Photographer’s 2019 Bucket List

Another year is over and we are thankful to all our students for the amazing time we have had with them. From interactive lessons, amazing field trips, powerful events and intriguing switch to employees. We have not only taught young photographers but have also learnt a lot as we enrolled some pretty brilliant minds. Otherwise, as we close this wonderful journey and welcome a New Year, we have some tips to help you take photos better in 2019. Here is a list of equipment that most of you might ignore as photographers but definitely need to capture better frames.

  1. Light Meter.

You have probably never seen a light meter for they are not as common as say softboxes or speedlights in the local photography industry. They can however be some very useful tools especially if you are planning to get into corporate or advertising genre of photography not forgetting fashion photography. Basically, light meters are small devices that are used to calculate the best exposure for a photograph. Many of them measure the ambient light and help you determine the shutter speed, ISO and aperture that you should use for a particular photo. Most times, what you see on a camera screen is not the actual result you will get on a photo and don’t want to spend all night editing photos for mistakes you could have avoided. Good thing they don’t cost an arm and a leg hence you can get on Jumia at 6,000 Kshs.

      2. Camera Holsters.

The generic camera straps that come with the box are not the most friendly ones for the field. Some of them can be too short especially for weddings and others can make you uncomfortable as they are best placed on the neck unless of course you get a customized one. The best way to help you get the best and easiest not forgetting convenient solution for this problem is by buying camera holsters. They are not only longer and safer but they ensure you also don’t get shoulder pains at the end of that ruracio shoot. You can check them out in so many camera stores in Nairobi in many models and sizes.

     3.Battery Grips.

A photographer cannot have enough batteries and camera manufacturers understand this very well. That is why many semi-professional and professional camera models have battery grips for them. They not only allow you to have an extra back up battery but also help you to save up on time for changing battery or having to charge in the middle of assignments. In this time that photographers are being robbed left, right and center; put some money aside and invest in a battery grip so that you never have to part with your gear during events. They are only about 6,000 Kshs in most camera shops.

      4.Camera Bag.

Many photographers put their gear in the ordinary bags that we have. They do not think that if any thing happens, their cameras or lenses might be damaged. Camera bags are however manufactured with the right padding which ensures that even if the bag falls then the equipment is safe. Many camera bags also happen to be water proof in case it rains or you travel to a place with more humidity. Many models even have a place for your laptop and compartments for your lenses, triggers, harddisks, filters, batteries and speedlights. They range from 5,000- 40,000 Kshs depending on what you want. In 2019, you can avoid fixing costs by having the right bag.


        5.Remote Shutter Release.

When you are shooting sports, street photography or even events; you may want to avoid camera shake or accidental blurring. This can work well with a remote shutter release in conjuction with a tripod which helps you take a shot without physically touching the camera body. There are two types, wired and wireless but despite which one you get; they can make your work very easily because all you have to do is compose the shot and click.


So there you have it. Five essential gear that many ignore even though they are very important in photography. As you celebrate the achievements you’ve made this year, you better open an account and start saving for these because you definitely want to earn more and get better results. A debt of gratitude to you all for the support and have a fulfilling and blissful new year. Cheers to you all and happy shooting.


The holidays are here again and there is no better way than taking out that camera and phone simply to record unique and beautiful moments. Considering all the events and visits to the countryside that are going on, there a lot of opportunities to frame that rare shot; if only simply to give more muscle to your portfolio. We have a few tips for you on how to properly take the best photos this festive season that will even help you get return clients for the New Year.  Take out your notebook and let us have a look at a few tricks:

  1. Capture Surprise.

Emotions are key when it comes to holiday photos. If you have a look at the majority of billboards and adverts going around this season, they have that element of surprise.  It could be your grandmother as soon as she sees how big you’ve grown and it could even be fans at a concert. It could be kids as they open presents or street urchins when they are bought supper. You need to be always keen and ready to capture such moments since surprise cannot be faked or posed. This is when you will really know the need for fast and sharper lenses although even kit lenses can do a good job if you know your settings.

