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https://alphauniverseglobal.media.zestyio.com/Alpha-Universe-Profile-Spotlight-Bob-Ditty-1.be110857376e1c1dc5afaa178864837f.jpg
Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Alpha Profile Spotlight: From Hobbyist To Humanitarian, How This Photographer And Filmmaker Is Making An Impact

Hobbyist photographer and filmmaker Bob Ditty (@bobditty) ditched his 9-5 at a Fortune 50 company and moved to Uganda to help organizations create quality content. Read more about how he’s using his skills to make an impact in his Alpha Profile Spotlight piece.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 55mm f/1.8. 1/1250-sec., f/2.5, ISO 100

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/200-sec., f/8, ISO 640

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/5000-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/400-sec., f/8, ISO 640

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/3200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 100

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/320-sec., f/8, ISO 640

Bob Ditty (@bobditty) is an American humanitarian freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Uganda. After volunteering in Uganda and realizing how much the production of quality photo and video could make an impact there, he decided to make it his life’s work to help area organizations make great content. He’s also the creator of the #MzeeSeries ("Mzee" in Luganda means "Old Man"), which focuses on photographing the elderly in Uganda, one of the world’s youngest countries. We came across his Alpha Universe Profile and connected with him to learn more about his photography and filmmaking and why his Sony Alpha cameras have been game changers for him in his quest to capture and share the human spirit. Read more below and create your own Alpha Universe Profile HERE for a chance to be featured on AlphaUniverse.com.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/320-sec., f/8, ISO 640

Photo by Bob Ditty from his #MzeeSeries. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/320-sec., f/8, ISO 640

After moving to Uganda and seeing the power that photography and filmmaking could make in the world, Bob Ditty decided to make it his life’s work. Read more about the hobbyist-turned-humanitarian photographer and filmmaker in his Alpha Profile Spotlight.

Career Snapshot

I've been a hobbyist photographer for over 25 years. I remember watching TV shows of photographers on a safari while they taught the basics of photography. I don't remember the name of the show, but it had an impact on me. I started my photography life with film cameras. I was enamored with cameras even in high school and secretly had a dream of owning a "professional" 35mm camera with interchangeable lenses, but I grew up rather poor and just seemed like a pipe dream so I kept everything to myself. Then when the first digital cameras came out, I jumped in. I thought it was so cool that I could just shoot away and not worry about wasting film. That's where I learned all the basics of photography, composition, light and the technical aspects. Looking back, it took me over 20 years to really just play around and find out what I liked and how I wanted my photos to look. That was a long time, but an invaluable time.  I don't see it as wasted time but very valuable as I use it everyday now in my photography work.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 100

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 100

In 2013, we adopted two kids from Uganda. After visiting Uganda, I really saw a need where I could help. I sold my house and all my belongings, and moved to Uganda to volunteer. I volunteered at a hotel in Uganda where the proceeds went to help sponsor the children in Uganda. The plan was to be here for three years and then head back to the states to get a "proper" job again.

During those three years, many things happened, but one was I really saw a need where NGO's needed quality photo and video to help them do the amazing work that they were already doing. I started volunteering with photos and videos. Then after the three years were up, I had a big decision to make. Do I stay in Uganda or go back to the normal 9-5 job? I found so much joy in doing media in Uganda. I decided to stay and try to make a living by helping organizations with great media.

My Go-To Sony Gear

In 2018, I ended up getting the Sony Alpha 7 III. This was a GAME CHANGER for me. I knew right away that it was going to be able to do everything that was in my mind to do. First, I was able to get quality video from the same camera that I was doing photography with. I absolutely loved this and really fell in love with video as well with this camera. This is where I saw less of a limitation with my equipment and realized now that the limitation is ONLY in my head. I could create anything that I really wanted with this camera. I started charging clients and making a living. The response was great. I was amazed that people loved my work as much as I loved my work and style! I was a sponge learning all I could about how to construct film stories. What I loved about this camera the most is that I could now be as creative as I wanted to be and the equipment wasn't a limitation. So that's how I approached my media. Expand my mind and let the creative juices flow. Let the equipment do it's work.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/3200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/3200-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

