Even though photography helps us find beauty in the world; and also brings out the glorious aspects of the world and the people in it, only a few are well-endowed with the skills and techniques to exceptionally capture moments that will at some point connect the present to the past, bring back memories of people, places, stories and feelings; and above all evoke emotions.
Three young photographers from Kenya spoke to MOTIMAGZ MAGAZINE and indeed they are all gifted differently — especially in the current milieu of advanced technology. With their creativity, ingenuity, and zeal, these photographers capture the best memories to treasurer despite being passionate about photography which is totally different from their university courses.
DENNIS OTIENO, 26, Co-Founder of Spartan Photography
After his secondary education at Dandora Secondary School in Nairobi, Dennis joined Kenyatta University (K.U) in 2013 to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics. Initially, he was a pencil art student and a footballer until in 2016 when he developed an interest in photography– that is after pencil art proved to be an uphill battle. Instead of appreciating and promoting his artwork, some people wanted artwork done for them for free. “The art market was difficult to penetrate as it needed a lot of things including materials and a studio. I would also get celebrities who would want free art in order to market me, of which I was not okay with that,” he says.
With his artistic skills, Dennis also loved taking photos and he got more passionate after joining campus where he began creating memories using his smartphone. Luckily, his roommate was from a well-off family and so he managed to purchase a Nikon D3200 and it’s from then that Dennis’ current dreams got propelled. After saving for a while, he also purchased his own Nikon D80 camera (second hand) with just Ksh. 18,200, and ever since graduating in 2017 from Kenyatta University, he has been advancing.
Today, Dennis is a professional photographer who does conceptual photography. He says that as much as it is very unique, few have started embracing it. His type of photography is inspired by the happenings around Kenya and the globe. Being that getting clients for their (Spartan Photography) conceptual photography is difficult, Dennis has been forced to learn all the types of photography and this really increased his clientele base. Asked about what it takes for an elegant work he said, “Conceptual photography requires manpower -who will need to be paid, therefore to save yourself the agony you need to get yourself a team with the same vision and the same goal since it’s also not easy.”
Dennis says that he loves photography so much since it’s from it that he also gets an opportunity to express himself and what he feels should be done around his environment. “At Spartan Photography, we have also mentored many youths,” Dennis says. Spartan Photography has been honored with several awards like Shining A Light Award, Glostars Photography Contest Yellow, The New York Climate Hub Exhibition, Agora Images Generations among many others.
“To anyone thinking of venturing into conceptual photography, you must first be passionate then perfect on your craft for you to start earning well. Start and never stop shooting. If something inspires you create an image from it. Images speak,” he advises.
PETER KEROTI, 22, Final Year Student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
Despite being in his final year as a student for Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, Keroti (From Narok County – Kenya), is smitten with photography. Unlike Dennis Otieno of Spartan Photography, Keroti majorly does fashion and commercial photography and he admits that no man is perfect and that is why he keeps on learning every single day from which he derives more inspiration. “I get to see what other well-established photographers do and this motivates me a lot to create something amazing too. If they can do such, why not me?” he confidently poses the question.
Asked about the challenges that he faces in his line of duty, he says they include difficulties in getting a client who is willing to accept his rates. “Some will say that you are expensive and that they decide to opt for other options. But they don’t understand it’s the quality that differentiates us all,” he says.
To Keroti, photography is also like an art to him as he is able to turn normal things that everyone sees into still images with an awesome composition. “I do help people create memories, market their stuff and I also hope that there’s a young photographer learning from my craft,” he adds.
Keroti’s journey in the photography field started way back in high school (St. Joseph’s School Rapogi). Just like any other high school teenager, he relished going out for photo shoots and posting the pictures so as to grow his socials’ following. But as time went by, he got interested to learn how great photos are captured, “and slowly by slowly I started learning these skills since the owner of the camera was my friend. He also taught me how to use the camera until it reached a point when he could lend me his camera to out with to make some extra coins.”
The young photographer is excited that he is now a professional who enjoys creating some amazing memories and he wishes to see some of his works make to the billboards, “It would be satisfying!” He says with so much passion in his voice.
To kick-start your journey in this gripping field of photography, he says that one needs a descent camera anywhere around Ksh. 40,000 and a good laptop or PC to do the editing. He adds that “If these are not possible, I can advice one to use a good smartphone with clear pixels.”
Keroti also advises anyone thinking of beginning his journey in photography that it’s best to be passionate and keep going despite the enormous challenges. “I can’t say how many times I’ve thought of selling my camera and dropping photography. But when I look back, I get motivated and pleased,” he concludes.
MESHACK MALEYA, 22, Final Year Student at Technical University of Kenya (TUK)
Maleya (Maleya Visuals) is a freelance photographer from Nairobi Kenya. Just like other photographers, Maleya has been able to identify his niche in photography from which he gets jollity with what he does.
He too is among the many creatives around the globe who, apparently, feel more contentment in photography rather than in their courses of study. In a field of many options, Maleya’s sole interest is in fine arts photography and he says that “I admire the art of creating memories.”
With expertise in fine art photography, Maleya feels it’s very impactful in the sense that, “It tells a certain story that is able to inspire different people to be confident and embrace the situations in life like poverty, mental health, sexual assault, and many other more topics.”
The young photographer from Nairobi, Kenya gets exhilarated and he adds that “Allowing people to create memories through my lens is just a bliss to them too.”
With fine art photography not being that effective in Kenya, he feels that it’s at least starting to pick up well and with time it will be embraced all over. Most Kenyans not being accustomed to such a unique yet creative type of art, which makes it a little bit harder for Maleya; and he says that not all appreciate it, especially the older people.
“Kenyan market is also not that large,” he adds, “and the Kenyan government too should wholly support Kenyan photographers and provide them with multiple opportunities to create art and also avail permits at affordable prices to the creatives.”
As an advice, Maleya says that “To everyone desiring to do something but feels the need not to, remember that life is too short not to follow your dreams. You might start low but in the end, you will be a happier person.”
(LUCKY OLUOCH is an accredited freelance journalist from Kenya; EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org; TWITTER: @LuckyOluoch)