Denyse Uwera recently held her first photo exhibition at Kigali Cultural village where she showcased rural women farmers to challenge the stereotype that depicts thems as vulnerable.
The female photographer, who is also a graphic designer, featured rural women farmers who work in coffee production and are members of coffee farmers’ co-operatives from Northern and Southern provinces.
The exhibition was titled Strong Women behind Strong Coffee and each photo was accompanied by a quote by the photographed women talking about their work, hopes and dreams for their lives.
Ms Uwera started the photo project while working on a package design for a coffee product that is exported to Europe.
Her goal was to tell visual stories of strong women farmers living and working in rural areas.
“I met women who inspired me with their uniqueness and self-esteem,” said the photographer, adding, “I wanted to show another side of their story and how they are contributing to the economy.”
Ms Uwera hopes the photo exhibition will inspire other women living in communities often seen as vulnerable.
She focused on taking their faces because, “everything a person is thinking can be seen through their eyes.”
Despite getting the chance to hold her first exhibition, Ms Uwera said female photographers still face many challenges.
“More women are becoming photographers, but it is not easy for them,” she said, adding that most people don’t take them seriously.
“I started out in 2012, but it’s only now that I have managed to organise my photo exhibition,” Ms Uwera said even though she was passionate about taking pictures and had lots of ideas, but few people believed in her.
“It is not easy to get hired as a female photographer. They think you cannot manage it,” she said.
According to Ms Uwera, many communities do not take female photographers seriously.
The young woman said when she was growing up she did not have successful female photographers to look up to.
She started out in studios working part time where she would edit photos while pursuing her studies.
She later joined Nation Media Group as a graphic designer, but as she had photography skills she would sometimes assist photojournalists when they were busy.
Ms Uwera also worked for the Associated Press.
“I want to focus on photography that challenges people’s thinking and that tells a different side of a story.”