Joseph Muhumuza, 26 , photographer
I’m doing good. Actually, I’m doing very very good. My business is prosperous.
You see, I work now with a partner organisation, Pengea Publishing. They are hiring me to do a lot of work for them. And we even come up with new initiatives to inspire the youth.
This Pengea Publishing started with a project called ‘village life’ and they asked me as a photographer to take the pictures. They were very content with what I deliverd and from that moment on they wanted to work with me as a first supplier. Now we are collecting stories in communities. Like the local stories about the hare and the hyena and other ‘cinderella-stories’. We believe it is important that people know their own culture, their roots and the stories that are connected to it. We also started a library to promote reading for the youth who don’t have access to books at their homes. Reading and books are vital to one’s life and learning I believe.
Recently we thought of having our own education centre were youth can come to when ever they feel to learn and develop themselves. Ofcourse I focus on teaching the young ones how use the camera and the attitude of a good photographer. We also have developed a plan to teach the teachers how to handle the youth and we teach the pupils how to behave, how to develop a learning attitude and how to commit to given assignments.
I’m very happy with my life now. I can use my talents, develop my skills, earn my own money, run a company and I still have the energy to put in community projects. I still can’t believe that three years ago my life looked completely different.
You know, I’m a creative artist. I have always been. I’m a rapper, a music producer, a video producer, I make radio-productions and I’m a photographer. I have found my ways in showing off my talents. And I realised my heart is in teaching children. But it took me a while to realise how to do this.
When I was in secondary school, I found it very hard to be motivated to learn. That is why I changed schools 3 times. I just couldn’t understand why I needed all this facts and knowledge, since it wasn’t the real world to me. The system blocked my aspirations in life. But in the end I found a school where I could explore more about what I needed in life. After secondary school, I followed a course in Tourism and Travelling at the Mountains of the Moon university here in Fort Portal. I finished it, although it wasn’t the course I would have loved to do. But the financial limitations made me opt for this course.
When I entered the MM2M training in 2016, I already had a photo camera and I used it to do some shoots. But because of this training I realised I had to change a few important elements in my life. So I started to indentify myself: Who Am I, What can I do, what is it I want to realise?
And because of this introspection, I realised that I shouldn’t do things anymore that are not related to who I am at heart. So I made a new plan. I wrote down on paper what I wanted to reach as shortterm goals and longterm goal. For my shortterm goals I knew that I set the bar high: I just wanted to deliver perfect work. I knew I lacked the perfect skills. So I did a lot of research to achieve the best. I looked at the work of other photographers and tried to understand how they took the picture, I read books about photography. And of course I knocked on the doors of good photographers to learn from them. And I was happy they were willing to share a lot of information. The remark that struck me the most was one that guided me a long my career now: A good photo is not taken when you sit in your chair, you have to move around!
That made me decide to fill my bag with clothes and another with my camera and move around Uganda. I wanted to learn how to become a good landscape photographer, since my camera only had a 18-55 mm lens.
People got interested in the photo’s I took and in that way I got my recognition that my work was outstanding. So I could tick the first box of my shortterm-goals.
But I challenged myself with a new goal. I got the advice of a photographer to buy a 55-200mm lens so I also could do portraits. So after saving money I was able to buy one.
And that actually gave me a tremendous boost in my career. You see, I did a shoot for free for someone. And he posted this pictures on Facebook where thousands of people liked those pictures. From that moment on my phone kept ringing. I had 3 to 4 shoots a day and I earned a very good income out of that. So I did a lot of shoots for portraits and fashion and design.
I could easily save money to buy more and better equipment, also for filming and editing. Actually, now I was able to combine my love for music and photography and filming. So people and (international) organisations all over Uganda are calling me for projects. I can’t do it on my own anymore, so I work together with 3 young photographers who do part of the work as well. And my jointventure with Pengae gives me the financial and emotional stability to continue my work and my dream.
Although my story is a succesfull one, I also met my challenges. I had to start off with saving the little money I had in order to reach this stage in my career. I also faced the challenge of a 6 month powercut at my office, so I had to pay for the time I spent in other studio’s to do my work.
I know my strength of being consistent in my work and consistent in my plan were key-elements in my success.
MM2M helped me in realizing I need a plan and stick to it, although people around you may not like your ideas. At first my family wasn’t very happy with me working in the music-industry, because they were afraid I got waisted. But now they are very proud of me in what I’ve reached.
I think that the youth should look for all available resources that are already there to start off. Use your hands too in creating things. Not all is done by head. Look around you, see what is missing in your own environment. Go to other places and see how they might resolve these situations and transfer it to your own area. Find the market, and use your talents and resources. And set the bar high. Challenge yourself to give the best you can.