Photography businesses diversify to survive in a changing world

Opulex Tec Ventures’ Jasper Okinyi demonstrating to learners. [Courtesy]

Since its formation in the 1830s, photography has played a central role in human history by recording and communicating events.

And with the rise of the digital age and mobile phones, pictures have become a way of life. Gone are the days when families would have to wait for a photographer to help mark key events such as birthdays.

In recent years, photography has turned into a mega business opportunity in Kenya especially among the creative youths. Equally, it was among the hardest-hit industries during the lockdown period.

Opulex Tec Ventures in Kitui South is one of the production companies that diversified its services to catch up with the pandemic by transitioning from media coverage to IT consultancy solutions and supply.

Mr Jasper Okinyi, the firm’s director, was pushed to diversification after photography stagnated.

“During the pandemic clients went broke. We had to lower our prices to attract them. We also had to operate on a very lean budget to survive,” he said.

Okinyi adds that most players in the trade fell into debt and had to sell some of their equipment.

He also adds that the cost of equipment shot up owing to high import duty. This was due to lockdowns in some of the key import markets.

“A camera worth Sh120,000 rose to Sh170,000,” said Okinyi. He said "photographers are embracing diversity. Those with equipment have gone into online content such as comedy and music video production. Others have ventured into online jobs such as writing and photo editing".

Mr Steven Mbuvi, the founder of Stelome Studios in Nairobi, however, holds a slightly different view.

He argues that specialisation in business is a smart move in the photography business.

“I do indoor photoshoots. During the pandemic, many people lost jobs and stayed indoors. They visited studios for only indoor photo shoots. Outdoor photographers were affected due to lockdown.”

“Indoor shoots have been elevated. There is a huge turnout of clients. They are readily available and shoots take a short time. “We use digital platforms to sell our business. We have invested heavily in online presence to sell our brand to capture clients who we know or do not,” said Mbuvi. 

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