KAMPALA – In Uganda today, photojournalism isn’t something that is heard or spoken of much anymore. But industry commentators say that those who haven’t had much interaction and experience with photojournalism really don’t understand the true beauty behind it.
“It’s amazing to be able to look at a set of pictures, if not just one single subject or a picture, and be able to draw a story from it- and not only is the story usually touching, but its message is usually important,” a veteran photojournalist who spearheaded this project said.
We have listed ten incredible photojournalists of the time who have risked their lives to make us witness things no one could ever imagine seeing in their lifetime.
All of these people have been able to pick up a camera and take some of the most famous pictures; ones that tell stories of riots, and anything and everything in between.
[Story being updated for number 10]
9. Ismail Kezaala
Kezaala is a legend in sports photography. He is known around the continent as one of the most famous sports photojournalists to ever pick up a camera. The veteran photographer who has worked for the Daily Monitor for over ten years previously worked for Uganda Radio Network and others agencies.
A number of his photos have featured on international channels including ESPN and Getty Images, Goal.com among others and he is still clicking today.
Kezaala’s most revered covers include Football, Rugby and athletics. His career behind the lens has yielded hundreds of extraordinary contributions to sports photography, many of which have been recognized with awards for outstanding achievement in the industry.
8. John Batunudde
Batanudde is a Sports journalist who always squeezes the best out of every picture. Batunudde a very ambitious young man, says sports photography “is my calling, my profession, and the thing that undoubtedly drives me insane every day”.
He worked for Red Paper before he joined Daily Monitor in 2017. He also takes photos for Kawowo, one of the budding sports channels in Uganda.
His approach has paid off as he won several awards including the Uganda Premier League photographer of the year twice in 2016 and 2017. He also won the Uganda Photo Press Award in 2018 and the Sports Choice Journalists photographer of the year 2017.
We traced some of his photos on a number of international sports channels including CAF, IAAF, and Goal.com. Industry commentators say “he could be the future of sports photography”
7. Miriam Namutebi
Namutebi covers Parliament for the state-run media, the New Vision. Her persistence and courage have brought her into some very tough situations, and yet she produces remarkable images – and in some cases, her own reporting brings us stories, like some of the interesting images we saw in the age limit debate.
Those whom she works with say, she is extremely fast and good at picture composition and light balancing.
They say Namutebi understands when to use every part of the camera. Experts ranked her number 7.
6. Racheal Mabala
There is no other portrait photographer as bold as Racheal Mabala in the country. Mabala, who has works for Daily Monitor is known for her interest in health-related matters.
Mabala is a photographer whose work shines whether on the pages of newsprint or online. She has her own unique style which probably comes from not being a stranger in the community she photographs. She was number three in Uganda National Journalism awards, photojournalism category of 2017. Experts ranked her number 6.
5. Eric Dominic Bukenya
‘Teacher’ Bukenya has worked for Daily Monitor for over eight years and was the chief Parliamentary Photo Journalist for Monitor before he was appointed the Multi-media editor.
His colleagues in the industry praise him for the understanding of camera parts and being ‘excellent at light photo balance and composition”.
Bukenya, whom many call a teacher, surely loves mentoring youth who are interested in photojournalism. His work remains very iconic. He has literally retired from active photography to supervising the editorial desk at Monitor.
4. Nicholas Bamulazeki
No other photojournalist covered the Lake Victoria boat Cruise tragic incident as much as Bamulanzeki. Certainly not. He took hundreds of incredible and magical shots of MV Templar wreckage many of whom were used by international and local news agencies.
He also incredibly covered the prelaunch of Uganda Airlines with magical shots that are still used to date. He’s known for his dedication to the quick and sharp focusing on subjects.
His friends describe him as an incredible photogram. A photogram involves capturing silhouettes of people and objects through harsh contrast rather than focusing on the detail of the subject, a photogram gives you a definitive shape. He stands out not only because of the high quality of his work but also for his ability to bring us closer to a variety of human experiences. He needs to go further and look for in-depth details in each of his stories is just remarkable.
3. Sultan Badru Katumba
Sultan Badru Katumba has become one of the most famous street photojournalists of the last few years who always chase sunrises and sunsets with a camera in hand.
He moves all over East Africa and takes some awe-inspiring and magical photos. His phenomenal Facebook page will keep you glued to your phone, and you will be travelling the region through his images.
Katumba’s pictures are all heart. He’s so fully and deeply present in what he’s seeing and experiencing. He has a beautifully poetic understanding of color, light, and shadow which is unusual in such a young photographer. Beyond that, he’s extremely courageous but also cognizant of his own fears and vulnerabilities which is an unusual combination. And most importantly, he has the ability to find stories beyond sensational news.
His magical image ‘In Her Own World’ was chosen as the winning photograph of the Uganda Press Photo Award 2019.
Popular documentary photographer Jide Adeniyi-Jones described Katumba’s award-winning image as “nothing to say. The image speaks for itself.”
Another Judge and photojournalist Frédéric Noy described the incredible image as “Perfect shot.” Katumba’s colleagues in the industry described him as an ambitious man.
Katumba’s photo of a marabou stork standing atop a heap of refuse at the Kiteezi Landfill and waste disposal site in Kampala earned him another award in 2018.
2. Abubaker Lubowa
Lubowa the ‘guardian’ whose incredible productions are very well thought out and offer extreme conceptualization has captured a series of powerful images from the city riots and university demonstrations that convey security forces’ genuine lawlessness and impunity against members of the public.
Lubowa whose works are often close-ups where no detail is left out is also known for pictures depicting the high-level brutal reality.
Brave and unflinching in his pursuit of a story, he won the news category of Uganda Press Photo Award 2019 while some of his pictures of everyday urban life have been described as complex, sometimes humorous and often profound.
Lubowa has worked for Daily Monitor for over eight years and he has mentored many talents in the industry who also praise him for shielding them against Police wrath especially during riots.
One of his colleagues described him as a tireless promoter of others’ work and a hugely important figure in the acceptance of photography as a serious form of telling hidden stories.
1. Alex Esagala
No one else does it better than Alex Esagala. And yes, commentators agreed. The Daily Monitor young talent Esagala who is the paper’s chief photographer at Parliament has produced emotionally intense and often disturbing photos of people on the margins of society while severally exposing security forces’ high-level repression on freedom of the media.
The popular photojournalist whose recent hard-hitting photos of Makerere riots helped influence public opinion against the army is the winner of Uganda Journalism awards organised by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) 2017.
He also won the 2018 Uganda Press Photo Award with his picture of police brutally arresting a Guild President of Makerere University Papa Were Salim and a colleague during student protests on April 16, 2018.
While at Makerere University where he graduated with Bachelors of Journalism and Communication, he scooped the Cranmer Mugerwa award, a recognition given to the best photojournalism student.
The deputy head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Uganda, Ms. Anna Merrifield recently bought one of his photos whose composition she said looks “like painting while telling an important news story”. Ms. Merrifield described Esagala as Uganda’s best photojournalist.
The Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, in November 2018 commended and invited him to Makerere for official recognition for his incredible and astonishing photos.
His most famous image, Makerere Student Protests 2018 has brought The New Vision Printing and Publishing Co Ltd serious trouble with his lawyers asking the state-run paper to pay usage fees and damages of UGX.400m or face Court for infringing on popular photojournalist’s photo copyrights.