  1. Build A Rapport.

A common problem with street and event photographers has been being creepy. They are always taking photos of unsuspecting people without even as much as pleasantries. Many people get offended when they see that a huge DSLR is throwing bright light from a flash out of the blues and without any warning. They may even be a couple who will feel their privacy being invaded. This is the reason for this tip. It is essential to build a rapport with your subject before you click the shutter. Approach people with a handshake or a simple, “Hello, can I take your photo.” This makes you look like a professional even if you are a student. The people you are talking to may even ask for your business card for future assignments. I’m sure you too would not like photos being taken of you unawares.

  1. Get that Bokeh.

With all the Christmas lights and décor all over the place, who wouldn’t like to blur that background to give that breathtaking bokeh? Whether it’s a street portrait or a family photo, you can never go wrong with bokeh. With the understanding of focal length, distance between subject and background plus light, practically any lens can give you bokeh nowadays; although zoom and primes give the very best. This is when you want to go to Pinterest and Instagram to get the best inspiration in order to get some pretty amazing shots.

  1. Move in closer.

For some reason, many people do not realize the power of close ups. Maybe they don’t study photography keenly and see how some of the best out there tell such beautiful stories by moving in closer. Even when you do not have a zoom lens, your legs can help you zoom by simply getting in closer. If you are shooting a baby, how about you just capture the face? If you are shooting a pet, how about you just capture the eyes? If you are shooting an old person, how about you capture the wrinkles on their skin? Try it and see how powerful it is.

  1. Give the gift of a photograph.

Many of us are hard disk photographers; especially when it comes to our next of kin. This Christmas, we should do more prints and give our family and friends gifts that are actually photos. I know with smart phones and all, this may feel pointless but you have no idea how special that print, mount or photo book can be. What about those kids in those children’s homes? Volunteer and take photos and spread the joy with those children. It could even be street children or those who have hearing impairment. You have no idea the smiles your photos can create.

  1. Plan your shot.

Last but not least; planning. Many of us are shutter happy and do not plan our shots before we take them. Have you ever heard of a mood board? Professionals do research and compile inspiration as they plan for their shoot. These could be drawings or even magazine cut outs that they then use and reference when they are shooting. Planning your shot could also involve noting down which types of shots you want to take, which lenses you will need, number of batteries and memory cards for a particular assignment. This is really imperative and will help you take the best shot.


There you have it; six tips that will help you create the best memories this festive season. Most of all, don’t forget to have fun. Photography is not about rules, it is about telling stories in the best way we can. As we wish you happy holidays with a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, we would like you to know that this is the best time to grow your portfolio. Cheers!

Culture Is Not Dead

A Kiswahili adage says that mwacha mila ni mtumwa which loosely translates to he who neglects his culture is a slave. A recent visit to Kakamega County during the just concluded Kakamega Forest Marathon proved that Kenyan culture is far from dead. Many times, we think that perhaps because the world has become a global village then our identity as Africa might be corrupted. Turns out that it is only reinforced and one of the activities that showed this was the bull fighting we witnessed and got to document in Shinyalu Township. It is perhaps one of the most popular practices in Western Kenya. It is a sport that is mostly carried out on Saturdays and on Public Holidays and we found out that it also occurs in Ikolomani constituency which is also in the breathtaking Kakamega County.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was the number of fans that it has since people had been anticipating it from the crack of dawn. You could sense the excitement from the murmurs and whispers all around as locals and even visitors from all walks of life waited for the events to begin. Mostly, it is the Isukha, Idakho and Batsotso sub-tribes of the Luyha community that have own the bulls which are used for the event. We are talking about muscular bulls which have not only been fed a balanced diet but also been trained on how to fight. They are normally segregated as they grow up while being grazed in isolation and also given busaa, one of the local brews.

Another amazing aspect of the sport is how the participants and fans take part in the famous Isukuti dance as they match towards the field where the bulls will fight. The Isukuti dance is not your ordinary dance not only accompanied by enthusiastic members of the community but also characterized by traditional instruments including ingoma which is a large drum, isikuti which is a big drum, obukhana which is a harp and eshiriri which is a flute among others. There were even jingles among the band which was playing the music as the crowd was marching towards the arena.

