By Robert K James
It’s not every day that you get a one-on-one with a high profile or even extremely busy person but, this week, we managed to catch up with Ronald Kiryowa of Photo Artistik. From humble begins come great things, indeed Kiryowa comes from nothing short of a modest start but his art of networking and building friendly relationships is what has seen him through over the years.
Kiryowa, who besides photography has a strong passion for tour and travel says that side of his life helps him “discover magnificent sites and spots that are good for photo shoots.”
Take us through your journey. How did it start for you?
I started doing photography in 1997 when I was in senior three at Najjanankumbi Young Christian High school. I remember we were in class during break time and friend of mine who had a camera said to me; “Let me give you the camera and you be the one to take photos,” Kiryowa narrates. You take photos and I will pay you 100 shillings for every photo that you take. So he gave me his camera and I started taking photos of other students during the weekends and that’s where it all began, he reminisces. Meanwhile, as he recounts all this, my eyes are glued to the heavenly portraits that adorn the walls of their offices at City Center Complex, right at the heart of Kampala.
With time, my passion for photography grew bigger and bigger and that’s when I decided to go for a short course. I did a diploma course in photography at the Uganda Film & TV Institute in Lubaga. During lunch time up to 3pm, I would visit my clients around town and in schools and by 4 pm, I would be at Kyambogo University where I was pursuing my Bachelors’ degree in Procurement and Logistics Management.
So you were still doing school photography while at university?
Yes, quite a lot of it actually and even long after university. I would cover small parties, students’ photography on normal days and for their prom parties (which many refer to as leavers’ parties). In fact, some of our clients today for introductions, weddings and other big parties come from those schools that I used to visit back then because they know Ronald does good work. There is that generation that I covered during my early years in photography.
Without a single bit of doubt, Kiryowa strong believes that “doing photography was like a calling” for him. In 2007, he decided to go pro when he started his photo studio “Photo Artistik” and a decade later, they aren’t just still standing but standing tall in Uganda’s events photography industry.
I have always had a look at you online platforms; do you only cover big events?
Not really. We also cover small parties like birthdays, bridal and baby showers as well as corporate events. But, I have always felt that when you share those small…small parties, people tend to think it’s all you can do and you may miss out on some potential clients with big events. So I prefer to share big events although most of our clients prefer not to share their content online.
Why should a person out there choose Photo Artistik for their photography and what should they expect?
First of all our tagline says “capture that moment” and we do capture beautiful moments. We produce quality and pictures that tell a story. And like Destine Sparks once said, “photography is the story I fail to put in words”, let’s tell your story, he emphasizes.
Secondly, we deliver on time. Within a month, a client has their work produced. However, some clients do demand that their work be produced within a fortnight. We always rise up to the challenge and deliver no matter how big the event was.
Kiryowa adds that unlike many other photographers, they aren’t afraid of doing destination weddings. “We have covered events at Chobe Safari Lodge in the Murchison Falls National Park, another at Lake Mburo in Mbarara among many others.”
Why do you think someone should take it seriously that they hire the right photographer?
It’s a onetime thing and you will not repeat that event unless it’s a game for you. So you need to have the right quality first time. You need pictures that will tell the story of the event and not just photos.
What’s the key to having wonderful shots especially for big events like weddings?
Well, for us here at Photo Artistik; once a client has chosen us for their event; a few days to the event, we will do a feasibility study. Visit the site and take shots, look for the right angles and spots from where we can capture the moments. You have to study the weather or environment depending on the venue to know what equipment will work best where because sometimes you have a lot or little light, depending.
Who are some of the photographers you appreciate in the industry?
Without hesitation, Kiryowa mentions a number of Photographers in the industry whose work he appreciates. Some of these include; Emmanuel of Dynamic Wedding Photography, Haruna Ssebagala of Access Films, Ibra of Say Cheese Photography, Oscar of Oscar Ntege Photography, Godman Kazibwe aka De Skinny Godman of Lightening Media Photography, Lubinga James of Paramount Images and Muhammad Katende among others.
I then put Kiryowa on the spot to choose the top ten projects he has worked on as photographer. “That’s quite tough because everything I have done is so nice that I’m spoilt for choice but…..” diving into his archives, he decides to choose only events between 2010 & 2016.
Allan and Damalie 23rd October 2010
Pastor Charles of Kasanga’s Miracle Center
Allan and Sandra 20th April 2013
Peter Ongom and Juliana Etina of 2010
Moses Nganda and Maggie of 2011
Ssetimba Ndugga and Leila 7th June 2015
Agella Introduces Andrew
Uthiman and Cathy (both introduction and wedding)
Derrick and Maria’s wedding August 2015
Charles Kabili weds Irene 15th December 2012
Mark Namungo weds Eve 16th June 2016
Kiryowa, a man so modest; speaks so little of himself despite his achievements and a plethora of experience in the photography industry that dates back to two decades ago before the coming of digital cameras. (Hope you all remember things to do with camera films and negatives) Over the years, he has worked with a number of people and mentored many that have gone on to establish their own entities in the field.
“It would be terrible and disrespectful if I concluded this interview without giving credit to the team here at Photo Artistik and the many people I have walked this journey with over the years.”
Kamwuka Meddie, Haruna Ssebagala, Kazibwe Godman, Derrick Kyeyune, Adolf Kigozi, Slyvia Kabatoro, Mwanjje Ibra, Brenda Amita, Lubinga James, Catherine, Micheal, Brandy, Tracy, Winnie, Joel, Jimmy and Carol among very many others.
Some more shots by Photo Artistik