School children in Lagos, Nigeria - Photography by Lola Akinmade Åkerström

I’m beyond stoked, grateful, and honored to share with you all that I’m heading to South Africa with National Geographic Channel to shoot “Through The Lens“; a one-minute vignette that takes you through the lens of a National Geographic photographer as he/she explores the beauty, culture, and history of various regions in South Africa.

Yes! I will be the photographer being filmed and my heart has been racing since June when I was approached and chosen to be part of this exciting project; a partnership between South African Tourism and National Geographic. Other photographers who’ve also been filmed include legendary Nat Geo photographers Joel Sartore, Jodi Cobb, Mattias Klum, Annie Griffiths-Belt, and about five others so this is truly an honor that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Each photographer focuses on a region within South Africa, and I will be exploring Durban before heading out to KwaZulu-Natal to learn about, immerse myself in, and soak up Zulu culture. Being Nigerian myself, I’ve always been intrigued by the nuances of culture, its intricacies, and how one’s native culture permeates everyday living as the world around us shifts and changes.

My friends and family members who’ve all been to South Africa constantly rave about it. Can’t wait to explore it for myself, and I hope you’ll follow along on the journey through my lens as well.


A few days before heading off to England and Scotland in June, I was cleaning out my spam folder and found an email there from Paul (producer) with the subject line “National Geographic”. Sheer curiosity led me to open it up. A couple emails and phone calls later, here I am – packing my bags to go explore one of the most scenic and diverse countries I’ve always dreamed of visiting. He’d seen one of my photos in the UK issue of National Geographic Traveller.

No matter how often I contribute to National Geographic, I still get excited and feel grateful whenever I flip through pages of that yellow frame to find my work in there (including the current UK October issue’s Sicily feature).

Lessons learned:

– Always give your spam folder a quick glance before deleting.
– Patience. Trust me, sitting on personally exciting news for three months is rough.
– More importantly, never stop reaching for your dreams even if they seem audacious.

Please follow along on this journey

While on the ground, I’ll be tweeting and posting a few postcards and snippets up on this blog as well as on my Twitter and Google+ accounts and Facebook page so please follow along below:

Twitter – @LolaAkinmade

Facebook – Geotraveler’s Niche



I’ll share more details as I get them, including when the video will be completed and available for viewing as well as stories, press, and media links all related to the project.

I chose the photo above of school boys jumping slightly off their feet because it touches me deeply. I used to wear uniforms similar to those, growing up in Lagos, running through my own school yard with lofty dreams that extended beyond my school walls.

Updated – Field Notes, Postcards, and Profiles from South Africa

Please check out the related blog posts below where I share snippets from the fields, photography, as well as profile some South Africans.

Field Notes – Touching down to Rooibos tea in Johannesburg + Tips for Durban

Postcard – Durban beachfront at dusk

Profiles: Meet Walter and Alphous, rickshaw drivers along Durban’s Golden Mile

Field Notes – Dennis the Menace and mounds of Indian spices

Postcard – Life around KwaZulu-Natal’s rolling hills

Profiles: Meet Londy Simelane, South African Model

Postcard – Soaking up Zulu culture in Eshowe

Postcard – To the talented South Africa TTL Team…

Field Notes – Meeting Durban’s surfers at Moyo

Postcard: Learning high kicks from Zulu dancers

Summary – My view of South Africa in photos and stories

And the final result…

Thank you all so much for your continued support. I feel truly blessed and grateful to God for His constant grace. More soon.