Local Eswatini photographers and videographers are continuing to ply their trade in different ways.
Eswatini-based Taiwanese photographer, Daniel Toro has turned to live broadcasting to generate an income during the coronavirus lockdown that has effectively shut down the economy. Toro, 36, is one of the creatives Wits Vuvuzela spoke to to find out how he is making ends meet under the lockdown.
Toro is a commercial photographer who moved to Eswatini in 2013 where he developed his business after noticing a gap in the market for professional photographers. He assembled a team that focused solely on boosting the photography in the small country. “I can now confidently say that the quality of local photographers matches photographers in South Africa,” Toro said. He has done work for large corporates in the kingdom and festivals across Eswatini and South Africa.
With the lockdown, Toro has turned to another passion he had been trying to mainstream in Eswatini since last year: live broadcasting. Toro currently produces live stream broadcasts for churches and large companies like MTN in the country. “The Kingdom is behind on technology but due to the lockdown, live streaming has great potential because it allows companies to reach their audiences and markets,” he said. Without the knowledge and equipment Toro had prior to the lockdown, he would have no other source of income. “This is a good time for freelancers to gain exposure online, people will remember you after lockdown. You must be noticeable,” Toro said.
Well-known photographer, DJ and overall micro- influencer Shaun DeSousa, 22, has been in the industry since the age of 17. As a portraiture and events photographer, DeSousa has built a brand that has allowed him to catapult into a music career. “I used to DJ at school events in high school but never took it seriously until July 2019. I was really just playing my favourite songs and I think that’s what made my crowd grow.” Since teaching himself photography in 2015, DeSousa has been hired for numerous gigs in Eswatini and South Africa. “There’s no event in sight, [at least] until 2021,” DeSousa told Wits Vuvuzela. “Creatives mainly make money through the people and the people are staying at home. It’s either you practise your craft or learn a new skill,” he added. The skill DeSousa intends to cultivate is his music ability – he wants to put his good ear to use and explore what may come out of it.
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Thokozani ‘Taco’ Madolo , also 22, is a videographer currently studying towards a Film and TV Associate degree at Limkokwing University Eswatini. Madolo dabbles in a little bit of everything – he’s produced content for events and corporate entities, a lot of his content is displayed on billboard screens along the highways of the kingdom and last year he made his own animation series that aired on YouTube and Instagram. Madolo had hoped this would be the year he put himself out into the industry, “I had a Nike project lined up, three festivals and a Pick ‘n’ Pay gig – all of them have been cancelled because of corona.” Madolo has decided to use the extra time to record mini advertisements in his home with the help of his sister. “Now that there’s nothing going on, it’s important to stay relevant and make sure people still see you producing content,” he said.
Photographer Mongezi Mkhabela, 24, is in the same boat as Madolo. After completing a BCom general degree at the University of Johannesburg last year, Mkhabela was hoping to take his photography to another level and create more artistic content this year. Focusing on fashion, portraiture and events photography, Mkhabela has produced work for Fashion Week SA, Nedbank Polo Event and even had his work published in Vogue Italia last year. He too had multiple gigs lined up in South Africa which were halted because of the pandemic.
“With every disadvantage comes advantages. I’ve been reading more photography books [and] watching YouTube tutorials just to expand my knowledge,.” he said. With shoots on pause, Mkhabela intends to learn more about videography and hopes to add it to his list of talents.
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On April 24, the Eswatini government revoked the work permits for photographic studios which had been administered a week before in light of the growing number of coronavirus cases and no further changes have been announced.
FEATURED IMAGE: Ewastini-based creatives are finding innovative ways to earn an income during the coronavirus lockdown in the country. Photo: Vetiwe Mamba.
- Vogue Business, Influencers’ currency has increased during Covid-19 crisis, 13 April 2020.
- Business Insider, How coronavirus is changing influencer, marketing and creator industry, 30 April 2020.