Jeri Muchura's photography journey started about six years ago as a way of keeping her mind engaged by documenting her daughters' milestones as they grew.
"My girls were two years old and four months old at the time. My mother in-law was so impressed by my phone pictures that she gifted me an old camera she had and I have been taking pictures ever since," explains Jeri.
"Different things inspire me at different times but women's portraiture makes my heart sing. There is something about putting a woman in front of my lens and watching her blossom and fall in love with herself," says Jeri.
"I have noticed time and again that most females aged from five to 65 have difficulties with self-value, self-confidence and self-care. My goal is for my clients to leave their photo session feeling confident; to know that they are worthy, enough and empowered to take on the world."
So where did she learn photography? "I'm a self-taught photographer, a graduate of the University of YouTube and the College of Google," she says amidst laughter. Today the documentary and portrait photographer owns a photography studio in Karen, Nairobi.
Jeri admits it hasn't been easy introducing her version/brand of portraiture to the market. "Educating the market on what I do and why I do it, and why I am different from the rest has brought with it a lot of stressful and self-doubting moments but it has inevitably pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person," points out Jeri. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I would own my own beautiful space gifting women and their families these special customised sessions... and they would pay for it. Who would have thought that a hobby would be my bread and butter?" she poses.
Jeri is a three-time award winning photographer. "I believe these wins flung the door for other female photographers to enter more competitions and put their best foot forward. We have a story to tell as women and photography is one of the avenues that our voices can be heard. These wins for me validated me in various ways; that I am good enough, that there's something in what I see and how I see it and that I definitely have a space at the table," says Jeri, who also had an honourable mention by the HuffPost Women, 2017.
"Being a female photographer is having the best of both worlds: Having the technical know-how to take a great picture and the intuitiveness that captures the light and soul of my subject. In my mind, there are no inhibitions or challenges. We can always draw our strength and inspiration from other successful women. Women have to work twice as hard as a man in every sphere in life, photography is no different. That said, that should never be an excuse but the push we need to do great exploits."
LEARNING UPS AND DOWNS
Jeri is still learning the ups and downs of marketing. “I have learnt (and I'm still learning) how to make social media work for me as my key marketing platform but so far, I am happy with the results I'm getting,” she says. In the meantime, she is leveraging her networks. “I have learnt to leverage my networks for two main things; one is skills and knowledge, and the other is work opportunities. Your friends and networks are not just for leisure but a place for you to learn, grow and explore both personally and business-wise.”
This has led to useful collaborations. “(Partnerships are) such an important value add for my business,” Jeri says.
“An example of this is my partnership with Zanta Adeyde, a brilliant jewelry designer who has put her amazing items at my studio. It's a win-win for us because my clients get to interact and be photographed wearing these one of a kind pieces, and she gets marketed organically. And vice versa.... when one of her clients comes in to pick something, they also get to interact with my work.”
Her final tip for aspiring business people? “Never stop learning. My mum once told me that the minute you think you have arrived, you are already on your way down. Learning and improving yourself should be a never-ending journey as it's the only way you grow and it also removes the ego from your work.”