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Kenya's Thandiwe Muriu: Standing out in camouflage
Wednesday, 16 June 2021 - 16:54 | Views - 53

Photographer Thandiwe Muriu wants her models to both blend in and stand out at the same time.


The images in her Camo - short for camouflage - series create an optical illusion where the person in the photograph almost disappears yet it is impossible to ignore her.

The young Kenyan's playful work has the feel of a glossy high-fashion magazine but also has a deeper meaning.

"I love fashion photography, I could do that all day, but I realised it needs to be fashion photography that is a reflection of who I am and my background," she tells. "That is how the Camo series came about."


The funky fabrics, elaborate hairstyles and improvised eyewear are an attractive and witty celebration of the 30-year-old's culture.

But there is also a critique.

Muriu says the series is "a little bit of a personal reflection on how I felt I can disappear into the background of my culture.

"And my experience as a commercial female photographer was realising that very quickly - because of the cultural context - I can be dismissed and disappear."


She was self-taught, schooled, in her words, at "the university of YouTube", but her father provided the initial impetus.

Raising a family of four daughters and no sons he was keen to buck the patriarchal assumptions, Muriu says.

He taught them practical skills like how to change the tyre on a car, how to barbecue and, most significantly, how to use a camera.

And when it came to choosing a career she was encouraged to follow her passion for photography. For her it was the "perfect blend of science and art".






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