Boniface Mwangi began his career as a professional photographer in 2005. It’s been about 7 years of what he describes as fun, adventure, coupled with some scary moments. He now runs a collaborative hub, Pawa254, for creatives in Kenya where he motivates other photographers . His goal is to build a network of Africans telling the African story and getting more work by African creatives noticed.
Boniface, an award-winning photographer, was recently approached by Nokia to work with a group of photographers i.e. Mwangi Kirubi, Mutua Matheka, Joe Makeni and David Mutua to showcase some of their great moments as captured through the lens of the Nokia 808 PureView. The 41 megapixel Nokia 808 marks another groundbreaking innovation for both Nokia and mobile devices when it comes to imaging. The Nokia 808 breaks the record previously held by the N8 as the largest sensor and the highest resolution for a camera phone.
The photographers in the project have different styles and shoot different things. Boniface, for one, doesn’t do weddings and instead chose to concentrate on news photography. He covered a demonstration and also took different photographs when he travelled to Belgium, Netherlands and Sweden. He has been shooting photographs with the Nokia 808 now for the last two months. He describes the experience as being awesome because even though he doesn’t take pictures every single day, he believes if he uses the camera well he can produce beautiful pictures.
Boniface shared with us some photographs which he took in Belgium where he had an exhibition alongside Picasso’s work. The photographs are of lighters owned by soldiers from the Vietnam War, with each lighter having words inscribed on it which would give insight into the life under fire. Some were of fear of death, regrets of leaving loved ones behind while others showed a remarkable sense of humor.
Boniface thinks that the photography industry is growing and resource centers like Pawa 254, better internet access and the availability of photography books have contributed to this. He recalls the photography scene when he started and how they used to use film rolls. They had to remain conservative in the number of shots they took because it cost more money to buy film and long hours to process, go through the negatives and select the best photos.
The advantage of the digital age is that people can learn from their mistakes and it’s not very costly because you can shoot and review on the same spot. A challenge of technology is that you find a lot of young photographers don’t know how to use the settings in the camera. They can’t do manual; everything is automatic. Boniface is a confessed purist when it comes to photography; he doesn’t process his photos and prefers using them as they are. Other people or his clients may process his pictures but on a personal level he rarely does.
With the effort being put in by Boniface and his ilk, photography in Kenya is poised to make its mark on the world stage.