In Which I Play Around With a Camera


I define myself as “not a spatially intelligent/ visually intelligent” person. By which I mean, while words slide out of my lips and onto paper with relative ease, visual creativity eludes me. I don’t paint, draw, or take photographs. Sometimes when restless I doodle, and I suspect I once might have had some drawing talent but it’s so underdeveloped that I sometimes doubt my memories of that time. But a few weeks back I had the chance to borrow a camera from Tom Vandas of the Heroine Portrait series. I discovered something that I already knew: taking good photos is about more than just clicking a button, and that there are lots of technical details that take a lot of practice to figure out. Cue Pay Your Artists service announcement.

RONGAI-16I like this shoe photo because it was pretty much an accident. Also I’m surprised at how clean the shoe was considering the journey; we had trudged on despite dust and dirt and sun to make it to Rongai, slashed our way through bush and grass. It was like we were tracing out a faint outline on a drawing book, and future walkers would draw over this outline with their own feet, over and over again until there was a clear grassless path for all to use.

But all of that was in the future. For now, we were the pioneers. The leaders of this evolution.

Rongai is pretty cool. I once had a friend who lived in Rongai. Badum tshhh. Get it? That’s the joke. Cuz he’s no longer my friend since he lived so far away. This is a bad joke. Although I do have a friend who grew up in Rongai. But then he traveled to the States and this one time we’d set a Skype date so I was telling someone about it and said something to the tune of “I’m Skyping my friend from Rongai” and it sounded like I was throwing some thorough shade at Rongai. RONGAI-17Special thanks to all my unwitting models: Tom, Alex, James, Sim, and finally Jackie Karuti, who definitely has visual intelligence and if you want to know it’s true you should check out her exhibition which is up at the Goethe Institute in Nairobi until July 26th. Here’s a strange review of it by a mysteriously named STAR WRITER.  RONGAI-8“Climb on dear friend, reach for that hold
Move past the signs of failing strength.
Now grip tight that cutting fold-
One move up the rocky length.
Tight clutching firm and breathing hard,
One step closer to the end,
Your mind firm set on pulling through.
Drive on, drive on my dearest friend,
Ignore the pain of fingers scarred
Climb up the rock to conquer you