Good Photography Is About Preparation - Ivan Ssebuuma, Fashion And Travel Photographer


Renowned travel and fashion photographer Ivan Ssebuuma has advised aspiring photographers to be good planners if they want to thrive in the industry.

The photographer was in a conversation with Crystal Newman about his career journey, which has made him one of Uganda's leading fashion and later travel photographers.

He said that besides having a passion for photography, one to be good at preparing their shoots.

“When it comes to photography, most photographers wake up and do a photo shoot which is wrong. You need to plan; do the location scouting, and find the outfit that suits the location because not every type of makeup fits a location. The kind of makeup the model is to wear, the type of shoot, and the designer who can give you the right outfit,” Ivan explained.

He admitted that the work is supposed to be done by the creative director. But because of limited resources, the photographer and the model have to work together to formulate a concept.

Ssebuuma also disclosed that in preparation, he does test shoots with the models to know their weaknesses and strengths before the final shoot.

“You can only know a model's strengths and weaknesses when you do a test shoot with them because models have different strengths. Some can be so good at selling swimsuits, while some should never tamper putting them on. Some can be good with their arms and others with their eyes," he explained.

Ssebuuma revealed that he acquired the experience and knowledge of fashion photography when working with Crystal modeling Agency under Ronnie Nsubuga as his mentor.

Before joining the agency, as a young boy, Ssebuuma recalled that he wanted to be a pilot because he loved to travel. But due to the limited resources, he wasn't able to go to University.

He then joined his media team at a home church and took a keen interest in photography. To be distinct from the rest, he decided not to do events photography.

Having researched the different types of photography, he decided to take on fashion photography after discovering that only Guilio Molfese specialized in that area in Uganda, even though it was confined to runway and studio shoots.

“So I kept on following this guy step by step, I would go through his Facebook, seeing what he was posting, and I realized he was only doing studio and runway photography. But I knew that fashion did not only exist in the studio but also outdoor. So I decided to train myself to do outdoor photography,” Ssebuuma revealed.

He started doing shoots from natural spaces even though he did not earn money from the start in 2014. Fortunately, he got an opportunity to work with Crystal Models during the same year.

At the end of the year, he was the second fashion photographer known in the country after Guilia Molfese. The same year, his work got noticed by Miss Tourism, which decided to work with him till 2017.

During the boot camps, and one at Queen Elizabeth National Park, he developed a passion for nature and wildlife photography.

Still, in his research, he discovered an absence of nature and wildlife photographers in Uganda. At the time, only foreign tourists from UK and Germany hired by the Ugandan tour companies and lodges did.

After learning about the gap, he got involved in nature photography in 2018 and posted his work online. Through the search for a wildlife photographer, the Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) gave him a project to create photo banks for the agency marking the start of his venture in the niche.


The Groove Cafe with Crystal Newman airs every Weekday from 4-5 pm on RX Radio.


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