Chisanga Mubanga lives in Johannesburg where he explores his curiosity about South African people, places and fashion through photography. His most recent fashion editorial is ‘Dauntless’, shot for Didi Simelane’s clothing line LWNTS. The concept came about after he watched Neil Burger’s Divergent, which tells the tale of a futuristic world. “I watched the film a couple weeks prior to coming up with the idea for the editorial,” he says. “In it, people are divided into five different factions based on their strongest traits. The faction that stood out the most for me was ‘Dauntless’, which is defined as being courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger of great difficulty. I felt that this was something I could use to tell the story of the designer. It also saw me divert from my usual style of shooting, to try something completely different.”
The location for the shoot was an abandoned quarry just outside of Johannesburg: a vast, grungy space that adds enough visual interest without dominating the frame. Upon discovering it, Chisanga knew that it would help to contextualise the story he was trying to tell. That is, the story “of two people on a journey who are unafraid of the challenges they’re faced with and in the midst of this, are still able to find love,” he explains.
Chisanga prefers to let the given location and overall theme of a shoot guide his models, saying “I like to give my subjects as much information as I can about my idea, so that I can avoid giving the sort of direction that results in posing. For this reason, it’s important that I choose subjects who will help me achieve my concept with minimal interference – they have to be able to take on a new character.”
Other things on Chisanga’s radar at the moment include working towards an exhibition with fellow photographers Anthony Bila and Nicholas Rawhani, as well as his regular feature with GQ and Glamour, ‘Shooting Strangers’.