The fe­male gaze

A spot­light on SA’S five emerg­ing fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - Words by ASANDA SIZANI

A spot­light on SA’S emerg­ing fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour

Baset­sana Maluleka When did you fall in love With pho­tog­ra­phy?

I’ve al­ways loved tak­ing pic­tures with my phone, but I fell deeply in love with pho­tog­ra­phy when I started run­ning my blog back in 2016 when I was study­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. That’s when I knew I wanted to be in the creative in­dus­try. I then started con­nect­ing my­self with the right peo­ple and tak­ing it a lot more se­ri­ously. That was the best de­ci­sion I ever made.

What have been your ca­reer high­lights so far?

The Afrop­unk group ex­hi­bi­tion was the very first time I ever saw my work printed and put up on a wall to be pub­licly dis­played. I re­cently joined the ta­lent agency Lam­post as a pho­tog­ra­pher’s as­sis­tant. Work­ing there has al­ways been one of my goals, and to see my­self achiev­ing it means the world to me.

how Would you de­scribe your style?

I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self as a con­cep­tual and emo­tional pho­tog­ra­pher. Most of my shoots have to do with so­cial is­sues that are close to my heart. There’s a lot of plan­ning that goes into all of them.

Who is your dream sub­ject to shoot?

Nomzamo Mbatha, Solange Knowles and Oroma Elewa. Th­ese women in­spire my craft and, most of all, they por­tray the kind of woman I want to be­come.

are there enough lo­cal fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour?

Ab­so­lutely not! The in­dus­try is still sat­u­rated with males.

What does ‘ pow­ered by Women’ mean to you?

Re fihlile. We have ar­rived, and we’re tak­ing all that’s right­fully ours. ➻

sec­ond year, I mus­tered up the courage to dropout. How­ever, my heart longed to go back to pho­tog­ra­phy – I guess I should have lis­tened to the countless peo­ple telling me to stay put, as it was dur­ing those two years that I re­ally fell in love with pho­tog­ra­phy. It was my es­cape from the ups and downs of the de­gree I was in.

What have been your ca­reer high­lights so far?

My ca­reer high­lights are still un­der con­struc­tion. I have yet to do some­thing I can proudly call a high­light, but I’m prob­a­bly just be­ing hard on my­self.

how Would you de­scribe your style?

Dark, moody and sex­ual, yet highly creative. I’m try­ing to make my way to a more thought-pro­vok­ing afrito­rial (African ed­i­to­rial).

What does ‘ pow­ered by Women’ mean to you?

I can’t help but sigh a bit as I think, ‘ What have women not pow­ered in our en­tire ex­is­tence on this earth?’ It’s bit­ter­sweet, be­cause we need to go well out of our way to do some­thing we’ve been do­ing for years, but the fact that women ev­ery­where now are be­com­ing more and more in tune with each other, and the en­ergy of the uni­verse, is amaz­ing.

“I’m drawn to the off­beat mo­ments on set, I’m not in­ter­ested in get­ting a per­fect shot. Which is why I’m fall­ing more in love with shoot­ing on film and hand pro­cess­ing my own work.”

When did you fall in love With pho­tog­ra­phy?

I’ve al­ways en­joyed tak­ing pho­to­graphs since I was a child. But I think I only re­ally fell in love with pho­tog­ra­phy when I was much older. I hap­pened to find my­self won­der­ing through a Vogue ex­hi­bi­tion while liv­ing in Spain in 2016, and that’s when I re­ally started see­ing pho­tog­ra­phy in a dif­fer­ent light. When I came home, I got my hands on an en­trylevel DSLR cam­era and started do­ing small test shoots with a close friend, Zipho Nt­loko, who was study­ing makeup artistry at the time. It just kind of grew from there.

What have been your ca­reer high­lights so far?

I can’t pick a spe­cific high­light or shoot, but some­thing that I’m re­ally grate­ful for is the amaz­ing women I’ve met and worked with. Whether we ended up form­ing lon­glast­ing friend­ships or just had an hon­est con­ver­sa­tion on set, get­ting the chance to work with the likes of Tony Gum, Rharha Nem­b­hard, Ce­leste Arendse and many other women who I ad­mire, has been a def­i­nite high­light which has helped me grow in so many ways.

how Would you de­scribe your style?

