Mobile Photography: Macro Photography in Kenya

On June 30th the world celebrated world social media day. In light to that, it is a fact that most of us use our mobile phones for photography and social media. However not all of us realize the full potential of our devices, but that’s about to change after you read this….

What is macro photography? You may ask, well according to Google…

Defination, Macro Photography
Scrolling through my Instagram timeline, I saw several Kenyan mobile photographers with a different yet interesting niche on their Instagram timelines; macro photography.

By Rico
By Rico
By Zollo
By Zollo
Captured by Mungai
Captured by Mungai

One of the most celebrated being Abdul Mutuma, a demigod in the Kenyan macro photography realm. His images captured by a DIY macro lens are simply amazing.
It is no news that this niche is taking the world by storm with many people investing in macro lenses both for their mobiles as well as DSLRs.

I got to talk to 3 Kenyan photographers who focus on macro photography to understand what would drive someone to capture a dede (grasshopper) or a fly in such a unique perspective.
Hello family, meet @exentric_ a mobile macro photographer, who also loves taking wildlife photos (especially birds) as well as landscapes. His style is nature photography with a partiality to nature macros. This is by no means to say that he’s a one trick pony, He also does events, portraits and fashion shoots.

Macro by Rico
Macro by Rico

Meet @Zollz13 a mobile photographer turned pro who takes inspiration from everyday life happenings and places and is drawn to cars, landscape, macro and architecture photography.

“Unfortunately I get too excited around fast and awesome cars that I forget to capture them.”

Obey your thirst
Obey Your Thirst

And lastly, @izmungai Whose passion for macro, travel and landscape photography evidently pours out on his timeline.

“I try to make the cliché extraordinary, i believe that’s what makes a good photographer. I remember there was a time we went to Karura Forest to shoot, we got rained on till our clothes were all soaked, but we continued doing what took us there, the results were worth braving the rain.”

Into the flower
Into The Flower

What do you use to shoot?
Rico: I use my phone for macro photography, a Samsung Galaxy S4 along with a DIY macro lens attachment. For shooting landscapes & wildlife I use a Canon SX60.

Zollo: I use a Lumia 730 and recently started using DIY macro lenses.

Mungai: I use a Samsung Galaxy s4 and a DIY macro lens as well.

“Flower On Green” by Zollo.

According to Rico, “both equipment and talent are essential to good photography. However, a good camera does not make a photographer good. Beyond having a good camera, to achieve remarkable captures one needs to have the ability to pick out photo worthy moments, a good eye for detail, a touch of artistic flair & off course the technical know-how to use one’s equipment correctly.”

I seek to find out what would inspire one to get away from the general view of man and go low altitude to macro photography:
Rico: My passion for macro photography has taught me that beauty is actually all around us, we just need to take a moment to appreciate it. You don’t need to go on safari to appreciate nature’s beauty; just look at the plants & insects around you. There’s a whole world waiting to be discovered.

Rico loves nature and especially capturing the macro in nature...
Rico loves nature and especially capturing the macro in nature…

Zollo: I was inspired to do macro photography after the #ArboretumFunDIY photo meet where we went purely for macro photography. I wanted people to see everyday things from a more intimate and closer perspective. More so it was a personal challenge to get myself out of my comfort zone and better my craft.

Shy Hopper

Mungai: I am intrigued by making small things appear big, so I incorporated that to macro photography to show people how a bug or even a droplet is in detail.

Droplet like its hot

About which photographer they each draw inspiration from…
Rico: I’ve been fortunate to meet one of my greatest mentors in mobile macro photography, that’s Abdul Mutuma. He has been kind enough to share tips and tricks of the craft with me and several other macro enthusiasts. He even taught us how to make DIY macro lenses, continually urges us to experiment and try new things. Another Kenyan photographer I’d like to meet is Samir Dave @SamDave69. He’s immensely talented- his urban landscape captures are amazing. He’s also widely traveled and he seems to capture magical moments wherever he goes. Further afield, I’d like to meet celebrated wildlife photographers like Pete McBride & Greg Du Toit. Their fascinating photos have the uncanny ability to transport you right into the wilderness. I think they have the greatest jobs in the world.

