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DRC's 'One Minute Photos' crippling the photography business

DRC's 'One Minute Photos' crippling the photography business

This is culture

Can you remember the last time you went to a photography studio to take a picture?

You probably are not the only one. With the advent of smart phones, many people tend to take their own pictures which costs them absolutely nothing, except maybe space on their mobile phone or other devices.

But what about taking picture some place else and want a printed copy?

They are really making a mockery of the photography business. Having a professional camera does not make one a photographer. You must know the ethics and conduct of a professional photographer.

That is where the ONE MINUTE photo comes in handy. Whereas instant photography is not something new, it is a growing phenomenon in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photographers, armed with their cameras and portable printers flock to the city central station daily where they make brisk business.

The take pictures of everyday people and print it out for them on the spot without having to go to the photo labs to process and print them.

And the clients seem to love the convenience that comes with getting a printed copy of their pictures within minutes.

“You will have to wait for days to get your picture from those (photographers) who work with the big (photo) laboratories but with these ones it is instant. The pictures printed at the lab are also more expensive. With these photographers I can negotiate a fair price for my picture,” said Jean Marc Kalonji who just took a picture with his family.

But the rise of the ONE MINUTE PHOTO business has got some professional photographers and others involved in the photography business worried.

As Kinshasa’s residents develop a taste for the instant photos, the number of photographers going to the labs to process and print their photos are also declining.

Some photo lab owners say there has been a drop of about 70 percent in patronage by photographers, prompting some of them to close shop.

Papy Prince Ewonza, who works at a photo lab said: “Previously there were not many instant photographers around but now with the instant photos also known as ONE MINUTE PHOTO everywhere in public places, there aren’t many photographers coming to us. Some of them have bought their own printers and print their pictures at home or even before their clients so we don’t get many customers.”

And there are others like Blanchard Muzela who think the instant photographers are making light of a profession which requires more than just the ability to point and shoot.

“They are really making a mockery of the photography business. Having a professional camera does not make one a photographer. You must know the ethics and conduct of a professional photographer,” Muzela argued.

There are currently an estimated 3,000 instant photographers working on the streets of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But studio photographers and other professional photographers are not resting on their oars to wrestle the business from their technology-aided rivals.