Obama’s photography gig in Kenya changed my life, Kenyan entrepreneur recalls

David Macharia
David Macharia, the founder of versatile Photography. [Photo: Standard]

David Macharia’s success in photography sounds like it was a scripted movie but it is not.

With humble beginnings as a mole catcher at his Njabini home, Nyandarua County, he was the man who photographed US President Barrack Obama when he visited Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Macharia always had a passion for photography. When he left high school, he came to Nairobi and worked in a studio within the central business district (CBD) where he interned.

By and by, he learnt the ropes of photography, a skill that built his company, Versatile Photographers but it was not easy.

When he left the studio, he went to Kangemi where he lived. He borrowed cameras from friends and took photos of house helps and before long, their employers became part of his clientele.

With his zeal, he continued this job and he soon became a target for corporates with connections from his clients in Kangemi.

It was in 2007 when he registered his first company and had to work in an office owned by his friend with just a camera and a borrowed computer.

Today, he runs a high-tech studio in Village Market and the city centre.

But what is his highlight in his entrepreneurial journey? He told the Standard that it was the Obama gig which taught him about humility.

“It all began when a client approached me to cover a funeral. Unknown to me, I had just met a person who had strong contacts with the American Embassy. This connection would later get me assigned as the official photographer of President Barack Obama when he visited Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

“That is when I truly grasped that humility and treating everyone you meet with respect can take you places. Had I played down the funeral assignment, I would not have landed a job that changed the direction of my career,” he recalled.

From earnings that he got from the White House for covering Obama in Kenya, he started a photography school.

Today, his least paid photo published in international magazines and other platforms fetches $1,200.

From the parent company Versatile Photographers, Macharia runs several other including Versatile School of Photography, Versatile Adventures, Versatile Etiquette, Versatile Creative Hub, Africa Stock Images and Photography by David Macharia.