The photographer using stories to empower our nation


Adrian Steirn was born in Australia, but made for South Africa. As a boy, he first experienced the country’s wildlife over many family visits to the continent while growing up. Steirn’s early exposure to Africa planted in him a passion that would see him move to South Africa for good, using his skills as a photojournalist to engage with the nation that gripped his heart.

Steirn is truly devoted to telling stories that empower others – the lens is merely his medium. Over the last decade, his passion and commitment to his craft saw him take the last official photographic portrait of the late Nelson Mandela. The image formed part of his 21 Icons project, a celebration of South Africa’s most inspirational people. Along with his work documenting people, Steirn has used photography as a way to reflect interactions between humans and wildlife. He looks beyond the obvious to capture the complicated nuances behind problems like poaching. In The Pangolin Men, a Beautiful News short film and photo essay, he does this by profiling a group of men who have dedicated their lives to rehabilitating pangolins rescued from poachers.

“I pick up my camera to do one thing – make positive change,” Steirn says. Which is why he launched Beautiful News on 1 November 2016 as a vehicle for sharing uplifting stories. For the last year it has released one short film every day about our remarkable nation, giving a voice and a platform to often-overlooked people whose accomplishments merit celebration. “Together, your narratives tell the story of hope. And there’s more to come,” he says.

On 1 November Beautiful News is moving to Facebook. Follow us there for more inspirational South African stories, every day at 4:14.