“I’d like my work to be a cultural compass, pointing to a more simplistic state of mind. I want my collection of images to be a history book, rich with creative image composition, conscious messages, a ferocious attitude and a call for social action”
We all try to fit in; as human beings, as photographers, to create our own YOUnique style. Sometimes in vain, sometimes in success.We met one lad who in fair measure has curved out his own niche as a photographer, Joseph Chege aka thanabster. He has curved out his chip in Minimalism (now what is Minimalism?) and is making superb strides on it.
Buni: Describe your style, minimalism?
Nabster: I am constantly overwhelmed by my surroundings, the complexities that surrounds and the extremely busy and hurried lives that we choose to live.
I am still learning a lot as I pursue this genre of photography but I currently focus a lot on landscapes, lifestyle and architecture. Minimalism has completely changed how I live and perceive things, I now see order in the midst of chaos, I see lines, shadows and patterns in the huge concrete jungle that is Nairobi. And this keeps my heart at peace in the midst of the overwhelming life routine
My photography process seeks to break this state of mind, to represent life in a simpler, relaxed and sometimes-melancholic way because less is always more.
Buni: How important is it for photographers to have their own style?
Nabster: I believe style becomes what your audience knows you for, that one differentiation from the many other photographers out there.
A photographers style is what allows clients to come looking for you because they resonate with it, and in so doing, you can interpret their wants into your style. We must however be weary not to become slaves to our own style,so keep experimenting, redefining and even inventing completely new styles.
I use my iPhone to shoot a lot especially in places where carrying a camera is troublesome (city council and the police wont let us prosper). I am currently using the Nikon D7100 with the 12-24mm, 35mm and 70-300mm as my go to lenses, I also use the Minolta X300 for my Film only projects and develop the film here in Nairobi.
Buni: A good camera or a good photographer. Which one is important?
Nabster: Definitely a good photographer, one who continuously pushes him/herself to learn and grow their craft, a photographer who seeks to make new realities and new narratives from where they are from. Art comes from the heart, not from gear.
Buni: What do you look forward to in regards to photography in East Africa?
Nabster: I see an eruption of conscious imagery in East Africa, photos geared to social change, amazing collaborations between like-minded artists.
I hope this can be a reality in the very near future, exhibitions and a more art conscious audience that supports artists through purchases and art commissions and government policies that allow creative to bloom without getting arrested and bullied for it.
Buni: Whats your favorite spot to go shoot?
Nabster: Ngong Hills to date remains one of my favorite places to shoot at, I love how insignificant those windmills made me feel, and the spectacular view of the city from way up there. I would say some of my favorite photos were made there.
Buni: What has been your most memorable moment in your photography journey?
Nabster: Late last year, I took a series of photographs in the hope of depicting a story of Hope for Burundi, together with two of my close friends we were able to capture exactly what was in my heart at the time. I put the images upon my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and 500px and went on holiday where I barely had any Internet connection. On coming back to Nairobi I was surprised to see hundreds of features on the image including one by the BBC, and a permanent installation at the Embassy of Burundi. My aim as a photographer is to show a different narrative of what the media and the world in general hurls at us, and that image took me a step closer to that vision.
Buni: Which photographer across Africa would you like to meet?
Nabster: I’d love to meet Jim Chuchu, his work has inspired me tremendously over the years, I love the raw and unapologetic feel in pretty much anything he puts out to the world. I’d also love to meet Michael Tsegaye from Ethiopia.
Buni: Tell us of Instagram accounts which inspire you?
Nabster: There are too many to put all here but most recently I have been into:
@bazonomics I love Bazil’s interpretation of the African narrative using Gif’s
Buni: Other than photography what else are you good at? – Which profession are you in, full time?
Nabster: I am a full time Creative Designer; I work with brands as their wingman :-), to build their marketing and communication strategies in the form of visuals so that the brands may in-turn yield higher returns.
Buni: What advise would you give to budding photographers in the world?
Nabster: Keep creating, your audience will find you, but remember that as an artist you are responsible for what you put out to the world, so keep pushing good vibes.
And lastly what do we not know about you?
I take way too much tea for my own good and I have this obsession with multiples of seven.