When the bulls locked horns and began fighting, you could feel the amount of testosterone in the air. They used their muscular bodies which we were told weigh up to a whooping six hundred kilograms to try and put each other down. Their horns were as sharp as arrows and the crowd around them systematically moved to give them space as they pushed at each other during the fight. The crowd cheered on at their favorite bulls to motivate them to win. Documenting this was the tricky part and we had to be strategic with our camera to avoid any injuries either by the wild fans or the even wilder bulls. It was a moving spectacle though for those who had not witnessed it before.

It was though the whole village was participating in the event since people were even on roofs and trees just to catch a glimpse of the sport. We even had the local administration police being part of the fans in the crowd and we found out that the government is a huge supporter of the event. The government not only pays Isukuti bands during National holidays to perform for the president but has also invested in building Malinya Stadium for the same. We also discovered that the owners of the bulls that fight are actually paid due to the several bets that fans usually have. It is normally a random event as the bulls also have names and positions in the competition much like the English Premier League. For sure, culture is not dead and we will do every effort that we can to preserve it.

Obama Portrait

How Obama Visit in 2015 Transformed Photography Industry in Africa

David Macharia is a renowned photographer who was born and raised in Kenya. He started his photography journey the year 2000 after he completed his high school education and due to lack of fee he couldn’t join college education. In his photography journey, he worked at a printing studio which he later resigned in the year 2003 and became a freelance photographer.

David Macharia, one of the main mentors of entrepreneurship to upcoming creatives

He worked with other outstanding photographers like Muturi Kanini and Bonface Mwangi. His breakthrough came when he met Caroline Mutoko and she commissioned him to be the official photographer of the big wedding that was sponsored by Kiss Fm.

David Macharia in The year 2004 when he was a freelance photographer at Kangemi

In the same year 2007, he met his mentor Mathew Gathua from Valentine Cake House and he also managed to register his photography business Versatile Photographers. He was overwhelmed with referrals and he couldn’t get a team to work with thus he decided to start a mentorship program to mentor photographers.

Versatile Photographers team that was mentored by David year 2011

His mentorship program grew rapidly, and the year 2014 he couldn’t accommodate the number of people coming since there wasn’t enough space at Versatile Photographers office. He used social media platforms to call people interested in learning photography and took the to Uhuru Park Gardens which is a public park for training.

A team of young people learning photography at Uhuru Park with David Macharia

It was a dream for David to start a photography institution where people can come and learn basic skills in photography. He had attended several workshops in South Africa and he had so much to share in form of photography skills and entrepreneurship in creative industry.

Versatile Photographers Team in the year 2015

The number of mentees increased and when David was commissioned to be the official photographer during Obama’s Visit at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, he took two of his best student Willy Muturi and Doreen Kerina to be be part of his team.

David Macharia with top musician Akon during the GES 2015

Former President Barrack Obama, Uhuru Kenyatta and the panelist during Global Entrepreneurship Summit

H.E Former President Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta during the GES 2015. Photo by David Macharia

In our country it’s hard for lending institution like banks to give loans to a creative without collateral. It was his great opportunity when he was paid by White House for the commissioned work and he managed to get a space to start a photography training school.

Versatile School Of Photography lighting class

Later he managed to register the Versatile School of photography which has worn Kenya Wedding Industry Awards as the best photography School in East Africa. The school has received students from all over Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Congo and a big number from Tanzania.

They recently celebrated Evolution Of Photography in Africa as they opened a new branch in one of the high end Mall Village Market. They are looking for more donation to expand their wings to the rest of the countries in Africa, to transform more lives of young people whose interest is in content development through photography and film.

Trophy awarded to Versatile Photographers for being the most innovative in Kenya 2018

Versatile Photographers new branch at Village Market

Visit Versatile Art Gallery at Village market and you will be able to see collection of his photography including Obama portraits printed on canvas which he donates to schools to inspire young people that their dreams are valid.

Obama’s Portrait printed in canvas. More exclusive portraits are available at Versatile Art Gallery for sale. The proceeds goes to scholarships of a needy student.



David Macharia donating the image to Mpesa Foundation Academy where Versatile School Of Photography offers mentorship on basic photography skills.


David Macharia donating Obama portrait to his former Njabini Primary School.

Here is David’s contacts

Tel: +254722424136

Whatsapp: +254722220978