Abayo: Social media is a catalyst for my rise

The 21-year-old is also a student of International Relations.

While growing up, Sabin Abayo could not decide what he wanted to be in life.

He lacked purpose until he focused his mind on learning photography. Ever since that time, his world never makes sense if he is not shooting or editing a photo.

Joan Mbabazi sat down with him and the 21-year-old- talked about his dreams, challenges, ambitions, way forward and how social media has contributed to what he is today.

Tell us your journey into photography

Seven years ago, I used play around with Photoshop software, but I never had the camera skills. I didn’t even know how to operate a camera. Whenever my friends took photos, I helped them edit them as I was good at editing.

With time, I became inquisitive of how the camera works, like how to balance the object, the lighting, resolution and much more. Each day that came by, I saw it as an opportunity to learn something new.

I didn’t have a camera of my own but I always borrowed and I would shoot anything that I came across especially nature, from birds, trees, to water among others.

Although photography was just a passion, I was lucky it turned in to a profession from when I turned 16 years of age. I currently work with a local photography company known as, “Afrifame Pictures.” 

Did you end up pursuing a photography course at University?

Actually no! I wanted to study something different from photography as I had learnt all the skills needed in it. I am a student of Kigali Independent University- ULK in year one pursuing International Relations.

What do you credit to for your rise?

I would say that social media has great power. Each time I take a photo, I post it on my twitter account, and this has won me thousands of followers and positive feedback, which keeps me moving.

I believe, whatever that any person is talented in, be singing, reciting poems, dancing, weaving, speak of it all, when they share it on social media, they might get fans, customers, friends, partnerships, and daily inspiration.

Which is why no one should sit on their talent.

What does it take to be a good photographer?

Being a good photographer is more than just grasping your camera or having an expensive camera, it is more than creating moments that are natural and seeing splendor in the most unanticipated places and capture that beauty.

You can’t be a good photographer when you are not creative.

A lot entails in creativity, such as; imagination, creating extra element that is expected to improve the photo from its original state. It is also necessary to be extraordinary.

A photographer is supposed to be very patient and flexible, sometimes the camera lighting might not be the best. Other days might need you to take a million photos to get the best out of them and sometimes you might deal with complicated clients.

We as photographers have to have good people skills, connecting and communicating effectively with clients, partners or other photographers. But what is most important of them all, is passion.

I don’t think there is any profession I can fit in apart from photography, because it allows me show the perspective of how I see things.

What challenges do you encounter in this profession?

The kind of tools that we use are expensive and most of them are not available in Rwanda. So we have to import them from other countries.

Some people don’t value photography, they want nice photos at cheap prices yet we put in much time, energy and quality which are worth paying for

Any achievements from this kind of job?

I have gained connections, I know whom I can contact in case of any help. I don’t take it for granted that I earn a salary at the end of the month.

What are your future plans?

In Rwanda, we don’t have visual content creators that are internationally recognized, which is why I want to map Rwanda among the top countries with the best photographers, through creating more content, getting connected to people, and social media is a weapon that can help me on this.

I am hoping to start a company of my own someday, so that I employ youth and give them training in photography. There is money in this profession if only you are good at what you do.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

Austin Malema and Cedric Nzaka who are both South African photographers inspire me a lot. Their photos tell a story and speak to one’s emotions. These two drive me to become a better person each day.