A Ugandan Photojournalist: Survival vs Growth: Part I
How did I get into photography? I cheated my way into it and this is how it happened.
I was making my second last budget as a student in his final year at University. At the time, I wasn’t working and yet desperately needed money to purchase a camera. Being a private student didn’t help my situation either.
So I inserted to my list a “study strip” to Nairobi which was a non-existent. It would cost UGX 300.000 ($150.00 then).
“What are you going to do in Nairobi exactly,” my brother asked on submitting my quote for the semester.
Naively, I answered, “we are going to tour different media houses there. Generally get the exposure, meet and interact with editors, reporters and also get inspired.”
“Oh ok,” was his brief reply as I sneaked out of his sight to avoid further inquiries. Two days later, I had the money in full.
The result? A canon Powershot A430.The excitement of finally owning a camera of my own was immeasurable. I photographed anything that crossed my path. What the eye loved, I shot. What the ear heard, I shot it too, what I smelt, didn’t pass me by, I stopped and snapped. Anything really!
At that point, I didn’t really know what the future was. Actually, I barely knew if this love for photography was a talent anyway! I was just enjoying the moment. And yes, I loved it.
Self discovery in life plays a crucial role in determining which direction individuals take. Some people are lucky to discover it themselves while others have been discovered by second parties.
Luckily, I crossed path with William Bill Recktendwald , a lecturer at Southern Illinois University-College of Mass Communication and Media Studies. He was in Uganda as guest lecturer at Makerere University Kampala and Islamic University of Uganda.
I happened to be one his “News Writing and Reporting” students when he had a look at my blog and was moved by pictures.
“Wow, you take really beautiful pictures, Edward.” Those were the magic words. The six seconds that changed my approach photography. Up to that point, I’d not received such a compliment. From then on, every time I ventured out, I tried to capture unique images. I was raw then and didn’t quite understand some of the pictures but I just loved the mystery in them. It excited me more.
Today, I try to give fair critique to as many upcoming photographers I come across as possible. Knowing these are humans with emotions, not robots, I take into consideration how such critiques would henceforth affect the general morale of the photographer. Sometimes a genuinely harsh critique can destroy a budding photographer and so one has to be careful when giving them.
Unfortunately many photojournalists around don’t come across these inspirational figures in their careers. As a result, most have continuously worked in the dark unaware of their full abilities and potential.