Today we have a list of 9 ambitious young photographers we’re excited by. Firstly in terms of their current work which as you’ll see is beautiful, impactful, interesting and thought-provoking. Not only that, but it’s distinct – each of these photographers shoots in a style that is recognisable as their own. Secondly, we’re excited from a forward-looking perspective, in terms of where they’re heading and the remarkable contributions we see them making to the world of photography. While they’re all at varying stages of this journey one thing is for sure; we’ll be keeping a close eye on them along the way!
Johno Mellish gets a kick out of taking photographs that don’t look the way photographs are supposed to. Though much of his work is observational in nature, such as his current series of abandoned cars in airport parking lots, his eye can just as easily lean towards the abstract. Johno’s previous studio work, for instance, resulted in a set of collage-like images that confuse as much as they delight. Instead of treating these fields as separate, he is becoming increasingly open to the idea of studio work and documentary work interacting.
In a recent interview Johno expressed that for him, “The act of taking photographs is inherently a fairly easy process. The act of combining and thinking about how things and photography work in relation is a lot harder. Thinking about things has changed how I view photography. Photography gives me a reason to process things and thinking about things helps me develop my photography. So yes I feed off the relationship and I process my ideas through imagery. Photography gives me a reason to see more clearly.”
Andile Buka has shot Johannesburg from above, giving us a birds-eye-view of the CBD in the city he calls home. Then, zooming in to capture Joburg and its residents at face level, he shoots personal and collaborative portrait projects with considered style and substance. Either in black and white or in vibrant colour, all of his images are captured on film and we’ve been captivated since we first laid eyes on his work.
In chatting to Andile last month, we learned that he first picked up his dad’s 35mm camera and began taking pictures in his matric year. “Johannesburg to me was an open canvas,” he says. “Walking the streets of Johannesburg from one point to another is still one of my favourite things to do. The CBD in particular has so many layers and there are a few buildings that I’d like to shoot in and, of course, one cannot get enough of what’s out there on the streets.”
Born and raised in Cape Town, Jody Brand studied History and Media at UCT with the intention of becoming a journalist. It was out of an unrelenting desire to make things that she started styling her friends and doing shoots for fun. “Somehow,” she told us in an interview, “I then began assisting the legendary Richard de Jager and it occurred to me that I wanted more ownership of my images as an art director.” This is how Jody’s focus shifted to finding her expression in her current medium of photography.
Predominantly photographing her friends, Jody’s pictures offer a raw and unflinching look into South Africa’s youth culture. Recently Jody shot a series of gender-stereotype-bending photographs which, styled by Jade Paton, star Dope Saint Jude and Angel-Ho as they reverse roles through pose, style and dress.
Katja Marr is a photographer based in Cape Town and, if her Twitter bio is to be believed, she’s also a high priestess of Avalon. That might have something to do with the enchanting slant to much of her work, which predominantly takes the form of fashion photography and portraiture. The film camera Katja recieved at the age of 16 was her first serious introduction to the art of photography and she’s been shooting beautiful, dreamy analogue images – for the likes of Elle, Chasseur, A Fashion Friend and Girls on Film – ever since.
A recipient of the Market Photo Workshop’s Tierney Fellowship in 2011, light has always played a powerful role in the photographs of Mack Magagane. His series …in this city captures the momentary aspects of ordinary life in Johannesburg through brief encounters, transitory instants and fragments of narratives. After this Mack completed an intensive three-month residency at the Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France resulting in Somewhere Between Here – his fourth complete body of work since studying at the Market Photo Workshop – which explored the way meaning has the ability to shift within a still image.
Eighth Noir; X, a new series still in progress, marks the completion of works part of a trajectory of previously established work. It forms the outline of this trajectory, wherin Mack explores a narrative of memory and nostalgia of his own past encounters, to showcase the romantics of fantasy.
Sipho Mpongo was born in the rural Eastern Cape village of Nqamakwe and he was raised in Langa, Cape Town. A local photographic mentorship programme, Illiso Labantu, provided a platform for him to launch into a photographic career which recieved a notable boost last year as he embarked on the Twenty Journey alongside Wikus de Wet and Sean Meterlerkamp. The trio set off to document South Africa and its inhabitants as we celebrated twenty years of democracy, with Sipho focusing his attention on the ‘born frees’.
“As a young adult coming from a township, I had a different perspective of what South Africa is. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to other cities or even towns before,” he told us after the Twenty Journey. “My idea of South Africa was challenged from the first day of the journey. I had to re-look at what I grew up thinking of South Africa and all the anger I had towards other races and places. I had to put aside my morals and ideas and use the opportunity to learn about other races and places. Bearing in mind, a black child in South Africa only knows so much about this precious country of ours.”
Anke Loots takes photographs that are quietly arresting. With light playing as important a role as the subject matter she chooses to frame, her images – even those captured in studio – are personal and emotive. The day after she completed her final matric exam, Anke moved from Pretoria to Cape Town where she studied graphic design and art direction at Red & Yellow. “Halfway through my final year,” she recounts, “I managed to wangle my way in with one of my hero photographers, Pieter Hugo, whom I worked with for about 3 years.” For Anke, taking photographs is a natural process and she’s come to the place where she’s not fussed with what other people think of her creative outputs, saying “I try to make things that move and inform me and maybe in the process someone else connects with the way I see things.”
Jono Wood is a photojournalist and fine artist who graduated from the National College of Photography in 2009. With a style that is portraiture-based he seeks to capture content that is socially relevant, aiming to educate viewers and deliver thought-provoking statements on the society we live in. A recent and rather controversial example of this took him to Hillbrow on New Years Eve where he and journalist Camilla Janse van Vuuren tagged along with the police during their nightly patrol. Camera in hand, Jono captured the entire experience in a remarkable photo essay while Camilla recounted the happenings in writing afterwards – together, forming an unforgettable account.
Soweto-born Sipho Gongxeka was the sixth reciepient of the Tierney Fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop which afforded him the opportunity to complete a body of work under the mentorship of renowned photographer Pieter Hugo. The product of his fellowship is a series of fashion and documentary photograps titled Skeem Saka that questions how the portrayal of black characters in the television shows and gangster films of his youth has influenced black identity and fashion today. He says, “I am interested in how this idea of fiction and ‘reality’ feed into each other. I am captivated by this circular relationship.” At its core Skeem Saka centres on the issue of black representation through popular media, a topic Sipho is working to tackle from a different angle in an upcoming body of work.
For this list we intentionally selected photographers that haven’t been signed to an agency or gallery…yet.
April is Photography Month on 10and5! Follow along for in-depth interviews, video hangouts and exclusive photo stories.