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Turning Photography into Hustle

For so many years, photography has been seen as a form of an art meant to create memories. It was regarded as an art form that takes skills, artistic ability and an understanding of technology.

Well, unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does. Tables have now turned, meaningfully. Photography is seen as a skill, a source of hustle and an opportunity that can help advance oneself.

With unemployment intensifying at an alarming rate in Botswana especially amongst youth, some of them found niche in photography. They capture pictures, but at a fee. Surely, there are so many ways of killing a cat. In an interview with Weekend Post News writer Tlhabo Kgosiemang in Gaborone on Wednesday, some youthful photographers indicated that they make ends meet through photography. Some indicated that they are self-taught, while others did it for fun, and it happened that they get paid for it.

‘’Photography is an art where an artist lays out his mindset in the form on still pictures, just as great artist that painted such as Leonardo Da’Vinci, I use my camera as my paint brush. A great photograph has emotion. I have always been advised by well-established photographers to change my style and follow some typical ‘’photography rules’’. But for me, photography is an art and the only thing that can distinguish a great picture from the rest is the ability of giving out emotion in your photographs’’ says Kevin Kalabante, a 21-year-old Mahalapye born and Founder of Kissed by The Gods photography.

He said he started photography after he discovered that he actually can be a great photographer, liking the kind of work he does and eventually doing what he wants to do. He discovered a few great local photographers, but for him, it was distinct and astonishing on how the puzzle pieces fitted together and how fast his development was.

A Botswana International University of Science and Technology BIUST Geological Engineering students noted that everything and everyone is an inspiration for his creative energy. He can draw some inspiration from the simplest aspect of something, visualize it and create something unique and new.

Kalabante indicated that photography is the simplest but yet stressful kind of hustle, especially for the 21 century generation. ‘’It is definitely the best kind of making money. I enjoy taking pictures, and being able to eat from what you love is an exceptional feeling. It is the best gift you could give to yourself’’

However, there has always been ups and downs. As photographers, the biggest challenge is the pricing of their services. ‘’Me being unfairly expensive is quite an everyday conversation for me but I try by all means to show the clients how much time, effort and skill I put into my work’’. Further, he underscored that although clients are mostly the hardest people to deal with, he always finds a way to work out stuff and that makes his job likeable at most times’’ Kalabante believes that 2018 was a great year for his brand, but as 2019 started, new skills, targets and important people came up into the equation.

‘’I still have a long way for the vision in mind but eventually it will be reached’’ he said. He has started receiving international recognition this year, including the international Nikon photo contest held by Nikon annually. Other than that, it has always been about countless shoots and collaborative projects. ‘’I really do not want to divulge some other stuff I am working on, but they will be published with time’’

He advised aspiring photographers to follow what their hearts lead them to, saying that they should not chase it for the money, but for the dream. Kalabante highlighted that passion keeps him relevant. ‘’Long as you have the drive in your heart and mindset, you can never go wrong. Stay humble and put the work’’.

For his part, Gonna Monngakgotla, a 23-year-old Kanye born oddly creative said photography is literally just the art he sees. ‘’It is basically the art of capturing what’s around you. I like breaking down this to people that I capture anything that you would look at and make you think outside the box. But obviously photography is diverse and has different fields to it, I am more leaning onto fashion, creative photography and soon to do landscape photography’’

Monngakgotla describes a photograph as a freezing time, a captured and frozen moment. ‘’A photographer has to be the artist with an eye for such interesting moments. It’s all in the eye and knowledge basically, which is why we getting paid for it. It is not just about clicking the camera as people may presume. There is a lot of thought process that occurs in the midst of a picture being shot and not to forget the work that goes into editing and bringing the picture to life’’ he highlighted

Just like any other photographer, he draws an inspiration from something. Monngakgotla stressed that Botswana as a whole inspires him. ‘’My country has beautiful people and places which I feel the obligation to showcase to the world and get people to appreciate the beauty that we pride ourselves in. I also get inspired by anything that looks abnormal, oddly creative as I would call it. Some of the inspiration I draw from the internet, I love taking pictures that will get people talking, if it is controversial to them I will be the guy behind the lenses’’ he said the 2016 album he titled Basadi got recognized internationally on Afropunk, an American magazine. Some of his pictures captured in Parliament during the unemployment protest nearly broke the internet.

‘’Photography is part of who I am, I love it and I am passionate about it. I just happen to get paid for it’’. He noted that he has achieved a lot ever since venturing into photography, saying that it is his main source of income. Monngakgotla has managed to branch out the profits into coming up with a clothing brand. He indicated that due to a good business structure, he has managed to stay relevant in the game.

