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For Jeri Muchura, photography was something one does in their extra time. However, this changed when she was given a camera as a gift. With time, she mastered the art to become a celebrated photographer. She had a chat with LILY RONOH-WAWERU on her journey in photography.

In a nutshell, who is Jeri Muchura?
I am a 33-year-old mother of two, wife to Mark Muchura, and a self-taught photographer.

Give us a sneak peek of your photography journey.
Well, my dad’s hobby was photography and so I grew up in front of the camera and with the camera. After high school I did modelling and again I was in front of the camera. In the process, I got to learn a lot of things about photography. After the birth of my second baby, my mother-in-law gifted me a camera after she saw the pictures I had taken of my daughter using my phone. She thought they were really beautiful.

Then?
I started taking photography seriously and I went online to learn more about it. In 2012, I participated in a one-month photography workshop called EyeSee Africa. After the workshop, there was an exhibition and my photo won. This was a validation that I could succeed in photography. The win came with a camera and a job with The Star newspaper as a correspondent photographer.

You won the Mo Ibrahim Foundation MyAfrica photo competition in the professional category, beating 54 contestants from other countries in Africa. Tell us about it.
While working at The Star, my editor nominated me for a project with Safaricom Limited for Safaricom’s 2015 calendar. I didn’t nominate myself because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Surprisingly, I was chosen to be among photographers who were to go round the country to capture the sights of Kenya.

In June this year, a friend in Cameroon told me about the Mo Ibrahim competition but I dragged my feet until the deadline elapsed. When the deadline was extended, my friend urged me to submit my application and I did.

The competition required applicants to submit a photo that best captures visions of Africa as seen by Africans. I presented one of the photos I had taken during the Safaricom Capture Kenya project and I forgot all about it only to receive a call in September informing me that I was the winner of the professional category in the competition.

Tell us about the picture that won you the award.
The picture is of a boy in Lake Turkana who is seated at the shore washing his fish. There is tranquility all around him and it seemed the world had come to a standstill. For me that is the picture I envision of Africa – peace all around us.

What did the win mean to you?
If I was looking for conviction that I can make it in photography, then I got it with the win. It also came with prize money of $ 10,000 (Ksh 1,000,000) that I intend to use to purchase a deluxe Nikon camera. I used part of the money to set up a studio.

What’s your photography about?
I specialise in female portraiture and weddings. My photography is intended for women who want to rediscover themselves. A studio session will cost you around Ksh 35,000 and it includes hair styling, wardrobe planning, make-up and refreshments. For weddings, I charge approximately Ksh 50,000 and I get my clients through word of mouth.

How is the experience being a female photographer?
Truth be told, photography is largely a male-dominated field and for a woman to make it, you have to man up and work twice as hard. You also have to contend with prejudice from some male photographers who feel you are not up to the task. As a woman, I have to delicately balance between my family and my job.

See, I am married and with children who require my attention and I have to be there for them especially in the evenings hence this limits my time. It’s not easy but with support from family and friends, the journey is bearable.
Does it pay your bills?
Yes it does.
What don’t people know about you?

I have a Bachelors degree in business administration from Cambridge University and a Higher Diploma in social work. I also never stop learning. I have set aside Mondays and Wednesdays for self-improvement. I assiduously prepare for all my shoots because I treasure my clients and I always strive to give them the best.
Where can one view your work?
You can go to my website – photosbyjeri.com or my Facebook page – Photos by Jeri

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