In six short years, Katz Photography has grown to be a games name in wedding photography in Kenya and now internationally
By KAGENI MUSE
Timothy Katua a documentary wedding photographer at Katz Photography started cutting his entrepreneurial path early in life. He remembers financing his pocket money in high school in the early 2000s by doing calligraphy. After high school he made and sold bookmarks and at some point, while employed, he ventured into the taxi and car hire business.
“Since high school I knew I wanted to have a business in the creative industry, but I didn’t know what kind of business I would venture in. Since my siblings are in the financial sector I ended up as an accountant,” he says. The dream to run his own business did not die with employment. He remembers at his first job, overhearing a colleague complain of how she had worked for about four years in the same job and had only that job as her single source of income. “That bothered me and made me want to get out of employment or at least not have one single source of income,” he says.
His inspiration to pick up a camera would come at a friend’s wedding in 2010 when he saw how amazing their wedding photographer was. A year or so later he bought his first camera with Sacco savings but unfortunately after spending KSh60,000 on it, it stayed packed in a box until his friend challenged him to make use of it. He was, of course, not sure whether photography was the business to venture in. But one day he had an epiphany on the story of Moses in the Bible in Exodus 4:20 when God asked Moses, “What is in your hands?”
“What was in my hands at that period was a camera. Since then I became the official photographer at the office for any event that the organisation did. I gained confidence in taking pictures and it became more than just a hobby. We did two weddings of colleagues in one year and the following year I quit to follow my passion in photography” Katua remembers.
Standing out in the market
In the beginning him together with his wife Monicah Katua, who is now his business partner, tried all sorts of photography genres, but ended up falling in love with wedding photography. “We had to bring a fresh breath to rise in the market and this we achieved through quality over quantity. We started showing more authentic moments and emotions of the wedding day that are documented creatively and are unique from the industry standards. We call it creative documentary wedding photography,” he says.
Since they had heard and experienced first-hand bad incidents with wedding photographers who didn’t deliver to their clients’ expectations, they decided it was their mission to deliver exceptionally unique images and without fail.
The game changer
As self-taught photographers, YouTube proved to be their greatest tutor even in 2013 at the start of their career when good internet didn’t come cheap. However, to separate themselves from what everyone else was doing in the local market, in 2017 Katua attended a three-day photography workshop by arguably one of the best wedding photographers in the world, Two Mann Studios and that was the game changer. “It changed everything we knew about photography and made us way better than we had ever been. Ever since we always strive to attend one international workshop every two years and we hope to attend one in Venice, Italy this year,” he says.
Katz Photography may be a success story now but starting out was hard because photography is not appreciated as a career in Kenya, Katua says. Another challenge is a mentality by people who think that photography is just clicking a button and a picture appears. Technology, he feels, is also moving fast, meaning equipment he had a year ago now seems outdated. “Government requirements come into play as well like where huge sums of money go to licenses to fly a drone after spending about KSh200,000 to buy the drone. It hurts the creatives industry though their concerns on security are valid,” he says.
What keeps them going? “The belief that we are doing something meaningful – telling wedding stories and documenting memories,” he says. “Success means different things to different people and to us we had a very clear purpose from the beginning and living this purpose with every client is the ultimate fulfilment.
Their good job has won them accolades and memberships with international wedding photography directories some of which are invite only like Best of Wedding Photography (BOWP) directory and are the only photographers currently from Africa. Other accolades are from MyWed and Fearless Photographers. The couple hopes to mentor young people from needy backgrounds in photography so that they can tell their stories through pictures. They are already mentoring a few photographers so far to help them rise to the international platform.
Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Find the problem and your client is right there waiting for a solution. Think out of the box and stop copying what everyone is doing. A photography friend once told me, “spend time perfecting your craft and the money shall come”,” Katua concludes.
Kageni Muse is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi. Email: kagenimuse@gmailcom