Shooting The President’s Portraits
I’ve never tried to have a one-on-one with Uhuru Kenyatta or William Ruto, but something tells me it wouldn’t be that easy: whom would I call for a number? Or talk to to tell someone who would whisper to them that I’d like to have a word? There must be a long list of protocol to be observed, most likely starting with my area Chief and DO (do they still exist?) even before you get to my MCA. I have however experienced a truth that bypassed protocol and got me seating at the same table with them, literally.
Last May, I received a call inviting me and my camera to a one-on-one with the President and his Deputy. This being an important assignment, I called upon the best photographer I knew for the job, Allan Gichigi, for us to do it together.
Allan has a level of excellence that is to be admired. He played some Franco, Tabu Ley, Bob Marley and Brenda Fassie, music that was bound to loosen up Uhuru and Ruto during the shoot, and it worked! It was a joy to see them jigging in between poses, appreciating the music and the good old days.
Sheng’ was Allan’s preferred language during the shoot. I recall Uhuru and Ruto were at first responding in fluent English but after some time, relaxed and showed their street cred, unleashing some sheng’ in response.
Overall it was one of the most fun shoots I’ve been to.
We were two simple photographers who had found ourselves in the company of the two most important men in Kenya, did our job and left with great pictures. I’m glad that we were able to document the process and share part of our experience.
A man’s gift makes room for him
And brings him before great men.