Sometime back, I received a text from a gentleman who told me that him and his fellow band members were extremely interested in working with me. I’ve always been a huge African music buff so I made some time in my crazy schedule and squeezed in a quick invention of a concept. They are a band of four gentlemen who met at The University of Nairobi and became friends courtesy of their love for African folk music. They had just recorded a song dubbed "Thum Mora" a Luo tongue that means "Music makes me happy". By the end of the first week, we had already set a shoot date, found ourselves an awesome location to shoot at as well as developed a story. I had also reached out to Bahati Thambikeni a Tanzanian stylist, this girl is genius. I had worked with her before and knew she was the right person to help with bringing the looks into life. Everything was going on smoothly.
The day before the photoshoot was a whole different matter… I got a cold out of nowhere that put me down the whole day and night. The enemy was literally laughing at me seeing he knew I had already failed as far as the shoot the following day was concerned. In the morning I prepared a concoction mix of some hot water, lemon and ginger and got 3 red bull packs because I knew I needed a miracle of wings to hack this shoot. My head was on fire by the time I was leaving the house but the only way I was going to quit was if I fell to the ground.
We got on location in time. Our set was going to be at a section of the Nairobi river that passed through the Nairobi University's Chiromo campus. In the midst of setting up, I broke one of my lights, I had planned to do a two light set up. So now I had one. I pleaded with the enemy to leave me alone as I petitioned heaven to send Angel Gabriel with a tyrant of soldiers to back me up. The wings from red bull didn't seem to be working. Why would this be happening on a day that I was already feeling like a piece of trash! Why? It was going to be such a struggle.
In the concept we wanted to create four strong African characters who are brought together by music. The idea was to find a location that would fit well to shoot and bring out the characters so that it's easy to make composites later on post-production.
Character 1 - Frank, The Farmer
Character 2 - Leting, The Soldier
Character 3 - Lucky, The Mechanic
Character 4 - Austine, The Fisherman
At the end of the day, even with the challenge of my health not agreeing with me that day, my light breaking and "limiting" me in regards to my lighting some how, we managed to kick ass, or so I think. Creating beautiful images is quite challenging on its own, this project, to me, was the perfect example of using my photography to help transform the images of people by making them look even better than they do in real life. Working to achieve the best even in the midst of a "storm". I had to see a doctor the same evening after the shoot because I was doing bad. Drugs became my closest friends for a week and it was not cool at all but beside me I would just look at the images and say, "it was all WORTH IT".
Lessons learnt: Challenges are a part of everyday life. They make us stronger and without them life becomes somewhat meaningless because we have nothing to compare the good times to. These challenges come in many forms. For some, the challenge is doing well at school, for others it is getting to grips with financial worries. But, regardless of the challenge, facing up to it is key. Doing so will make you feel like you can take care of yourself, it will also make you understand the value of what you have now. Facing up to challenges and living through them gives us the experiences that make up our lives.
Everybody goes through times when their lives seem hugely stressful, or their problems insurmountable. But it's important to remember that, whatever the problem, there is almost always a solution. Facing challenges is a way to push ourselves and see what we are capable of. What's more, when we look back on tough times, we can be proud of how we dealt with the challenge and remind ourselves that life does get better. And challenges aren't always unpleasant.
ASSISTANT - Joseph Mwaluma
STYLIST - Bahati Thambikeni