Peter Matika, Senior Leisure Reporter
FAMOUS photographers throughout history have produced some of the most extraordinary images that have stood the test of time, but their careers have barely been recognised or documented.
It’s not only their photographs that are inspirational but the amount of time and effort they put into their careers is just pulsating.
Their acute insights into the creative process have guided generations of photographers and shaped the way even today’s best photographers think about their subjects and scenes.
If you are stuck for inspiration, or even motivation, here’s one of Bulawayo’s most talented photographers, who for the greater part of his career has gone unnoticed until recently — when he won an award.
Nqobile Mpofu popularly known as “Nqo’’ or “Umapikitsha’’ was finally recognised for his outstanding work not only as a photographer but also a budding entrepreneur, when he was christened Bulawayo’s Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year, second runner-up at the Megafest Business Awards.
The ceremony was held at a Bulawayo hotel last month.
The self-taught photographer — Nqo, who spoke to Sunday Leisure recently about his career, which spans well over 10 years.
“It began as a hobby; it was the time the world was going through a transition from VHS to DVD. I was mostly focused on that before I ventured into video photography and photography. While I was working on converting VHS to DVD I found that I really had a knack for photography.
“I started off with a simple camera — a Sony digital 8 camcorder. I had an interest in weddings, from there the sky was the limit,” he said.
Nqo, who has built quite a reputable name, not only in the photography industry but also in showbiz, co-directs the annual Green Gardens Wedding Expo.
“I have done quite a number of weddings, I have even lost count. All my clients adore my work. All memories and feelings are captured in a photo,” he said.
Nqo said he reached his milestone achievement in 2009 when he managed to set up a company, which he runs today.
“2009 was the year I built my reputation and made a name for myself. Apart from photography I am also a wedding consultant, as I have acquired vast knowledge on the subject throughout the years,” he said.
Nqo reminisced of how he used to be embarrassed of being called a photographer when he started.
“You know, being a photographer back then was associated with poverty. You know how photographers used to ride on bicycles flashing photo placards and would annoy passersby with their calls. Anyway, that’s all history and I am proud to be called a photographer. Ngingu mapikitsha,” he boasted.
He said he was motivated by a guest speaker at an event he attended some years ago to realise his full potential.
“It was at a function in Gweru where one motivational speaker said to the audience — ‘Do what you love to make money and be proud.’ When the people from Megafest called me to inform me that I was to be awarded I really couldn’t believe it. I was astonished. This is the first time for Megafest to award a photographer. I know I am not the best but my work says I am among the best,” he said.
Today Nqo runs his company in the city and has four photographers under his wing.
“This is about taking the profession seriously and adding a business flair to it,” said Nqo.
He added that he hoped to open a school of photography in the near future, as the industry was lucrative.