Tell us about yourself.
Andrew Mageto is a laid back guy. Many people think I am just a photographer but I am also a cinematographer with a degree in Motion Picture Medium from AFDA Film School in Capetown. I love watching movies and plot series pretty much to hone my craft as a filmmaker and photographer.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a fashion photographer?
It was in 2012 ,when I worked on a collaborative project with my friends at Magiq Lens for Tendai Makeri . The pictures created a lot of buzz and got great reviews.They were also published by an online Mexican art magazine and that is when I decided to make a career out of it.From then on,I have worked on many projects with numerous models and designers.
What qualities make a good fashion photographer?
Preparation before a shoot and communication with your team. Having references from lighting, costume, make up and styling to make sure you know what you are looking for. Also the ability to adapt to quick changes while on set. Being enthusiastic about the shoot in general is key. A positive attitude goes a long way. People usually forget that your model is half as good as the energy you put out.
How long have you been a photographer?
I have been in the industry for about 5 years.I am also a film maker and being able to combine the two makes my career very satisfying and economically stable
Tell us a bit about the set up for your photo shoots?
My set ups vary from shoot to shoot but my typical set up would have to be starting out with one key light to light my subject then proceed to fill in where required depending with the style of shoot.
For outdoor shoots I use bounce from the sun mainly accompanied with speed lights if the need be.
In studio a studio set up, strobes with diffusing modifiers. I shoot in RAW for more post processing power.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like high contrast punchy images that make colors pop be it in monochrome or color. I have started to actually shoot with one light setups which I find quite interesting. This can be seen mainly in my portraiture photography that I did for Wanja Wohoro, Karun and Kagwe Mungai.
Are you a self taught photographer, did you go to college/university or did you have a mentor?
I am a self taught photographer although I have to admit that my degree in Cinematography has played a big part in shaping my photography lighting and composition skills. If I was to have a mentor, I would pick Osbourne Macharia and Thandiwe Muriu as I really respect their styles and images and they both are great individuals, It does not get better than these two.
What is the last impression you want to leave in your photos?
I want people to look at my images and feel like there is life in these images.I would also like for them to see growth and actualization.
What is the biggest challenge of working in Nairobi?
MONEY, LOCATIONS! People don’t want to pay for great images. The ones that can afford it are few and are willing to pay the price for what they want and even more! You always find people who wonder why you charge so much forgetting that this is actually a job. If I break a shoot down to time, transport, editing and research, you will find that what I am charging is not even that much. Yet people want to pay almost nothing.
Locations is a problem in many ways the first being security. I always see beautiful places id like to shoot at but then in my head I go like “one day when I can hire muscle”. Nairobi has beautiful locations but then sometimes having to shoot there is a bureaucratic nightmare! You have to speak to someone who speaks to someone who then initially wants to charge you a ridiculous amount. This actually limits one from doing personal shoots because as soon as someone sees a camera, they see millions and want you to pay!
Your work is collaborative. Which stylists, designers or models have you worked with?
Yes, I believe in the world of fashion photography, one would be foolish to think they can do it alone. Stylists I have worked with are Yaa Bonsu who is just a darling and we always achieve great results with our images. I have worked with Soraya Mugambi who is a great underrated stylist and I believe she has a lot of potential. Also from time to time I shoot with model/stylist Namnyak for Couture Magazine.
Models models models…lets see. There has been my favourite, Deliah Ipupa. Simply stunning! Namnyak like I mentioned above. Amal Abdul, Daisy Liech and June Tuto.
Of all of the images you’ve made so far, which is your favorite and why?
My images are like my children. I cant pick favorites but if I was to favor any, it would be Tendai Makeris shoot because I feel the nature of the shoot was just different and out of the box than what Kenyan Photographers are doing. I always feel like if you have an idea, execute it disregarding the nature of content because at the end of the day, you are a creator and creators simply have no limits.
Do you have any tips for those who would like to pursue photography career?
Patience is the key factor. You must learn your tools of the trade and mostly your basic photography which is exposure and composition. If you don’t know your principles then you will never get far.
I have people asking me what lights they can buy and I tell them that if they haven’t mastered using available light then what’s the point? Know your lenses very well, I would not focus on Photoshop at first. Learn to get a good image in your camera that you can actually be happy to present in its raw format.
Where can we find you or see more of your work?
My images can be found at www.behance.net/mageto