A Sowetan Photographer
We are people who are moved by imagery. We see photographs and write down the stories told by the visuals. This is us writing down a story on the photographs Banele Mhlanga (@nizi.jpg) takes. However, this story that we are sharing with you is one narrated by Banele himself. We are just documenting it.
From a home in Soweto
Once upon a time in a home in Protea Glen, a family birthed and raised a self-taught photographer, visual artist, creative and muse. Sowetan homes have gifted the world with many talented people and Mhlanga is no exception. And the world is aware of this because he has produced work with The Coolest OGs and Bala Sport. You know you are exceptional when people applaud your spirit of excellency. You know the world needs you when everything that comes from you is received with open arms.
Let’s go back to home
Let us walk back home in this story and enter Mhlanga’s high school days when the digital camera his uncle owned made him realize that photography is his creative gift. The realization was brought to him by the relationship he had with this camera. It was one that saw Mhlanga’s fingertip kiss the surface of what allows you to snap. And from what he snapped, came photographs of the people he shares home with at family gatherings and friends who hung out with him on school grounds. The relationship between him and his uncle’s digital camera ended when he fell in love, in 2017, with his first DSLR camera. This love too told him that this is his gift.
Letting his viewer in
What comes from his lens is a door that is always open for the viewer to walk into his imagination. He is not limited creatively and this comes to life through his experimental state of working. Therefore, this gives every photograph its own distinct voice. And that is his reason for not having a favourite photograph. Like an avid reader who cannot decide on her most beloved novel, Mhlanga cannot choose which voice soothes his soul the most.
However, his imagination is not all that viewer has access to. His work comes from a voice that speaks on behalf of his home. Thus, the viewer is permitted access to walk the streets of Soweto and lie on what Mother Nature gifted South African land in his photographic work. In other words, the landscapes as well as the mundane of the streets he captures are a door open to his reality.
His visual art in a dance with his photography
The creative processes of his visual art and his photography are parallel. His visual art creative process consists of the usage of clothes, paint, jewelry as well as a carefully chosen background with a unique backdrop. His photographic work sees a creative process that involves the manner in which a subject is a captured and where that takes place.
On Tshepiso Seleke and his dreams
Tshepiso Seleke is a photographer Mhlanga feels he has to thank for always supporting and inspiring him. Mhlanga dreams of walking the township streets and seeing institutions he created that function as creative educational spaces for the youth. The skills he wishes the youth to walk out of his institutions with are photographic and cinematographic skills. The world needs to see more and more of the talent taken care of in our land.
In his own words
Do not limit your creativity, explore more, that is how you grow.
See more of his stories here: https://www.instagram.com/nizi.jpg/.