Travel photography as a genre involves documenting landscapes, people, cultures, history, and animals.
To those who dare it, it’s a pinnacle for many creatives with an ever-enduring sense of wanderlust.
At times we could think all we need is a camera and editing skills to become a travel photographer, but in reality, it’s much more than that. Makoma Nation has been a travel photographer for 4 years now and he talked to Jonah Kirabo about his life as a travel photographer and what it means. Below are the excerpts.
1. Kindly tell us about yourself.
My name is Herbert Kigongo, but everyone calls me Makoma Nation. I am a tour operator doubling as a nature and humanities photographer.
2. Kindly take us through the story about the start of your photography journey in Uganda.
It was an instinctual habit. I am a lover of iPhones and you know the quality of pictures it takes. I always found myself snapping anything that appealed to my eyes. It eventually became clear to me that photography was a thing I was passionate about and would take to another level. Then I had to choose a niche. Wildlife was already a darling and there I partook.
3. Share with us the five best tips for travel photography
Firstly, the mornings are your best friend. The earliest photographer catches the warmest shots. Secondly, always have contacts wherever you go as you’ll get better subjects and perspective. Thirdly, be spontaneous – normally pictures taken without much thought and preparation are the best. Another tip is to always watermark your images as it helps to sell your brand. Lastly, never plan on it not raining. It can rain even in the middle of summer. Pack your jackets and rainproof gear.
4. A few simple characteristics any good travel photographer needs to have?
Patience and consistency. Timekeeping – time can fly away too fast during travel.
5. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking these beautiful travel shoots in Uganda?
Organization; my biggest regret is never properly organizing my photos
6. How would you describe your photography style?
Like I earlier mentioned, it is nature and humanities. This means pictures of subjects in national parks and other conservation features, but also works of individuals, their lifestyle and culture in different parts of the country.
7. What do you enjoy most about being a travel photographer?
Tracking lions and leopards are my favorite activity. I can never get enough of them. I could do a game drive every single day. It is fulfilling for me.
8. What is typically in your camera bag?
My beast the Nikon D800, Canon Mark II, 500mm Nikon lens, 35mm Nikon lens, 50mm Canon lens, spare batteries, my editing laptop, external hard drives, and a grain bag.
9. What have been your top three places to photograph in Uganda so far and why?
Kidepo Valley National Park is indeed the true African wilderness. I have been there only twice and the nature is breathtaking. There is a diversity of animals and the plains are beautiful. I also enjoy photographing in Lake Mburo National Park. Despite it not having as many predators, it is a bit similar to Kidepo. But also for the fact that it is near home. I have also been to Bwindi and surrounding communities to photograph there. The locals and their tales are amazing to learn.
10. As an experienced photographer, do you believe in the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” And why?
Definitely yes. When you get any picture and give it to 10 different people, it will stimulate many different emotions based on their background, life experiences, and many other premises.
11. Share with us that happiest moment in your photography life when you received your best compliment.
I have been complimented several times so I can’t point to which is the best. But buying my framed photos is by far the biggest compliment I get. Who buys a frame of something other than themselves except for its exceptional composition!
12. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Practice practice practice. I also occasionally visit websites like that of World Press Photo to learn from the best submissions in my niche.
13. Whose work influences you most?
Wolfgang Bauer, A friend from Germany
14. Challenges faced?
Turning travel photography into money may be the toughest challenge
Sponsored deals have started coming whereby organizations hire me to take photos of their interest. Due to public demand, I recently started my new project – ‘Friends of Makoma’ where people buy frames of my works. It was a pleasure to be hosted by Uganda’s former chief justice to kickstart the project.
16. What lies ahead of you in the coming years?
Working on more projects with Organisations and to keep on learning, Nat geo is every photographers’ dream
17. Simple advice to someone who wants to pursue travel photography.
Start… the rest comes thereafter.