The camera has always fascinated Godfrey Tafadzwa Kadzere. Even though he’d studied commerce since high school, photography remained a presence in his mind, an area he’d always wanted to explore, but never got the occasion to do so. That all changed when his aunt got him his first camera – a small BenQ digital camera, a present for his 19th birthday.
“I had a growing desire to capture special moments and cherish them, hold onto them in the form of pictures.”
From the pictures he took with this first camera (a camera he still has to this day), Godfrey’s connection with photography grew. His camera became an extension of him, so much so that people at his university referred to him as the Camera Guy. Seeing Godfrey without a camera of some sort felt almost unnatural, like a tortoise without its shell. The more photos he took, the more photography became a part of his life. “I found myself spending a lot of time carrying my camera everywhere that I would go, then going through each and every one of them, analysing and reflecting on why I took it and looking at how I could improve.”
The Creation of Liyon Media
Godfrey saw an opportunity to make some money off his skill. In July 2013, he started his own media company, Liyon Pictures. The name has significant meaning for him – a way to honour his past whilst setting the foundations for the future:
“I wanted a name that identifies with my heritage and values. Ndinoera Shumba, proudly. That was key in setting it in stone. The Lion part was going to stick. At the back of my mind I recalled the significance and symbolism of a Lion – noble, respectable, presence. Lastly, I looked up any pages that has similar names. There were several. So I decided to add a twist with an ‘i’. Then it ended as Liyon.”
The venture was strictly meant to be photos only, but over time, Godfrey realised that incorporating other media would work in his favour. So he started LOTv in 2014, which covers all types of video content: events, panel discussions, one-on-one interviews. As it stands, Liyon Pictures and LOTv are subsidiaries of Liyon Media. Liyon Media also has Brand Management and Design sections.
Back to Zimbabwe
Godfrey started his company when he was still a student at Rhodes University. The campus environment provided fertile ground for his creativity to breathe and flow. His first clients were his fellow students: they still form a solid support base for Liyon Media. However, Godfrey finished his degree programme at the end of 2015, and it was time for him (and Liyon Media) to move back across the border. The adjustment to full-time life in Harare has not gone as easily as he’d anticipated.
“I pretty much started from scratch as the new year rolled in. Since I was hardly in Zimbabwe due to my schooling commitment in South Africa I had a long way to go in building relationships, partnerships and networking with influential industry stakeholders. I am steadying the ship slowly but surely. I am enjoying the experience so far, learning as much as I can from as many people as I get through the year.”
Although not a seamless transition, Godfrey’s enjoyed the experience so far. Working with Zimbojam as well as establishing a name for himself has kept him very busy, and it’s also allowed him to connect with people in the same industry. Events such as Hustler’s Market, Unplugged, and the Allied Arts Music Festival have opened avenues for engagement and collaboration – opportunities that Godfrey is excited to explore.
The Road Ahead
From collaborating with other creatives, to maintaining ties with established contacts, and never letting his relationship with God slip or stumble, Godfrey has big plans and even bigger dreams. “So far I am still developing and learning. Soon I will expand – more partnerships, more high quality content, and my own establishment that will house all things media, which I am extremely excited about. That’s my dream – to have a renowned, sort after media house that provides high quality content timeously.”
With every photo and video, he does his own bit to contribute to Zimbabwe’s creative culture, and I’m excited to see more of his work out there. We could use a few more Godfreys: young, daring and hardworking people who aren’t afraid to embrace their talent and live out their passion.
All photographs and videos in this post are courtesy of Liyon Media
To see more of Liyon Media’s photography, follow them on Twitter @LiyonMedia.
Check out Godfrey’s personal Twitter account @GodfreyTafi