For This Week’s Focus, we are pleased to have Jodi Windvogel, a documentary and street photographer from Cape Town. Jodi talks to us about her past photographic projects, including a notable commission for a German NGO and more personal documentary work depicting the life of communities in South Africa. She also gives us some insights into her future work, such as the two long-term documentary projects titled Backyard Stories and Maitland. Discover her practice by reading her interview below and visit our Instagram page to view her takeover!
Some photographs featured in your Instagram takeover are from your commission Indigo and the Heiveld Co-operative. Can you tell us a bit more about the story behind the commission and how it came about?
Part of the Heiveld co-operative is sponsored by a German-based organisation called Lemonaide. They discovered my website via the internet and got in touch with me, Asking me if I could accompany them to document their visit to the Heiveld Co-operative in the Northern Cape, South Africa. One of the things that drew me most to this commission was the free reign I had in photographing these stories. There was no branding for commercial use and no exploitative tendencies, which is something I generally stride for when taking on commissions.
How would you describe your style in three words?
Personal, intuitive and warm.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had in your career to date?
I suppose my biggest and ongoing challenge with my career as a documentary photographer is funding to support and sustain my work and myself. All my documentary work has been something made purely out of passion with very little to no funding. However, it does not stop me in pursuing a project I believe in wholeheartedly.
You are a member of Diversify Photography and Women Photography. How has belonging to these communities furthered your practice?
I have not received any working or career opportunities just yet, but something that has helped me tremendously is getting my work out there to a broader and international audience. Through this recognition, I have received network opportunities I would certainly not have had previously.
What resources (be it Instagram accounts, books, websites) do you follow to keep you inspired?
I am a major fan of the Magnum photo agency. I have collected many of their books through the years and it is something that I treasure in my life. It is something I always go back to when I'm feeling down and in need of inspiration. There are of course photographers I constantly return to such as Gordon Parks, Martin Parr and Alex Webb.
You’re currently based in Johannesburg. How has where you’ve lived impacted your photography?
Growing and up spending my whole life in Cape Town, almost all my work is formed by experience living there. I developed strong relationships with my communities and the subjects I photograph. This for me was perhaps one of the only reasons why I hesitated before moving to Johannesburg. Due to my work being so intuitive, I was afraid that I would not be able to connect and articulate in the same way I did with my world in Cape Town. Of course, when moving to Johannesburg, I had to rebuild my networks and relationships. However, the content and substance of my work remain the same, taking in the most important Consideration, which is humanity and human comedy. That will always drive my work.
Other than your camera, what’s always in your kit bag?
I always have a notebook, which is used to write down photographic ideas that inspire me while walking and photographing the streets. Often, these experiences are something that I turn into a photographic body of work.
On the About section on your website you say ‘I’m interested in dismantling racial and gender-based stereotypes through my images.’ How do you endeavour to achieve this?
Photography has the power to inform and educate and make radical changes to society. In essence, photography tells stories and I feel that I hold a great responsibility to tell inclusive, candid and dynamic stories with my images. Stories where the representation of people of colour are more than just stale stereotypes. Stories of black people that evoke responses other than pity or fear from a white audience, but rather evoke a sense of pride from a black audience. Not ignoring the injustices that people of colour face every day, but finding those moments in between and capturing those instead.
Does photography have the power to change things?
It is evident that photography plays a huge role in articulating our perceptions of the world, and therefore has the immense power to inform and be a catalyst for change. As a person working in the media, I do feel a great responsibility to contribute to this.