me be
honest with you; the northerners have been our most loyal clients from day one
but since the emergence of Boko Haram, the event cycle in the north has
seriously trimmed down. They themselves have refused to do elaborate ceremonies
due to the atmosphere of insecurity that is pervading the entire north.
However, that does not mean that we don’t still get events from other quarters
in the north. But the only thing is that one is now more careful and security
conscious with the coming in of Boko Haram, when we attend events now, we are
mostly careful; as you take shots, as you do the interview you look around to
make sure all is well. Safety of life comes first, if something is not clear to
us and we are having an awful feeling, my brother, we take off o, we don’t wait
for it to happen before taking precaution”. Brown buttressed his point with a
story “There was an event I was supposed to cover for Ovation during the time
Boko Haram was really hot in Maidiguri, Jesus! I was supposed to follow the
couple inside a private jet; do you know I had to turn down the offer? I didn’t
go and when I explained to my boss, he understood and said ‘well, let them take
the shots themselves and give us the pictures and we will publish”. My brother
it is not easy, I must confess. The fear of Boko Haram has suddenly become
wisdom itself”

Tope Brown in Paris for Ovation
The head-ache of Boko Haram
Tope told asabeafrika how bad the
insecurity situation in the north has affected him as a person “As an event
journalist, I must confess, the security situation in the north has affected me
partially but because one’s ingenuity is properly put to use, I am still up and
going because I have other things I do to sustain myself.  We still scout for events and events still
scout for us despite the security challenges up north. People still love to do
their Aures (Weddings) do their Nikai (Muslim weddings) and celebrate
major successes in their own little way and with that Ovation is still in
business of celebrating northern Nigeria”
Tope Brown with some foreign colleagues during a recent trip to France

The Yuguda/Yar Adua Wedding that made
Tope famous

we asked Tope to name the price he got for securing the exclusive and elaborate
event of the wedding nuptials of former President Umar Yar “Adua and Governor
Isa Yuguda for his organization for his organization in 2009 apart from his
publisher’s money prize of Five Hundred Thousand his answer came with lots of
diplomatic veil “Honestly, I am not going to disclose what was paid to me for
getting the deal; that is between me and my boss and I want it to remain like
that. My boss actually gave me some good amount of money for securing that
wedding which led to the purchase of 192 pages of the magazine.
Tope Brown with some Foreign soldiers during a recent trip to Great Britain

My boss even
went out of his way to do an editorial on me and that really inspired me and
put me on the spotlight. I will really give that to him but in terms of naira
and kobo, I can only say I was contented with what I got; and that is the basic
truth. You will recall that, that wedding which had the present Governor of Bauchi
state, Malam Isa Yuguda marrying late President Umar Yar Adua’s
daughter, Nafisat was one of the most populous events in terms of the
high patronage of musicians from across West Africa, Nigeria; entertainers and
cream of personalities from Corporate Nigeria, the political circle, the
diplomatic corps and elsewhere. I am very delighted to be the sales man for
that event and I can say it is just one out of the series of events we cover
for Ovation
in Abuja and other northern cities”

The Famous Tope Brown of Ovation with former President and Commander-in-Chief, Chief Aremu Olusegun Okikiolakan Obasanjo

The Secret of working with Basorun
Dele Momodu

On why Tope has spent an
entire twelve years in one man’s employ, he dashed us with a reply which came
with a sense of assurance “I am still working with Chief Dele Momodu because
he is a wonderful boss; and I have this philosophy that I have always used to
guide myself; if you work with a man or his organization and you have a rest of
mind to yourself, I don’t think you have any reason to jump the boat. Yes, you
might do other things to make the number even but your first loyalty goes to
that man because he is not just your employer but equally your friend. So, I
respect him a lot and he always advise me like a father; a lot of people don’t
know that Dele Momodu is my uncle and for real, he is my uncle but I
don’t want to talk about that today. It is a story for another day. He is my
uncle in so many ways and he remains my godfather because he has really blessed
my life in so many ways and I am really grateful and pray to God to continue to
enhance him and uplift him to a higher level in life.”
The editorial that won Tope Brown the Publisher’s Prize

