Industry reports estimate that there are thousands of photography businesses in Kenya and likely even more independent photographers. This creative industry has attracted established professionals and newcomers alike.
Whether you have years of experience or you are just getting started, founding a business may be a worthwhile pursuit if you are looking to be self employed. Photography can easily be a casual side hustle you pursue during your free time, or a full-time business.
I recently spoke to Martin Gitahi, a renowned photographer based in Nairobi, and the founder of Pheel62 Studio.
Who is Martin Gitahi and what do you do?
My name is Martin Gitahi Maina. I am a professional photographer. I started practicing photography 5 years ago, working with other photographers and learning the craft. I then started pheel 62, 1 year ago
When I begun, it was purely out of interest. I was very captivated by photography and its dynamics. When I finally honed the craft, I begun to view as a source of income. I am happy that I get to do what I love as my source of livelihood. This is because it doesn’t feel like I’m working.
Who do you look up to professionally?
Internationally I look up to Carl Tailor, locally I admire Emmanuel Jambo’s work.
Which cameras do you use?
I use the Canon 5d Mark 4 and EOSR.
How can you describe a perfect picture?
A perfect picture to me is one which is unique and has good lighting composition.
Which editing tools do you use?
I use photoshop lightroom capture 1.
What is your advice to people starting out in photography?
I would advise beginners to start with an amateur camera, learn as much as you can about lighting composition, and generally think outside the box.
What do you like about your job?
I love the fact that I am my own boss. I get to work on my goals and dreams everyday, and track my progress. I enjoy the creativity that the job demands, and bringing concepts into reality is a big motivation for me. I also get to work with different people and influencers, including Kate actress and Jesus Girl, each of whom have brought different ideas and concepts of photography. This has helped me to grow my brand and reach a broader clientele.
What’s your ultimate goal with photography?
I would like to extend to commercial photography, working with different brands to conceptualize ideas and create stories. I also want to grow out Pheel62 studio into other branches and mentor budding photographers.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
I will say marketing, It took me about 2 whole years to get noticed and to grow my portfolio. Getting word out there is not as easy at it may seem.
What do you dislike about your job?
Imitation. I do not like it when people copy my work. I pride myself in being authentic and with a unique style. When people steal my concept and aesthetic, it is almost as if I was giving my ideas away.
What do you like most about your work?
I like that my job is flexible, freestyle, and allows me to be creative.
How do you deal with difficult clients?
I try to be humble at all time and seek dialogue whenever there are misunderstandings. I have also made it a point to always endeavor to put the needs of the client ahead of mine.
What is your advice to budding photographers?
My advice is go ahead. Take the risk, explore your creativity, learn from others, and try to be unique. Work smart, work hard, be consistent, chase your dream, and always save some cash for rainy days.
According to Martin, his photography business enables his to pay his bills and live a relatively comfortable life. His studio is at Kipro Centre 5th Floor, Westlands, opposite Parklands Baptist Church.
You can check out his work on Instagram HERE.