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Finance & Innovation

How a photobomb helped this poor bread merchant become a model

Instagram / Tiniegram

Olajumoke Orisaguna was walking in Lagos, Nigeria one evening with a huge plastic bag of bread loaves balanced on her head.

Nearby, the English rapper and producer Tinie Tempah was in the middle of a photoshoot.

As Orisaguna carried the bread around, she happened to cross into the line of sight of the camera, and, “snap,” her life changed.

After seeing the photobomb, Temphah tried to persuade the photographer, Ty Bello, to use the woman in other shots, but Bello decided to continue with the day’s planned schedule.

When the photographer later posted the image to Instagram, however, her mind started to change.

A photo posted by TY Bello (@tybello) on

The post was flooded with comments admiring Orisaguna’s grace and beauty. Bello realized she was wrong to let her slip away and she began her quest to track the woman down.

Orisaguna was a bread merchant who picked up the job after her work as a hair stylist failed to earn enough money for her family. Her husband was a sliding door salesmen and she had to travel away from him and their two young children to give selling bread in Lagos a shot.  

As a bread merchant, she worked 7 days a week, selling bread loaves in busy traffic. For all her hard work, she made around $2 USD per day.

Her story (up to the fateful photo) was all too typical. Many people in Nigeria--and around the world--struggle to provide for their families.

20% of Lagos’ population lives in poverty, 41% are economically deprived in some way and two-thirds of citizens live in the city’s notorious slums.

Many of these people have to make hard choices like Orisaguna did to leave their family to earn more money.

Not only is this stressful and heart-breaking, it’s also detrimental to children who then grow up in environments without the kind of social engagement they need to develop and thrive.

Orisaguna’s life, however, was about to break the pattern.

After a search, the photographer was able to locate Orisaguna and she offered to feature her in a photoshoot.

A photo posted by TY Bello (@tybello) on

After a series of stunning portraits, her name started to blow up. Not long after, she found herself on the cover of the Nigerian magazine This Day Style.

A photo posted by TY Bello (@tybello) on

Now she has a contract with the modeling agency Few Model Management.

A photo posted by TY Bello (@tybello) on

Her new income will be a significant boost to Orisaguna’s family, and it will allow her to spend a lot more time with her kids.

A photo posted by TY Bello (@tybello) on

This is an inspiring story of the random luck of life as well as of the power of art to move and transform people.

Not everyone is going to get offered a modeling contract to escape poverty. But everyone should have opportunities and the support to overcome economic hardship.