The Kaduna boy

Tope re-confirmed his resume in a more
elaborate way to asabeafrika Tope Brown was born in Kaduna, I
grew up in Kaduna. I did my nursery, primary and secondary school education in
Kaduna before coming down to Lagos to do my university education at UNILAG,
where I did Mass Communications. My experience in Kaduna was very, very okay. I
enjoyed growing up among a people who love and appreciate humanity. I speak
Hausa as a language but most people don’t know I speak Hausa very well because
I always like to do my guluma (Amebo)
with the language. It is really fun growing up in Kaduna before relocating to
Lagos but on getting to Lagos, it was a different experience all together
because all what I have ever dreamt of getting in life, when I got to Lagos, I
started achieving them one after the other.  If you live in Lagos and you are not sharp
then you can never be sharp anywhere in the world. So, I learnt a lot in Lagos
and the major lesson is that you have to be a streetwise to get all you want.”

Back Cover of the xclusive Ovation Wedding of the year between Nafisat Yar ‘Adua & Isa Yuguda

My family
revealed a bit of information about his family to us “I am the first born in a
family of 9 children which means I have 8 younger ones. My family has since
relocated from Kaduna to Ibadan where they now have peace of mind. I thank God
for the kind of training I got from my parents. It is a good thing to be the
first born and I can equally tell you that I have wonderful siblings and I love
my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ariyo Brown Olowoyeye. They are the best parent one
can ever ask for; they hail from Ilesa in Osun state”

Front Cover of the Wedding of the Year Ovation Magazine that earned Tope the title of Ovation’s Number 1 Paparrazzi

How I chose photography as career
Ovation’s number 1 paparazzi told us how he
started his photo journalism career “Like I told you earlier I actually studied
Mass communications at the University of Lagos and I finished in 2001. Photography
initially came as a pastime to me; I never knew it could metamorphose into a
career. During my days in UNILAG, I loved nature; I love beautiful things of
the sight. Then, when I see a beautiful object or a lady I will take the
picture. I was using a toy camera then and to make life easy for me, I had an
uncle who was the General Manager at Foto Teck/Foto Palace under the
chairmanship of Chief Adebola Adegunwa. His name is Mr. Fabiyi and whenever I
visit him, he will say “ah, ah, wa ma’a bamisere lofisi now (Come and play with
me once a while in the office) and from that I kept going, seeing him often and
often and I was given the rare privilege to enter the studio and watch
proceedings and that was how I picked interest in photography and before I knew
it, it became a profession”

TB….Showing the G D A one of his recent world exploits inside a copy of Ovation magazine

My Foto Tech days & Photography
spoke further on how he fully ingrained himself into what was initially taken
as a pastime and how it became a full career “You know after my University
education, my uncle just fixed me in Foto Tech and I started working as a
studio executive. I started doing good shoots for them at the Opebi, Lagos
office. Initially after my UNILAG education I went back to Kaduna and I was
asked to resume at Foto Tech office in Kaduna where I worked briefly before I
was recalled to the Lagos office in 2002. Before I knew it, I was redeployed to
their new office at Bode Thomas in Surulere area of Lagos. From Bode Thomas I
was promoted to the post of General Manager at the Opebi branch and I was in
Opebi doing the job as a real profession. From there I was taking a lot of
stars, celebrities and even the former Miss World, Agbani Darego came and  I took her pictures and as an executive of Foto
I remember that I did a lot of celebrity photo shoots; I did a lot
of celebrity albums as well. It was a fun time all along and because I was
creative and innovative with my craft jobs kept coming. We were using manual
cameras in those days time like Minolta,
Yashika, Canon, Nikkon and other
brands. Those were manual cameras then that comes with negative films”

TB with some foreign admirers in London
(Watch out for the Part 2
of the Tope Brown Exclusive titled “WHY
TECH boss, Adegunwa for OVATION coming on this blog in 48hrs time.
Don’t stop clicking
us in)


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