Like the old adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. When you missed a game, just one photo – I mean a good one – can summarise the real result. A good picture (read photo) will tell you the whole story. Sports photos captures the passion and emotion on the field or court.
John Batanudde is one of the region’s most celebrated sports photojournalists, his photos are just everywhere; in print, TVs, websites, athletes pages among others.
“Sports photography is my calling,” Bata, as known by his peers, opens up to The-SportsNation. “It’s my profession and the thing that undoubtedly drives me insane everyday.”
On what sets him apart, he explains:
“I don’t simply photograph people in sports but rather the way they make me feel. Admittedly, it sets me apart as I always look for that special photo I can speak of so many days after the event is done.
“I wrestle with every image I shoot. I assume a perfect photo story is possible and I want to squeeze it out of every picture. If that’s all you ever know about me, it’s enough to say you know me very, very well.”
His approach has paid off evidenced by the many accolades he has won including the Uganda Premier League photographer of the year twice in 2016 and 2017.
He was also awarded by Uganda Photo Press in 2018 and had earlier triumphed at the 2017 Sports Choice Journalism awards as the best Sports photographer of the year.
Bata’s journey started way back in 2006 after attaining a certificate in photography.
He started with a Yashica camera, pre-owned by Morgan Mbabazi, a photojournalist with the East African newspaper. He reflects: “The camera was manual; it helped me a lot to develop as a photojournalist – I had to do settings manually from ISO, Apature to shutter speeds.”
He credits assistance from senior Photographers Mpalanyi Ssentongo And Michael Nsubuga (New Vision) who he used to find at basketball, Rugby, soccer, boxing and Motorsports.
“I love to cover all sports disciplines but Motorsports takes the first slot followed by rugby and football.”
From the Yashica, his next camera brand has been Canon up-to-date. “I have owned Canon brands like 650D, 550D, 60D, 7D and 7D mark2. I have a variety of lenses from wide angle to Telephoto lenses.”
He reveals that his most challenge is underpayment despite the fact that the profession requires very expensive gadgets.
To prepare for game day, Bata narrates: “I have to pack my bag overnight and also check and see everything I will be using the next day are all packed. I have to reach the stadium early so that I can set up myself for the game I have to make sure I cover the game on and off the pitch.”
To the upcoming photojournalists, Bata says; “Have discipline then love what you do. Those two are the core. Then also practice, practice, practice that is the only way you can improve and always associate with the best Photographers.”
Formerly at Red Pepper, Bata now works with Daily Monitor and Kawowo sports
Batanudde’s Best Four Photos:
Check Batanudde’s work here