Meet Brian, one of Nairobi’s finest fashionista photographers. As well as photographing fashion, one of Brian’s many creative talents is shooting safari experiences and shining a light (or a lens) on important conservation and community work. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting him to capture epic wildlife shots, the spirit of our camps and lodges and portraits of wildlife and community members from around The Safari Collection properties. We thought it would be fun to find out what excites him most when he gets behind the lens and share some of his fabulous photography work.

Brian Siambi at Solio Lodge

What first sparked your passion for photography? My work at Kenya’s fashion and Lifestyle magazine ‘True Love’. My background is in graphic design, which is what I did for the magazine, but I also got to direct photo shoots. Assisting the photographer really sparked my interest in getting behind the lens myself.

How long have you been a photographer for? Seven years, but it feels like I only started yesterday! I’m still a student in the craft; there’s always more to learn.

So how did you get going in this career? I got into mobile photography at first. Back in 2015, Instagram was taking off in Kenya in a big way. A real photographic community was developing in Nairobi. I started focusing on my own fashion projects, then in 2016 I bought my first camera. Fashion photography wasn’t as creative then as it is now, so there was so much scope for innovation. I started working on my Dark Matter Project which is an ongoing collaboration with different fashion designers across East Africa. It will be a fashion journal book to inspire Africans to celebrate our own.

The Dark Matter Project

The Dark Matter Project

What was your first role? True Love (the fashion magazine). In the travel industry, my first role was for Nomad Magazine in 2017, a new travel publication being launched in Kenya and aimed at people living in East Africa. This led to me travelling all over the country and doing interiors shoots, a new challenge I really enjoyed. I loved that I could bring all the awesome places in Kenya, known mostly to an international audience, to a more local audience. Plus, I got to learn about all the conservation projects going on across the country. During my five years at Nomad, I grew to love interior photography.

‘I loved that I could bring all the awesome places in Kenya, known mostly to an international audience, to a more local audience.’

What’s the most unusual photo shoot you’ve done? Documenting the translocation of three giraffes from Giraffe Manor in Nairobi to Rimoi National Park in western Kenya was certainly the most unique assignment I’ve done to date. Following them in the truck with their heads sticking out was a surreal experience! It was incredible to witness the work that the Kenya Wildlife Service and AFEW do on a day-to-day basis to protect Rothschild’s giraffes. Translocating wildlife is a highly sensitive operation and seeing how the teams planned logistics to ensure the giraffes’ welfare was incredible.

Capturing giraffe conservation in action

Tell us about one of the community shoots you’ve done. For the past three years I’ve been working with The Long Run (a charity which unites nature-based tourism businesses at the forefront of conservation to protect wilderness). I have been documenting all their amazing Kenyan properties, including Sasaab, and the community projects affiliated with each property. It’s been enlightening to see how each of the properties impacts the communities around them.

These two photos here are my favourites from the project. The boy was one of the kids at Westgate Primary School. They were so excited to have their photos taken. I sat between them and they took turns to press the shutter while taking pictures of themselves. The red sandals in the second photo belong to the chairman of Westgate’s Women’s Group who we interviewed. She had such a strong sense of pride.

What’s been your most challenging shoot to date? Properties (in general). They’re not as easy as they seem from the outside! The different dynamics of photographing spaces can be quite challenging, working around guests, limited timelines, changing lighting and nature.

Tent 7 at Sala’s Camp

Which of The Safari Collection properties have you enjoyed shooting most? Sasaab. It’s such a special property in terms of its remoteness, it’s positioning above the landscape with endless views and its design and decor. As an interior photographer, it’s heaven.

Tent 2 at Sasaab

What do you enjoy about photographing wildlife? The unpredictability of it. You can wake up one day and not see anything then go out the following morning and see everything at once. Your heart is always racing in anticipation.

What’s been your favourite animal captured so far? Rhinos at Solio Lodge. I’ve never seen so many rhinos all at once, it was the most fascinating and humbling experience. It’s remarkable how they’ve been able to create such a safe space for these animals to roam freely and feel at home there.

White rhino at Solio Lodge

Any tips for how to snap epic wildlife shots on safari? Get out every day because nature is so unpredictable. Light is very important so pick your time. Be prepared with your camera and lens ready to shoot. Use your guide, they’re experts of the land so ask many questions, they often know how best to capture certain species.

When you’re not capturing the light, you are: Farming! I like getting my hands dirty in my garden. I grow everything from chillies to peppers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers and veggies for eating and giving friends. I think my Mum gave me her green fingers. Covid also made me improve my gardening skills considerably!

What’s your favourite genre to shoot? Right now, it’s interiors. I find it fascinating to watch how people put spaces together; it’s storytelling in its own way, designing spaces for guests to experience. As a photographer I try to capture that creativity through my work, so people who designed the spaces think: oh wow ,they appreciate what we did here.

‘I find it fascinating to watch how people put spaces together; it’s storytelling in its own way.’

Private plunge pool in Tent 6 at Sasaab

‘I want to build my name as a travel and lifestyle photographer and journey across the continent photographing Africa as an African.’

The Dark Matter Project

What are your future hopes? My goal is to finish fixing up my Land Rover and drive it to South Africa (from Kenya) on a big overland camping trip to photograph all the different countries along the way. I want to break the stereotype that mostly international photographers shoot these properties; local photographers like me can achieve worldwide standards. I also hope to finish my Dark Matter book, even if I only print and sell one copy, that is an accomplishment!


If you fancy an African adventure with an expert by your side, then get in touch at Brian is available as a private photographic guide to share his wisdom with guests and his unique perspective through the lens on bespoke safari itineraries around Kenya.