Fungai Machirori - My Journey into Photography

Photography | By Fungai Machirori, Blogger | 31 October 2014
PHOTO: © Fungai Machirori

I have always enjoyed photography, but never really thought more of it beyond being able to capture memories. My mother and sister initiated me into the joys of photo-taking when aged 11, they bought me a flame-red camera of my own. Perhaps, more accurately, it was my cousin who had done that a few years before when she let me use her own camera to take shots.
So from an early age, I was quite enthusiastic about photographs. And as I grew older, I became increasingly interested in the aesthetics of the work.

With my first real salary of note (I was 22 at the time), I bought my own point-and-shoot digital camera. I loved it dearly and was often to be seen attempting to document things around me through the eye of my camera.

Sadly, it was stolen two years later, leaving me quite heartbroken.

By the end of that year, however, I was back in business with a new model which kept me happy for another three years.

But by 2011, I knew I wanted more from a camera. Higher resolution, greater creative freedom and more features to allow me greater control and precision.
And so, quite randomly, I began to scour the Internet to try to figure out what I wanted. 

Now, try to imagine a person with zero knowledge of the potential or desired specifications of a DSLR searching the Internet for something like this.
Very daunting!

But after a few consultations with friends in photography, and a feeling that I had found what I wanted, I settled on a Canon EOS 550D. It wasn’t going to be a cheap buy and it was by no means an entry-level camera. It would require a lot of learning to finally be able to use with some level of aptitude.
As I summoned the courage to go to the shop and buy it, I constantly heard a voice in my head telling me that this wasn’t worth the money, that I would never learn how to use it and in the process, waste cash that would be better used elsewhere.

But after ‘test-driving’ the model by going into the camera shop and taking a few shots and asking an assistant more about it, I decided to take the plunge.
However, the day I walked in to buy my 550D, the elements were in agreement to contrive to make me doubt my choice.

The shop assistant assigned to help me continually tried to convince me that I was too new to photography to go for such a complicated model. In fact, he made it his mission to try to convince me to go for something simpler.

But I was adamant. I wanted the 550D. He was adamant that I should take the 1100D Reaching this frustrating impasse, I stormed out of
the shop.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I’m being stubborn. Maybe I can never learn that camera. The doubts began to visit my thoughts.  I wrestled hard. Thought long and seriously about my choice. And then I decided to believe in myself and abilities.  I eventually returned to the shop and bought the 550D. With it, I bought dummies’ guides to using it and other books on photography. I was determined to make this purchase worth every cent.

And so I began my precarious journey into photography. Learning to understand exposure settings, aperture sizes, ISO, lenses, filters and compositions.
I am not really good at teaching myself things but was sure that I didn’t want to prove my doubts right. And so I put in the extra effort.

As I grew to understand my camera better, I began to realise that it could serve as an extension of my eye. What I saw, how I saw it and chose to frame it. It became a way of telling stories without words, of keeping memories that might otherwise be lost.

My photography has therefore become an extension of my thoughts and feelings, and extension of me.

It is two years now since I started taking photos. I have had the fortune of having sessions with some well-known Zimbabweans like writer NoViolet Bulawayo and singer, Shingai Shoniwa. I have also taken photos for events, both personal and public.

I believe that everything begins with passion and drive. If you really want to get something, fight for it. Prove the doubters wrong. Go for what you feel is your destiny. It is, after all,
your life.

I look at my camera and the body of work that I have amassed. And I feel very proud that I have chosen to explore and challenge myself in this way. It’s been worth every
cent spent.