Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wanna be hip in Kenya? Get a DSLR

I want a camera! No…. let me be more specific…. I want a DSLR camera (Digital SLR camera). And I have also realized that if I expect to be perceived as someone who is in touch with the times I must have a DSLR camera. This realization has gradually dawned upon me over the past several weeks as I have observed the increase in proliferation of these somewhat mystical but genuinely sexy gadgets. Mystical because there is a kind of magic that happens when a DSLR is in the hands of someone who knows how to use it and the images that come out of that union are, to say the least, breathtaking. Sexy because the damn gadgets have plenty of buttons, bells and whistles and seemingly cannot be discreetly hidden but bulge, protrude and hang openly with their naked charm out there for everybody to see.

While "keeping up with the Joneses" is something that is generally frowned upon let's face it, people like things, and from time to time there will be that gizmo, that gadget, that must-have doodad, that
makes a social statement which clearly separates the goats from the sheep. The current item that is clearly marking the more progressive in Kenyan middle-class society is the digital SLR camera.
One only has to grace a school swimming gala, graduation or wedding to see the very visible display of DSLR cameras. It is not uncommon to
have tens and tens of Nikon, Canon and Sony DSLR devices hanging around the necks, over the shoulders and in the grips of young urban
professionals at these events. In much the same way that a mobile phone seemed to convey upon it's bearer the appearance of being progressive, techno-savvy and socially fluent, the DSLR camera has solidly stamped it's authority as one of the modern labels of social standing.

While for many it serves purely as a status symbol and practically is used in much the same way cheaper point-and-shoot digital cameras are, there are those who have genuinely caught the photography bug and actively invest in and practice the art as a hobby outside of their day jobs and careers. Those who have distinguished themselves include the likes of Mutua Matheka http://mutuamatheka.co.ke, David Kiania http://www.shutterdiplomacy.com and Mark Muinde,
http://www.sokomoto.com all of whom have set up online portfolios that hold some breathtaking photographic works of art. While Mutua seems to have become a favorite wedding photographer for young, modern couples, David's work tends to consist largely of events where he bravely captures candid moments that carry the feeling and experience of the moment. Mark and his partner have distinguished themselves with a dedicated stock photography site where they hold what can only be
described as photographs that capture the African experience in imagery that shows both the traditional and non-traditional aspects of African and especially Kenyan society and environment.

So now I hope you understand why I must have a DSLR camera. It remains to be seen whether it will serve simply as my statement of social "with-it-ness" or whether I will actually develop the skills and
knowledge on how to wield the DSLR camera as part of the art that uses images to talk and touch and feel. And, since you asked, the DSLR that I am saving and scraping every red cent that I can spare for is the Nikon D-7000 *swoon*

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