/ 1 October 2020

Kamogelo Lebotse: The Portfolio

Portfolio (1)
This photo, taken in Mahikeng, is part of Kamogelo Lebotse’s Documenting Lockdown series.

In 2013, I went to Pretoria from Rustenburg to study B.Com law. I was staying in Sunnyside, close to Unisa. I hadn’t been in an environment with so many people before. The number of buildings and the people around me drove my interest in taking photos. 

With an iPhone 5, I started taking photos of buildings from street corners, as well as of guys living off the streets. It was mainly recyclers on the streets, pushing strollers. Back home, you’d see guys living off the streets, but in Pretoria there were so many. 

I’d walk around at night to see what the environment was like. People would say it’s not safe, but I didn’t fear that. I became fond of the place and how safe it was for me. I needed a different perspective on how life is. 

My dad had a camera when I was growing up, so I think that, subconsciously, it was from looking at those photos that my love for the artform developed. I used to draw as a kid at school, so I felt like the quickest way I could still be connected to art was through pictures. 

At a later stage one of my friends started me off with a camera, a Nikon D100, which I still have and shoot with sometimes, just to remind myself of my earlier inspiration. 

When my dad passed away in 2018, I had to leave Pretoria and find a job close to home. Through photography, which gave me a skill of talking to people, I applied for sales jobs in Rustenburg. When I got one, they transferred me to Mahikeng.

My job entails me driving around to see different people because Mahikeng has more than a hundred villages surrounding it. Usually, I take a camera with me, which I use when I find moments to interact with people. 

What I’ve come to notice, within a period of a year, is that most of the income in small towns is dependent on the movement of people and the constant interactions between them. In such places there are people who live hand to mouth and what the pandemic has created is a different social construct, with the street vendors and small business owners closing down and children filling the streets because they have no school to attend.  

Documenting Lockdown is a series of images portraying the impact of sudden change and the effects that it has on society. Often change presents itself and the people have to adapt to it and keep their energy  positive with each waking day, working towards stabilising their lives and progressing towards their desired outcome, despite any circumstances they are going through. 

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