This is al­ways a hard ques­tion be­cause I don’t have an in­ten­tional style I go for, but I’m ob­sessed with muted tones. In terms of my com­po­si­tion and fram­ing, my work is al­ways clean and slightly lean­ing to­wards un­con­ven­tional. I’m drawn to the off­beat mo­ments on set, I’m not in­ter­ested in get­ting a per­fect shot. Which is why I’m fall­ing more in love with shoot­ing on film and hand pro­cess­ing my own work.

Who is your dream sub­ject to shoot?

Any­one who is au­then­tic.

are there enough lo­cal fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour?

There are def­i­nitely more than what we’re ex­posed to in main­stream me­dia, but I don’t be­lieve there can ever be enough or too many fe­male voices telling their sto­ries. ➻

“We’re not where we should be as a coun­try, but I have hope that more of us will rise against th­ese pa­tri­ar­chal and ra­cial bar­ri­ers.”

When did you fall in love With pho­tog­ra­phy?

I’ve loved pho­tog­ra­phy since child­hood. When I was five, I would go through my mother’s photo al­bums and wish I were there with her in her teenage years. Film was so spe­cial back then be­cause, af­ter tak­ing pic­tures, you would have to send the film roll back to a cam­era shop to be de­vel­oped. The wait to re­ceive the im­ages filled me with so much ex­cite­ment and anx­i­ety. There is some­thing spir­i­tual about cap­tur­ing a mo­ment in time and be­ing able to re­visit it in the fu­ture through a photo.

What have been your ca­reer high­lights so far?

I ex­hib­ited my work at the Al­liance Fran­caise Ger­ard Sekoto Art Gallery last year in Joburg. It was a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing my im­ages put up and peo­ple talk­ing about them. I’ve also as­sisted Trevor Stu­ur­man on set when he shot the Axe de­odor­ant cam­paign with DJ Black Cof­fee. I en­joy as­sist­ing on other pho­tog­ra­pher’s sets be­cause I get to learn more about pho­tog­ra­phy from peo­ple who have bet­ter equip­ment and are much more ex­pe­ri­enced.

how Would you de­scribe your style?

I of­ten al­ter­nate be­tween fash­ion and con­cep­tual pho­tog­ra­phy. As a fash­ion de­sign stu­dent, I’m mostly in­ter­ested in cap­tur­ing cloth­ing. How­ever, telling a story through cloth­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy is the most cru­cial part to the work. Right now I’m in­spired by the beauty of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, fem­i­nin­ity and soft­ness. My aes­thetic con­sists of bright colours, es­pe­cially red, and I al­ways aim to cap­ture an in­ti­mate look and feel.

are there enough lo­cal fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour?

There are many, but not a lot are recog­nised or even have the ac­cess to spa­ces that can help them de­velop their skills. It’s dif­fi­cult to break into a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try when you’re still young and learn­ing your craft. On the other hand, if there has ever been a time for fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour to claim their space, it’s now. Doors are be­ing opened, and I’ve wit­nessed pho­tog­ra­phers like Neo Baepi make the most with their op­por­tu­ni­ties. We’re not where we should be as a coun­try, but I have hope that more of us will rise against th­ese pa­tri­ar­chal and ra­cial bar­ri­ers.

sto­ries. It was then that I de­cided that I would like to pur­sue my pas­sion for telling sto­ries through art.

What have been your ca­reer high­lights so far?

I def­i­nitely started my ca­reer with a bang. In 2017, I was awarded the Craft Gold Award at the Lo­eries for a pho­to­graphic artist book I pro­duced as an art stu­dent. Then, in May, came my sec­ond high­light: a bill­board for Mcdon­ald’s 50th an­niver­sary cam­paign with de­signer Gert-jo­han Coet­zee.

how Would you de­scribe your style?

I love colour, so my work is bold and con­cep­tual with a fu­sion of dig­i­tal art and pho­tog­ra­phy in or­der to cre­ate unique im­ages.

are there enough lo­cal fe­male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour?

No, but there should be more. I know many male pho­tog­ra­phers of colour, so it would be great to have more fe­males on board.

What does ‘pow­ered by Women’ mean to you?

It’s the com­ing to­gether of groups of dy­namic women who sup­port each other, who fo­cus on growth that up­lifts and en­cour­age equal op­por­tu­nity. It’s about cre­at­ing an au­then­tic voice that not only boasts cre­ativ­ity and pas­sion, but the pur­pose to in­form and in­spire, too.

Vuyo Thloloe

Gemma Mar y Shep­herd

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