A key element of this style is a simple but highly effective photomontage technique, which he started developing around 2001. Inspired by the earlier strategy of playing with perspective and scale where, by positioning someone in front of a building in the distance one can see a person 'holding' that building, he used photomontage as a way to show his clients in unusual and striking positions. Starting with people sitting on buildings, he soon build his vocabulary to include designs that show people sitting on bottles of coca cola, on wild animals, flying through the sky or enclosed in flower petals.
Born out of a commercial initiative and honed to perfection as a means of attracting clients to have their photo taken in this style, what is so captivating about these images is the extent to which they challenge an image of Nairobi and how, through the imaginative use of a very simple technique, a new iconography of the city emerges.
Iconic is the first solo exhibition of Peter Mwangi Irungu, aka Willy Photos. The series of 11 portraits feature uses analogue collage techniques to represent Nairobi citizens standing on the new flyover, sitting on Kenyatta Avenue and climbing buildings on Haile Selassie Avenue. These photos do not so much reflect the city that we know but rather trigger our imagination and suggest a new way to see the city that we do not yet know.
Willy photos is the public photo studio of Peter Mwangi Irungu who, like a number of photographers, is permanently based in Uhuru park. Willy’s first encounter with photography was that of taking pictures of his work-mates. But with more time and experience he developed his practice, and began to take portraits of clients in public spaces across the city. He soon joined a childhood friend already working in Uhuru Park on the weekends, further developed his skills and began to establish his client base.