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prepared for whatever risks I have to take" - Interview with
photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
June 21, 2011
Inside/Out with Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
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Mukwazhi is a leading photojournalist in Zimbabwe. He is former
Chief Photographer of the now defunct Daily News in Zimbabwe, which
was closed down by the government. In 2002 he was awarded the CNN
African Photographer of the Year. His work has been published in
several international publications including Newsweek and Time.
did you end up being a photographer?
It started off when I was at school when I picked up a camera. It
was more of a hobby back then. I kept taking pictures and then one
thing led to another and I realised I could make a living out of
it. I've never looked back.
easy to make a living as a photographer?
It's not easy. I think you have to have the right contacts,
and have a respectable portfolio to get particular jobs. You have
to market yourself pretty well and know which areas you want to
focus on whether its news, NGOs, marketing, advertising or weddings.
Once you know that, you have to deliver work on time and it has
to be high quality. A lot of people miss out because they are not
organised or they don't have the right idea of their strengths
or what they want to focus on.
skills go into being a good photographer?
I think the most important skill is having an eye for particular
things. That's one thing that stands out for any photographer,
just being able to see what other people don't see. This isn't
really a skill. It's more an instinct and that's very
rare, the special ones have that.
It's an organisation that is focused on media training, not
just in Zimbabwe but also in southern Africa. We focus on training
photographers, and look into issues of bringing about developmental
tapping into new talent and providing photography services. When
we started SAMSO there was a void, there wasn't anybody offering
training to photographers. Photography wasn't taken seriously.
We wanted to offer up and coming photographers an opportunity to
develop their skills and be on par with professional photographers
in the region and the rest of the world.
is the most rewarding part of your work with SAMSO?
I'm a product of SAMSO. I was one of those people who got
identified. In my work I have also identified and helped secure
training for other people.
have a photograph that you are most proud of?
There was a demonstration and there were armed guys who were patrolling
the streets of Harare. I took a photograph of them as they were
beating up people; one of the guys had a foot on a man's head.
The moment I took the picture, the guy saw me. I was literally involved
in a high-speed chase with police in town. I went against the flow
of traffic just to evade them. I managed to get away and park my
car somewhere out of town. Fortunately it was a hired car.
do you overcome fear when you are taking photographs in highly volatile
situations like that?
Sometimes you get an adrenaline rush and it keeps you going. I get
away sometimes, sometimes I don't. I've been caught
several times. Being caught is the lowest depth of misery. You get
locked up, you get beaten up and your family doesn't know
where you are. I know this is going to come as a surprise but I'm
kind of used to that. Each time you are out and about taking a picture;
there are two things that can happen. You either get the picture
or you get caught and you get locked up. I've told myself
that this is my job, so I'm prepared for whatever risks I
have to take. Last year was the first year in over ten years when
I wasn't arrested. I had a barbeque to celebrate. I think
it changed partly because of the formation of the GNU that eased
the tension a little. Also I think there was a realisation by the
leadership that we need to change our way of doing things. Zimbabwe
was at one point one of the worst places to work outside a war zone.
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a living as a photographer
Date: June 21, 2011
File Type: MP3
Duration: 1min 03sec
Date: June 21, 2011
File Type: MP3
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