Following our last conversation with the talented Sabrina Said, today we chat with another one of our #ShesGotTheLens winners, Carol Kuyo. Carol is a content creator and photographer based in Mombasa, Kenya, passionate about the rich culture, food, people and architecture of the region.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Carol Kuyo?
I am a content creator and photographer based in Mombasa and I enjoy experiencing the food, culture, people, and architecture of a place. Having been born and raised in Mombasa, I have developed a deep appreciation for all the details that make up the town and I enjoy capturing it in its element through photography. I’d also like to share more about Mombasa through other avenues. Just recently for instance, I got to offer tours within the town and share the knowledge I have about it.
How did you get into photography?
I wouldn’t say there is a particular time I got into photography, as it has been a gradual journey of discovery and evolution. However, the earliest related memory I have dates back to when I was around 10 years old. My brother had brought home a film camera and my mum and I would take lots of photos and get them produced at a studio in town. I’d always be so proud and excited of the photos that came out.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to capture a visual story?
Let there be meaning in what you capture and that doesn’t always have to be something extreme. I would also suggest capturing anything that moves your heart and if you can, enhance the reality of the moment by tweaking a few things, like placing someone in your shots. I often hear people say they don’t come across anything worth photographing but I maintain that life is always happening, so we just need to open our eyes a little more to the beautiful stories all around us, even the simple ones.
You submitted ‘Arches’ as your #ShesGotTheLens entry. Could you tell us more about the story behind the picture?
I’ve always loved classic Coastal architecture and how it contrasts against the modern architecture in Mombasa. I wanted to submit something that I had already captured along the lines of architecture and found this particular image interesting. The building photographed here is the ACK Mombasa Memorial Cathedral which has stood since 1905. It was designed to resemble a mosque to better fit into the largely Muslim community in which it was built.
I also thought to add in my friend who had on this beautiful, long dress and head wrap which married well with the building to tell the story better.
What’s a different shot that you captured recently that you love and why?
While I was walking home, I photographed two men outside playing “dumna” or ‘Dominoes’ as it is more commonly known. This was in Mshomoroni, a neighbourhood in Mombasa. It was very interesting watching the men play and I love the shot because it captures the element of play in our African communities. As I captured the shot, I also wondered how long traditions like these would last…would people just play indoors in future? Also why didn’t more women take part in these games more openly? It made me question a lot which is always a good thing.
What are some of the highlights you’ve experienced in your craft?
Being able to interact more with the locals on a deeper level is definitely a major highlight. You often need to speak to the people in the areas you’re shooting in and as a result, I have become friends with several people in different places. Like the old men from Old Town, Mombasa for instance, they always have such lovely stories from the past.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced?
I was once stopped by a policeman claiming I wasn’t supposed to photograph a certain building even though I knew that wasn’t true. Such experiences can be so disheartening,. You develop a fear of getting your phone out to capture images, which can really hamper one’s creativity.
Another challenge is the quality of my work. I capture images solely through my phone, so the quality gets a bit compromised when transferred onto alternative media. I have amazing images that I’d like to print but I worry about the outcome. It’s definitely something I need to work on as I hope to one day host an exhibition and have my own photography book.
Photography within East Africa can be a very male-dominated field, how do you think we can shift that?
It can and has been a very male-dominated field but I think we are already starting to see some progress and more women photographers in this region. If you look at the #shesgotthelens entries for instance, you’ll see several female photographers which is a good sign that women are also taking up space and believing in their craft.
We can continue to make the shift by continuing to photograph and putting ourselves and our work out there.
Any advice for upcoming young, female photographers?
It’s funny that I have to give advice to an upcoming young female photographer when I still consider myself one haha! Anyway, I’d say photography is a journey, not a destination, so keep taking photos and creating stories to evolve and grow in it.
Lastly, a question we ask all our new Nomads, what’s your favourite Kenyan travel destination and why.
I honestly haven’t been to as many parts of Kenya as I’d like to but so far, I love the Mambrui sand dunes right by the ocean in Malindi.
You can catch Carol Kuyo’s feature in the November issue of Nomad Magazine. Stay tuned to our social media pages and blog for more exciting details on the release! To see ‘Top Shots’ from past issues, check out our archives.