What can we say about Victor Peace? He is young, spirited, focused and truly loves his work. In fact, he may not even refer to it as work but as simply waking up and having fun. Victor’s journey into photography began in 2013 however he studied Computer Science and Technology in Strathmore University in Nairobi. His major inspiration into photography was courtesy of his grandfather’s cousin. Yes, you read correctly; grandfather’s cousin. Perhaps the ‘coolest person’ he knows with experience internationally and tattoos to boot. “He’s so cool, 70 years old with a lion tattoo putting his trousers at high waist. He was a huge photographer, going to Japan and working all over the world. I used to help out thinking ‘boring’…but since your cool I’ll do it,” he says laughing.
One thing was for sure, Victor knew that IT was not going to be his life. Although he wasn’t certain about his career, Victor never stopped searching. He even tried playing the violin (lessons and tools and all) which he played for one year but when photography came into the picture (all pun intended), he quickly sold everything and started saving up for equipment.
It was this sense of purpose that put the full stop in his career searching. “So when I started photography, I loved it and I knew this was it.” Victor’s mentor was a pilot and photographer by hobby who guided him into the field. Victor asked him to purchase a camera for him during his travels seeing as though it would likely be cheaper. Victor recalls his mentor telling him that the camera he was interested in buying would cost him 150,000 KSH and after selling everything he had, Victor had 80,000, he told us laughing. “He actually got me the camera for 80,000 and said to save the rest instead of paying back so I think he saw my commitment. That is how it started.”
Victor’s first job was shooting for events through activation companies. “You go shoot for them then they pay you 3000 for the whole night,” he recalls. His greatest learning curve came when he was called to shoot in Mombasa for a beach party. “This was my breaking point,” says Victor. Victor animatedly told us the story. He was paid 12,000 which included the fee, transport and lodging. They paid him the first half and Victor jumped into a bus. After a delay, he arrived in Mombasa late, to be specific Mtwapa, where he was to shoot. “I was upset but when we reached, I was told that the place I was going to in Mtwapa, there was a bomb. I was like, ‘God knew what He was doing.’ I was then told it was cancelled and wouldn’t be paid. This was 1am.”
Having no place to stay, not knowing Mombasa or where to go, Victor was, as he stated, “super stranded.” Those who were setting up the party showed him a place he could stay the night. Victor recounts it thus: “It got dodgier and dodgier by the minute and the bed was not an option. I stayed up the entire time, set out at 5am and walked down the streets with my camera and tripod. I told myself, I am not going to waste this opportunity. I decided to shoot at the ferry and I got so engrossed, I missed the bus,” he tells us laughing.
Luckily, Victor was called by a man in a Probox who offered to take him to Nairobi and he went for it. “When I got to Nairobi, I was like, that is the last time I am doing that again, anything could have happened.”
Around the same time he was shooting for events, Victor met Sharon Mundia from This is Ess. Victor is the man behind the photos and it all began at their first meeting during the “Shaken Not Stirred” fashion event. “I saw her and I thought she was so pretty. I was so scared so I told her that she needed a flash if she is shooting at night. She looked at me and told me ‘I am not a professional photographer’ and walked away,” he recalls laughing concluding his pick up line failed. He was then sent to take photos for a blogger being interviewed and it turned out to be Sharon, again, he laughs, thinking that it was destiny. Since then, they have laughed about it and have since been working together.
Although his grandfather’s cousin was a photographer back then, Victor still experiences challenges in explaining what his ‘job’ is. He still finds that people have a hard time understanding his career as a photographer but that does not stop him. In his early days, Victor sought advice from other photographers, one of whom was Thandiwe Muriu. Victor thought that weddings were the ultimate goal until he met the likes of Emmanuel Jambo and Mutua Matheka. Hearing there stories, Victor was immensely inspired.
Victor realized that he needed to step up his game. “Hanging around them, I learnt to step out and identify my niche. You can’t just be a photographer in general if you want to turn your gift into a business,” he explains. Furthermore, Victor states, he learnt that there are different levels of photographers and income hence the need to identify your market smartly and know your customers.
“Don’t limit my creativity” is a phrase Victor states is a way to know someone who is new in the industry. When you start out, you shoot cityscapes and join the instragram meets but Victor believes there is more to understanding how photography can put food on a table. It shouldn’t end there. The amount of work you need to put in is greater to make photography commercial, he states.
Victor is a lifestyle commercial photographer. “Lifestyle is what I truly enjoy, like fashion. I enjoy taking photos of beautiful happy things.” Victor spends most of his time watching Fashion TV, which captivates and drives him in his work. Making someone desire to want to experience a place or product is Victor’s passion. Victor is now able to work and earn doing what he loves building his brand. Did we mention he now has a Studio?
Find out more in our “Victor Peace: “The Eye is Better to Train” PART II of what exactly one needs to know to be in this business, his views on the fashion industry and much more. Meanwhile, here is some of his work.