We chat with Kenyan photographer, William Miriga about his passion for photography and his favourite places to photograph in his home country.
What’s your story?
WM: My official name is William Miriga Ngari. I was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya’s coastal city although I currently live in Nairobi where I run an electronics business. I have a family composed of an amazing wife Ann and 3 kids, a first born and twins. Other than family time, I will most probably be running my business or shooting personal projects for my photography portfolio as well as for fun.
How did your photography journey begin?
WM: I am entirely self-taught. I always liked documenting moments with any device I had on me especially a phone, as my dad instilled in us the importance of taking photos to preserve moments in life.
At the time, the idea of photography was not really a thing for me. But then around 2014 my lil’ brother (an architect) picked up the hobby of photography and had taken it really seriously to a point where I also started to get curious. He is 4 years younger than me and he would religiously watch YouTube videos, go to workshops etc. then show off the skills he learnt, with us whenever we would hang out together. That sparked a curiosity in me to want to learn this photography even further. Then Instagram happened, it was at the time where I quit my 9-5 job and pursued entrepreneurship. I owe most of my photography growth to Instagram: The instameets, the photography competitions, etc. We would meet to take photos at various disclosed locations but then when guys posted photos they were so diverse and some so cool that it really challenged me to get better at this skill.
I eventually won a couple of competitions which got me thinking like “hey I could actually be good at this”. At the time, I didn’t even have my own camera. I would either borrow my brother’s camera or use my iPhone. When I finally decided to buy a camera, I decided to get the Canon 6D which was kind of a very hefty investment on my part. So here I am with a very expensive camera, I didn’t have paying gigs to warrant having such expensive gear. I eventually decided to start shooting roof tops which later became a thing. Fast forward to today, I have shot for NatGeo, done several commercial shoots with various big brands, shot hotels /travel destinations, weddings almost every weekend etc. I do not regret pursuing this photography journey as it has really opened up many opportunities for me.
What is it like being a photographer in Kenya?
WM: Many are still yet to fully appreciate photography and so it’s tricky getting clients who can afford your rates. As for street photography, cityscapes, etc… we still have an archaic mentality of photography being associated with terrorism and so we get harassed a lot when shooting around the city. We are always pushing for reforms that would enable us shoot freely especially around the cities. We put our country on the map with these awesome photos and so we’re slowly changing the perceptions around.
What do you love most about Kenya?
WM: The versatility of culture, and how vibrant the city looks especially in the mornings and evenings.
Favourite spot(s) to photograph in Kenya…
Where do you go when you’re in need of a little inspiration?
WM: I travel to a place I have not been to especially outside the city.
What advice will you give to other African creators?
WM: Get inspiration from all over the world but then stray true to your roots. Whatever genre you are in do it to the best of your abilities and focus on putting your country/culture on the map
What are you currently working on?
WM: Personal fashion photography projects to up my portfolio. Oh… and putting up a serious website which is something that I should have done a long time ago but never took so seriously. Look out for my new website where I will be putting a lot of my travel photography content as well as weddings.
Follow William’s journey here.