• Aidona Photography

From Lagos to Kilkenny

The thing I most love about my job as a photographer is getting to meet the people I meet. Everyone is so different. And you never know who you are going to meet. But that’s what makes it exciting.

Take for example the wonderful Dr.Fiyinfoluwa Fabamwo or, Fi, for short. I met Fi and her parents recently to take Graduation Photos.

You see, Fi actually graduated in 2020. Hailing from Lagos Nigeria, she is 25 years old. As well as her parents, she has both an older brother and an older sister, and is also aunt to her sisters 3 fabulous children. As you can imagine after years of study, having been in Ireland since 2013, Fi was looking forward to celebrating her graduation with her family.

Covid had other plans. As the world went into lockdown it meant her parents could not travel for the big occasion. Little did they know it would be two years before they saw one another again. On the day itself, Fi was in her pyjamas, on her sofa in Kilkenny as she watched her name being called out on a live stream. Not quite the party she had planned.

When Fi was a child she dreamed of becoming a doctor as she always liked taking care of people. Her childhood was pretty normal and her parents always prioritised both education and a relationship with God. Through High School that changed and she thought she might go into Banking as she was good at maths. But when that didn’t work out, Fi ended up in Medical School and believes that has been her calling.

So, when restrictions eased and her parents could travel, there was no way her Mam was letting it pass without marking Fi’s enormous achievement.

And it is that long journey that led us to meeting each other. We had arranged to meet at Kilkenny Castle. A fine local landmark, easy to find, a nice central location. That is, until you forget about the “new” one way system and don’t factor in road works. I arrived to our appointment more than a little flustered, but that all disappeared as soon as I met Fi and her parents just inside the Castle gates.

Fi looked fantastic dressed in her Cap and Gown, ready for our photoshoot. Her parents were equally glamorous. Her father looked dashing in a gorgeous suit and her mother was radiant in a teal dress accessorised with the most stunning shawl that was worn to represent Africa. There was sunshine, a sense of occasion and plenty of excitement!

The four of us chatted easily as I snapped away with the camera. Kilkenny Castle, which has been standing for over 800 years, provided the perfect backdrop. The fountain gushed as though it were fireworks celebrating Fi and all of her accomplishments.

As Fi took centre stage on the steps of the Castle for the obligatory throwing of the hat, we were delighted as passers-by shouted out their “Congratulations”

Official photos over it was time for a quick wardrobe change. As Dr. Fi discreetly changed I had the perfect moment to capture some photos of her parents. Both were as natural and comfortable as their daughter in front of the camera. Her dad was suave and sophisticated while her mother was radiant in the late January sun.

Outfit change complete it was time for some informal photos to finish our shoot. As the family relaxed, I caught some beautiful spontaneous moments, like the gentle kiss Fi's mother placed on her head, or the private joke shared with her father.

I delivered these photos to Fi last week. It was a beautiful moment. As she watched the gallery unfold, there was a tear or two shed. When I asked Fi what these photos meant to her, this was her response:

“These pictures are really important to my family and I. I got isolated from my family at a time that was supposed to be an amazing celebration. I lost hope that I would be able to see them at all and that moment would never be captured. So, it was amazing that they were even able to come over and get to capture these amazing moments. Because the thought of seeing them so happy and proud is what kept me going during those long nights in medical school.”

Dr. Fi now works in St. Lukes Hospital in Kilkenny. She completed her internship last year and is currently on the basic specialist training scheme and works as a medical SHO. She is hoping to specialise in cardiology. I have no doubt she will make it.

It was my absolute pleasure to photograph Fi and her parents. It was wonderful not only to mark her graduation, but also to capture this very special and long-awaited reunion.

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