Behind the photo

At artist Thokozani Mthiyane’s U-shaped flat in Doornfontein, I was overwhelmed by his space, his artworks everywhere and how the light was coming in. The challenge was to find a spot that would depict what Mthiyane was about.

I talk to people I’m photographing to gauge their mood and to involve them. Portraiture demands participation or magic will not be achieved.

I immediately found the right spot for him. The sun was diagonal and the room perfectly lit through big windows, which diffused the light slightly. A large part of the room was dimly lit, but one could still see paintings on the wall, oils on the table, an easel on the floor. Because I was using natural light, I had to ask him to sit down to get the light on him, especially his face. I exposed for the highlights to get details on his face, in line with where the light was coming in. Because of his co-operation, it was easy to photograph him.

We did a few frames with him looking at the camera or looking away before we came to this one. He crossed his legs and I asked him to look outside. This shot soothes my heart and reminds me of the privilege I have to call what I love to do work.— Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi
Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater.


Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.