29 September 2012

Zambia: Sky Not Limit for Esinala Zulu

"BELIEVE me, I am not satisfied yet. I want to go further and learn more. I wish to be a professional photographer who can be hired to shoot big, big people, or even become the official photographer of the President."

These are the words of one determined Esinala Zulu, a young woman who dreams of rising to the top and become the very best in photography.

Nala, as she calls herself, has been totally consumed by photography to a point where it has become a driving passion in her life.

The shy looking 31-year-old is a self -driven woman who works as a saleslady at a duty free shop at Lusaka International Airport.

Her love for photography lay latent until it started growing at a tender age when her father, a freelance photographer who shot pictures of ordinary people in everyday settings, exposed her to his camerawork whenever he was at home.

Nala eagerly grasped her father's skills. By the time she was in secondary school, she was able to handle a still camera.

She completed school and started volunteering to shoot pictures of family and friends.

Later on, she had a stint of working at the now defunct Photo Fine Studio where the world of professional photography opened up right before her very eyes."I learned how to print pictures. I am a printer. I can print photographs," she says.

Nala's passion has since encompassed video shooting which she taught herself. She can design, shoot videos as well as make documentaries.

She seeks nothing but improve her camera handling skills, leavingnothing to chance and pursuing only that dream that she holds dear to herself.

"With the little money that I have made so far, I have managed to buy myself a PC (personal computer), a digital still camera and an HDV video camera.

"The biggest achievement I have made in my life is that whatever money I earn, I do not use it to buy things like shoes. I buy myself the tools that I need for my photography," she says, crediting her mother-a retired tailoring instructor - who never let her get anything without working for it.

In as much as her father taught her photography, it was her mother who taught her that whatever she wanted to possess in life had to be worked for; be it a tube of lotion, or a monetary favour.

"I am going higher. I want to keep on this track and at the moment, my passion is to go to school," she says.

That passion to learn would soon start taking shape when she goes to TEVETA next month where she hopes to glean some training.

In the thirteen years she has worked as a part time freelance photographer, she has built up her clientele to a point where she boasts of handling birthday parties of First Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

She has also worked with Multichoice which hired her to photograph Nigerian actor and actress Desmond Elliot and Mama G respectively when they visited Zambia on an African Magic platform. She has also worked with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Nala also shoots for a local modeling agency. However, Nala's dream does not end at working for herself and being the best in the business of photography. She believes she has what it takes to open her own studio someday.

Her advice to youths her age, or younger, is to look within themselves rather than wait for other people to provide them with jobs on the proverbial silver platter.

"My advice to them is that be real, be yourself. "Most young people, especially young women, have talents which they can develop. But they are shy to come out because they think that someone will laugh at them if they do what they really are talented at doing," she says.

She believes most youths are unemployed because they prefer 'smart jobs' rather than work with their hands. They want white collar jobs where they can put on high heeled shoes and work in an air conditioned office.

"But for things like photography, you have to be ready to be pushed and you will not wear high heels," she says.

She feels that young women, especially, should come down to reality and seek to discover and develop natural talents that they are passionate about instead of being copycats of other people.

"Do not wait for someone to employ you. You can expand from the little things you are doing.

"If you wash cars dream of opening a carwash; if you sell salaula (second hand clothes) for someone, dream of earning enough to buy your own bale of salaula to sell. That is how you can be your own boss," she says.

And most of all, she preaches discipline, saying she learned that she could buy her own lotion from the little money she earned through taking pictures before she eventually realised that photography can be her livelihood.

"Don't look at the next person. Look at yourself" she says referring to the fact that although photography in Zambia is considered to be a man's world, nothing will sway her from realising her dreams.

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