By ELI CHEP
Tired of the negative imagery about Kenya shared so freely by local and international media, a group of crazy cinematographers and photographers got together in 2011 and started embarking on photographic road trips under the banner OneTouchLive.
It all began in 2011 as a regular photographers’ Tuesday meetup. Having started with about six members including: Amunga Eshuchi, Steve Kitots, Mwangi Kirubi, Mutua Matheka, Njeri Ngige and David ‘Skubi’ Sikobe; the group soon grew into a family of 15 photographers. One Touch member, Joe Were says, “The name OneTouch came about because we often challenged ourselves to come up with our best shot in one click.”
At the end of 2012, they took their mission further and under the #ShootingAfrica banner, ventured into northern Tanzania on their most epic adventure yet.
This year, OneTouch decided to extend further out and cover a majority of East Africa. This is the first phase of their #ShootingAfrica campaign. Their journey began on September 1st with a sunrise flag off in Nairobi. This trip saw them drive from Kenya through Uganda, Rwanda to Burundi and back – just to take photographs of people and places they encountered.
Inspired by Kenya’s diverse people and best kept secret destinations; OneTouchLive (OTL), were on a mission to show the world the other side of Kenya and Africa. Without any external funding, their road trips took them to several parts of Kenya as they shared with the world and online followers the beauty that this country holds.
Their first ever debut OneTouch Live “Our Journey in Photographs” exhibition was held last month at the MJ Centre that showcased pictures from the Nairobi – Bujumbura trip. “Those pieces were on sale at the exhibition, and who knows, after that maybe we’ll have coffee books, post cards and much more,” enthuses Mutua. Their exhibition mission was & is to change how people view Africa not as the Dark Continent but rather a continent full of beautiful people, landscapes and industrious and large cities. This is the side of Africa that is barely seen and hardly celebrated by Africans and others. This is the mission of all OneTouch live trips. They eventually returned on the 17th of September after a very successful and amazing trip.
Mutua says, “We shared with the world and our online followers the beauty that this country holds.” Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our blogs, OneTouch Live became a regular trending feature & topic that many looked forward to. A simple search of #OneTouchLive or #ShootingKenya on Twitter/Instagram brings up rarely seen perspectives of areas that we are all familiar with and some that aren’t.
“[In Kenya], we have explored the beautiful Lake Elementaita, Kinale Forest, the fishing camp at Thego, Magadi, Nyahururu, Aberdares, the caves of Mt. Suswa and even Nairobi which is our current operational base,” says Mutua Matheka (renowned photographer and Founder OTL) of the group’s latest campaign dubbed #ShootingAfrica.
However, it has not been all fun and clicks. OTL has had countless challenges, from arrests by foreign police for taking photos at non-designated areas, to the biggest one – financial constraints. Most of their operations are self funded, although some organizations have shown interest in their activities. “We just put together funds from our own pockets and cover what we can. We did receive partial funding and bags from Sandstorm Kenya in a recent trip to Burundi,” says Joe.
OTL seeks to change the single story of Africa and encourage others to discover for themselves, the amazing African cultures, places, and people that live in them, and then share with Africa and the rest of the world. The internet has democratized art. While this is both good and bad, people can now be digitally transported to places they could never go. A person in New York or Australia can see your work and connect with it or even give you a job, which is amazing. Shoot now – share now.”
Most of the top notch photographers in Kenya today are affiliated with OneTouch; from one of the best wedding photographers Ben Kiruthi to Mwangi ‘Mwarv’ Kirubi, well known for excellent travel photography.
The lot has inspired many more photographers to join the industry, even if armed with nothing more than a dream and inspiration. OTL now has 50 African countries still left to tour, and several other projects to accomplish.
Next year they will be taking on the Nairobi-Rio-By-Road 2014 trip to the World Cup in Brazil. “Well, since our core is travel, we plan to showcase an exhibition on Africa when we get to Rio,” reveals Joe.
For more info, like Facebook Page: One Touch Media Kenya