Meet Michel Lunanga, a Congolese photographer based in Rwanda. The primary focus of his work is fashion photography and has recently ventured into documentary photography.
When I looked at some of his work, I felt like I was travelling through time. In some of his photos, time slowed down except for the main subject who seemed to be connecting with me and in that moment everything else seemed to disappear into a blur.
First off, let me tell you how it all started out for Michel as a photographer
His Journey as a photographer started in 2013 when he showed his first photo to his sister who then encouraged him to pursue his dream and even bought him his first camera. At that time, Michel saw a whole new world through a lens piece and immediately decided to be part of it.
As every serious fanatical person would do, Michel spent his leisure time by taking loads of photos and acquired only those skills one can get from constant practice. He also attended a short course at Camme in his home country, Democratic Republic of Congo with a photographer called Kevin O’Hanlon (Rogue) from the USA who taught him a few skills in videography and film making for a month.
When I asked Michel why he chose this specific career path, he replied to me by saying, “Photography is my way to connect to people and share with the entire world what I want in a creative way.”
The world through the lens is Michel’s Narnia, the same way we believed in fairy tales when we were kids. Its a world of vivid beauty that we sometimes need help noticing and it is through his pictures that we see some of it best portrayed. He draws his inspiration from his elder sister with whom he shared his first picture.
While there are many different types of photography, Michel majors in fashion photography and has recently ventured into documentary photography because it inspires him. Contrary to most peoples beliefs, fashion photography is not limited to taking pictures of models. It entails a variety such as clothes, shoes, accessories, fashion sites and much more.
During a photo session
As Photography is an art and for one to master it he/she needs more skills than holding a camera up to their eye, Michel exercises patience and listening.
“A photo shoot is graced by team effort, its not about what I want but what my clients want and need too. We just meet in the middle though there are times when we do not agree but when I realize that I’m wrong, I accept and learn from it. It can be hard because you know human beings don’t like to be told they are wrong but its necessary”, he said.
When it comes to creating the quality of work he needs, he gets his clients in place, talks and listens to them.
“I don’t make them do what they are not comfortable with and that way I avoid conflict during the photo shoots” , he said.
For Michel, photography isn’t just a passion but its his bread and butter too. In his opinion, commercial photography is a creative way that involves taking pictures for commercial use: for example in adverts, merchandising and product placement.
Michel’s work is set apart from most by his choice of focusing on natural beauty bringing out raw as some kind of perfect. He spends more time taking photos as opposed to retouching them because for him it feels like when you take those little things people find imperfect out; the picture looks a lot less human.
“I obviously use Photoshop, but not as much as everyone else. I prefer to capture the natural beauty, that way it remains pure and untouched so that when people look at my work, it feels very real to them”, he explains.
Michel’s dream is to open up his own studio and create a worldwide brand which he is already working on by acquiring more experience from the field and staying true to his creativity. He covers photo shoots, weddings and film documentaries.
With his patient and friendly self, he is sure to get there. He encourages upcoming photographers to do what they love. “They should network and build on connections because people always introduce you to new people who then give you opportunities. That’s what we all look for, a chance to show what we can do for the world. If you have that, then you are one step closer to where you want to be”.
When most of us look through a camera, we see nothing more than what we are pointing the camera at but there’s a lot more to it than that. Even without a camera lens to see through, there’s a lot of beauty around us that goes unseen because we often focus on what is bright and obvious. Lets not forget, all that glitters is not gold. To have an artistic eye, you have to see the world in different ways, look at the little things as much as the shouting ones.
Pay attention to colors and patterns you normally would not, bring out a soul in everything and try to decipher what your subject is showing you. Being different is every bit as awesome as what we are familiar with but we have some differences that are not as helpful.
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