Recently, we had an opportunity to talk to Walter Keys, a very spontaneous personality in the African photography industry who takes us through his journey as a photographer.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Walter Keys, am 28yrs old and am a photographer from Kampala Uganda.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY?
My style of photography is mainly storytelling and I use day to day activities that someone can easily relate with. Sometimes I partner with some abstract story tellers like Deriq Kissinger (Uganda artist) and we create work.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THAT MOMENT (EXPERIENCE, EMOTIONS) WHEN YOU KNEW THAT PHOTOGRAPHY WAS SOMETHING YOU JUST HAD TO DO?
In November 2017 I posted a picture called “the life of a mechanic summarized in one picture” and it went viral. It was both a point of excitement and enlightenment. This was the moment I understood that story telling is everything.
Well, I didn’t even know I was capable of doing what I do. I was initially into music but then one day I started to shoot a Prophet of God, Prophet Elvis Mbonye. One day he told me, “Your pictures Should tell a story”. It was that time that I focused more on storytelling. And today, photography is life.
WHAT KIND OF TOOLS/GEAR DO YOU USE FOR PROCESSING? EXPLAIN YOUR WORK FLOW?
I use Photoshop for processing, grading and retouching. I shoot RAW so that I can get more detail and content to work with.
FROM YOUR OWN POINT OF VIEW, WHAT MAKES A GOOD PICTURE?
The story it tells
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH THEN ACTUAL PROCESS THAT YOU USE TO SET UP A PORTRAIT?
I usually shoot outdoor portraits so I use a single strobe light and a reflector and position them around to the subject, relative to the story I want to tell.
COLOR VS BLACK AND WHITE. WHY IS ONE OVER THE OTHER, AND IS THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS DIFFERENT?
I like both the color and the Black and white. And yes the process is different. Though I mostly shoot color because it portrays the rich heritage and beauty of people.
LOCATIONS AND WEATHER CONDITIONS SEEMS TO BE A CRUCIAL ASPECT TO A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THESE UNPREDICTABLE FACTORS?
Climatic changes happen all the time. Usually we modify the concept to fit the new climate.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER TO CONNECT WITH HIS SUBJECTS TO BRING OUT THEIR TRUE SELF?
It is very important because if you don’t connect with your subject it will be hard to manifest who they are through the lens. Connecting with them will put them at ease and will make your communication with the subject more effective, hence good results
WHEN YOU ARE OUT SHOOTING, HOW MUCH OF IT IS INSTINCTUAL VERSUS PLANNED?
Well of course before shooting, you go with a plan but then most times you will see something else while on location that will actually add to the story or even tell it better, so for me I usually don’t limit my imagination. Plan helps you to be organized but some of my best photos taken are instinctual
HOW DO YOU EDUCATE YOURSELF TO TAKE BETTER PICTURES?
I visit different platforms especially Instagram to be inspired by other photographers and then I also watch tutorials on YouTube to better my craft
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR BRAND?
It has done a good Job spreading the word. We are actually doing this interview because of social media hehe
DO YOU TAKE PHOTOS MORE FOR YOURSELF OR FOR OTHERS?
I shoot for people out there to motivate them, inspire them through different stories.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU THINK AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE FACING AND WHAT SOLUTION WOULD YOU PROFFER?
I want to start by celebrating all African photographers. My advice is never stop sharing our rich culture because it’s because of you and me that culture is being preserved.