On the evening to celebrate the Nordic Day 2019 in March, an event that brings together the embassies of Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Ali Makka’s name was read out.
The 26-year-old was winner of the climate change photo competition that attracted a number of photographers. The documentary and landscape photographer beat the rest, thanks to her creativity in portraying a native Nubian woman making a relative’s hair without any extensions.
In her citation as she handed over the prize to Makka, the ambassador of Iceland to Uganda, Ms Unnur Rammette, lauded Makka’s photograph for portraying a way in helping keep the environment from synthetic hair which is the same as polythene and are not biodegradable but produce dangerous chemicals with toxic particles in the earth, hence polluting it.
“It was an overwhelming experience, even when you know you’re going to be announced because I had already received the email that I had won. I felt like my hard work was finally paying off. It was, indeed, being recognised,” the elated photographer recollects.
She is an Information Technology graduate and professional but with a passion for the art of photography, one of those things she confesses to executing with ease.
“Art to me is an eye, it’s creativity, looking outside the box. Art isn’t ordinary. It is a feeling. You have to put what you feel into something that you can show the world,” she explains.
The win is good recognition which Makka intends to use as a stepping stone. She has included the certificate on her CV now because with it, she is sure of being taken seriously.
“It is almost automatic with photography. You don’t need to say or do much. Your work has to speak for you.”
When the competitions opened, she sat back, for about a week, thinking about ideas of saving the environment, starting with herself.
“There are campaigns on plastic bottles and polythene bags but people ignore the synthetic hair that is easier for fish to eat and die. It is a hazard that people don’t notice. One morning my auntie was doing my in-laws hair without extensions which was a personal decision for them too, so I chose to take the picture,” she explains how she came up with the idea that earned recognition.
This is her first year of photography. She recently bought a camera and took a picture in Fort Portal Town which was recognised by United Nations in its competition dubbed ‘photography for humanity’. “What makes me stand out is I am not afraid to go the extra mile and to look out the box. I make the unexpected beautiful,” she adds. She would classify her genre of photography as lifestyle, with a focus that highlights issues of the less fortunate.
The creative mind hails from the beautiful Adjumani District, in West Nile. As early as nursery school, she enjoyed doodling and painting. She was fascinated by photography and her paintings were of photographs.
One day, she asked the school cameraman if she could hold his camera. It was an exciting moment.
“Before I got a camera, for the longest time I kept giving ideas to people who could well best portray them, people who had the accessories to execute my visions to their full abilities.”
She looks up to a number of people, including her father who has unknowingly taught her hard work and persistence. Tsaubah Stone, a sports photographer, is one of her mentors.
“Ismail Kezaala is the first photojournalist I met and taught me a few things. I then met Emmanuel Makobi Emmanuel, Esther Mbabazi, Badru and many more. I have learnt from their similar attributes of creativity and belief in hard work,” she adds.
“I believe in hard work and persistence and learning from whoever I can, build up a network that will push me further in this career. I am good at planning so I wouldn’t give up whatsoever.”
To promote her photographic work, she is active on Instagram and Facebook under @ kaptcha_photography. “I market my work through social media which is the most efficient way these days. Referrals are also crucial. When I do good work for someone, they refer me more people.”
Makka does events’ photography, especially with NGOs from which she has found professional and commercial reward.
“My first wish is to Allah to make one of those people (mentioned above) to go to heaven without being judged. Secondly, I am working towards acquiring a Nikon D850 and the equipment I require to do my work,” she adds.
Away from work, the photographer would describe herself as humorous, outgoing and liberal girl with love for basketball.