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Sunday, September 7, 2014

I am still Here!!! Sorry for the Absence.

September is upon us! The ninth month of the year is here and that means we only have a few more months to go before this year ends. I have not blogged in a long while, only had one posting from August, but I am back now. And hopefully the month of September will be so blog-a-docious. That’s not even a word if you ask me, but what I am trying to say is, I hope I will blog more this month than I did last month.

I had a family shoot in Lilayi in August. It was my very first one and I was so excited. I managed to get paid for a home visit. It cost more for me to do than what I got out, for the simple reason that I was trying to be too accommodating. You can’t do that when you’re starting a business. I went out of my way to make the clients happy. In hind sight, I should have sold my package and anything outside of that should have been an extra charge. But it was all worth it. I managed to deliver what the customer wanted; even if it mean me learning to change backgrounds from white to black in Photoshop.

A sample photo from the home visit in Lilayi.

Aside from the home visit, I got up to no good with the camera making my favorite subject the most photographed woman in Lusaka. We had an outing just for the two of us, reconnecting and ensuring that the talents God has committed into our hands do not go to waste. I practiced on my wife and I must say the session was well worth it. I came out with some of my best images captured so far. And the best part of it is that we used natural light. It was a natural day of sorts. Natural beauty coupled with natural talent and natural light. What more can a brother ask for.
My natural beauty in natural light!

And then last week, I got the opportunity to photograph Wintley Phipps, renowned gospel artist and Pastor. He was visiting Zambia as part of the US Embassy’s Arts Envoys program and I was honored to be the photographer assigned to cover his visit for a few hours at the Embassy. I had a lot of fun with this assignment. I was spiritually edified with his music and at the same time, I got to take photos of his important visit. I must say my CV keeps growing and when I market myself, I will say I have photographed Zambia’s first president, Zambia’s white vice present and his spouse, U.S. Vice President’s wife and Pastor Wintley Phipps. If I ever get permission to share some of the photos from these assignments, I will post on the blog and the facebook page managed by wife and I.

Speaking of facebook pages, our page has grown to 300 plus likes. As I have said, it is not a popularity contest and I am truly grateful for the people who have taken time to like the page. I know that they will be the links that lead to more business. Through these 300 plus likes, God will open doors and we will have more business opportunities. As long as I continue to let God be my Agent, I don’t have to compromise in order to get business. The flood gates of heaven will open and I know that the ability to capture moments in time through photography will yield great results.

I am looking forward to my cousins wedding on September 19, 2014, a corporate function in November and a wedding in November. We are going higher and higher from this point forward.

Happy photographing! Ferzio C. Mampwe - Photographer
Lusaka City, my home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August is here!

My word, where has the year gone? It seems like only yesterday when we were in the month of July and now we are 12 days into the month of August. I have missed out on a couple of Fridays to blog since I only seem to get enough time to blog about my hobby on Fridays.

The facebook page has been growing steadily and I do appreciate each and every person that has clicked the like button. They are potential clients one day soon, some sooner than others but soon nonetheless. My wife and partner has been very supportive and is more business savvy than I am. She has been instrumental into steering the hobby in a business direction.

The last time I was here, I shared photos from a Gospel Music Concert I attended. Today, I will share some photos from a couple familiarization meeting I had with a couple that has booked me for a wedding shoot in December 2014. There have been enquiries from couples who would like for me to cover their weddings in my locality and some that a little further. I can't say I have arrived yet, I am a work in progress - but work all the same.

I continue to learn a lot with each day. And the forum of Zambian photoghraphers on facebook is a good learning platform. I recall asking a colleague from the group about pricing. Yes, pricing my services. It is good to know how you can make money out of a hobby and I am sure one day it will be a fully functional business.

Here are some photos taken on August 10, 2014 of Lweendo and Julia.

These do not need captioning, they tell the story of a young couple in love and soon to be husband and wife. The images were first shared on the facebook page which can be accessed by following this link.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

God's Envoys' #ThisMan2014 Concert

This past weekend found me shooting at a Gospel Music Concert at the University of Zambia (UNZA) Chapel in Lusaka. How did I get this assignment? I informally asked a friend who sings in the group as we sat at dinner if they had a photographer for the day. His response indicated there was no official photographer for the day and so I offered to go on God's errands with the group and capture some shots.

It was like breaking new ground for me. I have covered weddings and I know that people want to be photographed on the day so it is easy. I was not very sure if people wanted to be photographed at a Gospel Music Concert - especially the singers. I worried that drawing too close to the singers might disturb their singing - especially that I have not talked to most of them at church.

Sr. Mercy Chizuni singing with her siblings.
Undaunted by the task before me, I went about my business as usual. I remembered to borrow a flash this time and the shooting was great. In addition to using a flash, I practiced with different settings for the white balance. I was not willing to stay in auto this time around. I even worked with manual focusing with most of the images I took.

