Migwa, Dean, Soraya and Andrew have grown their portfolio by being adventurous, shooting beyond the studio and thinking outside the box. Kenya is blessed with so many places and beautiful landscapes. “Even if you shoot the concrete jungle, you will still get Ngong Hills in the background, which is just amazing. We are truly blessed,” says Soraya. For Dean, he cant get over the sunsets that every changing in Nairobi.
Some of their favorite places include Castle Forest at the foothills of Mt Kenya in Kirinyaga. Lamu is also on their top list beyond the beach and the architecture. Other locations include Magadi, Ngong Hills at Corner Baridi, Andrew adds. Magiq Lens are working on exploring western and northern Kenya, explains Soraya.
For upcoming photographers, there is a lot to learn from them. Their experience is an inside opportunity to grow and improve from those who have been there. Andrew’s major advice is to know your tools and equipment. “They throw names and numbers without knowing what it means. Not knowing what aperture means and light manipulation. We have experience behind us. Some people just acquire gear to have but not to learn and understand,” explains Andrew. Soraya explains “in any creative industry, nothing comes quick. People need to stop putting value on instant fame, which doesn’t exist.”
“Take time to learn” Andrew Mageto
For Migwa, research is key. He suggests that when you are starting out, try as many things as possible, know your gear and your category of photography. He further adds that when you find which category you choose, learn the requirements, shadow people and learn from them. The greatest danger is young people thinking they know, add Soraya. “The youth don’t want to go out of their way to learn,” expounds Dean.
In photography, they best thing you can do is learn to control natural light, says Andrew, which also applies in film. Migwa adds “you will probably fail more times than you would succeed. All the best ones have. That is how you learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to fail.” Soraya recounts how they started off without reflectors and improvised with foil and cardboard stating “don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t let gear hold you back, improvise.”
Being a photographer is one thing, running it like a business is another. The business side is important and for a photographer, Dean explains, it can be such a passion that working on the business and the craft can be challenging. Dean further adds “the business side is a whole other ball game so get someone to help you so they can focus on the business side and you focus on creating. Don’t be afraid of partnering, giving someone else responsibility, your marketing, legal.” For Dean, this was a lesson he learnt trying to do both resulting in him losing his passion. As much as possible, he concludes, focus on craft and have someone else do the rest.
“Patience, you need patience” Andrew Mageto
When it comes to sharing your work, Soraya advises to put your best foot forward. She further states that some share for the sake of sharing and acquiring social media likes and followers when those are not truly indicative of business success. “Create your own thing and that is what will make you stand out. Do your research and know your audience,” recommends Soraya.
“You woke up and intentionally became a photographer, so be intentional with everything that you do.” Migwa Nthigah
There is no excuse to not learn and research when the Internet is available and more affordable than the west. “We shouldn’t take that for granted because we have access to so much information. I was in New Zealand and they pay 20,000ksh a month and it is not unlimited. We may complain about Zuku but at least we have unlimited fast Internet,” says Dean.
As you grow, especially for young upcoming photographers, Dean explains that it can get frustrating because you always have to prove yourself. “Don’t get comfortable and say tumefika (I have arrived),” advises Dean. Furthermore, adds Migwa, one has to learn to share their work with people who will give you constructive feedback but that doesn’t mean not sharing your work at all.
“Don’t be a Facebook or Instagram photographers. Watermark and own your space” advises Soraya. It is important for upcoming photographers to understand the importance of protecting your work and reading terms and conditions of sites you share your content on.
Soraya goes on to explain the unfortunate circumstance of secrecy in the industry hence collaboration and unity being a hindrance to growth. “In the industry, people are still so protective so they feel that if they tell you one thing, you know their secrets and so they panic. There are things you should protect like Intellectual Property but it feels like survival of the fittest alone.” For Magiq Lens, they want to encourage the fact that we can all help each other grow, discuss and get people thinking on a different level.
Follow on Twitter: @MagiqLens_KE
Follow the Team:
Migwa Nthigah: @migzzymigz
Soraya Mugambi: @Miz_Soraya
Dean Okonji: @DeanMartinsky
Check out their site: http://www.magiqlenskenya.com
Follow on Instagram: @magiqlens_ke
Find them on Facebook: Magiq Lens KE