20 May Featured: Samora Chapman
Samora Chapman is a freelance writer, photographer and artist hailing from, in his own words, the sticky streets of Durban Poison City. He studied a BA in English and Politics at UKZN but it was on his many travels over the last decade that he really started writing and taking photos. He says, “My writing was all poetry and stream of consciousness at first, then journalism and now I’m keen to get into fiction. It gives you so much perspective when you get transplanted into different societies and cultures around the world. It is a humbling and enriching experience.”
Samora cut his teeth writing and taking photos for mahala.co.za and their print mag, and counts editor Andy Davis as a mentor in many respects. Since then he has extended his voice to other platforms, being published in City Press, ZigZag and a few other local magazines.
On his creative journey, Samora has also been a graffiti writer. He says, “Doing graffiti takes you to places you might never have gone as a privileged, white, middle class kid. I am still passionate about public art, street art and murals and I feel it has a lot of power in providing social commentary and liberating art from the confines of the gallery.”
On and off for the last four years Samora has been documenting sub-culture and street life in Durban with a focus on producing striking and beautifully-lit street portraits. It was overseas where he first got into documentary-style street photography. He says, “It’s just so honest, and with time and patience the chaotic elements of the real world sometimes come together and form the most beautiful scenes. If you capture one of those scenes it’s almost like bringing order to the chaos. Taking reality and turning it into a moment that, like a painting, can last forever. I particularly got into taking portraits, because I like to tell stories and I’m just drawn to photographing people more than anything else.”
Besides a few months working for great documentary photographer, Paul Weinberg, Samora is entirely self-taught. Starting out with just a DSLR and 50mm lens taught him to shoot with a fixed lens and ambient light making his transition into strobism and other disciplines a lot easier.
Find more from him at www.authorsamora.co.za.