By Steve Obudo and Anthony Mbugua
How do you know if you’re into photography? If you won’t even share a Smartphone pic until you edit it, you have been bitten by the bug.
Rain of Tenza is the name that young Kenyan student Gonzanga Sitech uses on social media. He has captured personalities with his camera that include the likes of ShaqTheYungin, actress and TV presenter Lola Hannigan, vlogger Elodie Zone to Camp Mulla band member Shappaman. But his power doesn’t lie in celebrity clients only. His work majors on fashion photography and portraiture.
We caught up with him to talk about his amazing work.
Who is ‘Rain of Tenza’?
Tenza is a combination of my two names; Gonzanga Sitech. When I wanted to get into photography, I wanted to curve my own niche. Hence the word ‘Rain’, an inflected form of ‘Reign.’ I didn’t want to be direct. That’s how I came up with Rain of Tenza.
I spent most of this year working on the lighting for my images. I didn’t really know what i was doing most of the time but i felt like trial and error was the best way to get at it. I finally decided to get into gells and will be doing more of these in 2018 🙌🏾 Model in frame @sarahguidine Mua @_denniskaruri
Which course are you pursuing on campus?
I’m at the University of Nairobi currently pursuing design hoping to major in graphic design.
When did you develop an interest in photography?
Well, I’d say since primary school. I was always into music and I liked rap. It is something I wanted to get into but I didn’t put much effort into it. I was good at writing music but not so much at freestyling compared to my friends. Over a while, it kinda hit me that maybe music wasn’t my thing. My focus in music by then was in music videos, looking up to the likes of Director X. I later met a guy named Philip who was a videographer and I asked him how I can get into his field. He told me that the best way to get into videography is if I started with photography and so I took his advice. After high school, I borrowed a camera and tried taking a few shots and that’s how I ended up falling in love with photography.
Based on that, do you think it’s important for those who want to get into photography to study it?
It’s an upper hand to anyone who does. But as long as you’re pursuing something that is art related to design or fashion, they gel together with photography.
What has been your biggest moment so far in your work?
I’ve been in photography for say a solid one year but I’ve done so much. My niche came through shooting the right people at the right time and putting in a lot of effort in my craft. I spent a lot of time researching and coming up with concepts that would attract the right market. The Kenyan celebrities I shot widened the market for me and I rose faster than most photographers. That to me has been the highlight of my work so far.
Who was your first Kenyan celebrity client?
I wouldn’t call him a celebrity but I’d say he is growing very fast in his industry. It is El Shaqqo, popularly known as ShaqTheYungin. I met him a while back during my 19th birthday. He was already making waves as an MC and his YouTube channel was also picking up. We made acquaintances and when I started out, I decided to shoot him for a while and in about a month, his photos were all over the Internet and social media. People got curious as to who was behind the photos after which his manager, Castro picked me and told me that he wanted to manage my career as well. Castro hooked me up with other personalities such as Tanasha. I also shot for Bien Aime of Sauti Sol’s birthday after that. I then felt like it wasn’t the right path to take because my interest wasn’t to be a celebrity photographer but they had really opened up my market.
From then on I shifted fully into fashion photography.
Who influences your work?
There are photographers I look up to by picking from them a few tips on how to grow. But I don’t copy their work. I like the way Jake Hicks does his work. Clay Cook does very good lighting and he is more into fashion. For architecture photography, it’s definitely Mike Kelly. Others include Amanda Diaz and Sean Archer.
What experience do you want people to take with them by working with you?
Most of the people I’ve worked with tell me they enjoy the comfort and the relaxed atmosphere I offer because I always have an assistant on set. The client’s needs are easily tended to and that gets them to relax. I also play music while working which reduces any tension. I’ve also gotten stylists and makeup artists who create the kind of image they want. I also choose locations for them that appropriately suite the shoot or make suggestions. I want people to enjoy the experience that comes with photography.
What are your other interests apart from photography?
I have an interest in architecture, more so in interior design. I also like animals; dogs, cats… and I’m actually planning on getting a hamster since I have both a cat and a dog. I also like swimming and sports and hitting the gym to work out. And yes, definitely music.
Your ultimate goal as a photographer?
Going international in fashion photography and getting into the corporate industry like shooting for billboards and other ads and magazines. I’d like to work with major fashion lines and other models in the industry.
Tips for those interested in this field?
YouTube is your best friend. Putting in those long nights and early days pays because nothing comes easy. The people you’re trying to compete with have been in the industry longer. Don’t forget to have a vision and follow the right photographers.