Emmanuel Jambo: Meet Photographer Behind Ruto's Presidential Portrait

  • President William Ruto's portrait and photographer Emmanuel Jambo.
    President William Ruto's portrait and photographer Emmanuel Jambo.
  • Emmanuel Jambo, a South Sudanese photographer based in Kenya, made a mark after being selected to shoot President William Ruto's official portrait.

    In an interview with Nation FM on Thursday, September 15, Jambo disclosed that it only took him 25 minutes to take Ruto's official portrait selling at Ksh300

    The portrait photo shot by Jambo is different from those of all his four predecessors in design and quality. The perfectly captured portrait has a Kenyan flag in the background, mirroring a tradition adopted by US Presidents since 1961.

    Jambo also employed 3D technology while taking the portrait which is one of its kind since independence.

    Emmanuel Jambo, a South Sudanese photographer based in Kenya
    Emmanuel Jambo, a South Sudanese photographer based in Kenya.

    "He just came in fresh and in good spirit. Trust me, it took like 25 minutes, and I was done. Everything synched because we have worked together on other projects," Jambo stated.

    Jambo's Rise to Fame

    The artist is among the highly ranked portrait photographers in Africa. In Kenya, he first made headlines after taking an official portrait of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta

    He has also taken portraits of the former presidents of Zambia, Rupiah Banda and Kenneth Kaunda and South Sudan President Salva Kiir, among other celebrities.

    In 2012, he was recognised by Forbes Magazine as one of the most influential photographers in Africa. 

    Other than working for top dignitaries, Jambo had also worked on a documentary for the Blind Kids of Thika with a foundation based in Atlanta US.

    He further takes credit for popularising women's rugby in the country through his photography skills.

    His interests in photography stemmed from his sister and family background which motivated him to acquire a film camera to hone his skills. 

    After fully venturing into photography, he got in touch with Oyunga Pala, who then offered him an opportunity to shoot for the then-new magazine Adam Magazine.

    Photographer Thandiwe Muriu
    Photographer Thandiwe Muriu

    Jambo attributed his success to his consistency and keeping abreast of technological developments.

    "To build a name for yourself, consistency is key. How good your work is should never be dependent on the price you charge for it. Determine your quality and the standard of service you will be providing and stick to it. With time, your returns will be commensurate with the kind of work you are putting in," he stated.

    "Part of my modus operandi is that I keep it natural and try not to depend on photoshop a lot. This sets me apart from the rest," he added.

    Jambo mentored Thandiwe Muriu, a photographer whose images were showcased at the Apple event when CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new iPad Mini in September 2021.

    Thandiwe's picture was of a black woman in an orange and blue Ankara dress rocking Faux Locs.