Editorial: photography changed my life

by Mapule Mokete

It was in my early high school days when I started playing around with my cellphone camera and taking photographs of everything. I enjoyed it so much. It was one of the few things that fulfilled me.

When I received my DSLR camera from my mother in my first year at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), I knew that it was the beginning of an incredible journey of shooting and creating.

Photography brings me so much joy. It reminds me all the time that the human eye is a powerful organ and therefore does wonders, especially with good lighting and a photographic device.

My aspiration as a Journalism TV student and a self-taught photographer is to tell stories. Photography allows me to do exactly that. I firmly believe that being able to tell stories visually is a very strong skill to have as a journalist, a storyteller and a creative.

Although Photography is a male-dominated kind of art and was invented by men, my favourite photographers are women. I don't think there's anything sexier than a woman carrying her camera and creating content.

One my very first projects, Faces and Phases, was inspired by an amazing South African female photographer, Thandiwe Msebenzi. Her work creates portrait photographic projects that challenge patriarchal notions of women's bodies as objects and things to control.

I worked on a similar project in grade 10, when I asked my friends from school to be my muses and we worked together, creating. I felt whole. I would not change anything about experiencing it. For me, these are the type of stories I want my craft to tell, representing all women and being their ‘visual voice’.

Throughout my three-year-journey here at USKAR, I have been part of many organizations offering them my photography skills. I was the photographer for Slow Sunday, Rhodes University Entrepreneurs Society and a junior photographer for Oppidan Press. I have done many solo projects and have been shooting, editing and posting my photographs. This place provided me with the perfect platform to be able to explore myself and my passion.

It also offered me the opportunity of exposing my work and presented me with an amazing opportunity to get to know people.

My biggest dream is to host exhibitions, travel the world and change lives through my photography, the same way it changed mine.

Photography and storytelling are another good way to keep the memories of my loved ones and metamorphosis of myself forever. I capture almost everything happening in my family home, be it family parties, graduations or even unveilings.

There’s just something about always having the opportunity to revisit a moment in your life and you can do all of that because of a photo album in your aunt’s drawer. I am a hoarder of memories and an advocate for “if you didn’t get a picture, it didn’t happen “.

As a journalist, it is my duty to tell stories that are true and well-researched and create a safe space for people to trust me with their stories.

As a sub-editor for Activate Online this year, I am excited to be working with people who also have a passion for creating content and telling stories in and around Makhanda.

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