Our last interview in this #ShesGotTheLens series, today we speak to Hazel Bakhoya or ‘Giraffe with a Camera’ as per her cleverly named Instagram handle. Hazel is a Kenyan interior designer by profession and a self taught mobile photographer. As an individual with a strong visual sense, she tends to gravitate towards photography as her main medium of expression.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Hazel Bakhoya?
An interior designer and all round artist with a knack for all things creative. As an individual with a strong visual sense, I gravitate towards photography as my main medium of expression and mostly focus on Kenyan architecture and street photography.
What’s the story behind the name ‘Giraffe With A Camera’?
This is an interesting one, I coined ‘Giraffe with a Camera’ because it captures my physical appearance and tools of trade. As a tall girl, I always felt like my stature offered a different perspective when it came to what I saw and could capture. Plus giraffes are pretty graceful creatures, so why not!
How did you get into photography?
A series of compliments from friends and family is what I have to thank for putting me on this path. I would casually take pictures for my Instagram which often got a lot of appreciation . This piqued my interest a little more and gave me the desire to take my photography seriously. The more pictures I took, the more I enjoyed the process and now photography has become my favourite art form.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to capture a visual story?
In my opinion motion produces some of the best shots. I find it intriguing when a moment in time is captured. It allows your viewers to form their own opinion of what may have been happening when the photograph was taken.
You submitted ‘Wavuvi’’ as your #ShesGotTheLens entry. Could you tell us more about the story behind the picture?
During a short trip to Kisumu, a friend and I headed to Dunga beach to wind down. On arrival, a number of things immediately caught my eye; the array of colourful boats, fishing nets, fishermen by dock telling stories and the women who sat around them cleaning the fish ready for sale. The visual appeal of the entire scene was fantastic.
What’s a different shot that you captured recently that you love and why?
As a street photographer, I’m always on the look out for scenes that tell a story. I came across these two bicycles that had been placed side by side against a fence. I love this shot because it holds so many possibilities in terms of narrative. The story could be that of a friendship, of two brothers or perhaps even lovers- innocently bonding over a shared bicycle ride.
What are some of the highlights you’ve experienced in your craft?
One of the major highlights of my craft is getting to see genuine reactions of joy from the people I’ve captured candidly. Being able to get them to see themselves through a different lens, my lens, is very fulfilling.
Photography within East Africa can be a very male-dominated field, how do you think we can shift that?
We can start by actively embracing the fact that the craft is genderless. That being said, the focus should be on cultivating a space where ideas and content are king over any other factors and in turn giving opportunities and jobs to worthy candidates regardless of gender.
Any advice for upcoming young, female photographers?
Remember why you started. That inherent desire to create should be primary, everything else is secondary. I’d also say to find your voice and stay true to it.
Lastly, a question we ask all our new Nomads, what’s your favourite Kenyan travel destination and why?
Tsavo National Park, hands down. The atmosphere is blissful and the sunsets are sensational.