You don’t want to take any pictures. You come up with all the excuses you can conjure up but they are all old. There is no way you are going to believe your own old lies so you grab the camera and head on out to hunt for good light and hopefully good shots. The hunt is going fair, the shots don’t seem so bad (so you think) but you keep shooting anyway. You meet an old friend along the way. He is talking to someone on the phone. You wonder whether you should interrupt his phone call but that would be rude (so you tell yourself). You want to just wave and be on your way but that would be rude too then suddenly he looks straight at you like he really knows you. It’s that universal i-know-you-from-somewhere-look; the kind that you definitely can’t and don’t want to ignore ever. You almost walk past him but he stops right next to you as he keeps talking on the phone (another universal signal that says ‘hey, hold up. I know you, don’t walk away. Let’s talk after this). You stop too and wait for him to wind up his conversation. You hope it ends soon. You have met guys before who have made you wait for them like you don’t have things to do. Like they are the holders of the key to the bar and you have to wait your turn for that drink. Like they are giving someone remote heart surgery deep in a village somewhere in Semabaale.
He doesn’t make you wait. He looks at the camera around your neck and asks what you are doing. You tell him you are taking some pictures around the place. He asks you why you stopped writing. You are shocked (but you didn’t show it) that he actually thinks you are a writer. You are even more shocked that he asked about that of all things (you didn’t show that either). You tell him you are trying out photography as the writing takes a back seat. But that was not the whole truth. You didn’t want to tell him that you have not written in ages, that you are struggling to write. You didn’t want to tell him that you are fighting with who you are within as a writer to be. You didn’t want to burden him with your bullshit about how you are having an intense internal debate about what it means to be an African writer; something still alien to you, something you are yet to understand in the decades to come. You just gave him that simple version.
You keep talking about art, school and work. You have seen his artwork before and the images are awesome. You ask him about them. He lights up when you mention his work like he never expected you to bring that particular topic up. He says they are called vector portraits. He explains how he tries capturing the form and emotion in a vector format. He says it consumes a lot of time which time most don’t take into account; time that is hard to attach a specific figure to,something you understand a lot more than he probably thinks you do but you keep quiet and just take in the passion he exudes as he talks about his work. You look at the way he lights up and you admire. You talk about the hardships of making a living off creative work and how the audience quickly becomes unresponsive when they have to let go of some shillings. He tells you he gets requests to make art work but he has to earn a living too so he does what he can when he can on the creative front. The light is just perfect and you want to take pictures of him. The orange typography on his white t-shirt is something you notice clearly after a while. It reads “TEAM ADVERT KING”. You ask if it’s ok to take pictures of him. He says it’s ok. Meet Segane Alex (S’Alex) through the Wshop lens.