They say a picture is worth a thousand words, however, a writer will swallow that with a pinch of salt. It’s distasteful and unfair to summarise the hard work behind writing with just a click of a button, on a light note though. Photographers and writers are like siblings who demean each other and fight from kitchen to bedroom. Nonetheless, finding words that keep out of the way the pictures and yet shed light on the nature of photography, is not only daunting but a tall order. In fact, constructing a story out of an image in mind and manifesting that to souls of readers is way beyond public scrutiny.
On another note; you know, professional photographers can be busy and elusive these days. That should be taken as a compliment. Elusive because, Ben Son is the fourth photographer I have written to, requesting to feature in my blog and has honoured his promise. No hard feelings for Paul Maathai of Mathai gallery, or Sammy Wabs or Bobby Wafalme who I understand was involved in an accident recently. Pole Bobby. True story, photography is growing in leaps and bounds. Ordinary young people are investing hundreds of thousands to acquire the best of equipments for their work. This reminds me of hey days, right when I was growing up, when a Mr. Gatere, the only renown village photographer would transverse my village and neighbouring ones to take pics. Mr. Gatere was tall and slender, with an unkempt afro and a high waist thing, always in dark suits and the icing on the cake – the bicycle of course. Yes he would timely show up on Christmas day and Easter holidays mostly uninvited and thanks to our folks who believed in documenting life back then and having the patience of waiting for an entire month to finally get hold of the photos.
Enough of that, introducing Ben Son of HD Media Africa; a well cultivated artistic soul and one of the most sort after photographers in and around Mt.Kenya region, with his core hub being Nanyuki. Besides, he has clients in Nairobi and Nakuru as well. He started off as a videographer until two years ago when he ventured into Photography in what he says are inevitable circumstances. ”Photography found me. Since that moment I have become fascinated by the rhetoric of the image. I fall in love every day and every subject I photograph. It is another art form to me; you can be as creative as possible with a camera as long as you have the ideas. Photography has the power to change our perspective in life and power to help us make decisions.” He quips.
I indulge Ben Son on what he did after Photography met him and how he has managed to cut his own niche in this very competitive industry. Going by what he says; just like any other form of art, there is a lot of passion involved. “For me photography is about the concept, the reasoning behind the image is far more important than the aesthetic value. All my work has a reason, whether to inform, make a statement, discuss or argue, it always seeks to promote a reaction.”
True to what Ben Son points out, talent is a medium which allows us to show our own point of view, sometimes helping us to understand the world we live in and to discover something unique about ourselves. Interestingly, this is easier said than done. This is because a lot of patience and self-discovery is involved to tap and listen to our passion. And the joy of all this is that; it gives us a chance to see what is invisible, hidden deep in our dreams. As Ben Son states it, “Photography just like any other medium of art, evokes emotions in us, asks questions and forces us to reflect on the world around us.”
By the way, why do the greatest of careers start by accident? What goes wrong in school curriculums that doesn’t align success in our paths? It is like filling a crossword puzzle. That’s how self-discovery smells and tastes like! More often than not, there is a lot of sheer luck that is involved to anybody who is hundred percent contented in what he or she does for a living. And that ought not to be. Life should be nicer and way easier to decipher the paths that lead to our own success and genuine happiness. As you will clearly tell from Ben Son, it was by sheer luck he crossed paths with photography. “I had never thought or had an idea close to my mind of becoming a photographer. Now that I’ve hit the ground, I dream and contemplate daily of becoming better and better than I’m today. When I look up to my role models and the ever changing technology and new ideas, its only then I realize I have a long way to go.“
Is he worried on the influx of quacks in Photography? ”This field is vast and in fact serious practitioners are few. The market accommodates all of us but what keeps us afloat is professionalism, creativity and our uniqueness. If people are showing interest in your work it means you are on the right headway and if it translates to cash then you’re in business but most importantly, its client’s satisfaction that I value most.” Additionally, “Anyone can start photo shoot today and be a professional with time. We can all reckon that at one point everyone starts as a quack and only by experience or exposure, passion and persistence that one gradually evolves from that level to a professional, be it a photographer.”
As someone said, never believe in your own hype if you want to go far; Ben Son sounds convinced that there is more ground to cover. “Photography is purely a learning process. Every day I meet new challenges; new ideas and I learn from them. I’ve learnt to embrace and accept them to becoming who I am today. I love the satisfaction one feels when I fulfill a customer’s expectations. My client’s expectations and gratification is what counts most.”
Don’t you miss childhood dreams and the innocence that came with young age, like me? How we painted our foreseeable future with accomplishment and perfection. Sooner we come head to head with the harsh hiccups of a life that plays mischief with us so effortlessly. That said, it is our duty to save ourselves from that shock and align those dreams to today’s reality. So, what dreams did Ben Son harbor growing up? “As a child I loved movies. I thought I was born to be an actor in Hollywood. Vague as it sounds, I really didn’t understand what I wanted to become, but later as I grew up I realized and developed this passion about movie production and photography. Camera work, editing and so forth, though later I’ve narrowed down to photography.”
It is of immense importance for our parents to be steadfast in whooping unrivaled support to our dreams. They are called to put hope and sense in one basket in matters assurance, and going further to assure us that we are curved to live happier and fulfilling lives. And so, Ben Son parents are an important pillar to his career. ”My parents have been very supportive throughout my career journey and in making sure I’m where I am today, in financial matters and moral support. Every time they see my work, recommend and advice, then I feel fully contended and at peace with myself.”
Ben Son considers himself spiritual and in fact serves in a Media department in his church. You know, contemporary-cool churches are so advanced that they even have media departments and things like Young mothers, Young dads Associations, Youths Chapter, Teens forums, Young-Adults, Men of Faith and such like. This is a huge milestone from the traditional ‘mainstream’ churches which had huge presence of elderly folks for affiliations like Women Guild and Men/Women Associations.
Anyway, I have saved this question for far too long. Somebody explain what’s fancier of these two pieces of equipments – Canon and Nikon? “Well, it depends on who is using it. But for beginners, it’s advisable to start with Canon because of budget constraints since it’s more effective on video shooting while Nikon is the real deal in photography. Nonetheless, you can use either since nowadays we have softwares to edit one’s work. “Ben Son attests.
I ask him about his biggest portion of clientele. “Couples and family shoots are my most frequent clients. Plus I do lots of wedding shoots every other weekend.” Of course women are more photogenic than men except for a few men that I won’t mention here, that take far too many photos and clog the new Whatsapp fad and IG. Man is that manly! Moving on, you’d wonder if one can pay his or her bills solely on photography. “I will surprise you with the fact that, the market is really responding well to photography. More middle class families are embracing professional photos and video shoots. Moreover, there is a lot of potential that is unexplored in this market especially outside of Nairobi. Nairobi is so saturated hence the need for the market to widen up and turn its heat away from the city and tap the talent in other photography hubs coming up.”
Does Ben Son believe in mentorship and giving back to the society especially empowering the youths? “I love and believe in mentorship. Photography is a field that anyone and especially youths can venture. I personally involve young people in my projects to equip them with ideas of what the markets expects of them. I also encourage young people especially those who would wish to venture in photography field, that with minimal resources, one can actually start photography as a career and build up on that.”
Signing off in Jack Ma’s spirit!!
“Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.” – Jack Ma
Are you a young person, with a compelling story that you strongly believe should be retold to a larger audience for the sole purpose of inspiring and educating. Reach up to me on email@example.com