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People And Places In Sharp Focus

By Frank Whalley

The East African Magazine

Monday October 19 2009


Two young photographers of encouraging talent recently teamed up for a show at one of Kampala’s premier galleries.

It is the first time Joel Nsadha and Brian Ourien have exhibited together and the decision to hold a joint exhibition was inspired — for Nsadha focuses mainly on people, while Ourien favours places.

Together they put 60 pictures on the walls — a tribute to their output but a decision that was rather less inspired.

“Intimate” is probably the right word to describe the Tulifanya Gallery, tucked behind the city centre’s Crested Towers. It is a series of small rooms in a colonial bungalow and no matter how well lit they are, 60 prints was around 30 too many.

To accommodate them all the curator had to bank them four deep in places, which means that if you are around 5ft 5in like me, you have trouble seeing the top two rows and end up with a cricked neck if you try too hard.

And that’s a shame because on the evidence of the bottom two rows, there were some excellent pictures to be seen.

Generally well exposed, in pin sharp focus and cropped to ensure the subject captures the viewers’ eyes, it was a fascinating show.

I liked the fact that both photographers had the courage to revert to black and white for some of their pictures — it gave the prints additional presence on the wall.

Nsadha delights in capturing the innocence of childhood.

There was a wonderful picture of a little girl standing on a murram track, staring back at the camera as she held a single red rose. I do hope Nsadha let her keep it.

And in another picture, a child nearly exploded with a cheeky grin as she looked out of the frame straight at us with bright blue spectacles perched upside-down on her nose.

Aged just 22, Nsadha, who was born in Jinja, majored in photography at Makerere where he took a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Fine Arts, graduating this year.

A little older is Ourien, now aged 30, who was born in Entebbe and studied mass communication at Makerere.

He is a freelance journalist and was the official photographer for the Miss Uganda contest.

Perhaps he had his fill of photographing beautiful women, because here he concentrates on his keen sense of place.