05 Oct The 20 emerging black womxn photographers in South Africa you should know
“If women of colour are not behind the lens then we are less likely to see women of colour cast in front of the lens, and only through representation can we truly shape change in the spaces that need it so much,” Nigerian-US artist Amarachi Nwosu recently said in an interview with 10and5.
And where is the lie? Womxn of colour are still marginalised in professional fields, and photography is certainly isn’t an exception, despite there being many womxn in the industry. From the Pirelli Calendar photo shoots to World Press Photo of the Year and other major mainstream campaigns, womxn of colour remain sidelined in these spaces.
Recently, 10and5 ed-in-chief Stefanie Jason made a Facebook call for “dopeass womxn photographers of colour” for a future project, and the response was phenomenal. As a response to black womxn photographers who are not hired on many major shoots or featured in editorial spreads and more, we found it vital to share the names and works of these mainly Joburg-based photographers, whose photography is as diverse as them and who are part of a larger community of photographers that include the likes of Zanele Muholi, Lebohang Kganye and more.
Lebogang Tlhako takes photographs of everyday life in Gauteng in one of the most poetic ways. According to a past article on the artist, the photographer is graduate from Katlehong, east of Johannesburg. In both 2012 and 2013 she was selected as a finalist in the ELLE Magazine Style Reporter competition.
Manyatsa Monyamane describes herself as an artist; storyteller through imagery, inspired and influenced by African literature, theatre and everyday surroundings. She completed her BTech in Photography in 2016 at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Photojournalist Lauren Mulligan, who is currently studying towards her MA degree, has a BA Fine Arts from Wits University and has had her work feature in publications such as the Times. In addition to photography, she also enjoys drawing.
Sibongile Shope is a Joburg-based artist and organiser, whose recent photography series, I love Black Women Because is a profound celebration of black womxn and a look at violence against womxn. “This is the first episode of a series called I love Black Women. The whole point is for us to focus on how we as women love each other, how we celebrate each other and how we love ourselves when we are met with so much violence on a daily basis,” she says in an essay about the photos she and her partner Boipelo Khunou shot as part of a protest at Noord taxi rank.
Zara Julius describes herself as “a multidisciplinary visual storyteller and music collector”. Aside from her powerful documentary and conceptual photographic work, she’s also a writer and has had work features on various platforms, presented university lectures and exhibited her work across South Africa and internationally, plus is a vinyl collector and deejay.
Shirin Motala is a freelance documentary photographer from Durban living in Johannesburg. Her photography work shows life from a unique, memorable angle. “Through photography, Shirin aims to accentuate the nuanced spaces and stories that exist amongst us all by challenging traditional notions of, and approaches towards documentary photography.”
Noncedo is a formidable photographer in her own right, and also one half of Carbon Copy, a photography collective with her twin. “Carbon Copy is a photo documentary exploring our lives as twins and hopefully other twins. We’re exploring how we feel about being twins, how other people see us and hopefully breaking any misconception about twins,” according to a site. She also enjoys doing experimental shots with light and close-ups.
Boipelo Khunou is an artist, freelance photographer and videographer. She is currently studying towards her BA Fine Arts degree at the University of Witwatersrand. Boipelo describes herself as “an artist who creates from an understanding of her position in the world and the contexts that I’m active in”.
“I love portraits, they tell stories without any use of words,” portrait photographer Fundiswa Ntoyi once said. Born and raised in Bloemfontein, before Fundiswa got into photography, she enjoyed sketching portraits but was always passionate about the craft of photography. “Even before I got into photography I was always fascinated with other people’s photographs, always curious about how they managed to capture a specific image. I literally learned to take photos by looking at other people’s photography. “
Gontse “Phatstoki” More
Phatstoki is a deejay, photographer and a film editor, who is known for their striking and minimalist photographic compositions. For their most recent project, the co-founder of Pussy Party — a monthly event for womxn femmes in Joburg — shot a music video for DJ Spoko and Matias Aguayo’s joint single Dirty Dancing that totally blew our mind.
Emerging photographer to watch Zuzi Seoka focuses her lens primarily on capturing events in the city. ” I shoot what I like,” she says about her documentary-based oeuvre that includes images from weddings, family shoots and editorial.
Basetsana is a self-taught freelancing photographer operating under the name Shutterbug Diaries. “The camera is my tool,” she says. “Through it I give a reason to everything around me.” She is also a multimedia artist at creative business service Umuzi.org.
Thina Zibi is a bold, confident, and unapologetic photographer who sees her photography as “visual poetry”. She studied advertising before gravitating towards photography, and has worked as an art director for communications agency Joe Public.
Andy Mkosi is a freelance photographer, videographer, musician and co-founder of inclusive creative network Jam That Session. Andy has been described as “using art to reflect and interpret life as it exists both outside and behind her eyes” in a previous interview.
masego’s work focuses on striking portraiture. She is the co-founder of Mane Chicks, a website which celebrates black hair, and has previously worked for Your Family magazine and marketing company Ogilvy & Mather, when not taking intimate and thoughtful photos.
Neo is a versatile photographer and known for intimate portraiture, according to a previous article. Originally a film photographer, she now enjoys digital photography. “I love shooting people and suspending moments between me and them in time,” Neo said in an interview. “I also really want to shape representation of black queer, black womxn and black femme bodies.”
Zanele is a freelance photographer and videographer, who operates under the name Captive Studios. Zanele’s work comprises cityscapes, weddings, portraiture and more.
Saaleha Bamjee has an MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University. She describes herself as “a visual raconteur; a documenter of the everyday, and of the extraordinary”. The photographer especially enjoys portraiture and food photography.
Olefa Yalo is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. She is also a curator at She.Clix, “a female photography team that promotes emerging female photographers”, and explores identity and gender politics in her bodies of work.
Toni Jordan is a creative director, photographer and retoucher. Her work includes studio and location shoots, portraiture, events and documentary, as well as images from her global travels.