Nairobi portrait photography | Kibera

“Do a photo story that shows poverty.” That was the application challenge for the photography school in Berlin. Pff. Piece of cake! I live in Kenya, the 2nd largest slum in africa is right in my back yard. So, with the help of some friends, that is how I found myself walking around Kibera, looking for people to photograph and scenes that depicted poverty.

However, interacting with the people I met, talking with them, hearing their stories -my reason for being there changed. These people had hopes, dreams, ambitions…they were more than their circumstances. To tell only one aspect of their story- that they were poor, would have been a disservice to them. The rest of the world already sees them as one-dimensional, perhaps a better, more worthy  undertaking would be to portray them as they see themselves- people in a difficult situation who are trying their hardest to better their lot.

These are the photographs I made instead.

Rastaman-mural-in-kibera-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyYoung-man-playing-guitar-in-kibera-_gathoni_kinyanjui_photographyYoung-man-in-front-of-stall-young-girl-holding-baby-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyYoung-people-outside-vegetable-stall_Kibera-portraits-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyMan-smoking-infront-of-barber-shop-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyArtist-solo7-in-front-of studio-&-charcoal-seller-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyYoung-man-in-front-of-rastaman-mural-&-old-man-with-grandchild-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyyoung-man-in-front-of-tea-stall-portraits-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyMorning-scene-outside-a-kiosk-gathoni-kinyanjui-photographyKibera-train-tracks-gathoni-kinyanjui-photography

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11 responses to “Nairobi portrait photography | Kibera”

  1. Farida says:

    AWESOME!!! You did well for the people you met, you told the truth about their circumstances. You don’t have to see sickness and death to know a situation is hard. I see hope and determination in the pictures though I know there are hard days for each of the characters in your pictures. Truth be told, this is actually what we see everyday when we pass through Kibera, masufferer wa Jah wakihustle lakini pia wakijibamba.

    • gathoni says:

      Farida, I LOVE your comment. That is exactly it, ‘masufferer wa Jah wakihustle lakini pia wakijibamba’.
      Thank you so very much for commenting. 🙂

  2. jacki says:

    hey gathoni, great pictures. i really feel as if i was right there with you. i especially like the foto of the old man with a baby in his arms.

  3. ronah says:

    this is some good work!!!!

  4. G,

    This is powerful imagery on so many levels. Superb work. Environmental portraiture at its raw best!

  5. flo says:

    This is the beautiful truth about mahustlers wa jah….. love the photos!

  6. Kristo says:

    That is cool. I remember those early works and it’s great to see what they evolved to 😉

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