Picha Photographer Interview-Peter Gichuki

Today we touch base with renown fashion photographer , Peter Gichuki to learn more about his love for photography and his skin positivity project Love the Skin you Rein that speaks of appreciating one’s own skin.

When you think of photography what comes to mind?

Creativity, especially in regards to thinking outside the box to make my work unique, expressing my authentic self and giving every project my all.

How did your journey into photography begin?

After college where I studied Animation and film; I ended up spending about four months at home, during this time I looked back at my life through family photo albums. I noticed that I was very fond of picking up the family camera and shooting trips i.e. going to game parks, taking photos of my brothers and pets at home. Some of the pictures I had taken wound up in the photo album, I loved them so much so I decided to pick up the camera once more, in the end I enjoyed it so much I resolved to turn my hobby into a career.

Describe yourself in one word?

Organized.

What genre of photography do you enjoy shooting and why?

Fashion and portrait photography. My love and appreciation for the dynamics and creativity around fashion always leave me feeling inspired and challenged to create a photograph that speaks of the art that went into making the attire. As for portraiture my style is minimal in that I believe less is more, the photograph speaks to you in the most authentic way possible and all I do is to capture that moment in time and document it.

When embarking on a shoot which gear do you use and why?

I carry a Canon 6D, 35mm F1.4 lens and 85mm F1.8 lens and my 5 in 1 reflector. With the 35mm I go for full body shots. I also love the distortion it gives me, the 85mm is my go to for shooting beauty and up-close portraits.

What is your most embarrassing photography moment?

In 2018 I got the opportunity to talk to a few photographers who were new in the industry and keen on fashion photography. They came in with so many questions some of which I had absolutely no answers to, I was utterly embarrassed but from it, I learnt to always come prepared as well as knowing innovative ways of handling awkward situations to avoid coming off as naïve and unprofessional. It was a humbling learning experience, to say the least.

Given a once in a lifetime chance to shoot with any photographer in the world, who would you pick and why?

MARIO TESTINO!!! He is known as the worlds most prolific magazine and fashion photographer. His works have been featured in countless copies of Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, among others. Thanks to his unique style of photography, he has been the creative mind behind successful fashion brands like Gucci, Michael Kors and Versace. Since my true north in photography lays in fashion photography I look up to him as a source of guidance and inspiration. 

 What is your most ideal destination to do a shoot; who or what would be your muse?

New York Fashion week without a doubt, it is such an intensely creative scene, from the clothes and accessories to the models and the set up, covering the fashion week would be a dream come true.

Tell us the story behind your favorite picture/ photo project?

I was concerned with the way dark skin African girls were whitening and bleaching their skin. This fueled me to work on a project that speaks of appreciating one’s own skin. I named each picture Love the Skin you Rein, these photo series gained a lot of recognition and earned me an exhibition spot at the Kioko Mwitiki Gallery in Lavington. Thanks to it a conversation surrounding skin positivity was launched, this photo project continues to a hold a soft spot in my heart.

Photography is an intimate art, and many people can feel intimidated and exposed during a shoot. How do you ensure your subjects feel safe and comfortable with you?

Prior to the shoot I do some background research and work on building a rapport with my client, by asking them questions about themselves. I am able to get them to open up to me. As I shoot I explain what I am doing in order to keep them involved.

How do you deal with demanding clients or cases where your vision and the clients’ vision don’t marry?

They say the client is always right, if I do not subscribe to the vision and we cannot reach a middle ground I prefer to walk away rather than collide with the client. There is nothing wrong with walking away, trust me.

As a creative how do you balance business and the art of creating images?

I carry my rate card and diary with me at all times, this way I am able to account for every job I get. Since this is not a salary based income managing your finances is key in ensuring you have savings and are able to buy the equipment you need when the time is right.

How has PICHA Images helped you grow your craft?

PICHA has provided me with the opportunity to learn new photography techniques, i.e. food, product and real estate photography which have been instrumental in helping me diversify my skills. PICHA has also pitched and acquired more jobs that have enabled me as a creative to focus on photography as they handle the business part.

In your opinion what do you think the government and other NGO Art based organizations can do to grow photography in Kenya?

I personally think that the government should reduce the tax imposed on shipping in equipment. They should also look into offering loans and grants towards assisting artists grow their craft.

What advise would you give to someone starting out in photography?

There is plenty of learning material online, use as much as you can. Be persistent on practicing shooting and don’t be afraid to take risks, keep chasing your craft no matter what comes your way.

If you were not a photographer what would you be?

An abstract painter or fashion stylist, I might just pursue them at a later stage, who knows…

Follow Peter on Instagram @blackgold_production_ & @pichaimages for more…

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