Ben Kiruthi was born in Zimmerman, a sprawling suburb in Nairobi. Born to a Kenyan father and Ugandan mother, he is the 3rd born in a family of four. He went to Hospital Hill Primary school and later on Moi Forces Academy for his secondary studies. He then attended Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where he studied Electronic and Computer Engineering for 6 years. Ben  later on did an MBA in Entrepreneurship at Kenya Methodist University. Having picked up the camera 11 years ago, Ben Kiruthi has grown to be one of the most renowned photographers in Kenya. He is widely known for his luxurious and joyous style of wedding photography, capturing numerous love stories with such finesse. He and his wife ,Gathoni Kiruthi own Sun Africa studios, a base for some of Kenya’s finest photography. The 38 year old, father of 3 chats with us on his journey.

Most people find it difficult to find their passion or even identifying their talents. How did you know photography was it for you?


Firstly, I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would end up being a photographer.
I happened to stumble upon the idea one lazy, Sunday evening as I was in my bedsitter thinking and praying, about my future. God placed the thought in both mine and my fiancée’s heart then. The idea of ‘What do you have in your hand? Why don’t you use that?”
At the moment I only had a Nokia phone with a 2Mega Pixel camera. That was it! It occurred to us that maybe photography could actually be carved into our future somehow.

Tell us about how you transitioned from a 9-5 to a fully fledged photography business. Did you have to quit one to do the other?

I remember, I was working my second job at the time, in one of Kenya’s leading Telco companies.  I was also just about to clear my masters course work. That is when God placed the idea of photography in my heart. I took interest and jumped into it.

I started to study a lot about it. I also borrowed a camera from a mutual buddy and began practicing once I got time off from my 9-5.

I also started posting my work on Facebook as well, and soon enough I  started  getting worthwhile leads. My fiancée Gathoni and I then decided that if photography ended up paying us more than what we made in monthly salaries at the time, then we would quit our day jobs. It so happened like that during August of that year. I tendered in my resignation on a  Monday and the rest as they say, is history.

Did you experience any challenges during that period?

Absolutely! There were so many challenges in the beginning. It dawned on me only then, that I had actually left a well paying, stable job for an unreliable ,no-cheque guarantee, 9-3am hustle. It was crazy. The bills kept on piling up as my income kept dwindling. It was a literal jump of faith. We had no savings at all and literally just lived on nothing but faith.

We lived like this for about 2-3 years; never knowing where our next meal would come from. However slowly by slowly things began to get better. God indeed came through for us and the business was able to sustain us.

What are some of the things you wished you had done differently when you started out your business?

1. Not quit my job too early. I would have waited for maybe 6 more months to do that.

2. I would have had an emergency fund of at least 1 year to better cushion us before the business picked up.

3. I would have taken more time to study and research about the business. I would have read more business books and do  more case studies of actual successful businesses

The photography industry is getting more competitive by the day. Do you ever feel threatened by that?

Not at all. Instead its a dream come true for me that it has grown so much. My desire was to inspire more people to venture into talent driven careers as the traditional white collar jobs were proving to be no longer as reliable as they were 20-30 years ago.

What project was your big break? When did you realize that you could actually thrive off photography?


Honestly there was no actual big break. What I can say is that it has been a slow and gradual  journey, which I still am on. I have always believed in the Kaizen philosophy of  Continuous and Never Ending Improvements (CANI). My goal is to improve; become better than I was yesterday. I would like to keep growing, to keep looking for more and better ways to serve God and humanity. Maybe one day I will get there but for now the journey continues.

Could you tell me about a time you got really negative feedback from a client and how you dealt with?


I get all kinds of negative feedback all the time, in fact I love getting such. I never label it as negative. I call it constructive instead because it helps me build and better my craft. I exist to serve my clients and every time I receive a complaint, I always see it as another chance to improve and wow my customers. What I hate is silence. No feedback at all! Now that is something every business owner should be worried about.

How is it like working with your wife on this business? How have you managed to successfully run the business together till now? What tips would you give other couples on the same?


Working with Gathoni is and has always been a great experience. Ever so often, we have different perspectives, and  that is what makes it so interesting. To look at a situation with a different pair of eyes and hear a second opinion on an idea. That is progress.

She is a great addition to my life. I believe that she is my helper in achieving God’s purpose and mission for both of us. Well, as for the tips, I would say every one’s marriage and journey is different and it would be difficult to give a blanket set of tips for that. Though, I would love to see more couples partnering together in businesses. I would encourage them  to learn to respectfully disagree and agree. But most importantly to enjoy the journey of building something together. Even if it fails, both of you will always be much better people than those who never attempted.

What does your wife complain the most about you?


I am heavily introverted while Gathoni is very outgoing. She loves going out, while I stay at home cooped up in front of a computer.

She complains about this a lot. I always tell her that it’s simply just God’s interesting way of putting opposites together. That is how two people fit into each other and become one. Two like poles always repel.

Can you tell me about a tough day you had at work and how you pushed through?

There was a time, we were set to cover the photography for the launch of a new building. Unknown to us, the president of Kenya was also going to be in attendance. Getting good shots was no small feat. Having to deal with the top level security protocol and the band of reporters there made the experience quite hectic. Getting shoved, elbowed, stepped on and being pushed was the order of the day.

The client still expected great shots and we did our best to deliver ?. To this day, that still goes down as one of the most stressful days of our career.

Do you have anyone you look up to or whose work you admire in the industry?

Yes! Joshua Dwain @joshuadwain & stanlo photograhy @stanlophotography. These photographers are extraordinary.

What pieces of advice would you give to new startup business owners?

1. Put God #1. He will show you what to do and direct your steps. Honour him in your work and He will promote you. Don’t take shortcuts, always do your best and do the right thing, even if it means you losing money.

2. Serve your customers whole heartedly. Don’t just focus on getting paid; focus on delivering excellent service and utmost value. Money will ultimately follow at the right time