What's it like to be a female photographer today - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 16 May 2020

What's it like to be a female photographer today

Caroline Murang'a, 31, is a lifestyle photographer and the owner Murash Media Production. She speaks about making a career from the camera, and survival during coronavirus pandemic.
"The most valuable lesson I have learnt is that strangers will support you more than friends," 31-year-old Caroline Murang' a sums up the business lessons she has learnt in the last five years.
This means she treats her customers as she would a dear friend. Caroline is a lifestyle photographer.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, she spent her days documenting her clients' milestones. Weekdays were spent taking family photographs in her studio in Nairobi CBD and covering corporate events in the evenings.
At weekends, she travelled to different locations to capture weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and graduation celebrations.
"Weddings are my favourite events to cover, no wedding is the same; I get to experience a different culture with each one so I never tire of them. Indian weddings are the most challenging because there is so much happening at once," she says.
When she talks about her photography, Caroline, a self-proclaimed introvert lights up. One might think that she has always owned a camera or that she has been doing this her whole adult life but no.
When she enrolled for a mass communication degree at the Kampala International University in Uganda, she envisioned a flashy career in advertising.
She got her degree and went as far as the job hunt. In 2011, while still searching, she attended her first-ever wedding and the course of her life was altered.
"At the wedding, I noticed the fancy cameras the videography crew shuttled around. I got talking with them and by the time the wedding reception was over, I was offered an internship," she recalls how her love affair with cameras began.
After her internship, she got a job as a videographer and then as a video editor with local production. The job was a lot of fun but the money was not even nearly enough. To supplement her income, she bought a camera.
"I fell in love with photography instantly. The more videos I edited, the surer I became that I wanted to be out there shooting photos."
Then, in 2014, her big break came in the form of collaboration with a local clothes store. She jumped at the chance to set up her business.
"I registered the business and set up social media pages. When I wasn't shooting for the clothes store, I was meeting up with other photographers and learning from them."
Click by click, her business grew. Just two months ago when the Ministry of Health announced the first case of coronavirus in the country, her calendar was fully booked for the April to August wedding season.
"I had no off days. I would open the studio even on Sundays for those after-church family portraits," she recalls.
Now only occasional baby bump shoots are keeping her business afloat. With some events cancelled and others postponed indefinitely, it has been difficult adjusting to the new normal.
But she has also had some time to think about her business methods. "When business resumes, I will expand my niche. I was always working or thinking of work. Maybe I will also change this," she says.
In her eyes, the photography industry has grown. She chuckles when she recalls her early days as a photographer when her peers were thought to be nosy and paparazzi.
"Even my parents were worried that I was ditching my degree to carry around a camera. Now this profession elicits respect. Clients can now see the value of what I do and my professionalism is no longer questioned based on my gender."
The only thing that she thinks still needs changing is the number of females in the profession. When covering events, she's often the only female amongst the crew. She intends to change this.
"I want to train as many females as I can in photography. There is still a lot of room here," she says.
In the meantime, she is fighting to keep her business afloat, one baby bump shoot at a time.

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