Since his first pay of Sh75,000, Khateli now charges a tidy but still fairly affordable sum.
When the Pope come visiting he was contracted to cover the ‘historic and holy’ event, similarly when former US President Barrack Obama visited the land of his father’s birth his instructions were clear he had to shoot the President no matter what.
“Sometimes I google my name and I see my pictures have been used all over the world in China, Britain, US etc. my photos have been published allover by international media houses” Mr. Khateli said
When American singer Chris Brown brought the roof down at the Kenyan coastal city Mombasa, Khateli was right there in the thick of things doing justice to the show, so much justice that the American singer couldn't’t help it but ‘steal’ the photo and upload it on his wall without crediting the Photographer.
“I just love showbiz and for me if I were to get an opportunity to shoot a concert in the US the likes of BET, MTV awards I would really love that”
So how did Kenya’s most sought after photographer started his trailblazing career.
“I remember how I ventured into photography seriously I was called to shoot a wedding, it was actually a referral from a colleague of mine so I remember it was new territory I just gave a client a quote and they paid they didn’t even bargained”
After that event there was no turning back for Khateli he had tested the proverbial ‘honey pot’ and one dip of a finger or one stint was not going to be enough.
“At that particular time I remember I was earning Sh25,000 that was my salary at the end of the month while this wedding I had quoted Sh75000 ($750) and the client had paid without complaining, for me that was a lot of money because I was used to getting Sh25000 at the end of the month and there is this one job that is paying Sh75000 for a day I was so excited”
However, while the money was mind-blowing and super great his execution style was not that great, he was a rookie and he was bound to make some mistakes.
“I was so excited that there are some mistakes I did because there was no one to guide me then, I remember I covered the wedding and it was perfect but there are some things I did which I later on came to realized were mistakes like when you cover a wedding you are supposed to print 300 images but what I did was print 900 images so I didn’t make as much as I would have made if I had known beforehand”
After learning his lesson, Khateli who is now the official photographer for all Mo Sound Events started working on his general skills, execution, delivery to self-confidence which later came to pay off handsomely.
“So then eventually I started getting small jobs that is like in a span of four years but this time round I was sure of my work, I would be called for an event and I had the confidence that I could deliver so that is how I horned my skills”
And from there corporate companies with deep pockets came calling and there was no stopping Khateli.
“My first corporate job event was with Ford Foundation who had a three day conference so we were contracted with my former boss so it was a two man labour and we were paid Sh300,000 ($3000) and I remember I used that money to buy my first Camera”
“There is also I time I did some job for UN and they paid me about Sh300,000 so it varies, there are events which would pay that much and there are events which would pay you between Sh3000 – Sh10,000 ($100) depending on the client and what you agreed”
Along the way in a bid to meet clients’ expectations and demands and also stay relevant in a fast changing market Khateli saw the need to diversify his skills as well.
“I do every form of photography from corporate, landscape, portrait everything i do that so that I am busy throughout, I am known for viral photos but what I really enjoy doing is events photography and apart from corporate events there is weddings”
Since covering his first wedding, Khateli has grown and mastered his craft which has seen him being sought by who is who to grace several high profile events including covering the wedding of Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore when he tied the knot to his long-time girlfriend Wambui Kamiru in a all white colourful ceremony in 2016.
From Sh75,000, his services and worth have 'appreciated over time' and he now charges a tidy but still fairly affordable sum.
“Wedding range from Sh100,000 – Sh175,000 ($1750) depending on the type of client”
However if you are lucky Kenya’s most after photographer may just cover your wedding with a big discount.
“Sometimes it is not even about the money sometimes you just do it because you love what you are doing