In Conversation with: Tamary Kudita
I am Tamary Kudita, I studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Capetown.
Where did your passion for photography come from?
I didn’t have much of an appreciation for photography until I discovered pinhole photography. At university I studied Bachelor of fine arts which included majors such painting sculpture animation design printmaking and photography. For our first-year project we did pinhole photography using a pinhole camera. It’s a simple camera without a lens but with a tiny aperture, a pinhole– effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through the aperture and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, which is known as the camera obscura effect. It was a bit tricky to use but once I got the hang of it, I fell in love.
What would you say sets you apart from other photographers out there?
Being female in a male dominated industry is one factor. I don’t like to refer to myself as a photographer rather I am a fine artist who uses the camera as a tool therefore what sets me apart is that the images I produce are not just candid photographs, they are works of art.
What inspires your work?
My aesthetic is informed by my exposure to colonial photography which can be described as photography that is often practiced by the West which depicts the black individual as oppressed. My intent is to challenge conventional ways of seeing blackness and use photography as a political instrument to resist misrepresentation. In most of my photographs the individuals are dressed in modern clothing allowing them to look educated and progressive. Representing black people in a different light allows us to gain control over how we are portrayed in society.
Apart from photography what else are you passionate about?
Fashion and fitness
What factors do you look out for when taking on a project?
Time, styling and type of model. My photos have a vintage aesthetic, so I consider the styling which was specific to the period and what they wore. I also look for models who look the part to fit into a certain narrative.
Of all the work you have done to date which one is your favourite project?
Id have to say my family project entitled maintaining memories. “My great great great grandfather was a white Anglo Boer war Commissioner who fell in love with a black plantation worker named Rosy, who worked for him at that time. Because of the political climate in the Orange Free State they had to separate, but before parting ways they had six children. Two of them were classified as black (Sophie and Namasi) two of them were classified as coloured (Martha and Lindy) and the other two were classified as white (Peter and Ben).
My great great grandfather, Peter, grew up to become a boer soldier. He would occasionally sneak food to his siblings at night but when he was caught he was chased away to a black urban area with his wife. Years later they had a son named Harry, who married a black woman.” This cycle of inter racial union in my family history is the driving force behind this project, which is based on my family album.
What is your favourite photograph you have taken so far?
This photograph is my favourite these two models are playing the role of my great grandfather Harry and his wife Mpho as mentioned in the story above…
Who are your favourite photographers?
Zanele Muholi and Santu Mofokeng are two South African photographers who deal with different subject matters in the same way. Not only are they photographers they are visual activists. Their portraits are visual statements speaking out for the invisible and the oppressed which aligns with my subject matter.
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Social media, I use social media purely as my soul source of marketing my work, I also use it as inspiration.
Given the chance who in the world would you want to photograph?
Jason Momoa, he is just a beautiful man, guys.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
My work was featured in The Art Times which is a magazine in Capetown. I was also featured on art meets tv.
What are you most fond of about being Zimbabwean?
We are amiable people. When you sit in a kombi (public transport), you can pour out your troubles and everyone will listen, perhaps laugh, and usually have a kind word to say no matter how pressing their own problems are. We endure. I admire the business people who’ve stayed and stayed in business, despite how tough things have been. I love walking into the shops and seeing products made in Zimbabwe, seeing people who lost their job 5 years ago just finding a new way to stay in the game. I like the fact that most Zimbabweans don’t sit around waiting for a hand out. I also adore the importance we place on extended family. One is never alone, here in times of trouble there is always someone to turn to. I appreciate the importance we place on respect for elders as I think it’s a good basis for stability in society.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Limitations live only in our minds but if we use our imaginations our possibilities become limitless
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers, what steps do they need to take before starting?
Everything you do, do it with a passion. When it comes to photography anyone can be a photographer, but you have to find an aesthetic that makes you stand out from the rest. Take for example a dairy board ice cream vendor who sells vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, those are boring flavours with no variety. Then along comes the creamy inn ice-cream vendor who sells coconut ice cream with chocolate flakes and butter fudge cream, who ends up stealing dairy boards business because they like what he is selling. My point is stop trying to fit in you were born to be an eagle not a roadrunner.
How can people get in touch with you or access your work?
Facebook Aperture- Tamary kudita