Nikon Stars – Jerry Riley

Jerry Riley specialises in Conceptual Architecture, Travel and Street photography. Find more of Jerry’s work at and on Instagram, and reach him on email at

How long have you been shooting and when did you go pro?

I have been in the photography business since 1979, working in various sectors. I owned a small commercial photo lab in Toronto for many years while shooting travel and personal projects as well.

What body/bodies do you use?

Nikon D750

What’s your favourite lens and why?

My vintage 1995 20-35mm 2.8. Great for architecture and journalism, fast lens, excellent depth of field. And it’s not an all plastic lens. I am also a big fan of my 50mm 1.4 if doing street photography.

What’s in your camera bag for a standard shoot?

D750 body, Nikon 14mm, 20-35mm, 50mm, and 28-300 Nikon lenses. 64gb cards, GPS unit, 2 flash units and light modifiers, cable release.

What is your favourite place in Kenya to take pictures?

Almost anywhere. New places are especially important for creative learning. Every place offers different challenges. Coast, Mara, Turkana, CBD all have excellent visual possibilities.

What is the most challenging shoot you’ve been on to date and how did you get the shot?

Working in the Canadian Arctic was probably the most challenging because of its vastness and the extreme cold. One of my most successful images is taken from the top of a rock outcrop on a frozen lake while with a church picnic group on Baffin Island (Nunavut, Eastern Arctic, Canada). My Inuit friend held my feet so I could hang over the edge for the shot I wanted. Working with AMREF was also challenging because of being on the move all the time with limited time in each location, so a photographer has to be quick to assess the situation.

What do you love about being a professional photographer?

Photography is very much a personal journey, learning about the world through the lens. One learns to be very observant of details. Earning a living with one’s passion is about as good as it gets.

How do you set yourself apart from competitors?

The industry is now more competitive than ever. Being professional with every project means repeat clients, and I always deliver the best images I can. A good referral is more valuable than social media popularity. I am known for the quality of my images and my reputation as a good person to work with.

What are your top tips for photographers looking to develop skills in your specialty(ies)?

Shoot, shoot, shoot. Edit, edit, edit. Make the best possible images. Shoot some more. Edit some more. Be careful about making too many comparisons to other photographers (follow your own vision and instincts). For technical training, we now have unlimited information via YouTube and the internet. Upgrading your skill set is an ongoing, never ending process, and don’t fall victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). You don’t need a lot of equipment to make good photographs. Developing your way of seeing things is the most important skill.

Find more local professional photographers on the Nikon Stars page, or by using the specialty tags below. If you’re a Nikon photographer interested in being featured as a Nikon Star, please email