Meet four up-and-coming African photographers, born in Kenya, living in Nairobi, and taking remarkable photographs of this vibrant and edgy mega-city. Landia Davies from African Budget Safaris asked these talented Kenyan creatives what their favourite aspects of photographing Nairobi are, what they aim to capture in their images of Kenya and what it is that inspires them.
1. Steven Kitots
My favourite thing about shooting in Nairobi is its immense diversity. Nairobi is full of interesting scenes, culture and history. Just seeing the development that is happening is also great. I love these aspects of the City in the Sun.
When capturing images in Kenya, for me it is all about changing perceptions. I want to give people a view that they probably haven’t seen before, or never thought of – moving away from the common narrative that has been portrayed. Kenya has a lot to show and I see it as part of my duty to share that with the world. Showing not only the wildlife, but also the constant development and the untold stories emerging. These are the things that I look for while capturing images of Kenya.
I draw inspiration from a lot of things out there, and I am constantly online – checking out the work of fellow creatives and researching, especially in the areas of photography that I specialise in. The online social community is also a great source of inspiration – seeing fellow like-minded photographers taking amazing photographs. I love to see the various ways different people capture the beauty that surrounds us.
My absolute favourite thing about photographing Nairobi is the architecture of the city and the vibe of the people. I’m a more people-centric photographer, so I like to capture people in some sort of context. We have a mix of very hardworking people who are on the grind every day, yet remain extremely friendly towards one another.
We also have a young crop of creatives who like to do their own thing and often have a stylish way of life and dressing. It’s a very interesting mix.
What I try to capture about Kenya is the unbeatable spirit of the people. Across the country, whatever activities people are involved in; you will always sense the passion they have for not only what they do, but also getting a good outcome. I see that every day and that’s what I try to capture. I try to do it in a way that conveys the dignity of the people I photograph.
I draw my inspiration from various sources, most notably from fellow Kenyan photographer Mutua Matheka, who taught me the ropes and keeps inspiring me. I also draw inspiration from documentary photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich and Ami Vitale.
3. Mutua Matheka (aka truthslinger)
Nairobi is a city with a crazy creative vibe. The light falls just right, depending on where you are, and the dust gives a certain haze that makes it beautiful at dusk.
I try to capture the unwritten-about beauty of Kenya. I try to see the beauty in the mundane and show it. Above all, I try to maintain the dignity of the people that I photograph, no matter what situation they are in.
I am inspired by other African artists. I am inspired by my faith in God, whom I think of as the master creative. I am also inspired by my family to be the very best version of myself for them. But, it is the beauty of this continent that inspires me most.
I love Nairobi because it is extremely dynamic and diverse, from the people and different cultures to the architecture. I do my best to bring that out in my photography.
Every country has an ugly and a beautiful side. As a Kenyan creative, I try to eliminate the misconceptions people have about Kenya and reveal its hidden beauty.