Victor has been at it for two years and for him he wakes up in the morning, in his own words, “like tenenenen.” Despite the incredible journey he has had thus far, he has also had some challenges, especially with clients. Based on his experience, he has learnt one major thing; work with contracts and where need be, get someone else to handle the client when it comes to payment. “You have to work with contracts because the magazines can take up to 6 months to pay you. I don’t like that negative space. I go for the brief and concept then leave the other person to deal with contract and money,” Victor explains. In his 2 years in the fashion industry and magazine space, he has met some who undercut photographers so he advises that one should learn who to work with and who to let go.
“There is no money circulating in the industry and the seriousness is lacking.”
With regards to fashion in Kenya, Victor feels that everyone is trying to get money in wrong ways and undercutting each other. He doesn’t feel that there is much of a structure and the price differences are confusing hence people’s apprehension. “There is no money circulating in the industry and the seriousness is lacking. There are so many designers and photographers but you find the fashion industry is not at par with the rest of the world. The quality is not there. There are so few that have stepped up but most are trying to undercut each other and not work together.”
In tandem with this present situation, Victor feels that people respect creatives and products from outside Kenya more than local talent. For example, he continues, some clients are more willing to pay more for a foreign photographer paying what they quote without question. The same cannot be said for local photographers who are constantly being haggled for price cuts. This leaves photographers needing to prove their value against foreign photographers being told that “your starting out and you need exposure.”
“We have a long way to go in terms of structure,” states Victor. He feels that at the moment, there are no strict photographers in a particular field. “People don’t know what they are and what their niche is. They shoot anything.” Victor further notes that there are photographers who will take any price to make money and others who specialize and quote higher rates struggle in the face of these conflicting standards. “We just need to find a way to get structure so when someone comes from outside, they cannot infiltrate and take advantage of our confusion.”
“Out there, when people create a photo shoot set, its theatre. Here, we have that mentality that ‘its just a magazine.’” Victor keeps up with his reading and documentaries that relate to photography. When Victor watched ‘Vogue: The Editor’s Eye’ he realized he needed to step it up when it came to setting up for a photo-shoot. “Normally, a shoot is just a shoot, go to a hotel, spend 6 hours without a story. With Vogue, they have mood boards for each photo-shoot, fashion editors, which we don’t have.” Unfortunately, Victor notes that the pay is not enough to get adventurous hence side projects.
Victor has also noted that Kenyans have not gotten used to buying local in both fashion and photography. In his view, the best way to move forward is to maintain high standards and be consistent. “There is a whole new culture that needs to be introduced,” he remarks. Victor adds that the problem of local consumption exists in all creative fields (music, film, photography, fashion…) asking, “think about it, what was the last Kenyan movie you saw? Nairobi Half Life.”
“We just need to find a way to get structure so when someone comes from outside, they cannot infiltrate and take advantage of our confusion.”
In the end, Victor advises for those coming into the industry; “get your skills right then be consistent and professional.” Furthermore, one should look to photographers locally like Emmanuel Jambo and learn. “The pie is so big, if you play your cards right you can figure it out. Consistency is key,” he further advises. Upcoming photographers should also know their legal rights so as to not be swindled or taken advantage of.
When it comes to equipment, Victor is not all about getting the latest gear. “The eye is better to train… then everything else will fall into place.” He feels that one should learn how to work with natural light then introduce two lights. The equipment does not make a great photograph, as Victor advises, and Annie Leibowitz (a photographer he admires) works with one camera and two lights producing amazing results.
“I breeze through life” states Victor. At present, Victor is applying to do a masters in photography in the UK. “My dream has always been to shoot for Vogue. When I look at pictures in Vogue and what we have, I realize how far we are” concludes Victor. That is where he believes we need to get to. Victor Peace is inspired to challenge himself, grow as a photographer, learn and raise the standards with his work and with his new Studio (kudos). We believe he will do just that. Check out his latest work smartly entitled “Piece by Peace”