An Exclusive Conversation with Mutua Matheka


I am a travel & architectural photographer and a Ford Foundation Fellow, forged in Kenya and based in Nairobi. I see myself as an artist using photography as a medium to see the world and convey my thoughts. My mom says she placed crayons in my hands when i was 3 (I believe her). Since then I drew, painted, did sculpture and now I photograph.

I’m in love with cities & urban living. African cities have a special place in my heart. The way cities and buildings tell us about the people living in them fascinates me. I graduated as an architect and this also influences the way I see and choose to shoot buildings and cities. I am currently on a mission to photograph all African cities in a project called ‘Unscrambling Africa’ which is at heart an exploration into African urbanity, architecture & culture.

I did my first showcase of Nairobi city in 2012 produced by David Blackman and in conjunction with the UN Habitat. Named ‘I’m A City Changer’, the campaign encouraged city dwellers around the world to (at least for a day) focus on what they love about their city. People in over 15 cities participated.

I’m also one of the founding members of ‘One Touch’, a collective of visual story tellers in Nairobi who share the common goal of increasing the narrative and awareness of Kenya and other African countries to African’s first then the world. Together we have undertaken a road trip from Nairobi to Bujumbura and done 2 exhibitions showcasing the places and faces we visit and photograph.

I have worked with brands seeking to use imagery to create a narrative around a product, service or idea. I worked with Kenya Airways to showcase their brand new Dreamliner aircraft through showing Paris as a destination. I’ve also worked with Samsung to launch a photography contest in Nairobi via Instagram in celebration of Kenya being 50 years as a republic. I worked with Chase Bank in Kenya to launch a back account targeting the young demographic. For Huawei technologies, I did something daring and climbed communications masts in various locations to show Kenya from a bold and different point of view. CNN’s Great Big Story featured my mission to show a new view of African cities. I explored Nairobi with Land Rover Africa to showcase the Range Rover Evoque. These are but a few things that occupy my time.

Above all this, it is my family that brings me the most joy and I work to honour them and God with the work that I do.

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