We’ve seen them at concerts with their cameras either on stage or right at the front doing everything they can to get that perfect shot. Nairobi and other major cities across Kenya such as Mombasa and Nakuru have over the past few years seen a rise of concerts that feature top local and international acts.
And Nigel Akala and Ayub a.k.a KenyanLense are some of the young and gifted photographers who not only get to capture these artistes in their spotlights but also hang out with them off the stage. We caught up with them right after the recent Maleek Berry show to discuss their view into the showbiz world.
How did you get into photography?
Ayub: My love for photography started at a young age. I remember experimenting with my Uncle’s Kodak camera during family functions.
Nigel: I picked it up as a kid and fell in love with capturing emotions later on in my teenage years. My parents supported it which made it easier for me to grow into it and have just loved it ever since.
What attracted you to music/events photography?
Ayub: I got into this music and concert photography because I love music. I like to express musical stories through pictures. Live concerts are full of raw emotions from both the artistes and fans.
Nigel: The adrenaline that comes from shooting unscripted events is what I love; from the artist’s emotions to the crowd’s reactions in the same frame. These all make the hustle worth the while.
Who are some of the artistes you have captured on stage?
Nigel: Octopizzo, Sho Madjozi, Eric Wainaina, Ethic, Blinky Bill, Muthoni The Drummer Queen and Sauti Sol.
Ayub: Kwesta, Busiswa, Sho Madjozi, Kranium, Westrn, Wiz Kid and Maleek Berry are some of the artistes I have photographed. Locally: Kaligraph Jones, the EDF Family and DJ Ali Fresh.
Who are some of the best acts you’ve seen perform and why?
Ayub: I do, especially those artistes who we continue to keep in touch after working together. I still talk to some of the ones I have mentioned above.
Nigel: Sho Madjozi’s energy is unmatched, such a joy to shoot, every action is just art in itself. Among Kenyan musicians Octopizzo has such a vibe going for him, so you literally feel every shot.
How would you rate the Maleek Berry concert?
Nigel: The concert was dope, in my opinion, the opening acts were tight; they really did their thing and Maleek’s performance was dope too especially when he brought out a surprise act. That was a plus.
Ayub: I can say the show was successful. I would give it a 10/10. As a photographer, I was happy about the stage lighting and the stage itself. It also says a lot when the crowd is having a time of their life and they certainly were.
How was Maleek Berry on stage?
Ayub: His performance was people-centered as he engages the crowd and all as compared to performing all through the set. It made it harder to shoot him but the crowd fell the love for sure.
Nigel: His performance was very innovative and improvisational.
Sol Generation’s Nviiri, Bensoul and Ethic also performed, what’s your take on these artistes?
Ayub: I love how new school music is taking its place in society. I enjoyed seeing them doing their thing. After Ethic dropped their new video Figa everyone went crazy when they came out.
Nigel: Honestly, Ethic still need some work, they have bangers but their performance need to punch, they are still top of the list seeing as they knew what to perform. They just lacked the execution. I can’t say much about the other artists but in my opinion, it’s more about reading the crowd. The crowd was in it the whole show, definitely, all the artists felt the love.
Was Diamond Plaza a good venue?
Nigel: I am not entirely sure. It did have a good amount of space, the stage set up was good but the lights – not so much! Light technicians in Kenyan really need to learn how to mix lights, damn what’s good on your eye may not be good for pictures TRUST.