Photographer Monirul Bhuiyan has just published a book ‘Khama – through the lens’ – a collection of pictures covering the 10 years of Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s presidency. He fields questions on his work of recording history.
Where do you come from?
I am from Bangladesh and have been living in Botswana for the last 16 years.
Why did you choose to come to Botswana?
Botswana is a nice and welcoming country where there is vast room for growth.
How has it been?
So far my experience in Botswana is fantastic. I call it home. I have taken off my hat for Botswana National Anthem more than where I am from. Because I am always covering the events where the national anthem is sung and I have witnessed the hosting of the national flag of Botswana in many occasions in and out of the country. I really feel I am one of the many Batswana.
You have established yourself to be a leading private press photographer of note locally – how did you achieve this?
Yes, Press Photo is the leading and only news photo agency in Botswana. In every media industry you will see, news and photo agency plays an important role. We archive the contemporary happenings in Botswana. We cover political news, entertainment, business and sports. We don’t cover only for tomorrow but for the generation to come. We have around 50000 pictures online and this is the largest archive in the country. Media and the society appreciate the contribution we as Press Photo do; so they are recognising our hard work.
How do you make money?
Money is a challenge by itself. We are growing more as an agency but not moneywise as we could do. Look, we need money but money is not everything. So as long as we are growing as an agency we are fine. May be at some point we will get money as we expect. For now we are happy with the growth of the content. We get money from the subscription but as the Media industry is not very big here, so we always have challenge.
You have no gone a step and published a book of the former President Ian Khama. Tell us what motivated this?
As I said, we don’t take pictures only for tomorrow but for the future to come. I did not take pictures targeting a book rather I was covering news. It was only at end of the presidency that we decided to publish a book so that people can keep the President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s presidency on the shelf for visual study and for future reference. And I believe it is very important to archive the history of a nation.
How has the former President receive the book… did he know in advance that this book was being produced?
I believe the he is happy to see something like this because not only is the book about him and his presidency but it archives part of the history of this country.
There are no adverts in the book though is glossy and very well designed – how did you meet the costs of production?
Yes, it was a big cost for us but we hope the cost will be covered by selling the book. If people buy the book it will help us to recover the cost. The book is available at Botswana Craft and will be in other book stores soon with the cost of P495 each.
Any other major projects that you are about to unveil?
Every assignment is a major project to us. We don’t have anything to unveil soon but if we can do every assignment with highest standard, may be something will come out of them as the book came out of everyday assignment
Generally discuss the problems faced by a photographer in Botswana who wants to do his work very well.
I always believe learning is very important. There is no alternative to learning, whether you learn from school, from some reading by yourself or from others. There are limited opportunities to learn photography in Botswana but there is a whole lot of content to work on. Photographic equipment is very expensive at some point you can’t even buy them locally. So it’s a challenge to earn from this market and buy from overseas.
Your word of motivation to upcoming young photographers
For the upcoming photographers, Learn, learn and learn. And remember photography is not an easy option of many profession rather it demands hard working, dedication and passion.