What Everyday Life means, and The Challenges of Photo Documentary: By Kigozi Alvin

What is Documentary photography if not a broad form of fine art photography that can be fleshed out in diverse ways. It is closely related to street photography and photojournalism, but not really. One is focused on shedding light on a compound social issue and the other doesn’t. Let’s say the goal of a documentary photographer is to create an exact representation of the subject, this could sometimes mean that even editing is unnecessary. There are no poses, and the images are simple and complex enough that they cannot be glamorized, more so they’re studied. 

For very good reasons we are continuing the Journal Project and this time we caught up with Kigozi Alvin in Kampala, Uganda, to talk about what everyday life means to him and the issues Documentary Photographers face. 

Please can you start off with an introduction about yourself. Your name, where you are based currently and if you feel comfortable you can throw in a little about your upbringing 

My name is Kigozi Alvin Elisha, a documentary photographer and an Artist based in Kampala, Uganda. I use photographs and paint as my tools of communication in my community.

I was born in Wheeling zone, a village in kansanga-Kampala Uganda. I started my photography career in 2018 when I used to attend different artistic festivals in kampala for example; Afri-Cans Street Art Festival, BreakFast Jam, Nyege Nyege and etc. While on the festivals, I got in touch with a couple of artists and photographers who inspired me so I decided to try my luck. the journey started and its still continuing. 

Q1: What made you want to become a photojournalist or document your surroundings?

When it comes to documentary, I think it’s about everyday life, historical events and etc. I try to be open to what unfolds in front of myself. Documentary photography is an art which captures a real moment, conveying a message about the world. 

It’s not easy to start photography without camera gears but I think I was blessed because I had a smart phone with bad camera but still I would take black and white photographs which represented me. Later on, I think I was lucky because I started engaging with the best documentary photographers in kampala at that time. They taught, and guided me through some steps. 

Q2: How do you feel when making these images?

When I am in the process of creating photographs, it makes me feel something. When I see an image, there is something in my mind and heart that compels me to make a photograph even if I don’t have a camera I use my smart phone instead. After shooting many photographs, I get a huge rush of sorting through and editing them.

Q3: Through your photographic eyes, what will you say Uganda is really like ?

Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It was named Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill at the early start of the 20th Century. I will continue to say Uganda is a beautiful country because it attracts 9.4 Million tourists each year. Many of the tourists come to do wildlife photography, explore the pearl and also to learn the different African culture. To a person like me who does documentary photography, I love it when I am photographing the streets, people, structures, objects, etc. 

Q4: Are there photographers that inspire your work? 

When it comes to inspiration, I have been inspired by many photographers around the world but most especially in Africa. I have followed and learnt from many documentary photographers in Africa but I won’t say that I know all of them because everyday there is a new photographer who represents us somehow somewhere in the world. 

Q5:  Are there restrictions you faced with the while documenting in Uganda?

When it comes to this question, I will say I faced and still face a lot of challenges while creating simple photographs, at some point i survived prison and the reason I was going to be taken to prison was photographing soldiers. I understood my problem which was I didn’t have a media card of any media company so I apologized and move on with life. I just highlighted the main challenge I faced, but the challenges I face many photographers face them around the world. its not easy for photographers especially journalists worldwide, they go through alot while creating stories.