Meet Thabile Vilakazi
Hobby/Profession /Business: Photography
Blog Name: www.blacktambourinez.tumblr.com
Name of Business/ Partnership: Not a business… yet, but Thabile Vilakazi Photography for copyright reasons.
Bio: I’m a tambourine lover, a best friend, a daughter, a laugher and a photography enthusiast.
GAT: Has photography always been an aspiration of yours?
THABILE: Yes, I’d say from the day I was able to walk, talk, use my fingers it’s always fascinated me. My Dad took pictures of every moment of my life, from my hospital birth, to my first lollipop, day at the beach and so on. I remember taking my first picture, it was of my dad, and might I add it was a terrible photograph because my fingers were in front of the lens, when we got the film processed all we could see was his head the rest of it was shades of purple and yellow, he laughed so much, it’s funny because I can remember that day so vividly. From that point and being further exposed to photography, it became a love of mine. As the years went by I learnt the basics and explored, I was no longer just the subject but the camera holder, the picture taker. I was always that kid who brought a camera to school, for no reason, just to capture moments, smiles, frustrations, people. I still do.
GAT: What initially interested you into photography?
THABILE: Well besides how my Dad inspired me, I guess it’s always just been art in general that I was interested in, still pictures to be exact, the ability to capture a moment and freeze it. That gripped me. I used to paint at a young age, I wasn’t any good or else I’d be a fine artist by now hahaha. But photography is also an art, an art I am rather enthusiastic about. Photography actually comes from the Greek word “Fotografia” of which means painting or drawing with light, so in some ways I am still that kid painter, only not with a paint brush but a camera.
GAT: Which photographer do you look up to and why?
THABILE: Wow, I look up to so many photographers, especially those of my generation. I am always awestruck and inspired especially by those around me, they are innovative and extremely talented and so creative. To name a few people, Neo Baepi, Christopher Stevens, Anelisa Mangcu, Nicholas Rawhani. I am so fortunate to even know some of these people on a personal level. In terms of Famous photographers it would be, Steve McCurry, Robert Frank, The late Alf Khumalo, Martin Scoeller and [Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek, and João Silva (Also known as the Bang-Bang Club)]. I could go on forever. I am always inspired, every day.
GAT: What genera of photography are you most interested?
THABILE: Everything you could possibly photograph hahaha. I’m particularly interested in taking portraits of people, close-ups. People fear close-ups because they reveal flaws, but that’s what I find most beautiful actually, it’s quite sad that I have had to in some instances over-edit photographs because people dislike seeing their flaws, I must say sometimes I do feel the same about portraits of myself, but I have actually learnt to embrace my blemishes, thick body and other flaws, well at least I’m still trying to. Over the years, I have also developed an interest in fashion photography, actually I’ve begun to love it more and more. I love the way in which people express themselves through clothing, and how they make fashion their own, different, fresh, authentic and how they take risks, it’s quite admirable.
GAT: Is photography more of a hobby? Or possibly pursuing it as a career in the near future?
THABILE: Photography is very essential to me. It stopped being a hobby after the age of 10.. After that I would bring my camera to school take pictures of people and charge them R3 each picture. I would even carry a diary and one of those counterfeit receipt books, that way both the customer and I have a copy of our little agreement. It makes me laugh just thinking about it, but I just loved the process, from approaching people, waiting for the film to be processed and the smile on people’s faces when they saw and received their pictures. I enjoy it, it makes my heart happy. I am currently a Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University and hoping to major in Photojournalism next year. Possibly when I’m older and obtained my degree, I will have my own photo studio, that is the plan, my dreams only get bigger and scarier, but exciting.
GAT: Would you say photography is a hard line of work to get into?
THABILE: Yes!!! It is quite tough because there are A LOT of photographers out there. But there is always an element of you that sets you apart from everybody else. Just as there are all kinds of personalities, these distinct aspects of your personality should show in your work, well, at least that is what I try to achieve. It is tough though because I often have feelings of inadequacy especially in this line of work, as if I am not good enough because of the extremely talented. It’s crazy the amount of talent out there, I am always in awe, inspired, scared but willing to take up the challenge. I surround myself with an incredible support system, from my family to friends, who review my work and give me constructive criticism. I am so grateful. I think it’s important in any competitive line of work to be clear of those who want to see you grow and those who criticize you just to bring you down. In all honesty, I have so much room for growth, I’m willing to learn, make errors, grow, just take in all the knowledge I can to become a better photographer.
GAT: What method of photography do you use? Film/digital? Why?
THABILE: Digital photography, it gets better and better. Quality is amazing.
GAT: Now days everyone has a digital camera, do you notice less work or projects coming your way as people now think they can do it themselves?
THABILE: Our photographic skills are different, each person has their own way of taking pictures, style of taking them. It all depends on the client’s taste and what they like about a photographer’s work. It’s the photographer’s responsibility to stay informed, update themselves of new tricks and styles of taking and editing photographs and to explore.
GAT: If you could work alongside any photographer who would it be, and why?
THABILE: It would be Steve McCurry. His work is amazing!!! One of the best photojournalists I have kept my eye on for years. His pictures are so raw, I’m at a loss for the perfect words to describe how much I love his work. He travels different countries and uncovers untold stories, heart-wrenching stories all through photography, it’s simply amazing. You might know his work of the Afghan girl which was featured on the National Geographic magazine, there is a story behind the photograph and the Afghan girl, and it’s quite riveting. The photographs he takes have the ability to make you cry, laugh, sympathise and appreciate art.
GAT: What goal/s are you working towards within your photography and when will you know you have reached them?
THABILE: All I can say is watch this space.
GAT: What genera of photography do you dislike the most and why?
THABILE: I wouldn’t say there is any genre of photography I dislike, unless it defames or exploits anyone. It all depends. People are entitled to their privacy. It is a law.