Winning 'can change everything'

Nathi Khumalo, a young photographer from Orlando West, has been chosen as the winner of this year’s ITWeb Brainstorm Artists’ Calendar competition.

17 February 2017
Nathi Khumalo (Matthew Burbidge)

Twelve photographers from the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg were selected to interpret South Africa’s top IT brands. The work illustrates the 2017 calendar, and a winner was chosen at the calendar launch on February 16 by two judges.

Khumalo (24) was chosen to produce a work for United States company Red Hat, which provides open-source software products.

The monochromatic image shows a man, back to the camera, walking through a city street. His reflection is suspended in a puddle of water in the foreground, his hat transformed into a crimson one.

The judges were Lekgetho Makola, head of the Market Photo Workshop, and Beverley Pestana Inacio, head of the six month programme at the College of Digital Photography in Johannesburg.

Makola said the image, 'even if you block out the red hat, is really timeless and powerful'.

Nathi Khumalo's winning image"It takes you back the 1950s and this was taken in 2016.

"Sometimes when it’s raining, we believe you won’t get nice pictures because there’s not enough light. For him, to get those individuals in that street and the composition ... it draws you in and you become part of the image. The narrative makes you curious,” he said, adding it was about time that photographers were recognised ‘outside of being just product or billboard photographers’.


The workshop was founded in 1989, and Makola reckons about 2 500 photographers have been trained.

Mack Magagane was the runner-up for his cityscape for MTN. 

Pestana Inacio said no true artist could deliver exactly to a client's brief.

"You have to expect there will be a discrepancy between what the client wants and how the artist interprets it. Everyone has great ideas, but there are few people who can bring that to fruition. I can guarantee he’ll do a great installation piece for Red Hat. Art is meant to be something that when you put it on the wall, you can look at it for hours and hours. You shouldn’t be bored."

2016 calendar launch: Winners take a bow

Asked to comment shortly after winning the prize, Khumalo said he was 'still shell shocked because I didn’t think I was going to win'.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity, and I'm also grateful to Lekgetho and the Market Photo Workshop for giving us an opportunity to exhibit our work. I think it's really hard if you’re independent and when you trying to crack it. To get an opportunity like this can change everything."

Khumalo is going to be investing his R25 000 prize money in equipment, and is at work on a new project called 'Ages'.

He said the project involves how the accessibility of information is changing society.

"It's about looking at public spaces and how information speaks to the social class of that space. For instance, the type of billboards I see in Sandton I won’t see in Soweto. It's a power struggle. It's globalisation."


Images from the calendar launch at the Marion on Nicol hotel in Johannesburg (photographs by Mike Turner)