27 July 2011

Uganda: Brace Yourself - Nude Photography Here


After the shoot, you dress, proceed to the selection room where the photos are relayed on a TV screen and you choose your best shots

Ask any girl who owns a phone with a camera to show you her photos or video folder and half the photos will be of her posing nude.

Showing off her cleavage in different posses and bras, her midriff in a g-string, French panty, corset panty, bikini or completely naked with different designs of her pubic hair.

A few more photos are of her friends while one or two are either of a boyfriend or a nude male celebrity. For the guys, the phones are full of pornographic videos, audios, girls' nude photos and internet downloads of pornographic photos.

Some of these girls will print out these photos, send them around to friends vie email or text massage while others print them off the phone for distribution to trusted friends - usually male.

The tide is changing for the worse or better, depending on how you look at it. Girls and some men are now hitting the numerous professional photo studios mushrooming around town to pose nude.

One woman whose photos were published in a local tabloid said she takes lots of nude photos because she loves her body and that her children constantly remind her that she has a sexy body when they see her prancing around at home naked. So, she needs to keep documenting it with evidence just in case anyone was in doubt.

I visited the two most popular photo studios in Kampala to inquire about the procedure. At both studios it is as simple as walk in, strip naked, strike a few poses and you are done. The first one on Kampala Road has two separate studios, one to the left of the building and the other to the right. The left-side studio is more private and hence preferred for nude shoots.

I sheepishly call a lanky young man, one of the photographers, and tell him between whispers that I want to take nude photos.

"New photos? Let's go in here," he replies. Either I am not loud enough or I am using the wrong vocabulary.

"I mean I want to take naked photos," I say loudly and he sheepishly smiles but is not surprised by the request.

"Hmm, well, yes we can take those. Do you want completely nude or when you are wearing something?" he asks me.

He explains that the studio allows anyone of age who wants to take nude photos but they do not print. At your comfort, they let you walk into the studio to 'prepare' yourself while the photographer waits outside. During the shoot, he can guide you on how to pose or you can strike any pose you want as he works behind the camera, capturing every detail.

After the shoot, you dress, proceed to the selection room where the photos are relayed on a TV screen and you choose your best shots. Because the studio doesn't print nude photos, they only load them on a CD which you take home. Or you can make the selection and an employee airbrushes them to remove any flaws, accentuate the features you want to appear bigger or smaller like your boobs, waist or bum.

They can make you appear lighter or darker, your teeth whitened, the usually darker parts like the bum can be evened out to match your whole skin tone. Whatever you want, they can do. A customer pays Shs 3,000 for each shot just like they would pay for prints.

I told him I would return on a less busy day because Saturday is a day for many weddings and the studios are booked. The weekdays allow you and the photographer more time at the shoot, otherwise, on Saturday you have to rush through.

"You must see a lot of things," I comment, to which he replies, "I do not even know what I will tell God when I meet him; I have a lot of explaining to do."

"So, if you abuse my privacy and I find my photos circulated on the internet or in the newspapers, can I sue?" I ask.

"That can only come from you, for us here we respect privacy and no one can go through all the names of the people we have here just to get your pictures to sell. Why would, we anyway?" he says.

At the other studio on Parliamentary Avenue, each shot costs Shs 20,000, perhaps because of the decor. The studio is completely closed off inside with different backdrops.

A young man in a red T-shirt looks at me and asks how he could help. Obviously I wasn't going to shout for all to hear that I had come to ask if they take nude photos. With a 'Now what can she not tell me from where I am sitting' look, he comes to the reception counter where I ask if the studio takes nude photos.

"No. (pause) Anyway, what degree of nudity are you talking about?" he asks.

"I mean completely nude or probably when I am wearing just a panty and bra," I reply.

He says the studio can indeed take the photos and also print out. When I say I want about 20 shots on a CD, he says that would cost Shs 100,000.

"We normally charge Shs 20,000 or sometimes Shs 10,000 for each shot but because of the number you want, we can charge Shs 5,000," he replies. And you walk away with your photos to use as you wish.

Show off to friends, email some, tosay a boyfriend like celebrity Cindy Sanyu did when she sent them to her boyfriend who was then living in Italy. In addition, Cindy turned some of the photos into a publicity stunt and held a Cindy Stripped Concert at Club Rouge.

For the rest of you, beware: these photos miraculously find their way onto the internet or tabloids and you will have lots of explaining to do.

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