Macro 14

Zollo: I have a long list of people I admire, Larry Chen @Larry_chen_Foto comes to mind first. From Kenya I am fortunate to have met, Mutua Matheka, Abdul Mutuma and Joe Were and learnt a lot from them. I also look forward to meeting Rooney Mwangi (@RooneyMwangi12) maybe he can give me tips on how to overcome the excitement of shooting fast cars and motorsports.

Posing HopperMungai: I would love to meet Gareth Pon (@garethpon) from South Africa and Karl Taylor. Locally I would like to meet Joe Were (@jaydabliu), Abdul Mutuma (@amutuma) and Joseph Chege (@thanabster)

Flower bombOn the future of mobile photography…

Rico: Mobile photography has seen immense growth in the region in recent times owing to the entry of affordable camera phones into the market & also due to the increased use of social media networks. Facebook, Instagram & Twitter have provided people with a platform to easily & quickly share their photos & has made it a norm to take photos using phones. I think mobile photography is set to grow even further. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, they’re compact, connected & easy to use. Not many people walk around with a DSLR but almost everyone has a camera phone nowadays. There are also devices that are coming out now that are pushing the limits of mobile photography. For example, the Lumia 1020 with it’s 42 Megapixel sensor or the Sony QX line of attachable lenses & more recently the LG G4 which has features akin to a professional DSLR.

Frog portrait
Frog portrait

Zollo: The future of mobile photography can only get brighter. Advance in technology has phones being made with better cameras and more people are using them to capture moments, mobile photography can only get bigger and better.

Drop OwnerMungai: Mobile photography is picking up, think due to the influence of Instagram which encourages us to shoot and upload pictures of our everyday lives.

Fly Close up
Did You Know These Mobile Photography Hacks…
Rico: I hacked an old point & shoot camera & used its objective lens as a macro lens. I attached the lens to a round piece of plastic then stitched an elastic band onto it for easy attachment to my phone. The results were much better than those of the clip-on lenses. I have since been experimenting with various lenses from old cameras. I’m currently using a lens I cannibalized from an old video camera.

Rico's awesomeness continues...
Rico’s awesomeness continues…

Zollo: Before improvising on the DIY macro lenses I used to put a water droplet on the phone camera to make it a macro lens …cutting a piece of cardboard and making a phone tripod out of it…. there is a lot to learn from UoY (University of YouTube) 😀

Mungai: If you’re struggling to get sharp focus on a subject, hold up your finger tips and tap the camera to focus, once it locks, take the photo of the subject you want.
What would you tell people who assume that mobile photography is not photography?
Rico: Well, I don’t have to tell them anything, I believe my mobile macro photos speak for themselves. People take photos for various reasons & there are different types of photographers. There are professionals who do commercial shoots, there are those who simply want to capture moments to share on social media & there are intermediate hobbyists in between. All of it is photography. To each his own. Besides, as I mentioned earlier, there are mobile phones out there today that can match & even exceed the performance of some DSLR cameras. The LG G4 is such an example.


Zollo: Mkulima si jembe (A farmer is still a farmer despite the tools he uses). The “rules” of photography apply despite the gear you use.

Mungai: Mobile photography is photography, nowadays most phones have some features which are in DSLR pro cameras, but you have to know what each feature does, I think it’s a great place to start practicing before purchasing or moving onto an advanced and expensive camera.

Mobile Photography is the future-Mungai
Mobile Photography is the photography-Mungai

With that said, lets wait to have a read on what the lady photographers have to say about mobile photography and what their memorable escapades are. . .more so take up the challenge, tell me in the comments section below, how you upgrade your camera in any way maybe i could try it too…

PS: You could search on you tube about photography hacks or read about many more tips and hacks on the digital photography school, here

Oh wait,

Happy New Month. Nail It!

Nailed It
Nail It!

6 thoughts on “Mobile Photography: Macro Photography in Kenya

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