I SEE A DIFFERENT YOU
--Please start with your introduction.
Vuyo [ V ] : Hello, I’m Vuyo.
Innocent [ I ] : Hi, I’m Innocent.
Justice [ J ] : Hi, I’m Justice.
ISDY: And, we are I SEE A DIFFERENT YOU. (laughs)
--When did you start taking photographs?
[ V ] : Instead of taking photographs, for a long...long time, since we were young as kids, we were taking photographs in our heads. But the whole things got us like now - we started the project around 2011.
--Can you explain how you guys formed as a trio photographer?
[ I ] : We met a while ago, when we were 9 years old. We met in church, Justice and I were about 12 or 13 years old. From there, we just never stopped. We became brothers, saw each other everyday and even today. I think we became a trio since then. We just put a name on us in 2011 when we started sharing our forces and our works.
-- Can you explain the process of making your work?
[ V ] : Basically, when we are making our work, it’s never easy to be honest- It’s never easy. When we go out, we try to relate to the situation we are in, or the location we are in. We try to tell the story of the location and what’s happening there. So, everyday, we try to get a picture. It’s like a boxing match. We try and fight, fight to get the right picture. It tells a story with a meaning. So, it’s never easy and it’s always hard to tell...most of the time we go out, and we come back with nothing. You know, and those times when we come back with something, it means so much.
--Is there a reason for you to make your works in Panorama?
[ I ] : Panorama, because we want people to look at our photos and get more out of them- not just fashion or people posing. We want the subject to the get the focal point, and the landscape to reward you to see exactly where we are, and get a feeling of the environment. That’s why panorama, because it tells the story much more better for the concept we are working on.
-- What do you want to tell through your work?
[ J ] : Our message is that in any negative point of view of something, there’s a positive one. So, we are interested in those stories that are aspirational. So, what we want to tell now, especially, for example, if we focus on Soweto, Soweto is looked at very negative. And, as the youth that grew up there, we found it very unfair for people that are outside telling us the story. So, when we shot in Soweto, we wanted people to see, what we saw in Soweto. Because what you see, is what exactly is Soweto is. Not what google shows you- showing you starving kids, broken houses, situations that are not on level. Our situation shows you places that you would like to see and experience. So that’s what we want people to see from our work, or our message. And to preserve the culture- yes, preserving culture and heritage.
-- How do you feel about being chosen for STUDIO AFRICA?
[ V ] : We don’t know how to put it, one minute you are in South Africa and the next minute, you are in sitting with the beautiful people here. So, really words can’t really explain it, because we are really happy that DIESEL and EDUN understand the message we are trying to portray.
[ I ] : We saw the art that we believe in and getting help to push the message that we want out is really amazing. It’s really...nothing is much rewarding than this, we are very thankful. I came to realize the amount of audience we had and our communication. And, the amount that we are going to communicate with is beyond words. This actually opened a wide, big platform for us to communicate. So now, we feel really grateful to have an opportunity to show the world what our message is and what Soweto is, and what South Africa, Africa is. There is no better feeling.
--What do you think about DIESEL + EDUN?
[ J ] : DIESEL+EDUN is a great project. Because, with what our message is...we kind of think Africa is understated. For the solid brand like DIESEL and EDUN, to make that bold decision, who wants to work to uplift Africa and make premium brands from material that’s bred in Africa, and that’s made in Africa, it’s empowering countries that are in need. So, it’s amazing. It feels like they are the leader of strength strategy. For brands like them to make that move, they are opening other brand’s eyes. So, they are opening possibilities for other brands to want to work with Africa. You know, so... that’s amazing. And, it says a lot. I mean... it says they are leaders- no one has done it.
--Whom are the artists and photographers that you respect?
[ V ] : Uh...there’s a lot. Khumalo... Alf Khumalo, Peter Makhumalo, and Roger Farrington; we actually met him as well. He greeted us nicely. And, also Alastair McKimm, the person who shot in Senegal for DIESEL+EDUN.
[ I ] : it was quite inspiring just seeing him work. And, how he did his thing was just so inspiring. There’s a lot but I think there are whole a lot of photographers that are really good. I mean for us, inspiration goes beyond just photographers.
[ J ] : You know...music like...Busi Mhlongo. For us, what appeals more are people that are original in what they do, they are not trying to be other people.
--Where do your inspiration derived from?
[ I ] : We get our inspiration from our environment. Mostly inspired by our elders people, who were there growing up. Our forefathers, our friends, we are inspired by our city, Soweto as well. Our childhood experience, that inspires us a lot. Especially, you know when we are as kids, you are very innocent and your eyes are new to everything...experiencing. So, as kids, our experiences are different. As a kid from a slightly disadvantaged family, you happiness is just as good as the kids that’s from a rich family based on what you play; when you play, you all have fun. So, when we go out and take photos, we go out with that kind of point of view. Because we used to skate- you know and we used to walk long distance like 50km. Along the way, when we find places to skate or whatever if we wanted to do some sort, it was new to our eyes. We always wanted something fresh. So, that experience inspires us to approach our work in that perspective.
--Please tell us about Soweto, where you are based in.
[ V ] : First of all, I love Soweto. Soweto is one of the old townships in South Africa. And, I think it’s the biggest township in the world. Soweto is a mixture of everyone that comes together. You have different ethnic groups. You have Zulu, Xhosa, you basically have everyone in Soweto. So, Soweto is probably the best place that I could have grown up in or we could’ve grown up in. Soweto taught us a lot of things. Soweto taught us everything. I love it. And that’s where my family lives.
--As a fashionably conscious trio, do you have anything that you keep in mind with your style?
[ I ] : We don’t have rules but we always try to give a spin with every outfit that we wear. I’ll ask Vuyo and see if it’s edgy enough or if it’s too generic, or at least different from what the normal people wear, and that’s just our approach all the time. Even today, when we were walking out, I told Vuyo to give it spin...and that’s how we are to each other. We don’t want to be just ordinary.
[ V ] : That’s the beauty of having three people.
--What do you think about Tokyo, Japan?
[ V ] : Tokyo is amazing- it’s beautiful. The people here are...even when I look around, I can’t believe how many beautiful people there are. I love the city, but I like I can’t believe there’s a place like this. Tokyo is beautiful- and I am going to stay here...
[ I ] : I think it’s very stylish. Just walking down this road, you see over 100 people that are super stylish. We are not used to that, so everything looks amazing. Even the DIESEL store here, the furniture and coffee shop...there’s a DIESEL coffee shop. So, it’s very new to us- it’s really, really amazing. The people are super beautiful.
[ J ] : I think the style is amazing in a way that every person gives a spin. It’s never straightforward. People can be stylish but just average stylish- here, (you) is not generic.
--Can you tell us about your future projects?
[ J ] : We have a film project that we have to put it into together. We have to decide if it’s going to be a short movie or a documentary movie. But, we are more interested it in being a short movie. We have an idea and we have started putting it together the content, we are not sure if we are ready to commit on a date. It’s still new to us, but we are happy with the direction of the way it’s going. We also have another project that we are working on which is the music. So, the biggest part of what we will be doing this year.
[ V ] : Music is one thing that we have been putting it up on Vimeo. You know, a lot of people are sending us emails to get the song, so I think it’ll be a good thing. Not sure yet, but, so far people like it.
--Do you have a message for people who plan to see the show?
[ V ] :Thank you for coming to see our show, thank you for coming.
[ I ] : Thank you for taking the time to come check out our work, so thank you for that.
[ J ] : Thank you for giving the chance to show you what our heritage and culture is like, to share it with us - there is no better feeling.