Ben Kiruthi and his beautiful wife Gathoni have built themselves a wedding photography business having grown from strength to strength and from engaged to married. What makes this couple and photography unique? God, their love for each other and capturing and sharing love stories.
Having officially started in February 2010, Ben and Gathoni had no idea that photography was their calling. “I was so shocked…I had no idea how a camera worked, at that time I owned a Nokia 5130 phone that I loved to take photos with. That was my 1st camera, and I started off with it,” says Ben. Ben began by taking photos of Gathoni, his fiancée then, and posting them on Facebook.
It was at this point that they knew they had the opportunity to make photography a fully-fledged business after receiving positive feedback. They began to approach friends and family for support financially to purchase the necessary equipment starting off with a camera. “I never ever thought, even in my wildest of days, that I would ever end up being a photographer. God led us into this art, and it is only He who knew that we would ever end up being photographers,” says Ben. They managed to buy their first camera in August 2010, ventured in fashion photography only to focus solely on weddings as it was in conflict with their faith.
Ben was previously working as a network engineer and felt truly unfulfilled in his day job. “I wanted more, I felt like there had to be more to life than what my life was,” Ben tells us and after discussions with Gathoni they jumped into photography. This leap however came with a mental switch, which was difficult to adjust to as they had no prior training in wedding photography and no equipment. “Photography equipment is so darn expensive and very difficult to acquire,” Ben explained. “We had to import all of our gear at outrageous costs and this was so difficult as neither Gathoni & I had any other additional source of income.”
Additionally, as photography was a growing trend, finding the right trustworthy clients to work with them was a hurdle they needed to overcome to get them to where they are, an established brand. Ben and Gathoni photography has a single goal to “tell love stories in their most authentic, credible and true nature.” Remaining unique and providing clients with an experience that none of their competitors can provide, Ben and Gathoni also strive to ensure that each of their clients has something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Going through the different weddings that Ben and Gathoni have covered, no two are alike showing that they strive to capture the true essence of each couple and their journey in love. How do they achieve this? They take time to learn and study the people they are photographing, which involves listening to the couple’s journey and observing their personalities. “This will help us be able to tell their love story better and shoot them in their true element.” Ben and Gathoni strive to distinguish themselves by developing and perfecting their photographic voice and style. By constantly researching and updating their knowledge, Ben and Gathoni can ensure that they keep up with current trends in wedding photography and thereby consistently take their work to another level.
Getting into any industry is not easy and for Ben and Gathoni, they had to manoeuvre through learning photography and conquering their fear and challenges. Ben’s greatest fears were not being able to make a decent living, being unable to provide for himself and his family and not being relevant to the needs of the market by developing a product no one needed. Ben’s greatest challenge was to breakeven and make his business legitimate and not just a hobby.
When Ben got into the industry, he detested it because “no one was willing to share any secrets or knowledge in regards to the industry. It was a very tight-lipped industry.” At the moment though, Ben and Gathoni have observed that photography in Kenya is growing in leaps and bounds by being more accommodating and willing to share knowledge and skill. With an increase in photography meet-ups, Ben has over time made true friends in the industry. “We even have a Facebook group with over 8,000 members!!! The industry has never been this vibrant,” he exclaims.
Ben feels that it is a good thing that photographers are increasing because “the cake is too large to be left only for a chosen few,” he remarks. As the industry is growing, Ben and Gathoni have take note of pitfalls people make in getting into photography that has prevented many from growing. For Ben, many have started out and become prideful as they began to get some recognition. This also leads others to overcharge and under deliver. For others, the smell of fame and quick money has made many lose sight of what led them to photography thinking that “millionaires are made overnight & selling their soul trying to get there,” he explains. The other danger is taking on too much work, burning out and compromising on quality, he further adds.
“The cake is too large to be left only for a chosen few”
Ben also feels that there are still too many people jumping into this industry for money as if “passion is no longer cool anymore,” Ben notes. Furthermore, because of the growing photography market, it has fuelled equipment theft and fraudsters. Despite the number of people appreciating and using local photographers for weddings or other types of shoots, Ben notes “a large number of clients haven’t got round to the fact that professional photography costs a lot. Everyone wants amazing pictures but no one wants to pay the fees.” Most Kenyans have no idea what a professional photographer is and frankly they don’t care, says Ben. However, Ben adds, “a growing number of Kenyans are embracing the new trend and seeing the value of hiring a professional to get the job done.”
Ben and Gathoni have succeeded in growing their brand and owe it all to one verse: Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you as well.” For Ben and Gathoni, putting God first is of prime importance to really persevere and grow their photography business. Ben also advises “dare to be different, be a trendsetter. Dare things that others fear doing and research, research, research.” He also states that practice and experiment until you can do your job with your eyes closed which he defines as “mastering your craft.” He lastly recommends specialising and not being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. For Ben and Gathoni, being thankful and counting ones blessings is extremely important.
“Most Kenyans have no idea what a professional photographer is and frankly they don’t care.”
Inspired by God and his wife Gathoni, Ben is equally inspired by storytelling. Africa is rapidly changing and their brand fits in as they are tasked to tell love stories. “Africa is made up of stories…our intention is that we will continue to tell more & more amazing love stories & show the beauty of Africa in a way like it has never been shown before,” says Ben. With experience, wisdom and their faith, Ben and Gathoni have pulled through the tough years to build an award winning blog, a strong business and have remained true to their essence.
All images are courtesy of Ben and Gathoni Photography and are subject to copyright. ©Ben&GathoniPhotography.
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