Sr. Faith Chizuni (correct me if I am wrong),
one third of the Chizuni sisters.
I am glad I asked when I did. And I have learnt the value of asking. The worst that could happen is that you will be told they already have a photographer. And the best that could happen is that you will get the assignment when you ask. I have shared a few images from the concert on the facebook page managed by my wife and I. I hope God's Envoys like the photos that I shared considering I didn't do any proofing with a member of the group.

I am sharing a few of those images for the blog also. You can follow the singing group on facebook by liking their page.

Br. Luyando Masenke enjoying a moment in song.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Facebook Page Opened!

Yes! I did it. I know it was long overdue, and maybe I dreaded the idea, but I managed to open a facebook page to share the photos I take. Especially my wedding photography. I do hope that I will get more clients like that as the days go by. I have a wedding shoot in December, a potential one in September and I have had a few enquiries from would be customers.

First off, it was hard to decide under which category I should fall. Photographer falls under the famous person category - I am not famous. I am an enthusiast, a hobbyist and so on. My work may get attention yes, but I don't think I would count as being famous. So I opted to use the brand category and created a page under website. If I only have two likes on the page, that is fine. I am listed as a website afterall. And yet I will share my work like the entire life of me depends on it.

I do hope, by industry standards, that my work is beyond average, and that as a customer pays me to do work for them, they will walk away satisfied and knowing that I have given them my best effort yet. The focus of the wedding photography I will provide will aim at giving brides and grooms an affordable alternative for their wedding while not compromising the industry standards and making sure that the bride and groom have fun with me as their photographer. Yes we will fit in those traditional wedding photos, but the bride and groom should remember their day and their photographer fondly.

I have a few wedding photos on the page. I just realized that I lost some of the photos I had taken in 2012 which I would have loved to share, but that is water under the bridge. I am looking forward to sharing novelle work that is current and fresh.

For those who would like to like my page, the page address is: https://www.facebook.com/FedzLi2. Please head over there and like my page if you would. I know it is not a popularity contest, but it helps to have a few more people appreciating the work you do!

Oh, and I am thinking of rebranding the name of this blog. Since the page links to the blog, I would like for my clients to know that I am a 'Self Taught' Photographer. You can only be the untrained photographer for so long. After that, you need to be confident in the skill you're learning and show people that you're on a path to continuous development.

Thank you for liking my page!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lunch and Learn - 07.17.2014

So, it is lunch time and I am not moving away from my desk because my wife packed a yummy meal for me. I have decided to eat at my desk and do a little reading to improve my understanding of certain things on the camera I use. The first topic that came up was the white balance.

I have traditionally shot using AWB or Auto White Balance and have not changed this setting, even though I am now confidently shooting in Manual Mode. So when the topic came up, I embraced it and wanted to see the difference in the various modes on the camera. I have learnt that it is easier to manipulate the white balance in post processing if your images were shot in RAW or DNG or ... depending on the camera you use. Jpegs will be final products and you will not be able to change the white balance with vivid effect.

It turns out, you can get away with AWB but changing the settings lets you decide what you want the camera to do and not let the camera do it for you. I tried the tungsten white balance and also the daylight white balance. I must say the difference is amazing. From this day forward, I will make sure to change the white balance as I shoot. In any case, I can change it in post processing. But why not shoot it right the first time?

I took a photo of my pen with the tungsten white balance. This was at f/4, ISO 160 and shutter speed at 1/80 of a second.

Have a nice day and work that White Balance!

Manual Focus for some drama and
white balance set to tungsten.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Breezing by to say Dumelang!

Because I am Happy!!

Hello, hello! What kin'? What kin'? (In Leon Schuster Voice) Dumelang, Sani Bonani! It's been a long time eh. Not to worry, I am back. I am getting good at this blogging thing; to the extent that I miss doing it.

I recently took some time off from my day job to recharge and also to practice my hobby. I am glad I took time off when I did because just at that moment, I had a lot of models to work with for a week. These people love to be photographed. Some say 'being photographed is their trademark'. Yeah! Beat that! Top that! I hope they found me to be a good photographer.

Nkumbu watching Barney and Friends on JimJam.

So, who am I talking about here? I had the pleasure of hosting 3 of my 4 sisters around for close to a week, together with my brother in law, cousin and niece. We had fun times together. And the best part is that I didn't need to tell them what to do. They were ready at the sight of the camera with their poses and lots of ka-ching moments.

Showing off her hair in this black and white
conversion in lightroom.

Getting ready for the next shot.

There was a certain level of comfort around our moments. As they talked, I would snap away. As they laughed, I would snap away. As they ate, I would snap away. Chilling on the balcony for a bit of sun provided even more opportunities for me to take photos. My neice watching Barney and Friends with her aunt pointing at the TV - ka-ching!

Our very own nurse.

