Fresh from an eleven-day Multicultural Development Exchange Tour organised by the Queensland Government in Brisbane, Australia in the company of Mabutswapele Traditional Dance Group, Photographer and Videographer Solly Cannon, Founder of Solly Cannon Pty LTD talks to Voice Money about the media business in Botswana.
Having dropped out of school after only a few years studying media in South Africa, as is expected, 37-year-old Cannon took up a few jobs to eke a living.
He tells that he slaved away as a Cab Driver for three years, became an Office Administrator at a local church for two years before becoming a Security Guard at Gaborone Hotel.
It was during this time that Kanye-born Cannon realised his love for Photography. Because he had not finished his studies, which he left in 2004, he embarked on a self-teaching mission where he read every photography book he could lay his hands on and has never looked back since.
Solly Cannon Pty LTD, a broadcasting and media production company, was founded in 2014 and has grown to work with local media houses such as Mmegi, Echo and the Business Weekly Newspapers.
The two and a half year old enterprise, which began as Solly Cannon Photography and dropped the ‘Photography’ bit a year ago because it had evolved to incorporate video and livestreaming on web-based platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and an Internal Protocol (IP) Television, has also worked with the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture (MYSC).
Speaking to the challenges he faces in the industry, the father to a 4-year-old boy sites lack of appreciation of the craft by Batswana.
“People don’t understand what one has to go through to produce quality work, they believe it’s just pitching up and taking a few snaps and you’re done,” he says, adding that though that might be the case, he has realized a slight appreciation from clients, especially those in cities and towns.
Another challenge Cannon has had to contend with is of expensive equipment.
“The equipment we use is really expensive, like now I need a camera priced at P97 000 and a lens that goes for P128 000,” he notes, adding that photography in Botswana is an expensive passion with very low returns.
“Passion is really the driving factor in this case,” he says as a matter of fact.
Cannon also decries the fact that the photography industry in the country is not regulated, especially when it comes to the pricing structures, something that makes it hard for operators to find business.
On the issue of copyright for creative works, the enterprising youth compares the industry he operates to that of music, stating that the law is still far behind in helping protect the works of art both industries produce.
Still on the comparison, Cannon lightheartedly explains that his mother still believes he is unemployed because his line of work is hardly considered a career just like music, especially in Botswana.
On staying ahead of the pack, he attributes his success to keeping up with market trends and ensuring Solly Cannon Pty LTD is always on top of things.
Looking to the future, Solly can only hope that things change for the better and that his craft gets the recognition it deserves.
“I look forward to working with local lens-men and improving the status quo, it surely has to get better in the end,” he says in conclusion.