They say taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is. Tinotenda Nyandoro’s images do more than just capture the moment, they also express the feelings in the moment. One cannot help but feel as if they were involved when they look at his images. A passion he only recently started pursuing, Tino takes us through this journey and gives us insight into what it is really like to be able to capture a moment in time in the lives of others.
Tino, I am excited that you agreed to do this interview. Currently, you are one of the most talented young Zimbabwean photographers. I would like to believe that for one to be that good at photography, they must have a passion for it. Please tell us how you ended up becoming a professional photographer and what you had to sacrifice to follow your passion?
My decision to become a photographer is not one that happened at the snap of a finger but it was a culmination of many events that eventually led me to it. It was mainly as a result of meeting various talented Zimbabwean photographers who taught me the basics of photography and experimenting with what was initially meant to be the family camera. I was not happy at my job and at the beginning of 2016, I decided that I would quit and pursue this. I had to sacrifice a somewhat stable income, some friendships and a social life to get the ball rolling. I also had to sacrifice the feeling of comfort of doing something I was familiar with to embark on this journey.
The power of social media in this day and age cannot be understated. Those that follow your social media accounts can attest that they have witnessed you becoming better as a photographer over the years. You have a strong presence on social media. Are you deliberate when it comes to using social media to advertise your work and to what extent do you think it has been instrumental in your career?
I honestly would not be where I am today without social media. More than 75% of the shoots I have done over the past year have been because of referrals from people who saw my work on social media. It has given me a cost effective wide reaching platform to share my work and grow my brand. I am very deliberate with what I share and which platform I choose to share it on. People’s attention spans to information on social media are very short and whatever I put out there needs to be timed correctly, captioned appropriately and it must ultimately connect with my intended audience emotionally. Quality over quantity!
There are a lot of young people who are into photography nowadays. Some do it as a hobby and some do it part time, yet your work stands out. Photography equipment is much easier to use and access now than it was years ago. What would you say has been the main contributing factor to your success and what do you think will make you stay relevant in the photography industry?
I would not say equipment is easier to use now. Obviously, it has gotten better and nicer looking with time and the advancement of technology but that in turn has given us much more complex cameras with more complicated features. With regards to the success I’ve achieved so far, I’ve already mentioned the social media part. To add onto that, I cannot ignore the role my family, girlfriend, friends and strangers have played in my growth. Their support, belief in me, financial and emotional contributions and kind words of advice and encouragement have pushed me through the best and worst of moments. My relevance in the industry will probably come down to the relationships I build as I go and delivering a standard of work that I can personally be proud of each time. I shoot for my satisfaction more than anything.
Ours is a tough economy. As a self-employed business person/creative in a tough economy, how do you ensure you make enough to cover your needs every month?
I make sure that each shoot I do is better than my last. More work tends to come my way the more I shoot and the more that people see progression of my work and the quality of it.
What main challenges have your encountered as a creative and businessman in regards to investing money back into your business?
This has probably been my biggest headache over the past year. I’ve never considered loans as I don’t have the collateral or confidence to borrow money (yet). There are certain grants out there for photographers, but getting them is very difficult and I have not been successful to date. I’m privileged to have a family that believes in me enough to invest in my business. Reinvesting can also be an challenge because of financial indiscipline. It’s something I’ve had to teach myself over time, especially given that I want this to be something sustainable and long term.
What message do you want to convey with your photographs and why. When people look at your images, what do you want them to know them for?
I always want my photographs to be a medium to which the person viewing them attaches feelings or emotions to. I just feel that if I can connect with someone emotionally, they will not forget me or my work. I want people to look at my images and feel like they were there and part of that momennt.
Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you.
On the days that I don’t have shoots, I’m either editing previous shoots, looking for inspiration for new ones or just relaxing. The nice part about my job is that it isn’t an 8 to 5 and I honestly work when I want to. Creativity isn’t something that can be forced
Advice for aspiring photographers?
Cooler, better equipment will always be out there. Make the most of what you have at your disposal now and the rest will follow later.
I wish I knew how to… Record Videos
Best investment… My 85mm lens
Motivation in 3 words… NEVER STOP SHOOTING!