Hellen Nabatanzi is a passionate photographer who decided to follow heart after leaving her job due to frustrations. She reveals she walked out of her job claiming she was going to see a doctor and never went back.
“I had been unhappy at work but in 2011, I just could not take it anymore. So I talked to a client-turned friend Gigi Mulira, a public relations manager about any possibilities of finding work as a photographer. I rented a camera from a friend and landed my first real job. With Airtel Uganda and Century Bottling Company,” Nabatanzi recollects.
Today, she runs her own company, Tanzi which has offices in Najjeera, a Kampala surburb.
“I am so passionate about photography that I think about it all the time. I wake up early and sacrifice my sleep for it. I love meeting new people, travelling is something that I had always loved since my childhood so I find myself falling in love with what I do every day because it has taken me to places in Uganda and I have met people of all kinds,” she reveals.
Nabatanzi finished university in 2004 and like most graduates, she started looking for her dream job. When the dream job did not come, she decided to get a job doing graphics in the meantime. While working on graphics projects at her former work place, she felt the something was missing in the photos.
“A lot of photos from our clients were a little bit blurred which gave me hard time to bring them back to life the way I really wanted to. Then, I started requesting them to do my own photo shoots for the work I was going to do, which gave me more experience,” she shares.
With personal savings and contributions from her husband, David Mugerwa, she started Tanzi Media to be able to do the quality of work she knew she was capable of, and which clients deserved. She currently employs six people, some of whom are on contract basis.
Today, she plans to build a big brand, teach those who love her skills but simply lack access and create a legacy for her beloved art form.
Nabatanzi gives back to society through a photography charitable organisation Clicks of Hope, which has more than 100 members. In their annual outreaches, they offer free photo shoots, clothes, shoes on top of inspiring disadvantaged people who cannot be able to keep their memories through photographs.
She credits her success to hard work, and God. In addition, her work has enabled her to embrace, build and develop her inner self. To keep ahead of her competition, Nabatanzi familiarises herself with the latest technologies and trends by watching YouTube video tutorials. She also invests in a lot of research through reading. “Some people think this profession is for failures and therefore underrate it not knowing its value to humanity as a whole. People have used photography to preserve memories since time immemorial,” she stresses passionately.
The mother of four faces a challenge of working on projects at night and others that keep her from her family sometimes for up to one month. She says to keep her family life thriving calls for strong bonds while keeping constant communication is the key to having a marriage and work.
While progressive technology is a challenge, especially as people choose to use their phones instead of a photo studios for their photography, she also believes it will bring opportunities and equip them with better skills that will make their work more valuable.