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  • Writer's pictureChilalo Mumba

Framing her lens: Empowering Women through photography at Kasaka River Lodge

For the first time ever, the Women’s History Museum hosted a women in photography workshop at the Kasaka River Lodge in Lower Zambezi, Zambia. Three participants, Samukelo Mbatha, Loliwe Phiri and Dana Patel sat down to share their experience in the workshop, at Kasaka River Lodge and with the photography lessons taught by world renowned travel photographer, Richard I’Anson.

Photography with Richard I’Anson - By Loliwe Phiri

When I arrived at East Park, I didn’t know any photographer on the bus. For just a short while we were strangers to each other. Some women said hello to each other and others already began chatting right before we started off for Lower Zambezi- together in readiness for our workshop with Award winning photographer Richard I’Anson. Our pick-up bus was waiting for a total of twelve women photographers in the early hours of the morning. Our almost 3-hour bus trip ended at Gwabi River Lodge where we all boarded the boat for a two-hour ride.

The water kissed our faces with tiny splashes. Our view was scenic on the way. We didn’t make as many stops to look at wildlife because we had to start our first photography workshop session at exactly 2:00pm with Richard. Upon arrival none of us actually knew that he was the one seated at the table because the photo we saw on the poster was very different from him in person. The Kasaka River Lodge staff gave us such a warm welcome, helped us with the bags and we got straight into the session with Richard.

On the first day Richard shared his background story about how he became a leading Travel Photographer for over 30 years. He taught us about the basics of travel photography, about composition, camera settings, the rule of thirds and planning our days and trips around light.. The following day he shared insight about professional practice which involved how to research your destination, creating a shot-list and prioritizing what comes next.

He asked us to “imagine we are tourists to help us create a shot list”. He further showed us his documentary featured on Netflix titled Tales by Light which gave us all a vivid picture of what the travel photography industry was really like. The workshop was packed with so much knowledge which allowed for all the women photographers to immediately put to practice all the lessons learned after each session.

The next day, Richard was hands on with helping every woman get their camera settings right for our Wildlife photography session. Women photographers all at different stages in their photography journey all left the workshop having learnt so much and improved their skills. Photography with Richard connected us and brought us together as women photographers. It helped us create a lasting bond that each woman walked away with.

“Travel photography is a visual record of where you’ve been. It's about understanding the people in the area. It should capture the spirit of people and their dignity.”- Richard I’Anson

Kasaka River Lodge in Lower Zambezi - By Dana Patel

The Women in Photography workshop was held at Kasaka River Lodge which is located in the Chiawa Game Management Area bordering the Lower Zambezi National Park. After a scenic drive to Gwabi from Lusaka, we boarded a boat that took us to our home away from home. We were welcomed by Kasaka Lodge’s hospitable staff and escorted to our tented twin-bed chalets that were beautifully accented with chitenge décor. The chalets brought the beauty of our surroundings into our tents and really allowed us to enjoy the serenity of being in the bush. With limited access to the internet, our group of 12 strangers became connected and present in the moment – it was a beautiful escape. We spent our final day lounging in the common area and the pool overlooking the river.

Kasaka River Lodge is located off the banks of the Zambezi River with views of stunning sunrises and sunsets, nature, and wildlife. Lower Zambezi is one of my favourite places to visit because of the landscape – from the mountains down to the water, it makes every corner of the park appreciated. After completing our theoretical portion of the workshop, we were able to put our new skills into practice on the morning and afternoon game drives. We were fortunate enough to see a clan of hyenas, a variety of birds, zebras, hippos, crocodiles and even experience a thrilling run-in with a mother elephant and her baby.

The hospitality of the staff at Kasaka River Lodge was incredible. They were able to meet all our dietary expectations and provide three varying delicious meals throughout our stay. We felt welcomed and comfortable – it was like a home away from home. I can truly say, Kasaka River Lodge will be on my list of places to visit often.

The Workshop - By Samukelo Mbatha

At the beginning of the workshop the air was pregnant with an excited nervousness. We all weren't certain what was awaiting us but we surely did have high expectations, which were met and exceeded. Overall, the workshop was an enriching experience. We were honoured to have the opportunity to learn from a highly established photographer such as Richard I’Anson. The information he shared with us was invaluable.

We would like to extend immense gratitude to Mulenga Kapwepwe for the enlightening stories she shared about Zambia. She is such a gripping storyteller. Hearing these stories was an electrifying experience. Her profound anecdotes were very eye and opening; they increased our desire to learn and showcase more of Zambia.

Not only did we get to learn from Richard I’Anson and Mulenga Kapwepwe, but we also got to learn from each other. Which I reckon was the most beautiful part of the workshop. Exchanging stories and building connections with such high spirited women, who have a deep love for photography and using photography to display Zambia, was so lovely.

A group of young performers put on a short play about the history of the Lower Zambezi. The performance was nothing short of marvellous. We watched this play with a lovely group of tourists. We were fortunate enough to go on two safari drives. The first safari occurred in the afternoon, we spotted a few animals such as elephants and zebras. We ended the safari with sundowners in the park. It was such a special moment to watch the sun bid it’s goodbye with a herd of elephants right next to us. The second safari was in the early morning, we unfortunately didn’t get to see as many animals as we had anticipated but it was still a spectacular drive nonetheless.

Being away from the busy buzz of the city; and being surrounded by the warm embrace of nature in the Lower Zambezi was incredibly refreshing. We all left the workshop with newly formed friendships and a newfound zeal and passion for telling the Zambian story through our cameras.

This blog was written by these talented creatives;

Dana Patel:

Loliwe Phiri:

Samukelo Mbatha:

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