Looking for the backstory in a picture

Saturday January 20 2018

Piko, by Adam Mwero. PHOTO | KARI MUTU | NMG

Piko, by Adam Mwero. PHOTO | KARI MUTU | NMG 

By KARI MUTU
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Adam Mwero’s journey into photography started with his mobile phone.

As his interest grew, and before he purchased his own camera, he used to borrow equipment from friends to learn the basic techniques, and browse the Internet to pick up a few tricks. Nowadays he has his own equipment, like the Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens used for the photograph The Herdsman.

The picture is of a barefoot man leading a herd of cattle across a beach in the coastal town of Malindi. It is an ordinary scene, but has an alluring vintage look from the copper-coloured sand, brown and black cows, and background of thatched grey rooftops among coconut fronds.

The photograph and others are showing at the Polka Dot Gallery in Nairobi.

“I lean towards a warm tone. I feel that warmth in pictures represents life,” says Mwero.

A number of his photos lean towards sepia and duotone colours. The Wind Surfer is of a lone ocean surfer with a rainbow-coloured parachute high above. It is an uncomplicated but engaging shot, with water of steel blue, the sky overcast and brown sand.

Mwero is based in Nairobi but travels around the country to document different places and people.

For deeper insight during people-based photography, Mwero takes time to interact with his subjects beforehand. He says it is about, “Getting to know someone’s character and trying to portray it in a photograph.”

Piko is of a woman in applying henna dye to the feet of another woman, common among coastal communities during weddings. The artist bends intently over her work, her red dress contrasting with the patterns of the henna and brown fabrics in the room.

In a different photography style, Mwero employs editing software to manipulate the shots, create supernatural situations and “have more than one meaning or backstory,” he says.

The woman in Flower Queen has a hairdo made of green leaves and yellow flowers. It tells the story of interdependence between humans and plants.

Mwero also does commercial projects such as weddings and events, but I think his artistic photography will be the most interesting to follow in the future.