Takeaway moments from Creative Mornings: Justin Dingwall on the necessity of persistence

We went through to this month’s Johannesburg Creative Mornings for some much needed creative inspiration. Taking the stage this Friday 24 March was well-known South African photographer and visual artist, Justin Dingwall who spoke primarily on the topics of ‘taboo’ and ‘persistence’. Here are a few of our favourite moments from the talk.

You don’t always have to know what you want to do with your life

Growing up in Benoni, Dingwall always knew he was creatively minded, but didn’t quite know where to channel his efforts. When he eventually picked up photography, he was set on photographing bikini-clad women for the covers of Sports Illustrated. Of course this all changed once he started working professionally in the world of photography, and began combining his fascination with alternative stories with his craft. 

Keep at it, even when you’re pissing people off

Fresh out of college, Dingwall had no idea where to start, but knew he wanted to work in the media. “I pulled up the names of all the editorial staff at the whole of Media24 and started emailing them every week for a bout three months straight,” explains Dingwall. “Eventually, I got a response from their chief photo editor which was something along the lines of ‘STOP EMAILING US’, but they gave me one shot to prove myself and I grabbed it with both hands.” This would eventually lead to Dingwall making his way into the realm of editorial photography. 

Do your job well, but know when to move on

Dingwall explained how after he had made his way into editorial photography for news and media organisations, he soon realised how rigid and creatively stifling the industry was, and that’s when he made the decision to start creating his own work on his own time. “I knew it was a great opportunity and that I was producing good work, but I also realised that I needed to move on immediately or I’d lose my passion.”

Nurture your side projects and they could grow into far greater things

While Dingwall is now a successful commercial photographer, it’s his fine art series of photographic works Albus that he’s most well-known for. Starting out as a simple shoot with model Thando Hopa, Albus has now grown into an internationally exhibited body of work, spanning more than 40 images featuring both Hopa and model Sanele Xaba. “Albus began as nothing more than a passion project, a project I was curious about,” says Dingwall. “After I began posting images I had taken with Thando on Facebook, I was contacted by Sanele and from there the series just gained an incredible amount of momentum.” 

Keen on heading through to a Creative Mornings talk yourself? Head over to the Creative Mornings website to find out more. 

All images courtesy of Justin Dingwall from the series, Albus

Between 10 and 5