What You Need To Shoot In The Streets of Nairobi

If you have been to Nairobi, you have probably seen beautiful images of the city captured either at dawn, in that golden hour. When the sun is akimbo over the Nairobi sky or to most people’s favorite sunset photos or when the super moon was over the KICC then you are in the right circles.   Question is, what do you need to take photographs in Nairobi?

Super Moon over Nairobi as shot by Rey Matata

In the photographer’s circles you probably have heard of the stories photographers in Nairobi go through to capture these super images for the world to like and share (without credits to the photographer most times).


What you didn’t know is that if your melanin isn’t as Bold as ours you can actually shoot for free without being harassed. This statement has been tried and tested.

However as for us local mwananchis, instead of running away from the men and women in grey pants and yellow dust coats (read county council officials) in Uhuru park because they have spotted your Nikon lens or running into Uhuru highway like a vigilante to escape because an old beat up car with green number plates with wire mesh for windows has stopped meters away from your would be time lapse.

Sunrise over Nairobi by @Rey Matata

Here are the things you need to shoot freely in the streets of Nairobi (or Kenya in general i think.)

1. Obtain a Permit from the Department of Filming Services.

They are located at the Kenya School of Mass Communications in Nairobi’s South B suburb. You however can’t just walk in and get one; government rules state you have to go through a filming agent.

There’s a list of filming agents here. It’s not current though. I requested an updated one from the DFS and more than a week later, I’m yet to receive it.

You’ll also need to fill this form and pay Kshs5,000/- per day for commercial photography, plus Kshs1,000/- application fee, and whatever the filming agent’s fees will be for the service.

Stand Tall
Picture by @thanabster taken at Upperhill Nairobi

2. Visit the Central Police Station.

This is the Police Station at the corner of University Way and Harry Thuku Road. You’ll need to present a written letter to the OCPD stating what you’ll be shooting, when you’ll be shooting it with specific dates and times, and where you’ll be shooting, naming streets and roads you’ll be on.

If you intend to block off some roads or interfere with the flow of human or vehicular traffic, then extra permissions will be needed. The Police will advise you on what you’ll need for this. Once the OCPD approves your request, you’ll then take your stamped and signed approval letter to

Image by @Thanabster

3. City Hall Annex, 4th floor.

This is where the Department of Urban Planning seat.

You’ll take to them the letter signed and stamped by the Central Police Station bosses and they’ll issue you with an invoice of Kshs3,640/- per day of photography which you’ll pay at the City Hall Cash Office.

Once your payment is received, you will be good to go ahead and shoot on the streets of Nairobi CBD within the parameters stated in your approval letter. Make sure you have all your documents on you when shooting – preferably the originals – so that when the Police or County Askaris stop you, you can prove to them you are shooting legally.

Composite by @Rey Matata

I wonder what is required in other cities out there, kindly let us know in the comments section below 🙂

What is the solution to this?

It is quite a tedious process but the choice is yours to make, either;  sneak up outside Afya House at 6 Am to catch the sunrise over Nairobi, go shoot in a crowd with the Movember dudes, be ready with what will be your bail when/if you get caught, wait for Instameets when they happen, polish your PS skills and do composites or pay to Ceaser(s) what they demand.

Tough call.

But Keep Shooting.

Disclaimer: Original article posted by Mwangi Kirubi on his website.

Instagram @mwarv



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