He goes by the name of Niragira. He is a well-known Burundian photographer/visual storyteller currently based in Rwanda. You probably have seen his Instagram page or his series of videos, 90sec Art in which he showcases African artists in a very creative way. But how much do we think we know the guy behind the camera?
Before we dive into the questions, let me first tell you how Niragira and I met on social media. One day, I landed on his Instagram page, and I was in awe of the quality of his images. I commented on one of his pictures saying that I would like to borrow his lens 50mm that he apparently had purchased very recently. He then replied to me and we started to talk about photography in which I am really interested, and before I know it, this happened.
How long have you been a photographer for?
I started photography/videography in 2009 when I was in college, so do the Maths. Professionally, I started in 2011, doing gigs here and there but I was still in university. It was a way to make some quick money, but I never stopped ever since (smile)!
Did you always know you wanted to do photography?
I was not a good student back in high school. My siblings were very smart kids with bright future. It wasn’t the case for me. I had been interested in photography but never really had the chance to do it. After high school, my parents wanted me to pursue the same career as my brother, but I was not into that. My parents, being themselves very successful did not understand what was happening to me. My brother convinced them to let me go to Malaysia to study media innovation/advertising design. That put me on the path of photography/videography, and I am glad I make a living off it today.
Are you a morning person?
Not when I was in university? (Okay Niragira, that’s all you have to say? SMH)
Three words to describe your style in photography
I really don’t have a particular style, but let me just say..hmmm vibrant, energetic, colorful…nivyo wana!
What is two advice you would give to someone who wants to start photography?
The Key is to practice, practice, practice!!! Try to find/create your own style, because copying others isn’t going to get you anywhere. (That is just one advice that you repeated three times Niragira!)
One photographer who influences you
Hum! Many photographers influence the work that I do really. I would be lying if I said that there is only one. But I really like the work that ilhan1077 does. I just love the way he captures those beautiful sceneries. I want to do the same thing in Africa.
One person you would like to have lunch with if you can and why?
Gael Faye no doubt!!!! (I don’t know what happened to the ‘why’ part of my question!)
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That is a tough question. It is hard for me to answer because there are so many things I want to achieve by then. But I actually want to be an inspiration for young people and tell them that they can be passionate about their jobs. Most people today have nine-to-five jobs. You see people waking up in the morning, going to these jobs that they hate and that for years and years. Most people say that there are no jobs out there, and all I ask them is ‘why don’t you create those jobs yourself.’ And the saddest part of all is that most of these people only work that hard to be able to afford the latest item on the market: iPhone, the newest Nike shoe, a new car, etc. (laugh). We all know what comes after that of course: debt on debt on debt. So the new generation entering the workplace today needs to be more creative and create these jobs that they get a hard time finding. There is much more to life than sleep and work honestly.
One thing you will teach your child
There is one thing that I think we Burundians have lost, and that is UBUNTU and our culture. Today, we give more value to things like phones, brand names items, cars and not so much our culture. We now respect someone, not because of their values but the value of the things their own and that is so pitiful. So that is what I will teach my kids, Ubuntu.
Last question, would you make of me your assistant?
NOPEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! You are too noisy!! Being productive with you around is hard. (laugh)! (Honestly, #NoShadeAtAll)
In his work Niragira promotes African artists in general and African women who embrace their natural beauty in particular. You can find his series on his website
Thank you for reading!
‘Til next time
Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your story with us, Mr Niragira