Forgive me (cheeky smile) for making everyone wait for Part 2 of Nick Klaus’ interview.
Here it is…….
What challenges do you face with your work?
People always want good quality of work but do not want to pay the prices I quote.
They feel that they have been taken advantage of and want to negotiate, yet they do not want the quality of the work to be compromised.
I attended a photography club in Dubai where they taught me the importance of mentoring someone.
They said that the best thing you could do was to mentor someone to become better than yourself. I have mentored some people in Kenya. They come to me without a camera and I sometimes let them tag along with me to get some experience.
In one particular instance, a person I had mentored went behind my back and emailed a client of mine saying that he could do a better job than I could as well as charge a lesser fee.
He thought that now he had learnt a thing of two about photography, he could do what I do.
Fortunately, the client likes and respects me so she sent me a copy of his email and told him that what he was doing was wrong, especially to me, since I was trying to help him.
People also try to steal my images and claim them as their own but I have a camera that puts my initials on an image once I shoot it. The initials can’t be erased.
Describe your passion for photography.
“This thing is crazy.”
“It is intense and it eats you up.”
I can shoot all day and edit the pictures all night. Sometimes I get two hours of sleep. I have to edit everything to perfection.
Passion is like an addiction.
You don’t want to see mistakes in your work and you want to deliver your best work each time.
Describe the process of building up your clientele from scratch.
Remember I came from Dubai and no one knew or had even heard about me.
I had to to create a personal brand from scratch.
To land any clients in photography, you need a portfolio that shows the different kinds of photography you do.
I could not do anything without the portfolio.
To create it I did a lot of pro bono work.
I hang out with good photographers like Emmanuel Jambo and I shot many events for free.
I also posted a lot of my work on social media.
Remember everyone on Facebook is a real person who probably has a job and may need your services at one point.
It took me a year of doing free work, building a fan base on social media and by the end of it I had a portfolio and word was spreading about me.
How did you support yourself in that one year? How sure were you that after you created the portfolio, you’d make a living?
It was scary to do portfolio building for one year not knowing what results I would get.
You just have to be courageous and go for it. It’s never wrong to try to achieve something.
Thankfully, my mom and my siblings who live abroad, supported me in many ways during the one year.
Kenyans in Diaspora get a bad rap for their behavior when they move to Kenya. What advice would you give a summer bunny about how to conduct themselves back home?
The first thing is realize local Kenyans can identify anyone who has been abroad.
“Mtu ameshukaa wanamfahamu.”
“Mtu wa majuu wanajua.”
To quote him,
“Your skin is shiny and you smell so good.” (Having a serious ROFL moment here)
So there’s really no need to draw attention to yourself.
Acting like you are too proud to mingle with people will only get yourself alienated and risk your personal security.
So tone it done for the sake of networking with people and for your own security.
When you are in different environments try as much as possible to blend in and try to put yourself at everyone’s level.
People really appreciate humility and will respond well to it.
Finally, develop an amazing personality which will make make many people drawn to you.
The personality will be the first thing people will see and not the fact that you used to live abroad.
What are some overlooked things that have contributed to your success? What advice would you give someone starting out any business?
When I was building my portfolio, I’d attend events and observe how photographers worked.
I’d notice small little things they had like poor grooming habits and not making an effort with your appearance.
I get clients a lot because my clients want to be associated with me and want to say “that’s my photographer” based on my personal grooming. (But do I say, I am a Luo after all!)
Second, I’ve noticed that most people who want to start a business are not patient.
They want to wake up one day and be you.
There is a lot of patience and patience required to become successful. There are also many challenges to be overcome on your journey and you can’t escape this.
What advice would you give to someone planning to come back home?
You need to have some amount of money saved up and more than that you need to have a plan.
Going home without a plan will make you do things blindly and you will spend all your money. Once you do that you will be stuck.
A lot of Kenyans have a lot of expectations from people who come from abroad and it is normal to just take people out to expensive places and take care of the bills.
Going home permanently is not like going home for vacation when you know you are going back to a job.
On vacation, you have an image to maintain and you don’t care about footing everybody’s bills.
But remember you are back home with no income. You have to be wise, frugal, disciplined and focused.
If you want to start a business you need to do a lot of investigation and research before you begin.
You also need to have tough skin because there will be daily annoyances that you did not have to deal with abroad like power blackouts.
Don’t be too hard on yourself as you adjust to life, remember it is a learning process and it takes some time.
What is your take on going abroad?
The moment you board a plane and leave JKIA, your life changes.
You become a different person, you look at things differently.
You will realize that some things you took for granted in Kenya are not taken for granted abroad.
When you come home you are a better person, you can influence and motivate people. You become a leader among the people you hang around.