Mannequins

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

by Silumesii Maboshe

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I could be the photography mentor for a team of new entrepreneurs who were starting a media business. I smiled and agreed but at the back of my head the thought, “What can I possibly offer”, bounced around so violently it almost tore a hole in my skull. I don’t consider myself a good photographer. I think of myself as being on a long journey of getting better and better as a photographer.

I thought about the mentorship request over the next few days. Mentorship is a big word, I decided. I do not have all the answers. In fact, I have so many more questions about photography. What if I simply offered to help out as a friend? That sounded achievable.

To prepare myself, I took a look at some of the things I do and have done in the pursuit of becoming a better photographer. Towards the end of 2012, I felt I was struggling to find subjects to photograph. So, I reached out to car companies, bakers, fashion designers and just about anyone who could give me a “subject” to photograph. I didn’t get any interest and almost gave it up when, in early 2013, Towani Clarke of Kutowa Designs responded. She needed photos for the Kutowa Facebook Page. I just wanted to take pictures. It was a great fit!

Over the course of several months, I’d visit the Kutowa Studio and take product photos. It was frustrating at the start because I wanted to take the pictures a certain way. With time, patience and practice, I started to “get it”. The focus was on the products. Towani did not simply want pretty pictures, she wanted to sell dresses.

I was volunteering my time and skill but what I was learning at Kutowa was invaluable. Lessons worth noting:

  • Show up—If you agree to be at a shoot at a certain time, be there earlier than agreed. As a photographer, it will help you get a an idea of the location and light. It will also help you build a good reputation.
  • Listen—The client is in the driving seat. If you have your own ideas, they can take back seat until you have a good rapport with them.
  • Have fun—I used this exercise to figure out if this was the kind of photography I would want to do and be good at. I’m not yet sure if product photography is my thing but I most certainly had a fun trying to find out.
  • Remember that anything can be a subject—Photography subjects are everywhere, even if they are “just” mannequins!

Photographing mannequins at Kutowa ended up being a useful foundation to build on. Later, I’d be working with models but that is a story for later. For now, bring in the mannequins!


2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs
2013 Kutowa Designs