BEVERN OGUK – THE DESIGNER TO WATCH

  1. Tell us a little about yourself?

Well,  My name is Bevern Oguk, the first born in my humble family.  I am the Creative Director at CO-BE Inc,  a fashion brand I co-founded with
my partner  and fellow designer, Collins Karanja.

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OJ JOHN OBALLA TALKS FASHION

1. Tell us about yourself.

Popularly known as Oj John Oballa, 25 years old, from Nairobi, Kenya.

I am a digital manager at #TeamTrinc, a digital agency that handles Social Media Campaigns for numerous companies in East Africa. Besides being a social media guru, I organize events in the UAE.

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MY PHOTO SHOOT EXPERIENCE WITH RADEK AND TOONY

I have not taken any professional  pictures for a long time and over the weekend,I decided to get a few pictures taken.  Preparing for a photo shoot takes some time. I had to find an exceptional photographer(Radek), book an appointment and also get an exceptional make-up artist (Toony).

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ANDREW MAGETO MUCH MORE THAN A PHOTOGRAPHER

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

RADEK A POLISH PHOTOGRAPHER LIVING IN KENYA

A.TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
I am 43, I was born in Poland where I received my education from preschool to my doctor’s degree. Initially I was working as a professor at the University in Lublin, where I am from. In 2000 I left Poland. I was living in USA, the Philippines, Indonesia and recently in Kenya. During that time I was a researcher and a consultant, a teacher, a manager in a photographic business and of course a photographer. Apart from photography I like traveling. I saw over 60 countries on 5 continents. Some of those from the bicycle saddle. Long biking trips is also my hobby. Mountains are my another big love. I spent my 40th birthday on a top of Imja Tse in Himalayas, 6189 meters above sea level.
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 I climbed  Mt. Kenya  during my first visit to Africa in 2006.

 

B.WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I can imagine many worse job’s that one where I have to look at beautiful girls wearing beautiful clothes, but seriously speaking I never really dreamed about being fashion photographer. As it often happens in life, things just happen by accident. In my case it happened about 6 years ago in Jakarta. There was a need for fashion photos showing wedding dresses .
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 I was working as a wedding photographer so it was quite a smooth shift. When I was starting my adventure with photography I was exclusively interested in nature. I thought people are boring but today I am a bit bored with nature but find photographing people, models – very refreshing. I realize that what attracted me to the nature photography in first place, is actually present in any kind of photography. Namely, it is a challenge of showing something in a new way, differently than many others before you. Considering number of photographers and pictures taken since 1800 it is really huge challenge.

C.WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER?

