Your Story

10 questions with RJ Kariuki

This week I got a chance to send over a few questions to one of my favorite photographers for a feature on Your Story segment. He’s a good friend and all images featured here are owned by him.

Do you have a story you would like featured as well or anyone you could recommend? Feel free to drop me an email on info@glynismana.co.ke

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s one random fact no one knows about you?

My name is RJ Kariuki. I come from a large family of 7 kids, and I am the firstborn. Currently a student at UoN in my final year. I prefer series to movies, especially since the quality of movies these days is on a decline. Once in a while, I read a book, the current read being: The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War. Most times though (since 2005) I just watch Chelsea play.

One random fact: Up until form 2, I thought Anonymous was the greatest author and poet that ever existed.

2. What made you decide to pursue photography though you’re in a different line professionally?

In high school, I always had a knack for capturing super cool moments on and off the sports field. (Yeah, my school had a media team). And every year, my work would feature in the school yearbook. However, when I joined form four, it all changed, especially since I had picked dance as an art form, and for some strange reason, I couldn’t switch-task.

 

 

But the love for photography was always there, it just needed the right motivation. When my buddy Teddy Mageto started out, I got carried away with the me-too syndrome, but I wasn’t too keen on the art. However, when I got privileged to accompany some kids I mentored to Europe, the love for the art enveloped me.

I think the final straw where I decided not to look back was when I got dumped by my then-girlfriend and went full EAT, PRAY, LOVE, discovering myself and how I loved myself and how I didn’t need anyone (lol) and how I wasn’t hurt … ANYWAY! August 30 2017 is when I dedicated my life to the photography gods.

3. What is your photographic approach or style?

I am a dominant minimalist with OCD. Not in photography, but in general. And that really manifests itself in my work. A simple space, a cup of coffee, some neatly arranged eggplants on the shelf of a supermarket, a box of ripe peaches, they tend to tingle my senses a lot.  So I really just let the camera lens do the talking after. Sometimes you have to ‘create’ photos, but most times, it’s all a matter of perspective. Especially if you go to my Instagram highlights. Simple spaces with a touch of OCD

4. What is your ideal shooting time?

I don’t have super duper extravagant equipment. So all my shoots employ the use of natural light. That being said, I like to shoot in situations where the amount of light is favorable. Most of the time in the afternoon, a bit in the morning. If I didn’t have a curfew, and Town was favorable to photographers, I would do night time shoots under the city lights. But anyway …

5. What is your lifetime goal as a photographer?

 

To be consistent and true with my craft. I look at some of my friends and acquaintances who have been consistent and true with their crafts and it’s inspiring. To name a few, Stacey Nabutse Maxine Wabosha, Foi Wambui, Glynis Maina, G-styl (Animated Dancer pale Ig), Victor Mutiso, Mordecai Nuni, Sheila Maina (Sheila NBO).

6. Which photographers have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking and photography?

Teddy Mageto,
This guy helped me when I was starting out. I think he is on sabbatical from posting on socials, but he was instrumental in how my tones for my pictures turned out. Always handy with the youtube channels and photography blogs.

Van Damme Owuor.
At least that is how I remember him from the early Instagram days. He had this black and white theme going on for him, and it really tickled my artistic senses. He critiqued my work I think once or twice. Then since then, I don’t know where he is at

Joshua Bradshaw Maina,
This is @callmemaina. One of the most street-savvy self-taught photog’s I have met. I think nilimboo kiasi with the constant request for critique, and he was going through a phase in his life (that I wasn’t aware of), but now I see him making amazing art with the likes of Shem Obara and Caleb Okumu, and it’s inspiring stuff, to say the least.

Lenny Lenya.
I’m sure you have witnessed his meteoric rise to the top (although being the humble guy he is he will tell you that he is still trying). Mans been featured in a gallery in the States, I think by Pursuit of Portraits, Vogue Italia, and his art speaks for itself. Anyway, he and Teddy used to be my to-go peeps for advice and critique. Lenny never really shied from telling me if he thought a picture wasn’t good enough, and he would always give tips on how to make it better. You can see where he is now eh!

7. Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

Each photo tells its own story. Recently I posted a wallpaper on Instagram, and someone responded to it (and by the way such feedback is very important, so please affirm your creative friends!) where she said that the wallpaper I had resonated with her. She said: ‘The sand between my toes and the slides keep slipping off because the  ground is uneven and changing and the sand is warm and the air is hot and heavy and I can taste the saltiness from the air on my lips and my lungs are full of the ocean.’ In short, I love it when my photos make you feel deeply.

8. What technology/software/camera gear do you use to photograph?

Hmmm, I am a pretty basic bitch when it comes to equipment.
For my Instagram Stories, my phone. It has a dual camera: 12MP and 5MP both with f/1.8 and Zeiss optics.
For my Twitter and Instagram posts, the camera is Nikon D5300 and the lens a 50mm f/1.8 that’s not autofocus btw.

9. Would you consider photography as a lifelong career choice?

To be very honest, if setting up shop and acquiring licenses to practice photography in this country wasn’t 10 times the cost of equipment, I would. The government is a little harsh when it comes to creatives. Going for workshops, seminars, accreditation events all cost money, and at the same time, you can’t transfer that cost you have incurred onto your clients. But that’s how it is. Should the situation change (permanently) I would.

10. Where can people find your work and contact you?

I try to be funny/controversial with my posting sometimes but you can catch me on:

Twitter: rjkariuki
Instagram: rjkariuki
Snapchat: rjkariuki
Email: rjkariuki (uongo!) kariukiphotography@gmail.com

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