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.

  • @Renelda – Thanks so much! Let’s catch up soon.

  • Renelda

    Congrats Lola. You are absolutely correct chasing your dreams even if
    Sound audacious. God bless.

  • @Erica – Thanks so much 🙂

    @Sarah – Thank you and congrats as well on Traveler’s Handbooks! See you soon in London.

  • Congratulations on this brilliant project Lola. I’ve been absolutely loving your photography. South Africa is such a special country and you’ve captured the people that make it so wonderfully well.

  • Wow. What an opportunity! I just looked at your photos/posts from South Africa so far, especially love the photos from Durban. They’ve clearly chosen the right person for this project!

  • @Terri – I can totally see why people love South Africa. It is absolutely stunning!

    @Leigh – Thanks so much Leigh!

    @Rob – The project is pretty cool. Two other photographers will cover the Drakensberg Mountains and Cape Town areas.

    @JoAnna – No worries at all and thanks!!

  • I’m a little late to the party but hope you’re having a great time in South Africa. Congratulations!

  • rob

    I’ve always been a big fan of National Geographic and am excited to see how they will cover the country.

  • Huge love and congratulations to you! Although, it is entirely deserved on so many levels. I see why you connect with the photo above, too. It is indeed lovely.


  • I LOVE South Africa!!! I lived in Cape Town for four months and fell in love. I would love o go back. I know you are going to capture some amazing images. Yay!

  • @AlexBerger – Thanks! Africa is definitely like no other and leaves life-lasting impressions

    @Kendra – 🙂

    @AdeOla – Thanks!

    @Margo – Thanks! I’m super excited too.

    @Lindsay – Great to finally meet you in person

    @Lily – Thanks so much! He truly is amazing

    @Mommy – I’m sure that quote sounds better in Yoruba 🙂 Love you!

    @Monica Williams – Thanks!

    @Joel – I’m still in awe

    @Janice – Yes, it is! And it’s yours as well.

    @Sabina – Long time! Great to hear from you. Yes, I’ll be combing through spam diligently from now on. Will post more information when the video is complete.

    @Kristin (Camels & Chocolate) – Thank you so much! Hard work, determination, and frankly, God’s blessing.

    @April – Thanks! I’m loving Durban already

    @Ekua – Thanks!

    @Karen – Haha! Thanks. I think I reacted the same way when I was contacted 🙂

    @Stephen – Awww, thanks!

    @Heather – Thanks! Will post when it’s ready. It’s scheduled to air on TV in January.

    @Shelldon – Thanks for your tips and suggestions as well!

    @Andi – Thank you especially for your support and words of encouragement. They mean more than you know!.

  • I am beaming with joy for you!!!!! I am so so so proud!

  • This is fantastic news, you’ll love Durban (and yes I’m totally biased!) and I cannot wait to see the results of your trip!

  • Can’t wait to see the vignette! Congrats Lola.

  • What great news! Well done, Lola. Looking forward to following along. Congrats.

  • SWEET MARY MARGARET. That is AMAZING. Congratulations!

  • Congrats, Lola – well deserved!

  • Congratulations Lola! I can’t wait to follow you on this journey! South Africa, especially Durban, is such an amazing place!

  • This is simply fantastic. Congrats, Lola–you of all people deserve it! Hope we get to see the finished product.

  • Thank God you checked your spam filter! Congratulations, Lola. I hope to be able to see the vignette starring you 🙂

  • The world is your oyster!

  • Wonderful news!

  • Monica Williams

    Woohoo! How exciting!! What an amazing opportunity in an amazing country.

  • The patient dog eat the fat bone. Wish you safe and adventurous trip.

  • I am so so happy for you Lola, God is amazing. Can’t think of any other photographer who deserved this more! Woohoo! Cheers to trailblazing the way for the rest of us… 🙂

  • Looking forward to accompanying you on the journey Lola! You are going to love SA..

  • Hooray, Lola! That is amazing  – congratulations and I look forward to hearing more and following along 🙂

  • UHWEEEE….I am so excited for you. Super duper excited! Congratulations!

  • kendra


  • That is fantastic! I can’t wait to hear and read about the trip! I’m still processing all of my experiences (and photos) from my recent visit to Zambia and so I find Africa/its wonderful and powerful lessons and imagery on my mind regularly. An incredible place.