‘’As much as photography is a hobby, hustle or a job to most of us, it has to be managed with profession. It has to have a well laid out business plan, that indicates cash flows, and a photographer should be able to read risks and opportunities available’’. He added that research, learning something new and keeping in touch with customers makes a winning business.

However, unlike Kalabante, partnering up with other photographers has been the worst mistake Monngakgotla ever took. ‘’The biggest challenge I came across was trying to work with other photographers. Collaborative works does magic for creatives but is usually the most complicated effort to take, working with people’s tight schedules is quite exhausting’’ he concluded

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WeekendLife

Feminism and Nudity still at odds

19th April 2021
Feminism and Nudity

This past week seemed like a time travel back to the early 1970’s where women were judged and stoned for what they wear, what they should wear, and whose attention their dress code will grab.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry gave their two cents on the matter, unnecessarily so. Its disheartening that in 2021 a woman is dictated to about what she should wear.

The genesis of the whole saga was because of a certified life coach and personal trainer, Agang Atlholang, derided as an example of an anti-feminist.

Atlholang updated a controversial post on her Facebook page where she seemingly attacked and dragged some women for wearing appealing clothes that leave little to the imagination.

The personal coach further went on to highlight that she could be fully clothed and be able to attract and steal some of these women’s lovers. Audacious of her to assume but more disheartening that her wardrobe is subliminally dictated by men.

It should be noted that this wasn’t her first controversial post where she has threatened or promised to take other women’s men, it may not be her last either but this post however did get on a lot of women’s last nerve.

“A woman’s sexuality is so much more than her thighs, (beep) and breasts. It’s your aura, confidence, seduction and the way you carry yourself, watching everything rock and roll in silence. I know who I am, I am a boss lady. I can still get your man without showing skin,” said Atlholang.

It is hard to place the fitness coach, is she pro-feminism or anti-feminism? Because one minute she would say something that makes sense and that almost everyone can relate to and other times she barks threats like a toothless bulldog.

She was not wrong to publicly and indirectly affirm that she doesn’t wear revealing outfits, but for her to be coming at those who do so was entirely out of line. How a woman presents herself to the world has a very little to do with a man’s preference.

Any personal liberation of what one chooses to clothe their own body is clouded by the misogynistic backdrop of the world we live in. In all cases, a woman’s body is assumed to be someone else’s before is it her own.

If she takes off her clothes, it is seen to be a sign of her insecurity and need for validation, rather than feeling comfortable with herself. Once she’s stripped, that’s all she is. This is the insidious pressures of misogyny that we all have a duty to attack and put in the past where it belongs.

WeekendLife reached out to Atlholang but her phone went unanswered. She did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Wednesday.
Celebrated feminist Resego Kgosidintsi says there should be no expectations on what a woman does with her body. Some women are thick and curvy, while some are slim and petite, all body types are beautiful.

Kgosidintsi uploaded two pictures on her Facebook page in which she compared herself. In one picture she was only in a bikini on the beach whereas in the other picture she was wearing formal attire. She went on to say;

“I am the woman in both pictures, my worth did not decrease on picture 2 because I revealed almost all of my skin and neither is my worth on a 100 on picture 1 because my skirt is below the knee.

I have about 7 tattoos on my entire body and that still does not make me less of a woman. I drink and smoke cigarettes too and that doesn’t mean the woman in church who doesn’t smoke or drink more woman than me. Can we respect people’s choices, can we respect women.”
Feminist, media personality and socialite, Oratile Kefitlhile shares the same sentiments as Kgosidintsi.

‘‘Feminism is subject, if I feel as a woman that when I’m fully dressed I’m celebrating my femininity, so be it. If another woman feels they are embracing their femininity more with their thighs out, that’s perfectly fine still. Let them be.

We have been preaching this revolution for a very long time of women being allowed to wear what they want, and being allowed to embrace their womanhood in the way that speaks to them, so I feel at this point we should not be having these debates,” Kefitlhile told WeekendLife on Tuesday.

Controversial poet, artist and businesswoman, Berry Heart is of the belief that women are envious towards each other. She argues that celebrating femininity has no boundaries subsequently making no one woman superior.

Quizzed on what makes women fight over small issues such as what they wear, she says “Batswana women are broken so much that we don’t want to see another woman succeeding on anything. We desire to make them dejected.”

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WeekendLife

The art of mastering instrumentals

12th April 2021
Kagiso "Fella" Kenosi

You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.

Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.

These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”

Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.

Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.

When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.

“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”

Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.

Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.

Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.

We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”

The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;

“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.

In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.

Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.

“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”

As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.

So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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