Cameroon today boasts only a few practising women photographers, given the advent of digital photography.
They cramp round major event sites – press conferences, sports, birthdays, weddings, funerals and other crowd-pulling ceremonies. But among the lot behind professional photo cameras, there are hardly any women. Esther Mienloum is one of the few women professional photographers in the country today. She has been with the National Assembly since 2000. Mienloum is a 1996 “Brevet de technicien supérieur,” BTS, graduate in Photography and Audio-visual Arts from Ndi Samba Institute, Yaounde.
Joséphine Nicole Abomo Essomba is also a 1996 BTS holder in Photography and Audio-visual Arts from the same institute. She is Service Head for Documentation and Photography with Cameroon Tribune, following her recruitment in 2003. She has been part-time lecturer in Photography with the Advanced School of Mass Communication, ASMAC, Yaounde, for over 10 years now. The ace photographer who has covered several major international events also holds a Senior Diploma in Communication from ASMAC, a professional Post-graduate Diploma in Communication from the same school and a Master’s II degree in Semiotics and Strategy from the University of Yaounde I.
Enow Anyang Emilia Agbor, 29, studied welding in the Cameroon Opportunities Industrialisation Centre, COIC, Buea and then moved to Douala to practise her trade. Unfortunately, the climate was too harsh, obliging her to return to Buea. She spent most of her time with her older brothers who were professional photographers. “In 2007, I started working as photographer at the age of 20 after some professional training and seminars. Most of my pictures are taken outdoors during National Day celebrations, weddings, funerals, birthdays and other souvenir events,” explains Emilia Agbor.
“The job is very lucrative when ministers come to town. I make about 30,000 FCFA to 40,000 FCFA a week, depending on the season. Female photographers are very scarce. When people see me at work, they are happy and proud of me. I am very happy to do the job,” she says. Other prominent female professional photographers in Cameroon are Eullalie Claire Nyom Nsecke in Douala. With over 20 years of practice, the 45-year-old is a household name at public functions in Cameroon’s economic capital. Franche Natalie is also a photographer based in Douala.
The Ndi Samba Institute in Yaounde probably pioneered training in photography in the 1990s, but has since stopped. The Cameroon Radio Television Institute for Training and Preservation of Audiovisual Heritage at Ekounou, Yaounde, has since inception in 1983 (as a training centre) graduated some women photographers. About 20 of them were trained between 2009 and 2014. On the other hand, the Siantou University Institute, Yaounde, has for years now been training in photography. Nevertheless, training and practice of professional photography in Cameroon today remains largely a male preserve.