Even before his graduation in December 2018 in mechatronic engineering, Titus Biwot Limo has already switched his career to photography.
He developed an interest in this field in his third year at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat). He now earns an income good enough to meet all his bills.
“I developed an interest after spending time with Frank Chiuri, my mentor and an architect, who was practising photography part-time. He was a year ahead of me in the university,” he says.
Mr Limo 24, acquired his first camera, a Nikon B3300, at Sh50,000 with savings from the earnings he made from growing maize on his farm in June 2015. With another Sh50,000 he bought a flash, lens, stand, lighting equipment and other necessary accessories.
Without any formal training, he would accompany his mentor in his photography jobs, where he learnt the basics of camera operation such as zooming, panning and light operations.
Mr Limo would then practice taking photos of his friends and the environment as he sought to perfect his skills. He used his house in Ruiru as a workspace and studio.
Nine months after entering into the photography field, he landed his first professional project.
“I did a photography project for a logistics company in Eldoret in March 2016. I was required to take profile photos of the staff while at work and create a picture story of the company. I was paid Sh30,000, which took me by surprise as I never knew photography would pay this well,” says Mr Limo.
He does not have a specific target of clients because according to him photography is universal regardless of gender, age, or occupation.
In 2017, he bought an improved version of his first camera Nikon B3300 at Sh50,000. The new gadget has additional features enabling him to produce photos of higher quality.
Personal photos go for between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000 depending on the nature of the shoot and location.
On a good month, the young entrepreneur can make up to Sh100,000 which is lower than what an average engineer earns at approximately Sh1.5 million annually, according to payscale.com. However, this is not an issue given his huge passion for photography.
“I enjoy what I am doing and it makes me happy. Furthermore, it foots my bills and if I was not a photographer, I would be dependent on my parents,” he says.
Doesn’t the business consume much of his time at the expense of his studies?
Mr Limo flatly says no. He does his photography jobs mostly on weekends, leaving Monday to Friday for studies.
Currently he is doing the job alone but when he lands a big project such as covering a corporate event, which requires different camera angles, he invites other photographers.
He has also acquired video editing skills which he has perfected through watching YouTube tutorials.
“This enables me to cover weddings, corporate a well as private events, and edit the video myself. I charge clients between Sh40,000 and Sh50,000 for this,” he says.
One of his challenges is that the prices of consumables have been rising. For instance, in 2015 camera batteries were retailing at Sh3,000 but now they cost as high as Sh8,000.
He has been compelled to increase his charges by Sh500, which has made some of his clients to leave him. To counter this, he has has aggressively taken to online and social media advertising to woo new ones.
Mr Limo aspires to be a renowned filmmaker in Kenya. He has not, however, given up on mechatronic engineering as he plans to pursue it later.