Thandiwe vs. Mutua [Round One]

As promised when I showed you the amazing work of Thandiwe Muriu on this post, here is the first round of this epic battle haha. This was a very quick shoot with the model, Sheena. She was a bit shy in the beginning but she did great(I think she might have been scared of my beards). Either way, it was a cool session in which we both schooled each other with a few tricks here & there. I learned quite a lot on taking flattering female shots and a few post processing tricks. I’d like to think that Thandiwe also learnt at least one thing from me :).

Similarities & Constants :: The most important thing to take home here for any photographer starting out is how interesting it is that 2 different people with the same exact equipment can achieve such different results. We both used Thandiwe’s D7000(some of you may know that this is my next camera-may God hear me now-). We both used my studio lights (2 lights both with a modeling and strobe within). We both were each others assistant and we both shot the same model. So instead of trying to shoot like each other, we each brought our own style to the table and shot while helping each other achieve the best possible image for our respective styles.

Major differences of style :: Thandiwe is all about harsh light on the model to accentuate her features, in this case, her jawline and flowing collar bone. She takes lots of care on her shadows under the eyes(this she eases out by having me hold a reflector right under Sheena’s face just outside the shot), this way, we don’t have too much shadow under the eyes. I, on the other hand went for the softness. I killed the strobes & used the modeling lights so that I could shoot shallow depth of field to blur out some parts of her face. While doing so I also got a warmer feel and a very soft look that still accentuated her facial structure.

Without further blah blah…here are the results. Naturally, ladies first.

Thandiwe :::

Mutua :::


Thank you ladies and gents for your attention. Thank you Sheena for being our lovely model. Till round Two, we, Thandiwe & I, Mutua Matheka bid you adieu.


53 thoughts on “Thandiwe vs. Mutua [Round One]

  1. I love Thandiwe’s style especially the vibrant colours in most of her photos. I like ‘sharp’ eye contact in portraits, it adds some sort of connection to the subject in photos :) Really diggin Thandiwe’s the last photo. Apart from the last photo Thandiwe let me down a bit with the others.

    I like the softness in Mutua’s shots my favourite is the first photo. Kali sana… I vote MUTUA MATHEKA

  2. I learned tons about studio lights!

    Loving your third shot. When you were shooting it I couldn’t figure out what you were seeing (probably has to do with the fact that I was standing in an entirely different position) but it all makes sense to me now :)

    It’s amazing just how differently we shoot and edit.

  3. wawawawa great stuff just realized bado niko down you guys are good…..must say i love harsh light and so more captivated by Thandiwe’s shot especially the first the colour is just amazing…..great stuff

  4. Its amazing thats these shots were taken on the same day, they are of the same model and at the same location. They are soooo different thats its makes it very difficult to compare. I think for the harsh lighting brings out the features of the model and you are drawn to looking at her. The soft lighting I think is more pensive and draws you more to whats shes thinking and feeling. I love both the photographers perspectives!

  5. Alittle bit guys are both great and am a little bit mesmerised by your works that said i think al go with Thandiwes’ last photo and your Second one -they did it for me.

  6. Thanks ya’ll for checking this out and leaving your comments and even emphasizing that Thandiwe kicked my butt :). Above everything I hope the point hasn’t been lost in the midst of the said ‘competition’…especially to anyone starting out in photography and is not sure about their creative direction. Thandiwe & I both knew what we were going for and played around to get there. The results were very different and that was the main point of the shoot out. Both of us were pleased with our results.


  7. Thandiwe takes this one…… her last pic is a killer! Muta’s 2nd i liked a lot. its hard to believe its the same gal in all photos… looking so different and lovely in all.

    good job.

  8. I am tempted to think of Michelangelo _ Thandiwe, and Da Vinci _ Mutua. For the normal human eye, Thandiwe takes it, he is not afraid of exposing the extreme light, Mutua on the other hand, chooses a daring more complex unique taste, modeling lights to bring out the blur. Whatever way you look at it you guys have done a great deal of work. However, i choose Thandiwe, i particularly like the fourth, you worked delicately to achieve that pose.

  9. wow!! you guys are sooo talented. this shoot was awesome and you both are great photogrophers. im so impressed. and Mutua i was not scared of your beards.. lol.. thanks guys. this is awesome.

  10. wow…same model, quite different results. i loved thadie’s 2nd and 3rd photos for their intensity and also your 2nd one for such softness. lakini since ulisema it’s a contest, she (thandiwe) takes round 1_

  11. As an upcoming fashion photographer,I am inspired.2 device styles represented superbly.I’m really keen on ‘racoon’eyes so I find myself using fill light to reduce shadows under the chin.Thandiwe harsh approach sells her physique.On the other hand Mutua shoot sell the models personality.Good jobs guys.

  12. These are amazing portraits I must say!
    Mutua won this one IMHO…… here’s why:

    Thandiwe’s first photo is my fav, the exposure is spot on and I like the under exposure, it adds mystery into the shot. On the other photos, the hot spots on Sheens’s skin are distracting. Overexposing african skin doesn’t look as good as Caucasian skin.

    Mutua’s soft light did it for me, it was in line with Sheena’s personality (she’s the shy type right?). The photos are intimate, it’s like we’ve walked into her private space unannounced….. Her skin had many blemishes though…. the 3rd photo was my favourite, the necklace on the back distracts you from her eyes though….

    I can’t wait for round 2!!

  13. My favorite photo is the last one by Thandiwe. The model looks straight at you, making a connection with the viewer. Very sultry! Everyone seems to like this one and I suspect it’s because of the composition. However, I’m not fond of the harsh lighting, it seems to highlight the greasyness on the model’s skin.I found myself focusing on those spots. It’s not as bad on the black and white photo probably because B&W mainly highlights the contrast between light and dark.

    I much prefer Mutua’s use of light, it downplays the “blemishes” others have mentioned. Notice blemishes are in quotes because very few people have flawless skin. There’s always pores, a pimple, a wrinkle etc. Even magazine photos are always touched up.

    IMO, Mutua wins this one. Portraits are supposed to flatter, in this case his are closer to that ideal.

  14. i love your work Matheka and in that sense you are my inspiration to get into photography; you are in a way my mentor, and thru your work i learn a lot, in a sense i consider myself your apprentice. I saw the earlier post about Thandiwe and have been following both your works. this is an inspiring piece of collaboration and i am trying to get to that point of creativity that both you artists have. #2012 #[YEAR OF KENYAN PHOTOGRAPHY]

  15. Thandiwe’s is more of my style, high fashion kinda shoot, intense.
    Mutua’s is soft and romantic something suitable for weddings
    Love both styles but the artist in me is going with Thandiwe on this one.

  16. I think Mutua took it in this one. But I’ll be the first to admit (like Mutua?) I like to think of the women in my life as shrinking violets – soft, warm, demure. And no, that doesn’t make me (us) sexist! :-)

  17. Great job guys! As I just ogle at the work you’ve done and try to figure out how you did it! I agree with KevDaNative, being a photographer myself and having worked at least with Thandiwe before, this looks like what I want to do ‘when I grow up’.. hehe

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