Photographer gives Nairobi an iconic new look
To Purchase a Print Click here
As a courageous photographer who is not afraid of heights, Mutua Matheka spends hours on top of Nairobi’s tallest buildings taking pictures that best capture the city in an artistic and positive light.
His favourite buildings are Kenyatta International Conference Centre, ICEA Building, Lonrho, Nyayo House, Chester House and Purshottam. Some of his pictures have become an iconic representation of Kenya’s capital.
“I love heights, the higher the better, it gives me a feeling of freedom,” he says.
Mr Matheka has changed the way many look at the city through his magnificent panoramic photo shoots.
“My colour is hyper-realistic. It is supposed to be an enhanced reality because my work is art, I use it to transport myself to another place. So being in reality does not concern me, I already exist in reality; it doesn’t mean my artwork has to be. I just want to make my own rules. So if today I feel like it is normal, I make the art normal, if I feel I need this to take me out of this world then I do because that’s what I feel. Art is supposed to be expressive,” he says.
He says he had built a business out of taking pictures of buildings and tries to incorporate his style with the client’s needs. ‘‘When it comes to commissioned work, 50 per cent is my style which is why they hire me and I ensure that I capture the 50 per cent that is important to the client,’’ he says.
But he prefers to take pictures of what he wants.
‘‘I believe as an artist it builds my language, it builds a portfolio of the things that are important to me and it gives clients an idea of what to expect. I want to travel from city to city around Africa taking pictures for future purposes; documenting Africa for the future and for the present.”
Thus far, he has held one major exhibition in 2012 that introduced his work in print form and sold some prints which made him realise that people appreciate his work. He shares some of his work for free through an Android Wallpaper app. Now, he has opened an online market on his website (mutuamatheka.co.ke) for people to buy printed copies.
Mr Matheka has made available 16 images of architectural, some cityscape and nature/landscape that he has done over the years. He plans to sell 2,000 pieces.
“I want people to buy prints not digital copies. We are using photographic paper and high quality canvas which makes it hard to reproduce,” he says. The response has been good, he says, with plans to market the photos as gifts during the Christmas season.
His love for photography stems from his obsession with art at a young age and his mother, who is his number one supporter, reminds him that he started doodling when he was three-years-old.
“Photography for me is not just about taking pictures, it’s an art. I used to draw a lot when I was a child and my art skills were honed in high school. For me, I don’t have to try too hard when it comes to art so even in photography I just do well,” says Mr Matheka.
Mr Matheka studied architecture in university and did internship in different local architectural firms, but did not find the job exciting.
In his fifth year, he went to Germany for an exchange programme and upon graduation, he joined a local interior designer firm. He says working in the interior design firm was exciting as each project was different.
At that same time, Mr Matheka was exploring the art of photography, but had the assumption that Kenyans did not take photography seriously like in the West. His perception changed after his friend showed him Jimmy Chuchu’s work— a renowned Kenyan artist. In 2011, after working for two years, he resigned as photography was taking more of his time.
“I realised I was overworked and it was becoming hard to balance the two. I decided to take a chance. I always knew that I didn’t want to be employed for long… that part was clear. But I always thought I would start my own architectural firm. That changed very quickly when I realised that I loved to take pictures,” he says.
It is his love to shoot the magnificent old Nairobi buildings that got him invited to the Architectural Heritage Association; a group of people who are passionate about preserving buildings in Nairobi. They hope to use Mr Matheka’s social media popularity— 5,220 likes on Facebook and 9,600 followers on Twitter— to engage young people to be passionate about architectural heritage.
His Site for more: www.mutuamatheka.co.ke