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Lessons from electronic engineer turned photographer

By Olivia Murithi | January 29th 2020
By Olivia Murithi | January 29th 2020
Amon Creations Chief Executive Officer Amon Muturi during a photo shoot at his studio in Makutano, Meru. [Olivia Murithi, Standard]

Amon Muturi a celebrated and sought after freelance photographer based in Meru is a self-proclaimed graduate of the ‘YouTube University’. He is a modern-day Jack of all trades.

The 26-year-old’s photography career started as a hobby when he was in class six. Back then he was using a film camera he had received as a birthday present.

Muturi who was raised by a single parent however, only viewed photography as a hobby as he focused on his dream and passion to become an electrical engineer.

He was steadfast in his focus on school work. Unfortunately, he lost his mother shortly after completing form four.
Being academically bright, Muturi secured a sponsorship that only catered for tuition fees as he studied electrical engineering at the Meru National Polytechnic.

He was however shocked to find that a lot of math was required for the course which dampened his spirit as he did not like mathematics.

“I thought that studying electronic engineering would entail spending all day in the lab inventing cool things,” recounted Amon as he designed an event poster on his computer.

Although his tuition was catered for, Muturi had to fend for himself in terms of upkeep and that is how he was introduced to disk jockeying.

He wet his feet on the decks by doing Djing gigs around Meru and its environs when he was in the second year. It helped him pay his bills throughout college.

While still a starving student Dj, Muturi collaborated with a friend who leased out sound systems for events. After graduation, Muturi could not find a job anywhere so he joined the business venture full time.

Their business grew so much that the partners decided to open a Dj academy, which quickly became a huge hit.

After a while, the partners parted ways and Muturi was left running the business on his own. By 2014, he was getting overwhelmed by doing djing events, running the DJ academy as well as running the sound business on his own.

More people had invested in sound systems and there was an influx of disk jockeys in the market thereby reducing his profit margins considerably.

This informed Muturi’s decision to diversify into graphic design and photography. One of his friends had a photo studio so, during his free time, Muturi would frequent the studio and familiarize himself with the camera.

He would periodically borrow the camera for photoshoots, which helped him begin building a customer base. Muturi's main impediment was the fact that he did not own a camera and did not know how to edit photos professionally.

The friend’s camera was later stolen so Muturi went back to designing posters and running his failing DJ academy.

Very little money was flowing in so even paying rent was a challenge. His friend whose camera had been stolen suggested a partnership. He volunteered to acquire a loan to buy another camera on the understanding that they would repurpose Muturi’s Dj academy into a studio.

The room was partitioned and since they did not have money to pay for professional renovations, they knocked down the wall and did everything by themselves.

“We managed to complete renovations on our own but did not have furniture so we were using my old speakers as furniture. The only thing I had was my old laptop.” Reminisced Muturi.

His partner bought a new computer and a camera and the new business was born. Muturi did still photography while his partner focused on videography.

The business grew steadily and Muturi began getting many contracts. However, the business partners disagreed on how to run the business and the two separated in 2015.

“We disagreed when my partner wanted me to put his logo on my work. I came to work one day and found he had taken off with his computer and camera which I had been helping to pay off so I went back to point zero,” explained Muturi.

A bitter but unbroken Muturi started hiring a camera for his photography work while combining it with graphic design. His saving grace was the good quality of his photos even though he was an amateur.

By the end of the year, Muturi was able to save enough money to buy cheap studio lights, which helped to improve the quality of his photos.

“Whenever I encountered something that I could not do, I simply sought help from YouTube. I learned everything about photography from tutorials,” said Muturi.

By 2016, he had so many clients that the studio he was using became too small. He took a risk and rented out three bed-sitter houses about 1km from Makutano shopping centre.

 “When my studio space shrunk, I could not find a bigger room within the shopping centre at an affordable rate so I decided to venture into the residential areas,” he added.

He was able to get permission from the landlord to knock down the walls to make it one room on the understanding that he would rebuild the walls in the event of relocation.

With the proliferation of smartphones, more people opt to take their photos but with aggressive advertising on social media platforms, Muturi’s business is growing steadily.

He now boasts a client list full of celebrities, organisations, prominent families and individuals and entertainment joints. He hopes to grow his business further in the coming years.

He further encourages unemployed graduates to initiate meaningful ventures that will put food on the table and provide employment for others instead of waiting for formal employment.

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