Ebenezer Grahl is a 23-year-old photographer who is the co-founder of Grahl Photography. His mother is of Ghanaian and German descents. His father is a Ghanaian. Ebenezer Grahl is a fourth year student taking courses in Sociology and Religion at the University of Ghana in Legon. He was born in Ivory Coast and moved to Ghana at a young age with his mother. He started doing Photography about three years ago when he was in the second term in the first year of Sociology, Social Work and Religion.
Phyllis Ntim: Tell me about how your journey started in Photography.
Ebenezer Grahl: Well, I started doing Photography in level 100. I like taking pictures. I was using a Kodak camera at the time. I used to take pictures of everything such as water flowing from the tap on campus, flowers and people’s feet. When someone was sitting, I came close and took a shot of the toes and tried to blur everything behind it. It looked cool to me. It took a picture of fire extinguishers. I took a picture of almost everything that I saw. There was a time when a male khebab seller was fanning and I took a shot of beautiful flames; fire sparks.
I have an old friend who introduced me to a group of people on campus that handle the school’s prospectus and also did some publishing stuffs. They had industry standard equipments for photography at the time but they didn’t have an in-house photographer. I went there to learn anything that I could learn. The owner of AXXIOM Communication gave me a Nikon D3S camera and then I started taking pictures. I didn’t know how to use it but I went out and took pictures. Almost every picture that I took was blur because I didn’t know how to use the camera. There was no photographer to teach me so I had to really find out how I could use the equipments and learn the basic rules of photography. I had to read about Photography and watch lot of tutorials by other photographers. I took pictures of street lights. I had the opportunity to travel to Cape Coast. The company I was learning Photography from received a contract from UCC, University of Cape Coast. I went there. I took a lot of pictures for the prospects. I built up my knowledge about Photography by learning on my own most of the time and through the opportunity that I had. I had to stop at a point in time because my boss had rights over every picture that I took. I couldn’t really showcase my work. I couldn’t really show my works to people for them to appreciate. One of the most important things in Photography is capturing things you love from your perspective of life and sharing it with the rest of the world. I told my former boss that I needed a break so that I could focus on my studies. When I stopped, a friend of mine introduced me to Live FM. I started taking pictures at every event that they were a part of. I met a lot of people such as Jeremie Van-Garshong. I’m quite tight with some of them. I have a friend that goes by the name of Edem Ayikoe. He has been my friend since class one. He was boosting my pictures on Facebook without my knowledge. He paid $5, sometimes $10, in order for the pictures to be boosted. In the beginning he didn’t let me know that he was doing that. I thought it was cool for a friend to do boost my pictures on Facebook. When I was working for LIVE FM, he would go with me and help me carry my bag and a few equipments. We have been doing a lot of work together since then. After I stopped working for LIVE FM, we started doing Photography together. We said we would really try to make it a real business and manage every aspect of it properly. Photography is my passion.
Phyllis Ntim: What do you want to achieve with Sociology and Religion?
Ebenezer Grahl: I didn’t enrol for Sociology and Religion. I rather enrolled for Business Administration. Many students are doing courses that they didn’t enrol for. I’m not going to be a sociologist but in my line of work, it allows me to think about things differently whenever I endeavor myself to make an approach on a subject in the world of photography. If I travel outside Accra to take pictures of a different culture, I have an open mind about how to approach them, understand them and not prejudge them. That’s why I appreciate Sociology even though I didn’t enrol for the course.
Phyllis Ntim: Do you have any role models?
Ebenezer Grahl: Yeah. Joey Lawrence is my role model. He’s a New York-based photographer. I go through his pictures almost every single day, even though I’ve seen them so many times. He’s more of a travel photographer. He tries to tell a story about people in a single shot. I know that we at Grahl Photography will end up doing more of travel photography and taking pictures of cultures. In the future, when we have enough resources to support ourselves to travel, we want to take pictures of people’s culture and things that people don’t really see and then share it with the world. At the moment, we don’t have the resources to do that, so we have to build a huge brand.
Phyllis Ntim: Did you have any sponsors when you began with photography?
Ebenezer Grahl: In the beginning there were no sponsors. We had to rent camera equipments and they were so expensive. When you rent a good camera in Ghana, it costs about 200 Ghana Cedis for 24 hours. I remember that I had to travel for three days to Kumasi to do a wedding photography. The wedding lasted two days but we had to leave a day earlier and make sure we had no problems with the equipments before the day of the wedding. You can’t just go on the day of wedding. In the end, we mostly lost all the money to renting photography equipments and transport. But then someway, some how, we never stopped doing photography. I couldn’t increase the price to make up for the money spent on renting the equipments because whoever was asked us to take pictures at his/her wedding had already asked for prices from other photographers. One of Edem’s cousins once sponsored us in October 2015. He got us a camera because that was the only thing that we were missing. We got a Canon camera. We bought some lighting equipments too.
Phyllis Ntim: What are the struggles you and Edem initially faced in your Photography business?
Ebenezer Grahl: In the beginning we mostly had financial problems. At a point in time, I woke up, frustrated and I thought: ‘Should I just forget about this dream? Should I work for the government? Should I keep on waking up and think of how I’m going to get an equipment?’. I couldn’t rent a camera for 200 Ghana Cedis just to practice with. As a photographer, you need to keep on taking pictures. There was a time I couldn’t take pictures for about a month and a half.
Phyllis Ntim: What are your plans concerning Photography this year?
Ebenezer Grahl: We are working towards taking pictures for at least 15 weddings and at least two matriculation ceremonies on two different campuses.
Phyllis Ntim: What advice would you give to people that want to go into Photography?
Ebenezer Grahl: They should find an inexpensive camera and start taking pictures. They should keep on taking pictures of something that excites them. They will get there in time.
Here are some of the pictures taken by Grahl Photography: