There will be so many wonderful opportunities for photographers. Here are a few tips.
- It is sometimes worth using fill-in flash when photographing Ugandans, especially in the sun. If you don’t, the camera will adjust to the very bright conditions and the faces will therefore come out very black with no detail. Another way to deal with this problem is to over-expose. Or try and take photos of people in the shade.
- Videos struggle if you have shadow and bright African sunlight in the same scene – try to have one or the other in each shot. Avoid panning or zooming whilst filming – it is better to take short ‘still’ shots (3-5 seconds each) – think of it more as a slide show. Keep it short and snappy – people back home get bored if they have to watch more than about 30 minutes, which is the normal length of a TV documentary. 30 minutes could include as many as 360 short shots! You could talk naturally, or ask people questions about what they are doing whilst filming to provide a commentary.
- Be very sensitive about taking photos and videos of people, and always check with them or with your Driver-Guide first if you want to photograph them. Be discreet about taking photos of groups in the distance, such as markets or streets or loaded vehicles. They may object if they notice – unless you have a friend in the foreground. In some parts of East Africa (eg: Ankole in south western Uganda), it is not acceptable to take photos of cattle – again, check with your Driver-Guide before you take a photo. Don’t be tempted by what would make an interesting photo. There have been several potentially nasty incidents, eg: when someone took photos of a pick-up truck piled high with goods and people, and when a tourist in a minibus took a photo of people crowding round the minibus selling things. Never take photos when police or soldiers are around, or photograph ‘sensitive’ buildings. Don’t photograph the bridge over the river Nile at Jinja or at Karuma Falls. If in doubt, don’t take a photo, or ask your Driver-Guide.
- Take spare batteries, chargers and memory cards. Batteries often have a shorter life than expected, especially if you are using a lot of flash. It is usually possible to re-charge camera batteries, but take one or two spare ones to be sure. Consider taking a battery pack (portable charger/power bank) and/or a charger which can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter.
- Be very careful of cameras and other valuables. Make sure your insurance covers each camera item.