By Grant Moyo
Photography is a means of expression which seizes credible and dolorous moments. Regardless of what camera, lens, scenery, props, lighting or type of editing used, only the emotions triggered in the final image counts, says lifestyle photographer Eric Tshuma.
Being the head lensman at Imagery Reflected, a pictorial representation company in Bulawayo, Tshuma regards picture taking as a reliable tool to conjure up the beauty and harshness of life.
With a career running for three years now, Tshuma officially registered and established Imagery Reflected after realising the need to be inclusive and innovative in his services.
The name of his company was derived from the passion to capture moments that last a lifetime and be reflected in the realistic form of images archived for clients to look back and cherish.
Besides doing indoor and outdoor photoshoots for both public and private functions like corporate events, weddings, fashion shows, and lifestyle shoots, documentary photography is also considered as a field of interest at Imagery Reflected.
“After graduating from high school, I chose to pursue volleyball as a profession. I had never imagined myself being a photographer until my time in volleyball ran out due to bread and butter issues. While at my lowest point, I met an alchemist who introduced me to photography and it became love at first sight.
“I wanted to know more, so I immersed myself into research through different materials. While at it, I realised I had truly found the me that was trapped inside all my life. Growing up, I went through experiences that I had difficulties talking about, so when I began my journey as a photographer it helped me to let out all the misery. I found the freedom to express myself and tell stories behind the lenses using my own style,” Tshuma said.
Having collaborated with Bulawayo make-up artist Shades Of Sensation, Tshuma has also had the honour of shooting for The PiChani, an exclusive Pan-African fashion and lifestyle platform curated by creative director and founder of Paper Bag Africa, Gilmore Tee.
The opportunity exposed Tshuma and his company to the business of photography and new possible heights that seemed impossible to reach.
Currently, the photographer is part of eMoyeni, a digital storytelling project that has brought together young Zimbabwean content creators between the ages of 18 and 35, to partake in new media and digital masterclasses facilitated by some of the sought-after regional and continental salient digital content creators.
“Well, I must say every event that I get an opportunity to document is memorable and unique in its own way of unfolding moments. The project I did for #EmoyeniDig titled ‘I Am Human Too’ was a reflection of my life mostly dwelling on how I grew up and how the circumstances influenced me to be the person I am today. Trying to capture that in images was very challenging. It was really difficult to create because I was trying to document what was happening at particular phases of my life. When that project was published on Earground, an online media house, I got messages from quite a number of people including those I didn’t know on Instagram. Depressed people who could relate to what I had gone through, of which it’s something they have never had the courage to talk about,” Tshuma said.
“Being able to do this project and letting them know that they are not alone was both eye-opening and heartbreaking. Heartbreaking in the sense that it showed that as Zimbabwean youths we are going through the worst regardless of race, tribe, religion, gender or level of education. Unfortunately, we don’t know whom to talk to, with loads of negativity happening in our society not even our parents are there to lend an ear. All the same, I am happy and humbled that I am able to raise awareness with what I love doing the most.”
Whether heading outside for a golden hour shoot or a warm cast of the light on a model’s skin, Tshuma acknowledges the significance of light in helping
He said the ability to create moods with the shape of light is essential in the day-to-day work at Imagery Reflected.
The lifestyle photographer also noted that depending on the event, location and time, photo shoots can be best done using both natural and artificial light.
Outdoor shoots allow the exemption to embody creativity, making the ability to move a model or client around possible since at times the best shot can be behind a photographer.
Tshuma, however, pointed out that shooting outdoors has its own disadvantages like having to look out for bad weather and heavy winds.
Chuffed by the workmanship studio shoots necessitate, he said these kinds of photoshoots have the advantage of forcing photographers to think outside the box and fully exercise their creativity.
The power of controlling light in a studio fascinates him the most. With equipment always at arm’s reach, Tshuma usually works with a crew of three and roles differ depending on the shoot.
This comes in handy as it allows for consistency in completion and delivery of quality projects on time. The lensman hinted that during a fashion photography shoot the main focus is on portraiture, posing, extensive lighting, beautiful locations and clothing articles.
He stressed that when capturing the relationship between parents, children, siblings and the extended family, appreciating the significance of family values in the society allows photographers to distinctly depict real-life moments through lenses.
“I have made it a policy to work with a crew, and I also prefer collaborating with creatives. I always try to make it a joint effort. It’s always an added advantage to travel with a creative team for assistance because having three or four minds on set is always better than one or two.
“Preparation for shoots differs depending on the type of event and location. If it’s a fashion outdoor on location shoot I start by creating a mood board. I have found the use of Pinterest (an American image sharing and social media service designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the internet using images and on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos, in the form of pinboards) to draw inspiration from. It gives me time to focus on the idea, styling, colour schemes and narrative,” Tshuma said.
“My crew and I also make time for location scouting to make sure it fits the look we are going for. We give ourselves enough time to get permission to use the location to avoid interruptions or getting in trouble in a prohibited area.
“Packing equipment on the eve of a shoot or an event leaves us with plenty of time to remember anything we might have forgotten. Depending on what we intend to bring out on set, we either use zoom or Prime lenses. Having a make-up artist on set is also useful to constantly be touching up models or clients’ faces making sure we capture the desired look.
“After a photoshoot, when we are editing pictures only the selected make the crop. The processing of the image is the most essential stage because normal pictures can be made extraordinary.”
By exceptionally capturing the glitz and glamorous life as well as tragedy through conscious pictorial representation, Tshuma has had more reason to grow as a lifestyle lensman and a youth proponent with vast interest in helping young people counter burning issues they face on a daily basis but find difficult to talk about.
- BIOGRAPHY: Grant Moyo is a prolific writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society.
- Follow him on Twitter: @TotemGrant