An eye for details, understanding how to use light (either natural or in the studio) in a way to enhance beauty of a garment and a model. At least this is my goal. I believe that if I achieve this artistic goal I will also help designer sell her/his clothes, which is the ultimate, pragmatic aim of fashion photo sessions. Fashion photography is a team sport. Therefore good fashion photographer has to be patient, tolerant and have social skills. I noticed that good mood, ability to make a joke even when everybody are stressed when things go wrong, can help a lot. Nature photographer can be a grouch, fashion photographer has to smile.
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D.HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I can’t believe it, but it is exactly a quarter of a century already! However as I already mentioned, I was starting as a nature photographer (being a geographer and traveler). I must have pointed my camera towards models for the first time about 10 years ago.
E.TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE SET UP FOR YOUR PHOTO SHOOTS.
Do you want me to give up my secrets here? Ok, let me reveal some of my “tricks”. I am a Canon guy. Over a years I gathered few cameras and number of lenses. For fashion shoots I use Canon 5D2 usually with 70-200/2.8 lens attached. Fast telephoto lenses have very narrow dept of field, which results in nicely blurred background. After all model is what viewers eye should focus on. At times I use rather unconventional lenses for fashion, like fish-eye,to obtain unique effect. Light is very important for photographers. We need a lot of it, but direct sunlight is not flattering either. Therefore need for use reflectors to light up shadows on model’s face. I also use speedlamps with softboxes for the same purpose. Good results can be achieved also by putting model in the shadow created by diffuser. It turns harsh direct sunlight into much softer and dimmer light. Unlike most photographers, during events I use speedlight designed for …macrophotography. I found it creating much more pleasing results, as it lights up more evenly the whole area. Flash lamps mounted on the top of camera tend to leave one side of a picture much darker then the other.
F.HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
In my opinion I am still looking for it. On the other hand I think there must be something in my pictures that is characteristic. Perhaps it is tendency to combine nature photography with fashion. One session from Kenya which I particularly liked was in 14 Falls with Deliah Ipupa
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 Unfortunately in most cases sessions have to happen in the city (financial reasons). I also like to use unusual places, often considered ugly, like workshops or ruined buildings
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But I am gonna leave judgement on my style to the audience.
G.ARE YOU A SELF TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER,DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY OR DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
Self taught! I was too impatient to read books or attend courses when I was starting. I just grabbed camera and
started to shoot. Interestingly, my very first pictures are not that bad. Due to the poor camera quality they are slightly blurred in the corners, time is turning them more and more yellow, but when it comes to rules of composing pictures even my first roll of film (ORWO made in East Germany) shows that I instinctively understood at least golden ratio rule. This is why I believe that you either have it or not. If you have it, you don’t need courses. If you don’t have it, even courses and books won’t make you good photographer.
H.WHAT IS THE LAST IMPRESSION YOU WANT TO LEAVE IN YOUR PICTURES?
Are designers gonna read this? (laughing). If so I am gonna say that impression should be: “I want to have this dress!” But jokes aside, if I manage to make an outfit and a model look so good that others would like to look similarly then my job is done. It would mean I have skills to sell literally and figuratively speaking fashion to the clients. Isn’t it why fashion designers are being paid? It is increasingly more difficult task though and requires more skills, more interesting ideas for the shoot and better equipment.
I would be very happy if my pictures would be able to move viewers for a moment to some better, more beautiful world. Give people a moment of rest from every-day life with all its frustrations and stress.
I.WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT COMES WITH WORKING IN NAIROBI?
My biggest challenge is finding interesting and safe venues,for which I would not have to pay. I don’t know if fellow photographers have the same problem, but I was asked few times for ridiculous amount of money to be able to take pictures in certain location. I also miss old towns that can be found everywhere in Europe. Those old buildings with narrow streets, small staircases, brick walls are perfect for fashion photos.
It is very difficult to buy certain equipment here. Every time I need something ,I am forced to order it from USA, Asia or Europe. I get so frustrated  when  something would gets broken. Other than that sessions are pure pleasure!
J.YOUR WORK IS COLLABORATIVE.WHICH STYLISTS,DESIGNERS OR MODELS HAVE YOU WORKED WITH ?
I have  only worked  in Kenya for one year so the list is not very long yet. One of my first models are not well known. I had a session with Tatianah who recently became second runner in a Face of Nairobi 2013 beauty contest and Veda who is also second runner in Miss Tourism 2013 contest. I have also worked with accomplished models like  Deliah Ipupa,
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, David Woods,
David, Kenya
, Harriet
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whose pictures were lately published in True Love magazine. I had very enjoyable session organized by The Bow Tie Events with Shamim Nabil, Miss World Kenya 2012 and Pinky Ghelani
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I have  also worked with models from Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa.
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When it comes to designers my last work with Shenu Hooda and  Martha Jabo(UGANDA) ,Galina Tatarinova (RUSSIA) and Kenyan designers like Leah Akinyi, Maria Ndegwa and  Mohammed Bana.
Stylists i have encountered with during my work are Njanja Kimani, Ciku Kiarie, Lorraine Akinyi, Rose Ntongo’ndu and a young taleted make up artist I had fun working with,who is originally from Thailand called Toony.
I.DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOOKING TO GET INTO THE PHOTOGRAPHY INDUSTRY?
Be persistent, don’t give up, keep trying. Be reliable, punctual and consistent. One failure can ruin someone’s reputation. Think about the results, not the money you gonna make.
M.WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU AND SEE MORE OF YOUR IMAGES?
My pictures were published in magazines in Poland, USA and Indonesia. Lately Asian Weekly published my photographs in Kenya. They can also be found on calendars and postcards, some albums and student books. I was an author or co-author of a dozen of photo-exhibits, but probably the easiest way to see my work is on the Internet. I am trying to keep my website www.radekartphoto.com up to date but actually found it easier to present my work on  Facebook (facebook.com/RadekArtPhoto)