In the past two years, we have focussed our efforts in advocating for a more inclusive creative landscape in Kenya. Rural creatives, compared to those in urban areas, face disparities in technical skills, exposure to modern ideas and thinking as well as less involvement in decision-making processes regarding the sector. We believe that a creative sector that embraces everyone not only benefits the artists but also adds richness to our cultural tapestry and contributes to the economic prosperity of the country.

To advance this cause, we came up with a project called Kibaraza, where we have been working with different groups of creatives in Malindi, among them photographers and videographers. At that time, photographers were scattered and working in silos, with only one meetup ever happening. We mapped them out and organised monthly meetup sessions that later became capacity building workshops done by experts from Nairobi. We have also supported them to form ‘The Coast Collective Ke’, which soon after all the paperwork is complete will be legally known as Photographers Association of Malindi (PAM). 

We have been initiating collaborative projects in order to keep them in contact with each other, to facilitate exchange of ideas and to keep them actively exercising their creativity.

A Self Initiated Photo Documentary + Photo Walk Project.

In the last two days, we have felt encouraged to see the fruits of these efforts. The photographers, on their own selves, conceptualised a project called “A Dream Cut Short”. The project is a photo story highlighting the life of a girl in Kilifi county – the way it takes an almost predefined path just because of where she was born and who she was born to. 

It starts with a teenage girl holding her baby, then later the baby grows and goes to primary school, but then her life is full of chores that take her away from studies, then adolescence sets in and as she experiences changes, she also meets bodaboda (motorbike taxi) riders who offer her free rides, sanitary towels and money just so that they can get into her pants. The girl later becomes pregnant with a baby girl, and the vicious cycle continues. 

The post production of this project is now happening, and once it is complete, it shall be printed and displayed in galleries. We shall also support the Association to build an interactive website that takes the visitor on a virtual tour of the gallery.

In addition to the project, we also did our second photowalk of Malindi town. They got to take photos of the emotions, the people, colours and things happening every day in Malindi. This was a good way to test the photographer’s people skills, techniques in uncontrollable environments and creativity. 

A Big Milestone: Nikon Kenya X Photographers From Malindi.

But what was most exciting was the involvement of Nikon Kenya in the two activities. They provided a few pieces of their best gear which the photographers were excited to use all day. Moreover, the creatives had an opportunity to get answers to questions they had concerning their own Nikon gear, they learnt technical skills, exchanged ideas and got to know more about Nikon’s brand. This was the first such initiative involving such a big brand in the coastal region. Moreover, it was the first time that Nikon Kenya was doing an outreach with creatives outside of Kenya’s main cities  – and this makes us very proud!

Two years ago, if you approached a photographer here and told them that two years from then they would be working with Nikon Kenya’s Team or even some of their most expensive high end gear, they would not have believed you. It was too far out a dream. But it came true! In holding that gear in their hands, their impossibilities became possible. In wearing Nikon-branded shirts handed to them by a Nikon Staff, their morale improved. This experience flamed their photography fire brighter. 

Building a community of creatives is also allowing for the creatives to be easily found. Two years ago, it would have been very difficult for you to find an organised group of photographers and videographers to work with here in Malindi. Now, in case you need to, there is a group of 16 highly talented and motivated creatives for you to work with.

Also Read: Are Photographers Only In Big Cities?

Following the project, our photographers dedicated the following day to a meticulous review of the captured images. Pau Shinski from Baraza Media Lab, a top product photographer, provided insightful comments and professional guidance. This collaborative review not only served to enhance the quality of the work but also offered a comprehensive understanding of each photographer’s unique strengths and areas for improvement. Leveraging this invaluable information, we are now crafting a tailored and personalized training program for each individual photographer. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that, upon completion, every participant emerges at the top of their craft, armed with newfound skills and capabilities.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Baraza Media Lab for their invaluable support, enabling the continuation of the Kibaraza program. Their commitment to our shared belief that no creative should be left behind is making a significant impact. Additionally, we express deep appreciation for their instrumental role in facilitating collaboration with Nikon Kenya, further enriching our initiatives. The collective efforts of our partnership plays a crucial role in advancing our mission, and we are truly thankful for their ongoing commitment to empowering and uplifting creatives.

Support Our Work.

We also thank in a very special way all the photographers who have been walking with us and who took part in this project, especially members of the Coast Collective. If you like our work and would like to be involved with it, hit us up at [email protected]. Subscribe and follow our social media pages for updates.

Thellesi Trust
Thellesi Trust

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