By Robert K James
It’s a cold Monday afternoon with the skies threatening to pour any time when I arrive at the historical national theater in Kampala for my appointment with Michael. Unfortunately, I bounce as he tells me during a phone call that he’s still in Kibuli at the time. Like the norm is for any first-time tracker around Kampala today, I quickly get onto a boda-boda and make my way to Kibuli. Upon arriving at Dipo building, one more phone call is enough to get a face-to-face with Michael. As he ushers me in, I’m delighted to meet a namesake (Kaya Robert) who is seated editing an event video.
At a young age of 23 years old, Michael Kisambira is already living the dream of almost every youth in Uganda. Michael runs and is the proprietor of Ksan Events, a company that offers multiple services as far as events are concerned.
“This journey for me started back in 2011 when I was still in senior five. First and foremost I love filming, I love cameras; so when I was still in high school, we had a trip and I was given a camera to record the whole thing,” Michael narrates.
“When I got the camera I just fell in love with it (it was more like love at first touch). So I started to research about the camera and how it works.”
Seated at the balcony of Ksan Events offices on the second floor of the building, Michael tells me that he loves cameras so much that “if you threw a camera and a baby to fall down, I would save the camera first and then the baby. I’m addicted to cameras and gadgets,” he explains as I nod my head in wonder.
Despite the different types of photography such as studio photography, still photography, style or fashion photography etc. according to Michael, he doesn’t special in any. “Give me a machine (camera) and I will shot anything in my sight even if it’s a dead body,” he says. “I even work with A-plus and people wonder why I work with them but I don’t care for as long as it’s photography.”
“I do photography but my passion initially was filming. But when I got my first job at SN Events at Theater Labonita, the boss there switched my mind from videography to photography and I loved it.”
What was it like for you at the start? Did you have it easy!!! “Not really but serious work for me started in 2012 during my senior six vacation. My first shoot was at a church, Rock of Agency Pentecostal Church and when my pastor Balam Ssempala saw my passion for machines, the way I used to care for the cameras and all that; we talked and he connected me to his friend called Julius who is the CEO of SN Events,” he recounts on his journey.
“They took me on as an intern and I was being given a transport allowance of about 7,000/=, and even after I joined campus in 2013. Since I always went to work after midday (after my lectures), I was always the last employee to leave so Julius taught me a lot of things because he used to find me at the office after living his other workplace.”
While there, a lady called Angela also “helped me a lot and I gained a lot of skills and experience, met so many people and got lots of connections during my stint at SN Events.”
Asked who his biggest inspirations are in the photography industry, he names Ritah, a photographer based in the USA, William in Canada and Anna who is an Australian while here in Uganda, he speaks of a former WBS TV (now defunct) journalist Andrew Lwanga who was assaulted by Police while on duty a few years back. They worked together closely with other photographers before his unfortunate incident with the Uganda Police Force.
Do you ever have a bad day at work when shooting an event?
Yes. It does happen sometimes. But even when that happens, you still have to deliver and that’s the advantage of working with a team because a shot you may miss out on or get poorly, someone else, your colleague will get it perfectly well. And usually as a photographer, there’s what we call backups. When am going out to shoot an event, I at least have three plans. I have A which is the main one, B which is just in case and C, for when things go from bad to worse.
What has been your biggest challenge? I asked. Not so many but I do hate rain because there’s a time I lost a machine when I was still learner back in the days. I lost a Canon Mark 3 on a rainy day when fell off a boda-boda. The camera got broken and water went inside. It was spoilt beyond repair so that was one of my biggest setbacks.
Michael also intimates to me that he has been part and on set for teams that have shot some really nice music videos like Gutamiza by B2C ft Radio & Weasel. He also adds that he had started working closely with the late Mozey Radio and was in slated to shoot some videos with him.
“His death was a major blow to me more than anyone can imagine because we were going to work on some projects together,” he recounts in a low toned voice.
Are there any other services that Ksan Events offer besides Photography and videography?
Yes. Ksan as an events company offers multiple services beyond just photography and video coverage. We have tents and chairs, catering services as well as a music and public addresses systems.
As we conclude the interview, Michael doesn’t forget to mention some of his team members who include Umar Kasuse, Nabayaza Fatuma and Kaya Robert among others.
He also owes part of his success to his brother Elijah who according to him has been the most supportive of all, Ssebufu Deo of Pride Performers who introduced him to the national theater where Ksan Events had its first offices not to mention Balungi Shakira and Nakayi Shamira, who have worked with him in the photography and events industry.
Some of Ksan Events’ nice shots: