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Bright, bold, piercing portrait photography

4 years ago

Sphiwo Hlatshwayo was shortlisted in the Open portraiture category of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. She is currently the Junior Photographer at The Photographer Design Studio in Pretoria, a temporary position as she prepare's for her dream trip to the USA. Sphiwo has spent the last three years formally studying photography while assisting some of South Africa's top photographers under Lampost Productions and learning about the professional photography industry. She is also pursuing her own photography business, Sensory Vision.

Hi Sphiwo. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Please introduce yourself and your photography 

I am a young South African black female pioneer. I drive to constantly create and shape trends through the mastery of imagery. Thorough preparation and creative prowess serve as the basis that expands my imagination to produce the results that will exceed your expectations. I aim to provide photography services that tell your story in a different and unexpected way, which will differentiate you from the rest. Accountability, flexibility and open-mindedness are the core values with which I base my personal brand.


Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? 

Photography is a universal language, that if used effectively and creatively, can translate all the languages in the world in one photograph. With photography, you don’t need to understand certain words to get the meaning of what is being said. To me, the medium means that I can constantly play with and experiment as I please to find unusual and unexpected outcomes. It means I can create beauty and share it with the world. And through sharing, it will allow me to help others achieve their dreams too. Because a photograph has a team behind it. And that team is given the opportunity to go and expand its creativity. I love that photography allows me to be in contact with different kinds of people of different backgrounds on a regular basis. It expands my quality of life.


Tell us more about your successful image in this year's competition

I was immediately attracted to the model's freckles and I couldn't let her face go unphotographed. I shot it in a way that allows for her facial features to be prominent and appear as raw as possible, of course with a certain amount of editing. I experimented with different coloured backgrounds until finally getting to black which produced an impact I didn't expect. And I loved it. 


Your portraiture work has a unique style. Can you talk a little about this, and how important creating a visual identity is to you?

Bright and bold is how my work has recently been described. I love it. I didn't realise that I create my images with highly saturated colours until my photography lecturer pointed it out. Since then that's what I've been running with. It allows me to create statement pieces with each image I create. Visual identity in a world that's highly influenced by visual aid, is part of my livelihood because I deal with imagery. And I believe that having my own visual identity different from others will help me to help others in ways I have yet to discover. 


Where in the world are you and what's next for you? 

I am currently in Johannesburg, working in Pretoria and will be moving to America this year to travel a road to self-discovery. I will be spending the next year really delving into who I am and exploring ways to impact people's lives positively.