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Turning Photography into Hustle

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2019

Author : TLHABO KGOSIEMANG

For so many years, photography has been seen as a form of an art meant to create memories. It was regarded as an art form that takes skills, artistic ability and an understanding of technology.


Well, unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does. Tables have now turned, meaningfully. Photography is seen as a skill, a source of hustle and an opportunity that can help advance oneself.


With unemployment intensifying at an alarming rate in Botswana especially amongst youth, some of them found niche in photography. They capture pictures, but at a fee. Surely, there are so many ways of killing a cat. In an interview with Weekend Post News writer Tlhabo Kgosiemang in Gaborone on Wednesday, some youthful photographers indicated that they make ends meet through photography. Some indicated that they are self-taught, while others did it for fun, and it happened that they get paid for it.


‘’Photography is an art where an artist lays out his mindset in the form on still pictures, just as great artist that painted such as Leonardo Da’Vinci, I use my camera as my paint brush. A great photograph has emotion. I have always been advised by well-established photographers to change my style and follow some typical ‘’photography rules’’. But for me, photography is an art and the only thing that can distinguish a great picture from the rest is the ability of giving out emotion in your photographs’’ says Kevin Kalabante, a 21-year-old Mahalapye born and Founder of Kissed by The Gods photography.


He said he started photography after he discovered that he actually can be a great photographer, liking the kind of work he does and eventually doing what he wants to do. He discovered a few great local photographers, but for him, it was distinct and astonishing on how the puzzle pieces fitted together and how fast his development was.


A Botswana International University of Science and Technology BIUST Geological Engineering students noted that everything and everyone is an inspiration for his creative energy. He can draw some inspiration from the simplest aspect of something, visualize it and create something unique and new.


Kalabante indicated that photography is the simplest but yet stressful kind of hustle, especially for the 21 century generation. ‘’It is definitely the best kind of making money. I enjoy taking pictures, and being able to eat from what you love is an exceptional feeling. It is the best gift you could give to yourself’’


However, there has always been ups and downs. As photographers, the biggest challenge is the pricing of their services. ‘’Me being unfairly expensive is quite an everyday conversation for me but I try by all means to show the clients how much time, effort and skill I put into my work’’. Further, he underscored that although clients are mostly the hardest people to deal with, he always finds a way to work out stuff and that makes his job likeable at most times’’ Kalabante believes that 2018 was a great year for his brand, but as 2019 started, new skills, targets and important people came up into the equation.


‘’I still have a long way for the vision in mind but eventually it will be reached’’ he said. He has started receiving international recognition this year, including the international Nikon photo contest held by Nikon annually. Other than that, it has always been about countless shoots and collaborative projects. ‘’I really do not want to divulge some other stuff I am working on, but they will be published with time’’


He advised aspiring photographers to follow what their hearts lead them to, saying that they should not chase it for the money, but for the dream. Kalabante highlighted that passion keeps him relevant. ‘’Long as you have the drive in your heart and mindset, you can never go wrong. Stay humble and put the work’’.


For his part, Gonna Monngakgotla, a 23-year-old Kanye born oddly creative said photography is literally just the art he sees. ‘’It is basically the art of capturing what’s around you. I like breaking down this to people that I capture anything that you would look at and make you think outside the box. But obviously photography is diverse and has different fields to it, I am more leaning onto fashion, creative photography and soon to do landscape photography’’


Monngakgotla describes a photograph as a freezing time, a captured and frozen moment. ‘’A photographer has to be the artist with an eye for such interesting moments. It’s all in the eye and knowledge basically, which is why we getting paid for it. It is not just about clicking the camera as people may presume. There is a lot of thought process that occurs in the midst of a picture being shot and not to forget the work that goes into editing and bringing the picture to life’’ he highlighted


Just like any other photographer, he draws an inspiration from something. Monngakgotla stressed that Botswana as a whole inspires him. ‘’My country has beautiful people and places which I feel the obligation to showcase to the world and get people to appreciate the beauty that we pride ourselves in. I also get inspired by anything that looks abnormal, oddly creative as I would call it. Some of the inspiration I draw from the internet, I love taking pictures that will get people talking, if it is controversial to them I will be the guy behind the lenses’’ he said the 2016 album he titled Basadi got recognized internationally on Afropunk, an American magazine. Some of his pictures captured in Parliament during the unemployment protest nearly broke the internet.


‘’Photography is part of who I am, I love it and I am passionate about it. I just happen to get paid for it’’. He noted that he has achieved a lot ever since venturing into photography, saying that it is his main source of income. Monngakgotla has managed to branch out the profits into coming up with a clothing brand. He indicated that due to a good business structure, he has managed to stay relevant in the game.


‘’As much as photography is a hobby, hustle or a job to most of us, it has to be managed with profession. It has to have a well laid out business plan, that indicates cash flows, and a photographer should be able to read risks and opportunities available’’. He added that research, learning something new and keeping in touch with customers makes a winning business.


However, unlike Kalabante, partnering up with other photographers has been the worst mistake Monngakgotla ever took. ‘’The biggest challenge I came across was trying to work with other photographers. Collaborative works does magic for creatives but is usually the most complicated effort to take, working with people’s tight schedules is quite exhausting’’ he concluded

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