Photography businesses diversify to survive in a changing world

Jasper Okinyi of Opulex Tec Ventures demonstrates 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 advent of the digital age and mobile phones, photos have become a way of life. Gone are the days when families had to wait for a photographer to help mark key events such as birthdays.

In recent years, photography has become a mega business opportunity in Kenya, especially among young creatives. Likewise, it was among the hardest hit industries during the lockdown period.

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

Mr. Jasper Okinyi, the director of the company, was pushed to diversify after photography stagnated.

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

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

He also adds that the cost of equipment has skyrocketed due to high import duties. This was due to the closures of some major import markets.

“A camera worth Sh120,000 has gone up to Sh170,000,” Okinyi said. He said that “photographers embrace diversity. Those with equipment have ventured 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, has a slightly different view.

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

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

“Indoor filming has been increased. There is a huge influx of customers. They are readily available and sprouts take little time. “We use digital platforms to sell our business. We have invested heavily in online presence to sell our brand to attract customers we know or not,” Mbuvi said.

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