Ssenyonyi doesn’t regret pursuing a career path in photography

Having grown up in Nakasongola, as a young boy, Derrick Ssenyonyi would always marvel at tourists who used to visit the Murchison Falls National Park.

“I would always marvel as I saw the tourists seated on top of vans with cameras as they passed the main road in Nakasongola to Murchison Falls,” Ssenyonyi says.

This triggered his love for photography.

Later, he joined a friend, Fred Nyanzi as they moved around villages and towns doing street photography.

They would ask people permission to take their photos, print them and then get paid for this service.

Takes it to another level

The graduate of the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja says after school, he joined Uganda Tourism Board where one thing led to another until he eventually became a professional photographer.

“I joined UTB as an intern and that’s where my photography journey started. I later became their in-house photographer. This photography journey has led me to where I am now,” he says.

Describing himself as a full time professional photographer, Ssenyonyi says he majored in nature photography but also does corporate photography aimed at marketing corporate entities.

He says he has positioned himself through the use of social media to market his works to the world.

“Social media is my main marketing tool. I am active on Tik Tok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest. I am literally everywhere that is social media but I also have a website where I put my images for everyone to view,” he says.

Ssenyonyi says that he has also taught himself the art of trying to keep up with the market trends as regards photography.

“For example I am now nominated in the Pulse Uganda awards in two categories but I am pitted against newcomers in the photography business which shows that in everything, one must lift their game to remain relevant,” he says.

Ssenyonyi says his unique photography has seen him work directly or indirectly with several companies and entities including Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, Ministry of Tourism, UNDP, Talent Africa and Uganda Airlines.

He emphasizes that he doesn’t limit who he takes photographs for, as long as they need nature related content.

Experience makes my photography unique and I know what I want. I want to be the best in everything I do.

“I get the clients through branding. Photography is showbiz and when you sit and think you made it, you won’t get clients. I hired a social media manager to feed those platforms even if I am available.”

Ssenyonyi boasts of being a content creator, not just photographer.


Despite making a living out of photography, Ssenyonyi says there are a number of challenges in the business.

“Because the copyright law is not strong here, many people use our content for their own benefit without paying us. We keep suffering from this as content creators,” Ssenyonyi says.

He also notes that photography equipment is so expensive to insure and that in case of any accident, you go back to zero and getting back up is not easy.

He adds that on many occasions, companies fly in photographers and videographers from abroad yet the same work can easily be done by local photographers, a state of affairs he says is wrong.

“Ugandan companies and organisations ought to support local photographers and content creators.”

No regrets

He says photography has given him all he wanted in life, with almost everything he has achieved being attributed to it.

“Photography contributed a lot in my schooling life.  I am a hustler and photography is where I earn a living from. I am considering going back to school but photography is what I look up to support me with tuition. It is not so easy to live in Kampala without a job but photography has supported me.  I am able to support my siblings. I don’t regret having joined photography because had it not been that, I wouldn’t be who I am,” he says.


Ssenyonyi also has some piece of advice for fellow youths and any other person who wants to gain out of photography.

“Success in anything is a self-driven discipline. It is discipline to wake up every day to go to work, be ready to control your anger, go out whether it is cold or so hot.  If you don’t push yourself, you will never get there. Don’t strive to be like me but better than me,” he says.

He urges youths to be careful about people he says want to use them for their own selfish gains.

“There are many users but be ready to stand by your word. Photography money is so sweet because it comes in plenty but if you don’t have a saving culture, you will fail to buy better equipment and build yourself,” he says.

“You should know photography is not passion but business.  No one should play with your photo and anyone who uses it should pay for it. Use your social media since it is key.  Use all social media channels. Invest in learning, getting better equipment and making friends. “

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