Tiisetso Lesotho

I came into the Photo Incubator Programme eager to learn and gain as much as I can and that is exactly what I did. Learning from the Market Photo Workshop’s Projects and Programming team was an eye-opening experience. Shadowing their specific roles and responsibilities worked well for me as it helped me see my way forward as an entrepreneur. I especially realised this during one masterclass with Tonderai Chiyindiko where we had to describe what our business offers and identify what kind of business it is. I quickly realised that I am a social entrepreneur.

Before this moment of reflection, my initial perception was that I simply benefited from the service my business provided as a product. I have now discovered that entrepreneurship does not have to be defined only as a selfish-pursuit of profit and economic power but rather, it can also be of benefit to society and the community around me. Because of this realization, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved in Market Photo Workshop’s Sexuality and Gender-based Violence Photography Project which aimed to promote social change.

The first few weeks of joining the Photo Incubator Programme was challenging. I knew I had to open myself up to engaging with people from different backgrounds. The planning and execution of projects at times was difficult but seeing them come to life was satisfying. I am looking forward to creating opportunities not only for myself but others too, especially young black women in and around my community.

After completing the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Programme at the Market Photo Workshop I had aspirations to work in a newsroom as a photojournalist. Earning an income through my professional practice was important to me. Fortunately, I was able to buy an 35mm analogue camera with a 50mm lens. I then began photographing people in and around my immediate community for a fee. This has become my primary business. I mostly operate in the historically significant township of Central Western Jabavu, Soweto.

For me, this aspect of my practice has become about more than just offering a ‘commercial’ service. Working with an analogue camera has taught me to spend more time and consideration with the person or people I am photographing. It is important that my style of portraiture is intimate and personal. The outcome of getting paid for a photo-shoot or commission has become secondary to the kinds of engagements I am hoping to accomplish in my photographic practice. I also take into consideration the way the images are edited and presented when I deliver them to my subjects. This helps me to set myself apart from fellow photographers around my community who have traditionally worked as street or same-time photographers.

I knew when I started this way of working that it would be a challenge competing in the broader field of professional photography. My intention is to find ways to set myself apart as a photographer who contributes something new and meaningful to my community.