David Macharia is a renowned photographer who was born and bred in Kenya. He started his photography journey in the year 2000 after completing high school education. After lacking school fees for higher education, he began working at a printing studio until the year 2003 when he resigned to become a freelance photographer.

Obama visit photographer
David Macharia, a Kenyan photographer and entrepreneurship mentor.

He worked with other outstanding photographers like Muturi Kanini and Boniface Mwangi. His breakthrough came in 2007 when he met radio host and celebrity, Caroline Mutoko, who commissioned him to be the official photographer of the big wedding that was sponsored by Kiss Fm.

David Macharia Photography journey
David Macharia in the year 2004 when he was a freelance photographer in Kangemi, Nairobi.

In the same year, he met his mentor Mathew Gathua from Valentine Cake House and he also managed to register his photography business Versatile Photographers. David Macharia was overwhelmed by referrals and couldn’t get a team to work with, and that is when he decided to start a mentorship program to mold wannabe photographers.

Versatile photographers
Versatile Photographers team that was mentored by David in the year 2011.

His mentorship program grew rapidly, and by end of the year 2014, he couldn’t accommodate the number of people coming since there wasn’t enough space at Versatile Photographers office. He used social media platforms to invite people interested in learning photography and went to Uhuru Park Gardens (a public park) for training.

David Macharia lesson
A team of young people learning photography at Uhuru Park with David Macharia.

It was always a dream for David to start a photography institution where people could come and learn basic skills in photography. He had attended several workshops in South Africa and had so much to share in terms of photography skills and entrepreneurship in the creative industry.

Versatile Photographers
Versatile Photographers team in the year 2015.

The number of mentees increased, and when David was commissioned to be the official photographer during President Barack Obama’s visit at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, he took two of his best students–Willy Muturi and Doreen Kerina–to be part of his team.

President Obama Kenya
H.E Former President Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta during the GES 2015. Photo by David Macharia.

In Kenya, it is difficult for financial institutions like banks to give loans to creatives without collateral. The Obama visit was, therefore, a great opportunity for David because when the White House paid him for the commissioned work, he managed to pay for a place and start a photography school, an achievement that revolutionized the field of photography in the continent.

Akon GES 2015
David Macharia with top musician Akon during the GES 2015 .

Later, he managed to register the Versatile School of Photography which has since won the Kenya Wedding Industry Awards as the best photography school in East Africa. The school has received students from all over Africa; Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Congo, and a bigger number from Tanzania.

Versatile School of Photography
Versatile School Of Photography lighting class.

Versatile Photographers celebrated this Evolution Of Photography in Africa as they opened a new branch at the Village Market, one of the high-end malls in Nairobi. Versatile Photographers was awarded the Business Excellence Awards for being the most innovative photographer in 2018. This was followed by the Photography Solution of the year award at the Global MICE Summit in September 2019. The company is currently looking for more funds to expand its wings to the rest of Africa. This will help transform more lives of young people interested in developing content through photography and film.

Versatile School award
Trophy awarded to Versatile Photographers for being the most innovative in Kenya 2018.

Visit Versatile Art Gallery at the Village Market to see a collection of David’s photography including Obama portraits printed on canvas which he donates to schools as part of the CSR initiative of Versatile Photographers meant to inspire young people and remind them that their dreams are valid. The portrait is also sold at $250 and the proceeds go to a school fees kitty for needy students. People can invest in the picture for libraries or as a gift to their former schools as a way to inspire the students.

Versatile Photographers
Versatile Photographers new branch at the Village Market.

Earlier this year, David visited Mrs. Sarah Obama in K’Ogelo during one of the Versatile Adventures excursions and promised to give her the Obama portrait. This assurance was fulfilled on the 16th of September 2019 when two captioned canvas prints were delivered, one to the Senator Barrack Obama Secondary School, the other to Mama Sarah Obama at her compound. Mama Sarah deeply appreciated the gesture, saying it was good work. At the Senator Obama School, excitement and appreciation were also palpable. Students were enthused by the kind gesture and the motivating caption on the picture. They decided to hang the portrait in a form 4 class so that it would keep motivating the candidates.  

Obama Portrait
President Barack Obama’s Portrait printed on canvas. More exclusive portraits are available at Versatile Art Gallery for sale. The proceeds go to scholarships of needy students.

David’s journey has inspired many. Lack of school fees to join the university did not dishearten his quest to succeed. He pursued photography with a zealous heart and to date, he has managed to make innovations and build a brand that now works globally. His story is a motivation for those who feel constrained by resources and cornered by circumstances. It is a constant reminder that each one of us has within us the ability to reach the heights of success.

Obama Portrait
David Macharia donating the image to Mpesa Foundation Academy where Versatile School Of Photography offers mentorship on basic photography skills.
David Macharia Donating
David Macharia donating Obama portrait to his former Njabini Primary School.
Sarah Obama
A canvas print of the Obama portrait is handed over to Mama Sarah Obama on the 16th of September 2019 in fulfillment of David Macharia’s earlier promise.
Obama Portrait Donation
Senator Barack Obama Secondary school students receive the Barrack Obama portrait. They decided to keep the picture in a form four class so that it would be a source of inspiration to the candidates.
Versatile Photographers
David receives the Kenya Wedding Industry Awards for Versatile School of photography being the best photography school in East Africa.
Versatile Photographers win Award
Versatile Photographers receive the Photography Solution of the Year Award at the first-ever Africa MICE Awards in September 2019.

Here are David’s contacts


Instagram @photographybydavidmacharia

Tel: +254722424136

Whatsapp: +254722220978

STORY BY: David Macharia, CEO and Founder, Versatile Photographers

EDITED BY: Tim Njugi, Writer, Blogger and Photographer