What it takes Professional Photographer without a Degree; From one who has made it

So I got the chance to interview another amazing person, Amunga Eshuchi on his journey to pursuing photography as a professional career. If you haven’t already guessed he is the husband of Sharon Eshuchi, the beautiful lady I interviewed on her journey from studying I.R to becoming a professional fitness instructor. This is the article, Fearless Fitness- From I.R to Personal Trainer.
Now Back today’s main character, Amunga.
 He’s usually the man behind the camera and most of the times that he is in front of it he is usually next to his gorgeous wife, making single people look bad lol.
A brief background story?
After working three jobs straight out of high school, I realized a love for film. I, therefore, applied to film school and got accepted into the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography. I wanted to study cinematography. It was a hard and arduous application process. It took me like four months, so I was really happy when I got accepted. Unfortunately, this was Kibaki’s (the previous Kenyan President’s) first year in Government. We, as a country, were just pulling ourselves out of Nyayo’s grip so when I went to get my passport, I was kept waiting for three months because the powers that were at Nyayo house wanted me to pay a bribe in order to get it. I refused…so they ‘lost’ my passport for three months. My application deadline past three times and Brooks had to give away my position to someone else.

I was devastated. I was so tired from the application process and the long wait for the passport that I stopped caring. I went back to work and shut that door completely.
Two months later, I was online and saw something on photography. I hated photography, then. I thought it was a false form of cinematography…but a friend of mine told me “Wouldn’t you be doing the same thing? Only now, it wont be at 25 frames a second, it will be at one.” So I dove into reading everything I could about it. I had photography on the brain! Four months later, towards the end of 2004, the same friend came and handed me a Minolta Maxxum 7000 i film camera and said “If you don’t do anything with all this knowledge, you’re a punk!”…. I have never stopped since then.
You did not go to university right? That’s a very different decision to make in this generation where it seems like education is everything, why didn’t you go?
I didn’t go to university because, after high school, my family was going through very hard times and they couldn’t support me financially to do so. Now, I haven’t gone because I do not see myself spending four years of my life going through class. I do several courses on business, creative entrepreneurship, mentor-ship and training, though.
How did your family, friends (dad) feel about this decision?
My family – no, my dad – never accepted my photography until five years after I started, I landed KWS (a huge national reserves in Kenya) as a client. My mum didn’t fully comprehend it but she kept praying for me to succeed. When my dad saw my images being used for the ‘twende tujivinjari’ campaign, he believed that photography is so much more than standing outside KICC with an album. He still tries to push me to do something like Law..he has even now offered to pay…but nah!
How did you discover a love for photography?
Originally, I had a love for cinematography. I still do. Out of that, something was planted in me about photography. Looking back now, I have always really loved National Geographic, even as a kid. I have been very visual. I guess, it was just refining this love for visuals in 2005 to a silent, slower but powerful medium.
When did it move from a hobby to a career?
I never had the luxury of having a distinction between hobby and career. As soon as got my Minolta, I quit my job and took on photography. I had to start earning a living immediately. I, However, apprenticed a lot for four years then took a year off to make sure I was doing the right thing. I ‘came into my own’ as a photographer and business owner in 2010 as local Kenyan photography started flourishing.
What has been your highest highlight professionally and personally in this line of work?
I have had several highs but the ones that stand out most are; being requested to be the judge of the Sony World Photography Awards – Kenya, 2014 and getting to shoot for the Safaricom calendar 2015-2016.
Advice for anyone interested in pursuing photography?
Grow a backbone! The beginning of photography as a career is very hard and disappointing. People do not know you and won’t hire you with no portfolio yet. They don’t offer opportunities to grow a portfolio. Apprentice A LOT under many photographers who shoot many types of things. But if you keep at it…if people see you around…one day, the first call will come in. It gets much easier as you keep ploughing ahead.
Follow Amunga’s page, here.
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3 Comments

  1. Nika

    This is such an inspirational post! Stories like this always give me an extra strength to go after what I love! I launched my travel blog http://www.nextstopabroad.com just lately and I am aiming to travel a lot, see many beautiful places and become a digital nomad eventually.
    Thanks for remaining us how important it is to follow your own dreams! 🙂

    Like

  2. thequietgrove

    You are an inspiration. I am trying to do the same thing. but with Graphic design

    Like

  3. serenemomblog

    Great interview! Love the perseverance, and the willingness to look outside the box.

    Like

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