So in 2018, my photography and filmmaking took a huge step up and really was the catalyst to what I'm doing today, a humanitarian photographer and filmmaker living in Uganda, Africa. I traded that camera in and now own two Sony cameras: the Sony Alpha 7R IV that I use mainly for photography with video backup and the Sony Alpha 7S III that I use mainly for video with photography backup. This combo has been amazing for me. I honestly wouldn't trade these cameras for any other camera. It prepares me for any type of shoot in any situation.

My go-to Sony lenses for photography are the 24mm f/1.4 G Master, 55mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. These lenses give me a plethora of choices when on a shoot. I love the 24mm f/1.4 GM so much. It allows me to get very close to a subject and the 1.4 allows the creamy bokeh. Also when I go into low light situations like huts, I can shoot at f/1.4 and gather a ton of light. I honestly couldn't be without this lens. This is my most versatile lens and I use it everyday. It also lives on my Alpha 7S III for video. The 90mm Macro I use for my close-up shots. It gives such detail that I'm amazed every time I get the photos in post. I use it for well photos showing the details in water. I also use it for portraits. Anytime I want the audience to see detail in something, I love that lens! Then when I want bokeh, I reach for the Sony 85mm f/1.8.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/400-sec., f/8, ISO 640

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/400-sec., f/8, ISO 640

What Photography Means To Me

Photography truly means the world to me. Growing up, I always dreamed of owning a "professional" camera. We didn't have a lot of money growing up so it just felt like a pipe dream. As I grew older, I just used it as a hobby and it brought so much joy to my life. Something about capturing that moment...I loved it so much. When I moved to Uganda and saw the power that photography and filmmaking could make in the world, I knew I wanted this to be my life's mission. I wanted to use what I loved to do in order to help organizations make an impact on this world. THIS is what drives me. I want to give the best possible media to organizations that maybe don't have the money for big productions. The quality I can give NGO's, mission organizations and nonprofits is amazing and that is something that I could only give because of Sony. Once I switched to Sony, my quality took a HUGE leap.

I used to mainly take landscape type of photos when I first moved here to Uganda. I loved this but looking over those photos, it just felt a little "empty" to me. I knew there was something more that I wanted. I found out, for me, that I loved showing the human spirit. Photos took on so much more meaning to me when I showcased that moment when people are happy or show some emotion. My soul took off and I knew that is what I wanted to showcase in Uganda. I wanted to show the amazing people in Africa. The people are amazing and felt the world needed to see this side of Africa. One reason I started my #mzeeseries of photos is that I wanted to give a voice to people that really didn't have a voice. Even within Africa, I felt that people needed to see and hear more about the elderly men here in Uganda. They had so much advice to give the people here with all that they have seen and experienced over the years here in Uganda. I knew I wanted to give that out. SO, when I shoot for organizations, my goal is to show the emotion of the people. That is what I strive for on every shoot.

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/5000-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

Photo by Bob Ditty. Sony α7 III. Sony 85mm f/1.8. 1/5000-sec., f/1.8, ISO 125

So you ask why I do photography, it's because I want to share with the world the amazing people in Africa and other underprivileged areas. They have so much to offer the world! And it also gives me great joy to really help organizations that are helping the world become a better place and share that with the world. This gives me so much gratification. Some days I have to pinch myself that I'm so honored to be doing what I do.

I also love to teach photography to the local Ugandans here. Many have the passion and the desire to learn and become photographers and filmmakers. There is so much talent here for art and photography. My dream someday is to pass along knowledge and provide equipment for local Africans so they too can work in their passion as photographers and filmmakers. I think Africa has SO much to share and normally is best expressed from within their own country. My dream is to make that happen for them someday by providing them with knowledge and equipment. It's all part of loving what I do here in Africa.

See more of Bob Ditty’s work on his Alpha Universe Profile and on Instagram @bobditty.

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