A look through the lens
Photographer gives pupils picture of creative future
Professional photographer Joshua Gxekwa is giving matric pupils in Motherwell a shot at learning the tricks of the trade and transforming their passion into a skill – and possibly even a career.
The 26-yearold owner of Africa Media and Design and founder of the Mandela Bay Community Project said he had identified the need to introduce arts into the school curriculum when he realised that many pupils would not be afforded the opportunity to study further than high school.
The three-day workshop is set to take place at eight Motherwell high schools over the next two months.
“The project started at Ubuntu Education Fund where I was a photography facilitator, but the vision grew from there – I wanted to reach more students in township high schools,” Gxekwa said.
“I have seen that township schools don’t cater for students who are interested in doing arts as a career or business. So I started the project to give the students a chance to learn about the skill of photography and basic business skills.
“I also approached a local filmmaker, Sifiso Macozoma, to collaborate with me on the project to assist those who have an interest in filmmaking and directing.”
The Motherwell resident said the workshop took place after school, and 15-25 pupils from each school were taken through the basics of photography, how to create a portfolio and business plan.
“The idea is to provide a potential source of income for these pupils. Many of them won’t go on to study at a tertiary level, so if I can teach them a skill, they can turn that skill into a career,” Gxekwa said.
“I started in Motherwell because charity begins at home. But the plan is to spread this to surrounding townships and eventually the northern areas.”
Owner of Black Apple Photography, Macozoma said she had felt obliged to get involved when she heard about the project. “It is a fantastic initiative. “We as professionals got an opportunity many of our peers weren’t given.
“So it is our time now to plough back into the community that supported us, Macozoma said.
“We also assist in [the pupils’] applications to tertiary institutions and provide them with whatever other support we can.”
Vulumzi Senior Secondary School matric pupil Lusanda Mateisi, 17, said he had enjoyed the workshop and it had opened his mind to a potential career in the arts.
“It was very interesting. I might not end up being a photographer but I am a bit more informed about it.
“As matric pupils we are on the verge of making some big life decisions, so it is always better to know all options available to you.”