Despite all the advancements of modern photography, being skilled at taking photographs must take various factors into consideration. For instance, are you actually in control of your image-making device but first and foremost something must be happening in the world that you think should be photographed. You must also have equipment that makes capturing this possible; it can be a phone, a laptop or a device specifically made for the task. On the equipment side, there is a lens and a light sensitive plate involved. Thanks to aperture and shutter speed the amount of light hitting the sensitive plate through the lens is controlled. The professional photographer should be aware of all of these elements, understanding the mechanisms involved and controlling them as much as possible. He or she should be in control of the camera and what it does, and should not be controlled by the way it was programmed by its manufacturer whether it be Canon or Nikon or any other name for that matter. The photographer should be smarter than the camera.
As I mentioned previously, (in my interview on my project ‘Things That Matter’, with Kaddu’s quote), photography can be a tool to take control of your life, of the way it is represented and the way it will be remembered. The professional photographer’s mission can be even bigger. He or she can help us understand parts of the world by depicting it in a specific manner.
The Bayimba photography workshop started with the basics of photography, with an explanation of aperture and shutter speed and what effects each of them has on a photograph’s appearance. Paul Lumala came to the workshop with not just a camera, but also with its manual. He had the ambition to control his camera and understand what was happening when he used it. He didn’t stop where my class ended, but read magazines and learnt about other ways to control the images he made. He experimented, he studied and was committed to telling the story of John Lule, water fetcher from Katanga.
By Andrea Stultiens
Water is Life
Text and images by Paul Lumala Nkalubo
As one of the participants in the Bayimba photography workshop I had the privilege to be hosted in John Lule’s (38) home. I also walked alongside him as he toiled through the day’s labor and witnessed first-hand how he relates with people on his daily journey, how he deals with the physical demands of his work and the challenges he faces in trying to get water to people who do not have ready access to it. His is a story of hard work and hope, but above all, an enthusiasm for life in the face of numerous hardships. The phrase ‘water is life’ probably holds more meaning in John Lule’s life than for most people I have met. It is the business of delivering water that puts bread on the family table.
On a typical day (where typical is every single day of the week), John rises long before the morning sun peeks over the horizon to resume a daily routine that sees him ferry water on his weather-beaten bicycle from a well in Katanga to clients a long distance and sometimes hills away.
His clientele includes saloons, food shacks, markets, washing bays as well as ordinary homesteads. Needless to say, he takes charge of his household’s water needs. A jerry can of water goes for Ugandan Shillings 200 – 500 depending on the bargaining power of the client. At 8 jerry cans per trip 15 times a day, his family has a steady income as long as he maintains good health.
John’s bicycle makes a mockery of some of the laws of physics. The bicycle truly is his business partner and has remained faithful to him for the 18 years (yes, 18!) he has been at the job.
John’s day typically ends at 9:00pm when he retires home, not to rest, but to prepare dinner for his 4 children –for he is a single parent- with whom he shares a one-roomed apartment in Katanga. This one room also serves as the kitchen in one corner and as the living room also. John’s intensity at work is a stark contrast to who he is at home. His 4 children tease their father into smiling for the camera.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is John Lule’s story.
Andrea Stultiens does things with photographs. She makes them, collects them, looks at them, thinks and writes about them, and sometimes she makes the results of this visible to the rest of the world. She is amazed by how we are influenced by our environment. By how we take control of that environment, how we mould a fictional variant of ‘real life’ and remember it with the help of photography.
Paul Lumala Nkalubo (26), is employed by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as a Systems Officer –IT. He graduated with honors in Bachelor of Information Technology from Makerere University.
Paul has quite a number of interests that include, among others, finance, green energy, world history, engineering and understanding humanity. He enrolled in a French class in the hope to one day travel and see the world. His interest in travel is in fact a huge motivation behind his zeal for photography. Watching documentaries on National Geographic gives him the kick to go see places he has never been to.
All images courtesy of the respective artists. All rights reserved.
Where is Kampala, Uganda?