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Capturing a thousand words

Tina De Koe, owner of El-Co Photo Studio-Printor

Tina De Koe, owner of El-Co Photo Studio-Printor

Few people have followed their dreams, and even fewer have the ability to stick to making a living from painting a thousand words with a single picture.
The Economist caught up in December with one of the country’s longest serving photographers, Tina De Koe, owner of El-Co Photo Studio-Printor and in 2011, the recipient of the Khomas Region Old-Mutual Micro-Businesswomen award.
As a young girl, De Koe took pictures of her siblings in Rehoboth and professionally began working as a photographer in the early 1980’s. The opportunity to start her own photography business came after a weird twist of fate. Her employer shut down two years ago and it was at this deciding point that she opted to open her own business.
She said that when she set up her company, financing, unlike many entrepreneurs, was not her biggest challenge, rather finding office space to operate from. Although she managed to find space, affordability proved problematic and she opted to operate from home. Currently she man oeuvres between her home and a friend’s office space in order to meet client demands whilst on the look out for an affordable office in town.
De Koe said as an entrepreneur in an industry where everyone has a camera and everyone can take a picture, has been a long yet rewarding struggle.
“My greatest desire is to have a great studio as my interest lies in studio photography. I see families coming into the studio, dressed up to capture a moment that might never come again and it is beautiful to be able to share that moment with them.”
She said that these captured moments last a lifetime, and connect friends and families.
De Koe said although anyone can take a picture, she believes there is a small space for everyone as not all photographers are the same or concentrate in the same fields.
“Photography has the potential to take one to places but one needs to keep eyes on the clients. As they are your income.”
She claimed that people do not see or value the importance of photography. “At a wedding, the photographer is the last expense but people do not see that those memories are all that one can look back to one day. When everything is done and everyone is gone, the picture is still there. It holds a story and is something completely priceless.”
De Koe said, “even when a loved one dies, photographs are what we hold on to for comfort.”
Dismissing the idea that living off photography is not enough for bread and butter, De Koe said it has rewarded her tremendously. “If you put yourself in it, you can make it and you can take it to a whole new level. It is a field yet to be fully explored.”
She said that because she does not have her own office space, she only has one person to help her with daily operations. El-Co Studio-Printor provides its services to weddings, graduations and will also venture into school photography as of this year.

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