Getting To Know Matilda Dogbatsey

As the first interview in the PICHA #BalanceForBetter Series, we get to know Matilda Dogbatsey (@kafuipraise) a little better. She is a Ghanaian photographer and filmmaker with the brand name – Kafui Praise and shoots documentary, nature and weddings. Currently, Matilda is working on her debut documentary film on a disability story.

Why creative & how did you get into it?
I honestly didn’t envision myself in the Creative Arts industry. I just got into it by chance. Growing up, I wasn’t sure which career path to follow – I had so much on my mind until my love for photography became prominent. Actually, it started out as a hobby. Then, I started receiving calls from people who were willing to engage my service – then I realised I could eke a living out of it. I landed my first major booking from Norway. It was a gentleman who wanted me to shoot his wedding. I decided to buy a camera and learn how to use it to take professional photos.

Greatest Achievement?
I’ve been able to provide 370 brand new Tom shoes for an orphanage and two schools in the Northern Region through photography. This has been the most profound achievement of my photography career – one that fills my heart with so much joy. I’m also working on a documentary film – ‘’Beyond The Odds’’ which is now undergoing post-production and due for release soon.

Biggest influences?
One of my biggest influencers of all-time is Rev. Tom Bright-Davies. He’s my father, mentor and a spiritual figure, a person who speaks into every area of my life and has inspired me on this journey.

Challenges in industry for women?
I think women are largely stereotyped in this industry. As women, our
competencies are underplayed and undermined. Clients don’t easily believe our tact and ability to get the job done. Unlike our male counterparts, the confidence people repose is almost non-existent. We struggle to land bookings and major photography deals. Even in cases where good words are put in for us, our abilities are still doubted. We don’t get off easily with photography deals as women.

Again, women are faced with the absence of loan and grant facilities which tend to discourage a lot of us from venturing into this industry. Interestingly, while we’re doing our best to measure up to the standards of the industry, there’s that financial gap to fill. Most of us also lack family support – the family isn’t readily there to lend a hand of assistance to enable us thrive. For them, getting married should be the talking point rather than taking pictures. They only offer their support when we remain resolute and diligent in our pursuits.

Is the creative industry favourable to women?
Well, we’re making some strides but there’s still more to be done. There are now mirrorless cameras in vogue, less heavy for women. Take 70 – 200 lens, it’s heavier to handle for several hours but technology is advancing with innovation aimed at bridging some of these gaps for us to compete with the men.

Suggestions to attract more women for gender balance?
I think there’s the need for us to celebrate the women in this industry, touting their achievements to the rest of the world to serve as inspiration for interested women willing to venture into this industry. Also, local governments and corporate entities should make available financial intervention schemes with the aim of augmenting the efforts of start-ups within the creative industry. The support from our male counterpart is essential to our growth if we’re keen on achieving parity in the industry.

Word of advice to women considering a career in the industry?
My advice to women willing to venture into this industry is to remain resilient, determined, persistent, focused and have the desire to learn new things. There is a world of things to learn and unlearn on YouTube and those willing to tread this career path should endeavour to learn.

Five years from now?
Five years from now, I see myself as one of the best female directors in filmmaking in Africa and beyond, running one of the best media agencies.

Message to women on Int’l Women’s Day?
Believe in yourself and who you are and what you can do. Never look down on yourself and practice what you learn; whatever that’s within you will come out shinning!

Ghanaian photographer and filmmaker Matilda Dogbatsey of @kafuipraise.
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