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Beating the Hustle and Bustle: 4 Tips for Shooting in a Zambian City Centre

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We’ve invited some of Zambia’s best photographic talent to share their insider knowledge of the industry. Their contribution will touch on all aspects of photography – from practical tips on lighting to advice on running a creative business. This week’s contributor is Nkandu Chabala, also known as NC17 Photo Media, a self-taught photographer from Lusaka. Nkandu reveals his top advice for taking photos in a busy city centre.

Zambia is a nation of rich culture and diverse cityscapes, with Lusaka as its bustling heart. While some might find the city’s fast-paced life stressful, photographers with an eye for art and detail view it through a different lens. You might wonder, how can one capture the essence of a Zambian city centre through photography? What’s the right equipment for such locations, and how can you ensure safety? Lastly, how can you truly enjoy photography in a cityscape like this? This article is here to answer these questions and provide you with some valuable tips.

1. Focus on the Beauty and Art of the City

To start, approach the city centre with confidence and an appreciation for its beauty. Whether you’re interested in street photography, architectural shots, or portraiture, Zambian city centres offer diverse photographic opportunities. All you need to do is step out and immerse yourself in the vibrant urban scene.

2. Choose Simple and Efficient Equipment

City centres are busy and bustling, making it impractical to carry loads of equipment and props. Light and efficient gear is your best friend here. You can even work with a mobile phone camera or a digital camera as long as it’s inconspicuous and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention.

3. Prioritize Safety

Your safety and the security of your gear are paramount. Before embarking on a photography expedition in the city centre, research your chosen location. Walk through the area beforehand to assess its suitability for photography without any safety concerns. Keep your equipment close, either by hand or securely fastened to your belt. Consider using geo-tags or trackers on your devices for easy retrieval if they get lost or stolen. It’s also a good idea to have a local companion, as you’re safer in the company of someone familiar with the area. Additionally, when photographing people or entering private property, it’s polite to ask for permission. Zambians are generally welcoming, but asking first ensures you don’t inadvertently offend anyone.

4. Explore Different Times of the Day

To fully enjoy cityscape photography, shoot at various times of the day, such as during the morning rush, lunch hour, and evening bustle. This will provide different lighting and concepts for your photographs, making your experience more enjoyable. Look for historical sites, explore markets, and visit bus stops. Experiment with shooting from low angles to capture towering buildings. Widen your perspective by trying panorama shots.

These tips should help you make the most of your city centre photography in Zambia. Keep capturing the essence of Zambia and sharing your unique perspective with the world. Until next week, keep clicking and capturing!


Nkandu Chabala is a 22-year-old self-taught photographer from Lusaka, Zambia. While his focus in photography covers a wide range, from portraits to landscapes, Nkandu’s specialty is photodocumentation and street photography. What sets him apart is his ability to find beauty in the everyday – the often unnoticed aspects of daily life that shape our memories and provoke thought. For Nkandu, photography is not just about pictures; it’s a connection to history – which is why he emphasises storytelling in his work. Through his lens, he brings narratives to life for the world to see.

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