No-one did photography like Eddie

IF A picture is truly worth a thousand words, it can only be speculated
how many stories Eddie Mwanaleza has told with the thousands of pictures he took over his four decades illustrious photographing career.
Those who are familiar with Eddie’s pictures will agree that the man who was fondly called “Commander” in the media circles had indeed an eye for photography.
Eddie, who died aged 61 in Lusaka after an illness, has left behind an interesting body of photographic works dating back to the 1980s. His images form a significant component
of the contemporary Zambian photography, which can initially be seen through the lenses of early “white” settlers from precolonial days.
Recently, a photograph of the late president Dr Kenneth Kaunda only aged five taken in 1929 at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali emerged and awashed the internet, taking those that saw the black and white image down memory lane.
There could be more of such undocumented photographs in private ownership which may form a rich public library of the country’s social heritage.
Undoubtedly, Eddie has a significant share of contribution to the country’s photography which illustrates the country’s recent past.
However, his photography career only came on the spotlight when he became the presidential photographer for the late President Michael Sata. However, Eddie’s image shooting career was formed by many years of practice before
coming into the limelight at State House. But what could have made him possess the uncommon photography pedigree?
Eddie had two indisputable factors which made his work stand out among his contemporaries: a good vantage point and a creative sense of judgment. In photography, it
is not always easy to have a good judgment for an ideal vantage point and a good photo judgment but Eddie always seemed to get both factors right.
Forget about the presidential security detail, which may have favoured him in securing a vantage point, Eddie proved to be a good “sniper” even
while working with a private newspaper house where he always managed to beat everyone in his ranks by captivating images without an easily secured vantage point.
With the prevailing proliferation of photo apparatus, almost everyone can take a picture, but it requires a certain skill of judgment to take photographs for mass media consumption. Mass
media photographs should illustrate a story. Interestingly, Eddie’s pictures were also never short of provocation. While on his tour of duty with the late
President Michael Sata, he took a picture of some members of the Women’s League of the United Church of Zambia who had lined up to receive
the Head of State during his visit in Western Province. The photograph depicting jovial women flashing their clenched fists made it as lead picture of most newspapers and tabloids sending the country into a frenzy of debate about the church’s involvement in partisan politics. That is what Eddie was capable of doing with his camera.
The common feature in his photographs is that they possessed similar creative strength, whether it was an image of the Head of State or an ordinary person on the street.
In his tribute to the deceased photographer, President Edgar Lungu said no one could do photography like Eddie.
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