Cape Town photographer Noncedo Charmaine’s new work takes us on an exploration of identity and gender

“Photography is a way of life, it is history, it is the present, it is the future,” says Kwazulu-Natal born Noncedo Charmaine, just one of the 20 womxn we recently profiled in emerging photographers you should know.

Now living in Cape Town, Noncedo is a freelance photographer and mother. She is currently working on a project about the experience of “being a modern-day black boy in Cape Town”, inspired by her 11-year-old son.

“I love the idea of capturing a moment, of compiling a sort of history for both yourself and those in the future who get to look at your images,” Noncedo says. “I also love how photography allows you to tell stories through images, it is like a puzzle.”

How did you get into photography? 
I think it started with looking at my mother’s photo albums as a kid. She also had a camera that I got to play with. I studied at CPUT and went on to work with Media 24.

Tell me more about your photography. What themes do you explore?
My photography is influenced by life itself; by film, art, fashion, architecture, colours. It is a tool I use to understand the world around me; it is a language I use to communicate; it is a journey of finding myself in relation to my fellow human beings. I am drawn to themes around identity, homelessness and gender. I love beautiful things and want to make beautiful images even in the most horrible situations, because beauty is all around us.

Which camera do you use and what’s your favourite equipment?
Canon 5D mark iii, 50mm and 24-105mm lenses. A friend has been kind enough to let me use the Fujifilm X-E1 with the 18mm, it is incredible. My favourite is the Pentax K1000.

Which other photographers do you look up to?
Andy Mkosi, my sister Nonzuzo GxekwaZanele Muholi and Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko to name just a few. I recently had a chance to meet up with Lolo, who I admire a lot. I love how she and I share this deep respect for the creative process.

What does photography mean to you?
For me, photography is philosophy, science, poetry, politics and a record.

What do you feel photography has taught you?
Photography has humbled me as a person. It has taught me that in front of the camera we are all the same. It has taught me respect and trust. It has taught me the beauty in the important art of collaboration. It has taught me the power of an image and how it should not be taken lightly. Most importantly, it has taught me to be present at all times. Follow Noncedo.

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