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Laid-back photographer goes against the grain

Living in a discriminatory system that was never designed for us to flourish culturally and to prosper economically, being an aspirant photographer may easily bring about a whole host of obstacles, frustrations or even dilemmas.

A laid-back, Durban based photographer, Thobani Khumalo is one of the many South African Creatives that is going through a testing phase of his career as a visionary who uses photography to express his ideas and personal views.

Born and raised in Durban, Thobani obtained his Honours Degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Media & Cultural Studies. He comes from a film background and believes that his experience in film has largely influenced his photography to be in a form of storytelling.

“I love fashion, landscapes and awesome furniture. These three entities tend to be a constant feature in all my imagery. My photography aims to provoke thoughts and questions about us as a society living under the world systems that are not designed to make all races and sexes to win.”

Through his craft, Thobani wants to target a market that loves fashion and art photography. On a corporate level he wants to see his work being showcased on several fashion publications and art galleries because he strongly believes that is where he stands a greater chance of conveying the underlying meaning of his work.

“I want to influence the youth (especially the disadvantaged) to believe in themselves and know that through God, anything is possible. I also want to spark minds to be conscious about who they are as black people in South Africa because there is a lot of brainwashing going on”, he added.

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Achieving this mammoth task won’t be easy for him though and he’s very much aware of that. Some of the major obstacles standing in the way, come in the form of American and Eurocentric pop culture that is pumped through our local media channels. Thobani believes that the domination of foreign pop culture causes South Africans to see local talent as being less phenomenal. He is also concerned by the fact that within the local media structure, the coverage and promotion of many art forms is not balanced – to such an extent that people would rather go to a music concert than to a photography exhibition or book launch.

When we asked Thobani to tell us who he looks up to as an exemplary photographer on an international stage, this is what he had to say: “I think that in the photography scene, there are not too many respectable photographers on a global scale. However, there are gatekeepers on what can be defined as respectable work in the sense that great photographers with unique styles often go unnoticed.”

His outcry and message to fellow Artists & Creatives living in the African continent is for everyone to embrace our heritage and find ways of expressing our views in relation to the world discourse.

Anyone who wishes to book / hire Thobani or collaborate with him on an artistic level may contact him directly via Email: and visit his website at

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