Featured Photographer: Nonzuzo Gxekwa
Johannesburg-based photographer, Nonzuzo Gxekwa chats to us about her love of the city, inspiring artists and a risky Sunday shot that turned into her favourite.
When did you notice a love for photography?
A few years ago, after my sister gifted me with a digital SLR camera and I started shooting flowers.
Why did you pick photography as the medium to express yourself in?
I don’t really remember a time where I decided that photography was going to be my medium. But over time I think I chose photography as it allows me to learn and engage with the world fully, allowing me to be myself.
Favourite place to photograph and why?
The city, Johannesburg is like a fruit salad – there’s a variety in subject matter.
Do you take inspiration from other photographers or artists?
Maybe not directly when I am shooting as I feel I am an intuitive photographer. Yet I find inspiration from artists like Frida Orupabo whose photography/collage explores themes around black female bodies; Viviane Sassens’ use of colour and shadows in her work; Helen Levitt and how she captured the streets; and Victor Matom’s slow process and use of natural light.
Also, there are many black female photographers in the country that are inspiring and bringing different voices to photography, including Lebogang Tlhako, Thandiwe Msebenzi, Noncedocharmaine and Philisa Zibi.
Tell us more about your favourite photograph?
It’s a photo of a woman walking a train track, and although it’s technically maybe not great, I enjoy certain elements of the picture.
I was walking to Troyeville on a Sunday afternoon when I saw a lot of people coming from somewhere and walking close to the train track. Suddenly, I noticed this woman in a yellow and green church uniform, almost alone on the track like she was just placed there.
Jeppe Station is known to be not safe, but I decided to take out my camera and take a chance. I was nervous so I adjusted my camera settings, framed what I thought was interesting and quickly took the shot. I was not 100% certain that I got it but when I got home, I really liked what I saw.
If you could pick any other artist/photographer you would like to collaborate with, who would it be?
Nelisiwe Xaba, a dancer from South Africa. She’s always pushing boundaries and exploring new ideas in her work. Nelisiwe has carved her own path and I find that inspiring.
Do you have any special projects you are working on?
Yes, as part of my programme with Through the Lens, a photography school in Johannesburg, I am focussing on Johannesburg as space, as well as portraits of Black Trans in the city.