William Ngari, aka Namuks, is a dad and an entrepreneur with a passion for photography. Impressed by his work showcasing the beauty of Africa via Instagram, Ayiba’s Joy Mwaniki spoke to Namuks to learn the story behind the photographs and the men behind the lens. Follow him @namuks on Instagram.
How did you get into photography?
[Sighs] Well, it’s a long story. It began at home. When we used to come home to our parents’ house over the holidays, my dad always used to say, “Those photo albums that we have of you guys should be kept well because those are things that you are going to appreciate in the future.” At first, I didn’t think that it was something to take seriously, but as the years rolled by I would look at some photos and thank my dad and his low-res digital camera for taking the time to capture those moments that we will forever hold.
When I got into university, I would stop everyone to take a funny or weird picture, all on my mobile phone. I assure you that to date, people go back to the posts on Facebook and appreciate that I took the time to capture those moments.
When I got employed and I got serious about business, the best man at my wedding, James Kariuki, a pilot, was pursuing photography as a hobby on the side. I was intrigued by the fact that he wasn’t a photographer but took it so seriously, so much so that he would spend a lot on buying a DSLR, researching the best lenses or equipment, or how to do landscape photos or portraits. That rubbed off on my brother, Moses, who is an architect, and me. I don’t know what it is about architects and photography, but they are usually amazing at it when they decide to put their minds to it. They have that artistic eye. My brother taught me most of what I know now about photography. Whenever I went to weddings, I would shoot on the side and at one point, my friends would prefer my photos to those from the professional photographer they hired!
I owe most of my photography success to Instagram. I learned about it way back in 2012 and I decided to use it as a platform to share my photos so that it could act as a journal of my growth. Six months later, I got wind of “Instameets,” where various Instagrammers with shared passions would meet at certain locations just to shoot. There would be no money involved, it was all about the passion. We would meet, socialize, and learn from each other. That is where my photography grew to the next level. As a perfectionist, when we uploaded the photos, I compared my photos to others’ and I felt challenged to be more creative. I made sure I never missed another Instameet!
At one of the Instameets, I won Best Photo and was awarded a Samsung phone and won second place for yet another award organized by Samsung Africa. That’s when I realized that I was actually good at it. I bought a Canon 6D and began taking photos of Nairobi from rooftops.
This represents one of my favorite types of photography. My comfort zone. Cityscapes. Anytime any day if I am called to do a cityscape, especially on a roof, I am game. It is a shot taken of the coastal city of Kenya known as Mombasa. It’s right in the middle of the city centre. Aside from the aesthetic beauty of the photo, what I really love the most about such shots is what goes behind the scenes into getting them.
For instance planning for over a week or two to get access to the roof despite all the security measures in Kenya as a result of terrorism, the hoops one has to jump at times can be very frustrating. Being turned down on a daily basis but never giving up. Risking your gear as you have to get the best views from the edge. Leaving something small for the security guys who accompany you to the top and make sure you are safe. Also dealing with calls made by residence in adjacent buildings to the security guys who think you are terrorists taking photos of the city, etc.
Despite all that, once you get to work on the picture on your computer and/or phone, it all becomes worthwhile when you see the results.
N.B All roof-topping shots are done in the evening or very early in the morning and no other time and so dedication on the part of the photographer is very key.
Well from time to time I get tonnes and tonnes of requests to do apparel/model shoots as they like my unique approach to portraiture photography. This is an example of one such shoot I did for a friend who has a clothing brand known as cloud 9.
Again, the process in trying to achieve my desired results is usually very interesting. For instance, in this shot I really had to convince him to get to that spot despite his major fear of heights. But then once he saw the end results, thereafter it was easier for him to gain confidence in my directing.
N.B This was taken on top of the tallest building in Nairobi.
Nature/ Wildlife. That’s one thing I absolutely love and I thank God that we have that in plenty in Kenya. Capturing the beauty and grace of wildlife just does it for me. They are always given priority on my personal projects and would really go that extra mile to get that perfect shot. Take, for instance, this shot. We had to travel to the border of Kenya and Tanzania just to see and shoot the flamingoes of Lake Natron. Something I usually have a hard time explaining back at home, but again it’s all in the name of pursuit for photography.
Follow Namuks on Instagram