“A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound.” Ivan Turgenev
The quote above asserts, correctly, that a picture can help a person absorb large amounts of data in a very short period of time as opposed to reading. Also, importantly, it brings out the storytelling abilities that pictures have. Therefore, for those that seek to tell stories, pictures are a powerful medium.
A Kenyan Instagram project, dubbed Kenya365, is a perfect example of storytelling through pictures. It was started by Mutua Matheka, Erik Hersman and Eston Whitfield. Participants simply take a picture, upload it on instagram and tag it #Kenya365. We caught up with Mutua and sought to know more about photography in Kenya and about the Kenya365 project.
Wamathai: Every time you pick up a camera, what is it that you want to capture? What do you want your photographs to say?
Mutua Matheka: When I shoot. I want to bring out the best there is about Nairobi and my country. I want when people see my photos understand that Africa is beautiful. It’s people, culture, food, clothing. I want us (Africans) to understand that this is a gem that needs to be polished to shine even brighter. I want us to be proud of where we are from. Truly proud.
Showing beauty in the mundane is a challenge I enjoy.
Wamathai: How did you get into photography?
Mutua: I think 2 things got me into photography; curiosity and jealousy. I have always been an artist (sketching, painting, drawing etc) and photography was unexplored for me so I was curious.
I saw Chuchu’s work when I was in campus and I was envious of how he could create such amazing work so I wanted to create in the same way. His work was my reference when I started but obviously I ended up being a different kind of photographer.
Wamathai: What is the Kenya365 instagram project about? How did it come about?
Mutua: Kenya365 is just a challenge to fellow instagramers in and from Kenya to capture a photo a day for a year while sharing it on instagram. It was an idea hatched by Erik Herseman while chatting in his office and I thought it would be a great challenged so we asked Eston Whitfield too and Kenya365 was born. Many others eventually joined.
Wamathai: How is it coming along?
Mutua: It’s going well. We now have weekly tasks and people are in on it. Last I checked we had about 2000 photos shared already.
Wamathai:Tell us about Rio365.
Mutua: Well there’s not much to tell about Rio365 other than it was put together by Andre from Brazil after seeing our Kenya365 and they talked to Erik a little about it and started. Theirs is going well too and is far more organised than ours :).
Wamathai: What is the Kenyan photography landscape like today?
Mutua: Well I think photography is a big deal today…much more than when I started anyway. Owning cameras is a bigger deal. I’m excited that many people are open to this art form because it has opened many eyes as to what good photography really is. Of course there are many that shall be all mouth and no art but that happens in everything I think. If this keeps evolving we shall have very talented photographers 10 years from now. Only time will tell.