This past week Botswana’s diverse photographic talent was finally celebrated through the opening of an exhibition organized by The Botswana Society for the Arts hosted at Thapong Visual Arts centre.
Photographers who exhibited at last year’s Thapong Artist of the Years Awards (TAYA) were amoung the main exhibitors of the evening
For art lovers, it was refreshing to see photographers enjoying the lime light as it is usually the painters, carvers and weavers who take center stage. It is no secret that the photography category is one that has been neglected in the years, despite the growing numbers of photographers across all genres. In an interview earlier this year, the centre’s coordinator Reginald Bakwena revealed that this year the centre will actively step up efforts to develop the art form by upskilling those who regularly exhibit through workshops and other skills transfer initiatives. When the category was introduced two years ago, less than 10 photographers submitted and in last year’s competition it only grew to13 despite its popularity.
The works displayed covered the varied genres including , photojournalism, street photography, fashion, abstract, fine arts with wildlife photography garnering most of the entries. Curator at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Monica Selelo, and also a judge at last year’s TAYA competitions, gave advice to those who had exhibited and those who wished to be a part of future photo exhibitions. “As compared to the past year, the images submitted were good. However, there were still some whom you could tell did not put in any effort. They were just taking photographs and submitting and not carefully thinking about what they want to show with the image. I just encourage photographers to focus more on their strengths and develop them. Don’t just take a photo for the sake of it, have a story in your mind or a vision as to what you want to come out,” she said.
Botswana Society of the Arts vice chairperson and photographer Ulf Nerman encouraged photographers to exhibit more so that their works are known and that they too can grow in the profession. “Another thing that photographers need to learn is how to listen and learn to take constructive criticism; you can only improve if you are open minded enough to listen when you are being advised on how to improve your work,” he said.