Find out why this photographer has a love affair with life


Ignatius Mokone will always remember when he saw a group of children sleeping on top of each other on a street in Hillbrow. With a camera in his hands, he was compelled to capture the moment. That’s when he knew he wanted to spend his life mastering his skills and taking good photos, with no desire for acclaim or recognition in the industry. Mokone’s exceptional ability to capture people can be seen in his street and live music photography. He has photographed legends such as Mos Def and Erykah Badu, as well as South Africans from all walks of life.

Mokone developed the ability to tell stories through photography and moving pictures at the London School of Journalism. Back in South Africa, he worked on Counting Headz: South Afrika’s Sistaz in Hip Hop, a documentary that told the stories of women in South African hip-hop culture. Another short video which Mokone contributed to featured in the City of Cape Town’s Infecting the City programme. For a while, he focused his energy on film – to the point that it became a distraction. Realising that he had neglected his first love, Mokone began working as a photographer for Expresso and Top Billing. But even while doing commercial work, his urge to pursue personal creative projects led to some of his best photography.

Despite Mokone’s humble expectations, he has been recognised for his raw, emotive pictures. In 2015, he had his first solo exhibition, A Love Affair with Life. This year, his depictions of Sotho initiation were displayed alongside established artists as part of an exhibition entitled Dislocation at the Everard Read Gallery. While his work finds itself in prestigious spaces, Mokone remains on the ground. He recently embarked on a personal journey through the Eastern Cape, where he turned his lens to shepherds and rural communities. Photo by photo, Mokone continues to immortalise the culture of South Africa, both traditional and contemporary.

Stacey Silvestri