See uncle? Do dimples mummy!
From the couple of weeks I constantly worked with the camera, I proved one thing to be true. Practice does make perfect. You sharpen your skills when you practice consistently. Also, it helps to break away from your comfort zone and venture out to enjoy your hobby. I had hoped to do a bit of street photography but didn't know where to start. So the opportunity that my siblings presented was much appreciated - I didn't even take to the streets.

These two used to fight a lot. Now they are friends.
The model of the family.
Today I am sharing a few of the photos from our times together. They have shared most of these images on their facebook profiles, so don't mind the duplication. I might get a business deal through them in no time!

The sun bouncing off the wall gave additional light.

The next big question is whether I should open a facebook page or not. I do not want to have a lot of people friending me on my personal facebook account to get access to the photos. I am still unsure if I can sustain the momentum on a facebook page. Don't get me wrong, I have tried it before with a friend's photography page. Let me give it some thought. When it is opened, I will share the link here. I have been posting publicly on google plus and that seems to work well.

Till the next time, this is the untrained photographer!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Shooting with Oliver Olimix Mubonde

Run Away Groom
It's already July! That means half the year is gone and we have the other half remaining to make a difference. I do hope my blog has been making sense the past 6 months. If not, do let me know and I will do something to improve or stop blogging altogether. My wife is more the avid blogger than I am.

Today I would like to share some lesson's learnt over this past weekend. I took the courageous step of asking for permission to shadow a seasoned wedding photographer on a wedding shoot he had on June 28, 2014. I made the request half expecting that he would say no. To my surprise, he agreed to let me shadow him at the wedding and learn how the professionals do it.

To explain, I have met this photographer once at a Zambian Photographer's hangout and our interaction has mostly been on facebook. You can understand my surprise and excitement when he said yes. I have seen his work published in a local wedding magazine and on facebook and I must say his work is stellar. My experience to his dimmed several times darker.

Capturing details of food at a wedding.

Undaunted by the challenge before me, I spent a week prepping for the event and looked forward to putting my best foot forward, or is it my best index finger forward. We exchanged numbers on facebook and before the day I called him to have a feel of what timelines we were talking about and venues. I joined him in the afternoon after the church service was done and we were shooting on location prior to the evening reception.

I saw the grace and tact with which he took his assignment. You could tell that this was a passion for him and not just something he did to butter his bread. The first thing he asked me when we got together was, 'Where is your camera?' I shyly told him it was in my back pack and offered to hold one of his cameras. I must say that I was not sure how he would take me whooping out my EOS 60D and start snapping. But once he had given the go, I was more comfortable and decided to act like the second shooter that I was. He focused on the staged photos while I went for the candid ones. These moments are usually missed if you're alone so I took advantage and captured the emotion and mood of the wedding unofficially.

Dessert anyone?
It was a great learning experience for me and it will go down as one of those memorable wedding shoots, even though I was the second shooter. For the evening reception, I was a few minutes early so as to make a good impression on Oliver - affirmation from a professional counts for way more than you would imagine in my world. He appreciated the fact that I was on time. I managed to capture the venue of the weeding before people started coming in. I made sure to capture details like the table set up, cake boxes, champagne, the cake and a view of the room before anyone walked in.

Imagine my delight when I was asked to officially take photos at the receiving line, it was an awesome experience. It seemed like a moment out of a Hollywood awards ceremony. There was a red carpet, a backdrop with the names of the bride and groom and the wedding planner's details. I enjoyed my assignment. And then as we settled into the evening, Oliver was on hand to explain how he manipulates settings on the camera to capture better images in low light. Bump up the ISO, open the aperture to it's widest (lowest f stop on your lens) and use a fast shutter speed. I have not read my manual that well, but these settings worked like a charm. I even used the same settings at a function where I was the official photographer a couple of days after that.

Awesome cheese cake.

My key lessons learnt would be summed up as follows:

  • Be open minded and willing to learn something new.
  • Don't be afraid to bump up the ISO when needed. I must add that this should be within reasonable range otherwise your images start to get grainy.
  • You need a good flash. I shot with on-board flash the entire night and it was hard. It works better to bounce the light than use direct light which tends to be harsh and unflattering.
  • Be confident; the security officers at the hotel could have pushed me over if I was not assertive and confident enough to say 'I am on official assignment, let me do my job.'
  • You will find people who mistake you for the K10 photographer who wants to print photos instantly and sell them.
  • You will have a tough time explaining 'shooting in RAW' to someone who wants their photo here and now. This explains why people shoot in RAW and JPG.
Overall, it was a fun evening and I look forward to handling my next wedding assignment well. As a courtesy and a sign of respect for being given the chance to shoot alongside Oliver, I gave all images to him for post processing and delivery to the client. I can only share images of the food set up here and not the wedding specific photos. The images used here were minimally post processed in Lightroom.

Please look for Oliver's page on facebook to see his work.