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Meet Dennis Ochieng Otieno a photojournalist from the slums of Kibera. He has always had a passion for photography since an early age and is trying to showcase a different story and the daily life of the people of Kibera, he’s already acting as their eye in the community, spotting whatever not everyone can see. Photography to him is his life and he’s trying to teach other upcoming youths in his community to appreciate the art of photography

First, Tell us about yourself?

Hello. Am Dennis Ochieng Otieno born and raised in the slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya? I love photography and it has been my best career I ever loved.
I loved cameras since I was a little kid and that reminds me of the time my mum could buy me a toy camera to play with and that’s was the best thing that could make my day and happy since I never lived other toys so much but loving toy cameras was one of the best things ever for me and I even carried it going with it to school when I was in the kindergarten.
And that’s how I grew up loving the camera and even after high school that remained to be my dream career because was the only thing in my heart I could take as a passion to do forever and to nurture others too on the same career as the thing I could do the best.

Why did you choose to pursue a career as a photographer?

I think the reason why I choose photography as a career it’s because I loved cameras so much and capturing people’s images, secondly, it’s because of the life I lived in the slum of Kibera and I choose to showcase to be the eye if the community by showing the world what Kibera looks like and changes that should be made or what should be improved for a better life not only to the people of Kibera but as the world in general with Kibera being the mirror of the world. Just being the eye and my art being the mirror of the community.

Are you a detailed oriented person?

Yes I am a detail oriented person.

What type of cameras do you shoot with?

For the past three years I have been using Canon camera but since this year I have decided to shift to Nikon of the new great change it’s showing me on my stories (image) and it’s not because I came to hate Canon, it’s only that I want to taste the use of Nikon as a brand on its own and compare because as a photographer or a filmmaker, a person should try hard to have a test of different brands even if not owning the tool or equipment for an experience.

Which is your favorite lens? Why?

I have no best lens…I can use any lens as long as it can link up with my camera because art (photography) is about skill….without skill no matter what kind of lens or machine someone is given to use for better work, someone will never have the best because he/she has no skill. Skill is the key to every art we take or careers we have and that’s why when we go to school we should look for skills than excellence in papers or books. With skill, someone can do something better and unbelievable.

Whose work has influenced you most?

Actually, there’s this documentary photographer called Steve McCurry he has been my influence on documentary photography so much, and every time I always want to be like him for his creativity in terms of thing like composition, color/theme, and I even always want to be more than him because he has become old now in the industry and young artists like me who have grown because of him, should success him to keep his art alive even after his retirement to remain as a reference that someone like him existed and was a good mirror to the world and community.

How long have you been a photographer?

I have been a photographer since 2017 and that’s about 4years now being an independent documentary photojournalist documenting the daily life of the people of Kibera by social, political, cultural, and economic also not only showcasing the poverty life they live but as well the joy and hope in their hearts for a bright future for both children and adults in the hood.

Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

I always have no one of the best work has ever done because I love all my work I have done even the one I saw being poor in the past when I’m still learning documentary photography. And if it could be a must I mention the best I could choose this photo I titled ” Life Inside Art ” that was once featured by Cnn Africa, Gntv Lagos in 2020 and was the same year that Femimo (One of the famous businessmen from Nigeria ) recognized my photo and actually he is the one who shared the photo with Gntv Lagos to featuring and that was the same year that some of the best Storytellers in loved his work from Nigeria recognized me and following up my every feed.

What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

I use computer (Desktop) in editing after taking my photos as post on my feed via my smartphone.

What is your favorite subject to photograph?

My best subject to photography is on Lifestyle by social ,Political, Culture and Economics.

You’re a photojournalist who shoots different stories of people/places at Kibera. What do you wish to portray to people?

What I wish to portray to people is that we should be people ready to stand up or being the cater for the community, especially when I showcase the daily life of people of Kibera, am already acting as their eye in the community, spotting whatever not everyone can see to a better change or future of a common resident.

Is Kibera your hometown?

Yes. Kibera is my hometown and it’s the home that taught me life in terms of being responsible and of humanity to everyone not only adults but more to children in the slum.

How do you feel you support and represent the community in your work?

I feel more of pleasure being of support to a home that made me who I am to be appreciated as a hero using his/her art in giving life and hope to the heartbroken

What does photography mean to you?

Photography means a lot to me, it’s like my life and what I breathe and eat with those in need of my help/support in the art.
Photography has taught me too much about humanity and it has strengthened my heart in loving and accepting people the way they are.
Photography has shown me whatever I never knew before e.g I never saw people suffering cancer, I never knew some people eat or help themselves out by pipes dipped into their body, I knew people but I never knew how so deep other people suffer but the documentary has made me know and photography has taught me the heart of giving and that’s what made me have a rule to myself that from any outcome in terms of achievements on my photography I have to give something back to the needy in the slum as a community.

In your opinion what makes the good picture stand out from the average?

Whatever makes a better picture for me is the composition, theme and the eye of the subject on my frame.

What inspires you?

Whatever inspires me is the smile and heart of my community. They live in poverty but full of happiness in their heart, someone can see peace on calmness on their faces full of hope.

How do you educate yourself to take better photos?

Whatever makes me have good photos is by being creative, imaginative be able to create the full image(story) even before capturing it on your camera, also is by having a solid grip of the niche you’re in (Environment) making good use if the environment and the people around as a feature to your image or story.

How would you describe your photography style?

I think the way I could describe my photography style it’s by theme, originality…my style is unique and I ever want to have my own style to stand out of all other photographers when we’re on the same ground.

What’s the most difficult part being a photographer for you?

I think the most difficult part for me being a photographer is when other subjects need to be paid to have their images and sometimes I may not have what they want.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a photographer for you?

I think the most difficult part for me being a photographer is when other subjects need to be paid to have their images and sometimes I may not have what they want.

What do you like most about being a photographer?

The most rewarding part of being a photographer for me is that it teaches a way of communicating and understanding people of different ages and gender….it has helped me recognize people with different feelings and reactions and how to manage myself when I meet them.

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to start up a photography gallery, nurturing young artists, and stopping drugs use by art in Kibera by getting drug addicts involved in photography as the eye of the community (educate)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

5 years to come I see myself being of more impact to lives in Kibera as a hope giver by transforming lives.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I have been given is that, never undergrade people by standard, don’t show people your worth by seeing yourself so special than others, treat people with humanity, understand peoples feelings, Never think people are the same, love people the way they are.

Social handles

Instagram: Dennis Ochieng

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