22 year old Serrah Galos is a photographer who mainly works for NGOs. His photos have been published in WIRED, Humanity Unified, One UN.
He is currently a photographer at Africa New life Ministries (ANLM), and in charge of media content that also involves videography and story writing.
As an ardent young Rwandan photographer, Galos’ main focus is on showing the transcendent beauty of the Rwandan people through his ‘photography brand ‘Rwandanziza’.
“My motto is; ‘A thousand form of beauty’ because we need to appreciate the beauty that we have,” he says.
Going by his social media pages, photos are mostly of people, young and old alike and places that he captures in the rural parts of the country. According to him, it is the best part of his profession.
I focus mainly on NGOs because of the exposure to the opposite side of town life and I can go on for two months without getting paid. Being a photographer, I get to meet many different people and discover what their kind of life is like and it motivates me very much.”
The 22 year old recently purchased an instant print camera and wants the people photographs to keep their photographs.
“The kids in the village have never seen a camera and some people don’t have mirrors at their homes, and they don’t care how they look and it’s so painful. These are kids that have grown up together and will probably take different paths and so I am helping them create memories. The emotions while on duty are worth the money I would earn, he says.
I ask him what he mainly intends to communicate with his photographs.
“Beauty”, he says, “that’s why my Instagram username is Rwandanziza because I focus on the beauty of Rwanda. I am really so interested in the beauty of Rwanda and Rwandans and I’m really detailed in the beauty of people because I have gone to several places in Rwanda and I’m taken aback by the beauty of the people. I post the pictures so that people see how beautiful they are and when people appreciate them they will double tap and when I go to rural areas where people have no internet I show them how people are in love with their photos.”
A childhood dream
As a young boy living in Kigali, Galos dreamed of being so many things. He wanted to be a musician, writer and photographer.
Growing up with a camera in the house, he was bitten by the photography bug at a very young age.
“My father had a camera where taking family pictures was a daily routine, and if you look closely, I am not in the family photos because I took it upon myself to be the family photographer. Some of the pictures are cropped and badly taken because I was short at that time and still an amateur but nonetheless, my parents printed them and put them in the family photo album. That they took my photos seriously, gave me the obsession for photography, he recalls.
Five years ago he had his first paid photography gig but it took him five months to get another paying gig.
This is when he thought of concentrating on his music career instead ‘because people had started to know my songs but not my photos.’
“Someone saw my pictures and gave me another gig that wasn’t paid for and posted them on their website and social media. After my pictures were posted, one company called me and offered to make me their photographer. I didn’t know that out there, my photographs were a little bit serious. I didn’t believe people who said that my pictures are good because I had never gone to photography school.”
“I started investing and learning photography, quotations, invoices and I decide to take it serious and at that time, because so many companies and people started to approach me. Sometimes it was not fun because I was doing some subjects I wasn’t interested in but for photographers that process is important because you get to realize what you can and cannot do,” he says.
He notes that combining his childhood dreams has made him who he is today because he writes stories for 9,000 kids at the NGO and does short films for the kids to fundraise money for their school fees besides that, he also sings although he hasn’t given much attention to it.
In a digitalized era where almost everyone is a photographer, Galos believes having many photographers means having many stories and showcasing beauty.
“I really don’t mind us being so many photographers. I don’t think this is a competition but a contribution to the industry and to show the beauty that we have in this country to the world.”
“When you live in the country, you tend to not mind the beauty but when you travel, you get to realize the need to show our beauty. People tend to have a perspective of things and therefore having a variety of people means having a variety of perspectives and it’s a privilege for me to be one of the many story tellers because our stories will be the ones to shape the generations to come because the memories will remain. I want to be part of the generation that will showcase the beauty that our country has,” he notes.
His plans for Rwandanziza
“I believe that Rwandanziza will be big because I believe that beauty is unlimited and that the more people appreciate what you are doing, the bigger it will be. I think that I will stick to what makes me happy and what I think the community needs and then expand to how I am impacting my community.
I believe that mainstream is good but limits you in a way and makes you forget why you started. The bigger the audience gets the more fulfilled I will get because my dream is being seen by everybody, he says.