Alloys Iteba a.k.a Chromez is a Kenyan artist who uses photography to tell rich stories of our continent through ordinary folks and ordinary life. We discussed with him...
Tell us about your story as a photographer. How it all started, the hurdles, the successes…
Photography was never my thing growing up. I had no interest until I met Osborne Macharia (now an internationally renowned photographer).We were doing our final undergraduate thesis proposal (2013). He joined us in the second semester. We had the same supervisor but I never took an interest in him. Until one of my classmates mentioned that he had done some amazing work for Guinness Raise Your Game and Niko Na Safaricom Live 2013.
After checking up his work, I fell in love with the images. Never did I imagine a local guy can produce those bad ass images. We hooked up early 2014 for some motivations and how to go about digital photography. He was humble and willing to help. I owe him a lot. I acquired my first camera Canon 1100D and YouTube became my teacher.
2015 one of my images was used in a local cover magazine.
January 2016, things were hard. I had invested almost $2000 in photography using my salary (employed as a graduate architect). Yet for almost 2yrs I had made less than $300 only. I was so broke by then, selling the equipment and giving up on photography was the only option I had. The day I was to sell the equipment, I got a call from a friend who works at Sportpesa (SportPesa, is a Kenya-based sports betting website owned and operated by Pevans East Africa Limited). He wanted me to present my portfolio along with other photographers for some assignment.
I got the job and it paid well. The same year 2016, I won an award under the creative category (series) on Kenya Photography Awards sponsored by Canon. Early this year, two of my personal projects ‘Mashambani FC’ and ‘Ma-tire Brothers’ got featured on Behance for the first time. Great deal for me and more opportunities have been opened. I’m now a believer of never ever give up on your craft, keep grinding, perfect it. With God's Grace, you will conquer the world... Soon, very soon!
What type of photography are you into?
Am more into conceptual photography because I see myself as a digital artist I often make illustrations of different concepts (ideas), stage them and create an image which is totally different from what was in front of the lens, re-interpreting it in a new way.
Tell us about your source of inspiration. What inspires you?
Architecture inspires me to do photography. Talk of modernist architecture. This style of the 20th century is heavily characterised by asymmetrical compositions, use of cubic or cylindrical shapes which often makes the form to be aesthetically appealing to the eye.
I try to in-cooperating all those elements with my subjects to bring out a striking and unsettling composition, focusing on the conceptual as well as the visual aspect of photography.
Also, I get inspiration from other creatives on Behance, horror or animation movies, magazines, day to day experiences and my childhood memories that I hold dear to.
Tell us about a few of your best works, why do they stand out?
Am yet to do my best shots. Every new project is my best work. Though so far I can say ‘Ma-tire brothers’ stands out for me. The childhood memories, a true value of happiness, heart-warming moments kept.
Do you have any idol or mentor in the domain? What is so special about them?
I have some I look up to but they keep on changing depending on what I shoot at that particular time. They include; Osborne Macharia, Joey Lawrence, Adrian Sommeling, Clay Cook, Erik Johansson to name but a few.
What really motivates you as a photographer and what is your final objective in the art?
Being am able to change the narrative of African, How the world perceives us through my photography. To tell rich stories of our continent through ordinary folks and ordinary life. Art is amazing and is glad that people have started to impress it.
My fiancée Mary Achola, she is so supportive of what I do. She believes in me more than I do.
Any comment about this domain of activity in Kenya?
I can say there is much progress in the past few years. Cooperates, advertising industry etc. have started believing in us, and more work is being given to local photographers unlike in the past where the domain was dominated by foreign artists.
Any advice to the young generation who is looking up to you?
Never settle for the ordinary as you easily become irrelevant. Keep crafting and perfecting your art with passion and money will follow. With God's Grace, you will conquer the world sooner than you think.
What type of shooting equipment do you use and why?
Equipment is just a tool that helps you or makes it easy for you to execute your concepts and ideas with ease. What matters is the planning process and the final product.