In Conversation with:Kate Chambers

Meet keen photographer and lecturer, Kate Chambers.

Where did your passion for photography come from?

My mother gave me a smartphone at my sister’s wedding in 2015. My son, then 11, showed me around some editing apps (he is still a very fierce critic). I started taking pics back then.

What inspires your photos and what would you say makes them unique?

I am inspired by the stores I see along the sides of the road in Zimbabwe. Each one is different. Each one is a story.

Where is your favourite place to take photos from?

At the moment, the roads between Mutare and Harare and Mutare and Birchenough Bridge. This is purely because these are the roads I travel along most frequently. I like to take pictures of the same stores several months apart. Shops and stores are the wallpaper to our lives.

What do you get up to when you are not taking photos?

Currently I lecture part-time. Someday I will finish my book. I read all the time. Some of what I read is on Twitter.

 Of all the photographs, you have ever taken which one is your favourite and why?

At the moment, it is a photo I took this April on a quick trip to Juliasdale in Nyanga. I like the contrast between the dry grass and the sky. And the clouds. I love clouds. You can’t see what’s behind them. They hold promises.

Who are your favourite photographers and why them?

My favourite photographers are Zimbabwean: Steven Chikosi, KB Mpofu, Ralph Chikambi. Kennedy Famba has been an inspiration and a kind encourager – I love his portraits. Cynthia Matonhodze: I enjoy her work on Instagram. I am also in awe of Tino Nyandoro’s work. These are the photographers’ whose accounts I regularly check to see if they’ve posted anything new. They’re also the photographers whose work my students and I concentrate on in class in the photography part of one of the modules I teach.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Second hand china teacups, my brown leather boots and going to the used clothes vendors paMotoMoto on as many Saturday afternoons as possible.  There are other things…

Given the chance who in the world would you want to photograph?

My grandmothers. My father’s mother was brave and determined, the daughter of a coal miner who fought her way into teacher’s college at a time when it was unusual. She had endometriosis but she was determined to have children. She had my father aged 43. What if she had not? My maternal grandfather left my grandmother when she was in her early 20s. She cycled to sew in a textile factory every day for years to make a living for her three children. My daughter carries one of her names. Of course, I loved my grandmothers, but I did not tell them this enough when they were alive.

Where in the world would be your dream place to go, and take photos?

I would like to go to the Matopos again. I last went there in 2015 and have not been able to go since. I like the areas bordering the national park.

I am not Zimbabwean though I have lived here for well over 10 years. The things I love about being her are too many to set down. Walking along Herbert Chitepo Street, Mutare at 5 o’clock when the sun is setting and we’re all going home. The cake counter at OK supermarket. The advice – and knitted jerseys, frozen chickens, avocados, cooked sweet potatoes and roses — that I have been given from older friends in the town I live in (my mother is far away so Amai D and Amai C and others stepped in). The hymn Tinomurumbidza: I have a 25-second-long recording of this on my ‘phone.

What life lesson have you learnt that you wish you knew sooner?

That providing food (katka, instant noodles, sugary tea, not cooked green vegetables) will often defuse the temper of a teenage son. Feed, listen, then do the same again. My son is 13 and a half. I started off his teenagehood years trying to reason with him before feeding him. Wrong order.

How can people get in touch?

@Kpczim on Instagram and Twitter.

This is Watsomba on the road between Mutare and Nyanga. Every time I post a pic of this place Twitter users remind me of the hit ‘PO Box Watsomba.’ Those cars know a thing or two.

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