March 7, 2022

Sebonelo Sibanyoni

Walking away and coming back with Sebonelo.Snapshots

Describe your journey with photography.

My journey has been one of love and hate with love always winning. I've been shooting on and off for over 15 years, mostly for fun and a few commissions here and there. A few group exhibitions. But I love every moment of the process, from the image making to the early morning 4:00 am process sessions and the tedious scanning. What I do want to acknowledge is that photography has been like a loyal friend, always there at crucial moments in my life. Good, bad and average days.

I most especially love the process of documenting my family. Most of them don’t like being in front of the camera, but I sometimes manage to convince them to take a moment to acknowledge the camera. There are moments where that feels forced, but I don’t mind that much.

What have you learned along the way that you wish you knew earlier?

If your goal is clear to you, the hurdles between you and the goal will always be there. Giving up always leaves you having to face those hurdles over and over again. Don't give up. Keep at it.

To be honest, I’m not scared of walking away from creating for a little bit. There’s times where I don’t pick up my camera for days on end, sometimes weeks. But I do it as to not associate ‘the feeling low” with something I like.

It’s also important to understand what is the cause of the “low moments.” Because sometimes your struggle is caused by the lack of a certain skill, a lack of specific type of gear equipment, or just lack of executing your vision.

The easiest of lows to navigate is the one caused by a lack of skill, because then all you have to do is go back and keep practicing that skill. I’m not shy to burn an entire roll trying to figure out a certain lighting technique.

But I think it’s also important to reach out to your peers in the community. A lot of solutions are prevalent in conversations with your peers about the passions you both share.

How did you come into your documentary style of photography?

I’m not truly convinced that I have a style that is mine. I’m forever chasing after that said style. I think for me, it’s in black and white images. But what has gotten me to this point, has always been the desire to be better, supported by wanting to learn. I sometimes lack a little bit in the discipline department.

But when I finally get my shit right, I can commit.

How I got to where I am is that I kept coming back.

Post photograph by Sebonelo Sibanyoni

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