Kenya’s most sought after photographer shares 4 tips on turning from budding to professional photographer

He is credited with taking some of Kenya's most viral photos and singlehandedly won the hearts of even the most conservative and private public officials.

Michael Khateli is one of the most sought after photographers in Kenya and Africa.

The 33 year old father of one has graced some of the biggest events in the country and the continent, thanks to his enviable skills as a camera man.

He is credited with taking some of Kenya's most viral photos  some of which have almost landed him in hot soup and singlehandedly won the hearts of even the most conservative and private  public officials whom now angle for a piece of him to grace their birthdays. weddings, and graduation ceremonies, literally every major and minor life achievement is an opportunity to pose, smile and stare at Khateli's camera.

Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa, recently had a chat with Michael Khateli to understand what separates him from the chaff and how budding photographers can turn their hobbies into serious professional businesses.

#1. Learn your craft

One needs to invest their time and resources to learn how to take great photos, Mr. Khateli says one should never stop learning and should always strive to learn about new technology in the market but first they should make sure they know that camera like the back of their hand.

“First of all you have to learn your craft, invest time to learn all the basics of camera operations because out there in the field things can sometimes go wrong and you need to know how to set your camera to these unpredictable challenges such as weather etc.”

#2. Use Photography for good

In media bad news sells however in photography that is not necessary true, a photo is the perhaps one of the few things in life one has control over how they will be portrayed, it is no wonder then some take ages and days to prepare before they can step out in their Sunday's best to face the world and therefore they will take great offense if a photographer portrays them in bad light.

Mr. Khateli who has been in the trade for close to decade knows this too well and advices budding photographers to always strive to use photography for good rather than for cheap quick publicity.

“take pictures that portray the positive side of anything, don’t use your skills to make other people look bad, say you are taking a picture make sure you take it in such a way they will love and everyone who knows them will want to share, when you do that it will come back to you, photography is the business of making people and things look good and once you do that  you will look good”

#3. Pick a mentor

One of the biggest headaches budding photographers face is how to quote their prices without appearing either unprofessional or greedy, they can however avoid this and many other perils if they pick an experience photographer who has been in the game for long and knows all the tricks in the book.

“Get someone who has been in the photography game for a while and let them guide you,  most photographers don’t have a business back ground or see photography as a business so get someone to help you learn about market tricks, help you do a brief, teach you how to quote correctly because you know once you have quoted you cannot come back and say you know I think I under quoted that is it and clients will always use your first quote for future jobs so if it is a wedding get someone who has shoot a wedding before and ask them for quoting and delivery tips, if it is an event do the same, because If you under quote you look very unprofessional, if you over quote you look very greedy so you have to pick someone who will guide you “

#4. Let them come to you

Photography is like courting a beautiful woman, one has to take their time and then let her notice you before you make the first move, this way you know you have a chance and an upper hand than depending solely on dutch courage, getting clients in photography is the same.

“ For me I learnt that leaving clients to come to you works than you chasing after clients, like let somebody come to you and say I want you to shoot my wedding that way you have a bigger bargaining power, don’t chase after them just share your work and let them  come, let your work speak for itself,  make sure your photos have watermark, put your contacts and details there and people will come to you and say hey we saw your work and we are interested and that way you  have more power in controlling the price than you approaching them directly”


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