Sunday, November 8, 2015

Into ICT Kultur: a snapshot of the First National Photography Days in Cameroon

          Photography is the process of making pictures by means of the action of light (3). Photography is also a form of communication and because of this its place within the ICT Kultur is paramount. Photography was invented in 1826 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce (3).The fundamental elements of photography are: the photographic frame and its borders; quality of focus as determined by the aperture or lens; shutter speeds and their effects in relation to time and motion; and the physical media used to create the aggregate image (2). It is legitimate to believe that photography as a science and arts has greatly contributed in developing the “ICT Kultur”. In fact, it is through the images or photos (still or in motion) that photography has produced that the ICT Kultur has spread as an idea  so rapidly via the technological processes it has itself harboured. The rapid spread of information would not have been as important as it is if it were not the presence of motion pictures and still pictures. From the visual devices (camera) to the audio-visual devices (video camera) to the multimedia devices (computers) photography has a clear print. Indeed, photography can be considered a precursor of the ICT kultur/Culture.
Photography is a form of communication and thus its place in the ICT Kulture is very important Photo Didier De Masso

            In Cameroon, it is difficult to trace with precision the history of the practice of photography. However, there are reasons to think that photography entered with colonialism. This was marked by the arrival of missionaries, colonial masters, and rare foreign photographers who practiced the profession and arts. Generally, the purpose of their practice was to document their passage through “Africa in miniature”. The practice and use of photographic devices gradually spread with the arrival of the television in the early 70’s. Studio photography was mainly practiced by Cameroonian photographers and mainly to take black and white identity photo cards (1). Access to photographic devices was not just costly but specific to a category of persons; mainly photographers who worked either individually in their studio photos or for newspapers agencies. The information age concomitantly also hastened the democratisation of photographic devices. Press photographers in Cameroon during the 1970’s had been given a place in the government. They covered the political and sociocultural life of the state. His Excellency President Paul Biya’s very famous photo was taken by such a photographer.

Art work by Didier De Masso title the summit  during the NPD depicting President's Biya very fmous Photo.

            Even if the profession of photography is recognized in Cameroon (4), it has always been underlooked and photographers have been marginalized. The 4th of November 2015 at the Congress Hall in Yaoundé is a historical date in the history of photography in Cameroon. In fact, the first ever National Photography Days (NPD) organised by the cameroonian league of photographers was launched under the esteemed aegis of his Excellency the president of the republic of Cameroon, Mr Paul Biya under the theme “Images and Development”. The presence of ICT and Kulture at this historical event from the 3rd to the 7th of November was important to witness how photographers are evolving and how they are considering their profession today. Moreover, ICT and Kulture has been greatly nourished by the practice of the photographic art.It was thus very important to share with other colleagues.
women has always played a very important role in the arts and photography. Photographer Stefano from Italy during a workshop during the NPD 2015. Photo Didier De Masso

            The event welcomed some 400 photographers from all the 10 regions of Cameroun. Cameroun is a multicultural country. This cultural diversity with respect to the photographic practice 50 years since its inception is in itself a real asset for the history of Cameroon and Cameroon’s development (1). Moreover, it is a sign that the ICT Kultur is spreading very fast for the history of Cameroon cannot be totally written without the history of photography in Cameroon. The aim of the days were in fact to enable the profession of photography to become an important element in the development of Cameroon. This strong will of Mr Paul Biya is significant because it puts to light the role that photography and photographers will now hence have in the construction of Cameroon’s presence within the information age on the one hand and constructing the collective memory of Cameroon on the other hand. We are happy to have been part of this NPD’s and we know the ICT Kulture is spreading and spreading fast.

Mr Isssa Tchiroma Bakary Minister of Communication during the closing ceremony of the NPD ; Photography is a form of (visual) communication. Photo Didier De Masso

2) Angela Faris Belt (2008). The Elements of Photography Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images
1) Zeitlyn, D. (n.d). Archiving a Cameroonian  photographic studio
3) Robinson , L. (2007).Art of professional photography.Global Media
4) INS (2013). Nomenclature Camerounaise des Metiers , Emplois et  Professions

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