Many people consider photography as a man’s job but Helena Baiden has defied such sterotyping to rub shoulders with the guys to emerge as one of Ghana’s finest photographers especially when it comes to showbiz events.
Regular live showbiz event patrons in the capital must have noticed the svelte figure in high heels who virtually slides from one side of the stage apron to another flashing away while the show goes on. Ocassionally, she would turn quickly around to face the audience to capture some guests dancing in the aisles or simply to click away at one well-known personality or another.
Since her entry into professional photography over a decade ago, Helena has modestly built up a niche for herself as a creative photographer resulting in her being the official photographer of most of the big live stage events such as the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
“I have always loved to do things with my hands, fidgeting and being creative and skillful as well so I guess that might have influenced the passion to be a photographer which provides me the opportunity to express myself “ was her response to a Showbiz question about what motivated her to be a photographer.
By taking photographs at some very high profile events, Helena has had the opportunity to take photos of high profile personalities and she told Showbiz that it had not been easy coming this far.
“You know, most of these personalities get pleasantly surprised when they see me as the only female struggling with well muscled men to take photos and so sometimes, I am given preferential treatment and that is privilege I enjoy as a female photographer”, she said.
But for most of the time, however, Helena braces herself for the hassle and heckles that she must endure in the course of her duty.
Helena started photography after completion of Senior High School at Fijai in Takoradi when the need arose for her to do find something to do to support herself. She joined Foto Rama Photography owned by a friend’s relative and that was when she realised her passion for photography saying “in less than one month of being there, I had become the toast of most of the customers so my boss assigned me to take pass port ictures and that was how it all started”.
With time, as she learnt the ropes of the profession, she developed the skill of what makes a good photographer, namely the “ability to capture the moment and that has been my weapon since.”
For Helena, her secret to being a good photographer is that she always surveys a venue for an event a day before the major show to have a view of where to stand to get the best picture but she has this little secret “when I am on my heels which has become my signature, I never get tired because it gives me the right composure to take a picture”.
With the confidence she is noted to exude in the course of her duty during big events, Helena admitted that at the beginning of her career, it was quite difficult for her as a female to mount the stage and take the right shots because of the kind of looks the audience sometimes gave her remarking “ because most people are not used to female photographers, they give you a kind of look as if to say what is a lady doing in a male’s job but I have to ignore such perceptions.
I quite remember that my first major assignment was at the Ghana Fashion week organised by Exopa almost a decade ago. When I mounted the stage to take the pictures, eventhough I am not a shy person, I felt nervous because everybody was looking at me and I felt so uncomfortable so I told myself that I had to brace myself for more of such looks because of the profession I have found myself in and since then, I decided to be myself without putting into consideration the audiences’ looks or perceptions about me”.
“ Sometimes, the guys in the audience would want to intimidate me when I take pictures of them and I have had an occasion, when a guy threatened to beat me up because I refused to delete a picture I had taken of him. These are but some of the few hazards that comes with the job as a female photographer but I don’t let them discourage me from doing what I know how to do best” she added.
Commenting on the best shot she has taken, Helena stated that “One of my best shots was taken at last year’s VGMA Industry awards at Takoradi where I captured Kwaw Kese and the roaring crowd who seemed to have raised their hands exactly at the same time as Kwaw. Any photographer will tell you it is difficult to capture such a scene but I did that and I’m looking forward to more of such shots”.
For one who is married with two kids, people would assume that travelling around the country for events and getting home late would have a toll on her family but Helena expressed her appreciation to her husband who she met at an event for taking up her responsibilties when she is away “he understands my job and gives me all the support that I need because he met me doing this”.
A product of Fijai Secondary School, Helena had a stint at Fotorama Photography where she learnt the rudiments of photogrpahy including reproduction of pictures before proceeding to Creative Lands to undertake a course in Video prodcution. She has worked under reknowned photographers like Gerald Annan Forson who she admitted helped in shaping her career as a professional photographer.
Helena said aside working for event orgnanisers; she does her own stuff and is currently working on expanding her own company, Heliver Photography to be an authority in photography on the continent in the near future.
Story: Gifty Owusu-Amoah