Image Credits: Tino Nyandoro
Photography in Zimbabwe has been growing rather rapidly and the profession extending wider. With the emergency of smartphones that take images equally as good as entry level DSLR cameras what sets two photographers apart are the attributes like skill, passion, and vision, among many other. Behind lenses are diverse stories which are all rooted in owning your identity or the pursuit thereof. We had the opportunity to engage Tino Nyandoro, who took us through his journey sharing his journey and what lies ahead.
Can you tell us about yourself and your background? How did you first get into photography?
I am a 28 year old self-taught photographer based in Harare, Zimbabwe. My background is actually in Marketing Management. So upon completion of my studies I came back and worked for 3 years in Zimbabwe before quitting my job to teach myself photography.
Concerning how I got into photography, it’s hard for me to pin point because there are two noteworthy points in my life that I can say got me into it. The first one being that I enjoyed captioning family photo’s since when I was young. I really enjoyed telling a story that was linked to the picture. So maybe that’s when I first developed my appreciation for photography. Secondly, I technically got into photography at my last job. I had access to a camera and I was tasked with taking pictures. So I had to learn photography and I guess the passion grew from then.
Do you ever get worn out by the constant travelling required in your line of work?
No, I don’t. It’s actually the most exciting part of the job for me because I get to meet new people and experience new places. I tend to get bored in the monotony of doing the same thing within the same city so traveling is fun.
What one thing can then readers do right now to improve their photography?
The biggest thing is shooting constantly because as you shoot constantly you get to learn how a camera works, how different settings work and you also get to define your style. So that consistency in shooting is basically you practising and getting better at the craft.
You shot Tamy Moyo for her creative portfolio. How was it meeting Tamy and working with her?
It was amazing! It was amazing because that was my first celebrity themed shoot and I got to travel out to Mutorashanga. I worked with an amazing group of people to create the final pictures. From the fashion stylist, to the hair stylist, to the makeup artist, to even my assistants. Tamy is someone who is vibrant. She is energetic and I believe the pictures we shot show that. To sum it up, the pictures are a testimony of how good the shoot was.
How does one start on the path toward photographing celebrities?
I guess there are different paths to it but I think the most obvious ones are: you can approach them and say this is what I do, and what I can do for you hoping that they buy into it; or what I personally do is that I consistently strive to produce quality work. Eventually, someone does see that and buys into it and takes you on board. For instance, the pictures I took of Boity Khumalo a few years ago. It wasn’t a matter of me approaching her, but rather the person representing Boity knew me and knew my work and paid me to capture pictures of her. The same applies to my trip to Durban a few years ago. Someone saw my work and asked if I wanted to come out to take pictures of musicians that side.
What are some tips and tricks for celebrity photography that you’ve learned over the years?
The biggest one for me is simply taking a breath and calming down because you tend to get overwhelmed when you meet celebrities. You tend to get star struck because these are people maybe you admire or look up to. So you kinda have to breathe, relax and do everything the normal way otherwise you can get lost in the moment.
Another thing is preparation because celebrities live busy lives. Hence, they often don’t want to do stuff that takes too long. So it’s about getting your settings right, scouting locations before the shoot and knowing their likes and dislikes about the photography. It’s about being well prepared basically because you want to go in and come out of the session as fast as possible so that no ones time is waisted or no one gets frustrated.
What changes have you seen in the Zimbabwe photography industry over the past several years? And where do you see our industry going in the future?
Of late, there have been a lot of new photographers emerging. This is exciting because it creates more competition which I believe is healthy as it forces everyone to improve. Most times when you operate in a monopolistic industry you become lazy or complacent so this trend is keeping both existing and emerging photographers on their toes.
Future wise, I hope the industry normalises in terms of prices because right now there really isn’t a standard price for photography in zim. People are charged what the photographer thinks the client is worth or what they think will get them more clients. Resultantly, this creates problems because a competitor will undercut your prices which in turn makes you lose a lot of customers. So hopefully things normalise going foward.
Another thing, I hope that clients begin to appreciate the importance of photography because one of the biggest challenges at the moment is convincing clients of the value of photography. Reason being in their minds it’s just taking pictures so why should it cost so much. But you know, if one is to take pictures for a hundred dollar or million dollar campaign, it goes that the photography is a big part of it because it’s the visuals that accompany the brand message you’re putting out. So I just hope that client’s eventually begin to recognise and appreciate the time and effort that goes into photography plus it’s utmost value thereof.
If you could do it all over again would do anything differently? Photographically or life wise?
I don’t think so. Everything that’s happened to me so far has happened for a reason, in terms of the jobs I had that I didn’t enjoy or the troubles I’ve had. All this has molded me into the photographer that I am now and the person I am now. And I also believe that all those unique struggles and triumphs have made me stand out from other photographers because they matchlessly identify with their own paths, trials, tribulations and victories. So no, I wouldn’t change anything.
Do you have any tips for an aspiring photographer who’s picking up a camera for the first time?
Besides consistency in shooting which I mentioned earlier on, another important thing to note is that it’s not easy. It’s not easy because with any art form or any creative process, there are times when people won’t see what you see. People won’t appreciate what you see. Nonetheless, I think at the end of the day it’s a case of just pushing through all that criticism – negative and positive and just try to improve on what you’re doing.
Another tip is that it’s not really about the quality of the camera that you have because the common misconception is that,”I have to have a really amazing camera to take pictures”. It’s about the camera that you have in your hands. I started off using my phone and yet managed to captured some really amazing pictures. So in essence, it’s about using what you have to get ahead and then eventually when you have enough money you can upgrade. And if you can do amazing things with basic equipment, what more the second that you upgrade?! You just have to push forward with the equipment you have and make the most of it.