Where my love for photography began
I fell in love with photography first, there’s no doubt about that. At the tender age of 14, my father—who had one of those prized, film cameras—began lending it to me occasionally. I’d take family photos and smile, feeling so good about it. Back in the days when we had to wait weeks before the photos were printed. You can imagine the thrill of seeing my first, reproduced photo. Photography entered my bloodstream there and then, and it has never left.
It’s an art I value so much, photography. Even after dad’s camera became outdated and decrepit I continued taking photos. This was my way of passing time, enjoying and capturing the beauties of life. Years passed. Technology evolved. Smartphones emerged and that presented a better, easier opportunity of taking photos. It was simply exciting that you could now take a photo and see it immediately, right that minute! Wow, this was a wonderful prospect for me.
At campus, we used to go for events. I automatically became the designated photographer. I’d take wonderful photos and take delight in that, feeling completely fulfilled, even though I was never paid. This is how my passion for photography grew and blossomed into what it is today. If your passion for something is the flame and not the moth, it will persist to the end and lead you to your destiny. Even when it is dulled by the winds and currents of life, somehow, the flame will glow back to life.
This is exactly how it happened to me.
Date with destiny
Fate saw to it that I studied something entirely different—accounting. I gave it my best. Today, I’m a qualified accountant by profession, but photography is still my heart and soul. The flame still burns. It was never snuffed out, and it led me to my destiny—Versatile School of Photography.
One day my husband was listening to the radio and the host was interviewing Mr. David Macharia. Later he narrated to me the inspiring story of David and Versatile School. I told him I was interested and would definitely go check. Six months down the line I went to Versatile School of Photography in Hazina Towers, Nairobi. Once there, I was so fascinated by the photos displayed on the wall that I immediately decided to enroll, which is one of the best decisions I ever made.
I joined the school in May of 2018. One month after starting my classes I bought my first photography gear with the help of my husband. A camera—Nikon D5200, two speed-lights and a stand. I didn’t know much about cameras because before this, other that the phone, I used to borrow a point and shoot camera from a friend whenever I went traveling or hiking. Otherwise, this was my first real experience with a professional camera.
Lessons and Skills
First, it was exciting and then challenging because I was just shooting, not knowing exactly what to do. Apart from clicking, I didn’t know how to operate the camera. But at the Versatile School field day I gained the technical know-how, confidence, and finally began using my Nikon. Fieldwork was my best experience at Versatile School of Photography because of the practical skills I gained and the assessment of photos in the evening. It felt so good being told I had taken a good photo.
Learning how to use a camera and take good photos was an electrifying experience. I had to attend the weekend classes alone because I was doing my accounting job over the week. The classes were wonderful, especially my last one with Mr. Muturi Kanini when I joined other students of Versatile School for a very interactive session. I was able to understand pricing in photography which was an eye-opener. My favorite lesson was the business class with Mr. David Macharia. He was very encouraging. One thing he said that remains with me to date is that if you want to learn, you must humble yourself. He really encouraged me. Even after finishing the photography course at Versatile School, I have found Mr. David Macharia to be very helpful, a great mentor.
I got my first photography job through a friend on WhatsApp after consistently marketing myself as a photographer. After talking to the client on the phone, I accepted the offer which entailed real estate. I was a bit tensed. Luckily, because of my training at Versatile School, I delivered. The client was happy. Despite this, I was paid less than half the amount we had agreed on. Nevertheless, this first shoot helped me gain experience, content, and exposure, especially because I was requested to use my watermark on the photos.
Later, I became reluctant for two months but picked it up from there and I’ve not lulled since. I’ve done other projects, among them a corporate party and a wedding. Versatile School has also given me the opportunity to work as an assistant in a fashion and a family shoot. So far I don’t have a particular area of interest in photography but I like family and fashion and any other half-day shoots.
The journey has not been a bed of roses. It has demanded the utmost hard work and dedication. The gear is expensive. But I believe in order to achieve something; all you need is to put your entire heart to it. I don’t have an Instagram page presently but I intend to set up one soon, hoping I’ll get permission to post the photos I take. Perhaps I may have to procure models to simplify this equation. I intend to pump in the best effort to build my brand—Zawai Photography. The flame of passion leads me, and when I hold a camera I feel on top of the world and believe that if you capture a unique moment, you will make all the difference.
In spite of the fact that I’m an accountant, I call photography my other job (not part-time) and take it very seriously, the same way I take accounting. Balancing the two is easy since I’m an accountant on weekdays and a photographer during weekends. During my spare time, I travel and watch movies. But, if I’m needed to do photography even on a weekday, I’d rather take a day off. That’s how much I love this art.
I must not forget to mention the convenient interdependence between my two professions. Accounting helps me raise money to buy gear; photography helps me get jobs. Since the people I work with know I’m a professional photographer, they consult and engage me anytime they need photography services. This is how the two marry, balance, and make my life worthwhile.