At this year’s Miss Uganda and Miss Tourism beauty finale pageants was a tall white man taking pictures of the contestants. His name is Giulio Molfese. He was hired as the official photographer at the two respective events.
We meet on a Monday afternoon at his home located in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb on Ggaba Road. It is a bungalow enclosed behind a green gate.
As he ushers me to the room next to the door entrance, I notice photo studio equipment including reflectors and light diffusers positioned in different locations. During the interview, he comes off as a friendly, humble and down to earth person.
When we move to his office, I cannot help but stare at the breathtaking pictures pinned on the wall. They are mostly of models and public figures, including Stacie Aamito, Africa’s next top model, and Dorah Mwima, former Miss Uganda 200809.
One photograph on one of his two computer screens is a photograph of Leah Kalanguka, the newly-crowned Miss Uganda 201415 who was also voted Miss photogenic at the finale pageant.
“Critics and haters are always going to be there. Leah is such an intelligent and humble person. Someone just used a fake funny frame from a cheap quality video to defame her,” he says of the reigning Miss Uganda who came under criticism for her looks by social media fanatics.
Molfese took the particular picture of Kalanguka together with the other 19 Miss Uganda contestants while they were still in the boot camp.
So what did he specialise in before venturing into fashion photographer? Incidentally, Molfese’s speciality was not taking beauty pageant and fashion pictures when he had just arrived into the country about 10 years ago.
“I came to Uganda as a photojournalist who covered mainly war and social issues,” he says.
He had for instance, covered the conflict in Kosovo, fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that lasted from 1998 to 1999. Also, he has taken pictures of some popular musicians including Femi Kuti (Nigeria), Bob Dylan (US) and Aerosmith (an American rock band). At the time, he worked for La Repubblica, a leading Italian newspaper.
He had come to the country with a friend called Gigi, who later died after the duo had formed a tour and safari company. “I decided to remain and settle in Uganda because of her beauty and the friendly nature of the people,” he says.
Becoming a fashion photographer
Being a new country with a different environment, Molfese felt an urge to change his line of work. He figured out that probably fashion was the right path to follow after taking pictures of Cindy Kemigisha, a fashion designer Sylvia Namutebi, Miss Uganda 201112 and Dorah Mwima. He did the photo shoots of Namutebi and Mwima before they were crowned while they were still working as models.
“After I did their individual photo shoots, not only did each one appreciate my work but they also introduced me to other clients which was very good exposure for business,” he says. As time passed, other clients including models and beauty queens started booking him to take their photos.
“I love taking fashion pictures because it enables me be more creative and stretch my imagination to take extremely good shots,” he says.
Since his work most times involves shooting pictures of female clients dressed in all sorts of outfits, I inquire if there are incidences where some make romantic gestures towards him or even where he tends to develop feelings for some of them.
“No, that has never happened. When I am taking photographs, I am strictly focused on my work regardless of how the client is dressed,” he says while adding, “I try as much as possible to be professional while on duty.”
Most of these female clients he says have become his friends and some even he regards as “sisters.”
The woman of his life
Besides, he says he is engaged to a special woman, a model, whose name and details of the relationship he refuses to reveal.
“This is my private life that I prefer not to discuss in the media,” he says in a rather polite tone. On what it takes to be a good fashion photographer, Molfese says one needs to first formulate a good relationship with their customer.
“Understand what kind of picture they want you to take by listening to them. Also, try as much as possible to be creative while doing the shoot,” he says.
In the next five years, Molfese is hopeful that the quality of pictures that he takes will have greatly improved.
On family, work recognition, pay and life principles
Tell us something a bit about your family: Well, I was born in Italy 42 years ago to Mr and Mrs Girolamo and Pia Molfese. I have only one sibling, a younger brother. I studied Economics at the University of Naples in Italy where I graduated in 1995.
How have you been recognised for your work?
I have won awards. In 2013 for instance, I emerged winner in the Best Fashion Photographer Afrikan Fashion Walk Awards. I was also voted as the Best Fashionlifestyle photographer in the A-Bryanz collection style and fashion awards 2013 and have been nominated in the same category this year.
Does it take to hire you for a photo shoot?
It depends on what kind of photo shoot I am going to do. For instance, if it is a fashion show, I will charge between Shs300,000 to Shs500,000.
Your day to day life guiding principles are Being trustworthy and always ensuring that I keep my word. For instance if I promise someone that I am going to do something for them, I make sure that I do it.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor