TAKE 5: Louis Nderi
1 months ago, 9 Nov 05:30
Louis describes himself as a photographer who puts environmental portraiture at the core of his practice to shed light on the evolving nature of culture.
He displays his creativity by 'relating, respecting, and collaborating' with the people he photographs, and has won a number of awards, including 'Winner' in Documentary 2016 from the Photographers Association of Kenya.
1.You've photographed a couple of pretty interesting people and projects. As a self-described environmental photographer with an interest in portraying culture, what are some of your favourite projects?
My approach to photography has become more serialised, so I will photograph one or two subjects at length until I feel I have reached some sort of conclusion.
My most current project, 43, is still ongoing, and will take at least two years to complete, so I am giving myself time to do it in-between my masters degree and other ongoing work.
The project has been really enjoyable. It has taken me to parts of the country I otherwise would not have visited and I have met some incredible people along the way - I hope I get to do similar work for the rest of my life.
2. You have received a number of awards for your work, does this make you want to work harder? Are you happy with the progress photography in Kenya has made?
I don’t think the awards prompt me to work harder, but it sure feels good to be recognised. The first Kenya-based photography awards were in 2013, so in that sense, I think we have come a long way.
Talent on its own is just one ingredient of succeeding in this field. It is also not so much about being recognised for your talent, it is also about you, the artist, recognising the talent in you and being motivated to create good work.
3. What is the most challenging aspect for you in your career? Securing contracts, getting paid for work delivered or getting a permit to shoot? How do you navigate these challenges?
There are several, but I think one of the most outstanding for an artist are the long credit periods from corporate clients, especially when you are a start-up without the financial muscle of a bigger company. It is devastating for a business just finding its footing when you are told to wait three-six months or even longer for one payment. When I was in this phase, I got several clients instead of depending on one.
4.You're studying for a Master of Fine Arts. Why is this important in photography? Some could argue that photography is more about the creativity on deck than the skills learnt in a class…
There is a lot you can learn practically by just picking up a camera, but to be a visionary, you need to understand the world you are in, understand its people and cultures, their history and the philosophies that govern them.
I didn’t have to sit in a class to know that, but one thing school does give you is time to think about ...
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