Gakenia Kiniiya : “Photography runs in my blood.”
Published Wednesday, July 20 2022 | Gakenia Kiniiya by the-System *
Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory?” What led you to this particular career path?
I knew I was an artist back in primary when we were told to draw animals and my dad draws to. As I grew up, I realized that drawing required a lot of effort and patience in learning the art and I wanted to join an art school in Buruburu back in 2015 but things didn’t go as planned. I later got interested in candid pictures, landscapes, fashion and photojournalism. I started out with a Samsung S4, a phone I was given by my uncle then later on upgraded to a DSLR camera after going to Davasha Photography for photography lessons. I was shocked to know that my dad was also a photographer in his younger days after finding his camera. Photography flows in my blood.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began practicing photography?
Executing concepts that I can’t explain through words and sharing it with others. I have also met different people in the industry whom we share the same interests and are in the same journey. It doesn’t get that lonely.
Some of your work focus on Conceptual photography. What do you love most about it and how do you come up with the concepts?
I find it hard explaining to someone an idea that I have in mind and so I will use photography to convey the concept. I’m a perfectionist by nature and I love planning my shoots. I reach out to different artists in the industry, that is, stylists, makeup/body artists and designers about the concept. We come up with a mood board, get the required accessories for the shoot and plan a date then execute the concept.
How important is making personal work to you? Do you make your work with a specific audience in mind?
I love personal work because I get to share my concepts with the world. I also get to meet the artists whom we share the same interests. It has also connected me to an audience that values my work and approaches me to do shoots in fashion or conceptual photography.
What do you think of the current photography scene in Kenya?
I feel that, it has thrived in the last decade. Young people are interested in the art and nowadays parents are letting their kids study the art. I have also met clients who respect photography as a business unlike the older belief that it as a passion.
How important is photography and the role of the photographer in the cultural context, in Africa?
Photography has a role in documenting history.
It also plays a role in informing outsiders by painting a different picture of Africa rather than the one portrayed in the mass media. I have seen a lot of comments from outsiders that all along they thought that Africa as a poor continent.
Photographers have a role in preserving different cultures in Africa and also in educating young photographers about it.
This is the age of social media, everyone has a smartphone and can shoot their own pictures, how has that affected the photography industry?
It has led to a competition between camera brands and smartphones. Nowadays, smartphones take better pictures than the previous versions but we are not yet there. Cameras will always take the best pictures because that’s its purpose.
There is also a challenge in videography. For instance,
What are some of the obstacles you face as a woman and a young photographer in the industry?
There is a lot of sexism in the industry. A lady is overlooked because it has always been a man’s job.
Sexual harassment from bad clients.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Encourage more women to join the industry by creating photography boot camps.
Creating an organization for female photographers.
Create security measures by strictly upholding punishments for sexual assaults.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman in photography, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become photographers?
The world needs to see a woman’s perspective. It also kills the notion that it’s a man’s job.
Can anyone be a photographer? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person is a good photographer?
Yes, I believe anyone can be a photographer. The likelihood to becoming a good photographer is determined by your interest, effort in learning and hard work in the art.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up you would like to share with us?
Yes, I have a few projects coming up in fashion photography.