2 Apr 2024 ///

Chapter 25 | Six South African Fashion Photographers You Should Know About

When we launched Interlude just over two years ago, we had envisioned a specific dimension to the idea of a South African-focused fashion column. This guiding spirit intended to highlight the roles and responsibilities involved in this construct of a ‘fashion industry’ – the very people and skill sets that make a fashion landscape, well, possible. In two years, Interlude has focused primarily on brands –  as South Africa’s fashion landscape has seen steady growth in creative and entrepreneurial expression. So, it is with great pleasure that Chapter 25 returns to looking at individuals within South African fashion, fulfilling a very specific and indelible role. Namely, the photographer. 

The Aristotelian phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is a consistent truth, particularly in an industry upon which collaboration is an absolute central tenet. The role of the photographer is interesting – neither more important, yet completely critical in a space that relies on visual output as its main expression. The photographer of any campaign and editorial – for any shoot, collection or story – are the intermediary between the viewer and the subject. Fashion is mediated, quite literally, through the point of view of the photographer; who has the specific role of engaging with the point of view, woven together by an entire team. This is a responsibility exclusive to the photographer and the importance of their role cannot be overemphasised. 

Fashion has sometimes had an unfair rap for being superfluous or unnecessary and even in the midst of a landscape that demands intense commercial pursuits, I have always felt that fashion is one of our most important aspects of cultural production. Tim Walker, the British fashion photographer (his Vogue archive here of his prominent work in the 90s and 200s fashion mag era, is worth a deep dive) said The point of fashion is that you take the picture you want. And fashion is the only photography that allows fantasy, and I’m a fantasist.” and “I know the world that I am painting is not a reality. It is a whim, an entertainment to provoke something in people, whether as escapism or relief. I think that is very valid.” 

When we think of fashion imagery as offering escapism or relief – and this being valid – the South African fashion photographic context continues to be one of the clearest case studies that I know of. Through fashion image-making, our country is able to explore and express the wide array of creative, cultural and representational celebrations – critical for our future, relevant for our present and accounting for our past. 

South Africa has no shortage of photographers. For the purpose of this edition, we are looking at a few image-makers for whom ‘fashion’ forms an intrinsic part of their work. These are photographers whose work is deeply pronounced – unique in their own right – and collectively form part of a brilliant cast of South African image-makers that are developing fashion’s landscape both locally and internationally.


Bassie Maluleka is a South African fashion photographer, now based in Brisbane, Australia. Her thematic concern is rooted in fashion – though, more in what fashion does to express and derive representation. With past clients such as Puma, Nike and published in Vogue Italia (to name a few), Bassie’s focus is to highlight women, specifically Black women, through her lens. When asked what she ‘intends’, with each image that she creates – Bassie says that collaboration is her guide, “I’m in the business of making people feel something when they look at my work and that starts with the team I choose to work with! I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing models, makeup artists, stylists who know how to use the garments in the most unconventional way which shows versatility and is especially important when we’re shooting creative work.”

Cowboy Test & The Decks photographed by Bassie Maluleka


Tśele Nthane is one of the most exciting photographers, arriving on the scene in the last few years – with soaring success. Last year, Tśele made his debut in Milan and Paris, encouraged by both Cris Fragkou and Filippo Fior to head backstage and understand this aspect of shooting fashion week. with some of the most incredible BTS and street photography that I’ve seen in a long, long time. Tśele notes that I love that a fashion image can truly be anything that makes you feel”, and it’s precisely this feeling that is so stark across all of his imagery. Tśele’s visual storytelling is already grounded in a signature richness and authenticity – one can only imagine what lies ahead.


Jaimi Robin is a fashion, portrait and documentary photographer based in Cape Town. Focused on fashion as a way to capture the inherent joy and authenticity in Cape Town’s youth – with an emphasis on streetwear & fashion brands – Jaimi’s foray into art direction is part of her developing point of view, as she pursues ‘the immortalisation that a photograph offers.’ When asking Jaimi what interests her about fashion, she says that as it evolves, it invites us, especially as young creators, to grow and blend our development with its constant evolution. For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than capturing the human form, and fashion offers a way to adorn it with nowness, allowing us to immortalise the present beyond just the click of a camera.”


Elle Sehlako is a photographer, videographer and creative director. Affectionately known as ‘Blackmilk’ – Elle originates from Soweto, Johannesburg and is currently a Sony Ambassador, with a specific focus on encouraging and mentoring women entering the image-making space. With clients like Nike, Fila, Flying Fish and Netflix behind her name – Elle is part of South Africa’s contemporary editorial scene, shooting covers for Cosmopolitan, GQ South Africa and Hype Mag.

Boity for Hype Mag photographed by Elle Legae Sehlako

FILA campaign photographed by Elle Legae Sehlako

Photographed by Elle Legae Sehlako


Andile Phewa is a documentary photographer, originally from Durban, now based in Cape Town. Having trained at the The Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, Andile Phewa is one of South Africa’s leading photographers in both commercial and fine-art photography. A master of low-light shadows and photography, Andile’s career spans locally and internationally – in fashion, landscape and most essentially, the art of visual storytelling.

ashluxe campaign, photographed by Andile Phewa

Confections X Collections at Mount Nelson Hotel, photographed by Andile Phewa

ashluxe campaign, photographed by Andile Phewa


French-South African photographer, Elie Benistant, is based in Paris – and his imagery cuts an exceptional portrait of Paris’ burgeoning independent fashion scene, beyond the traditional and established fashion houses. From campaigns for Botter Paris to shooting a campaign for BLUEMARBLE Paris (in what appears to be Kommetjie, Cape Town, no less) – Elie’s practice is human-centric, and portrays the innate richness of culture involved in Paris’ creative scene. Colour is key for Elie’s image-making, with his images showcasing a clear bi-continental perspective of creative expression. 

Fashion photography, as the mediator between the viewers and the subject – the publication and the reader, or the brand and the consumer, holds a profound responsibility in conveying the essence of our cultural and creative expression. Photography is a suffusion of technical skill and artistic vision, walking that razor-thin line between creativity and pragmatism. These six photographers are a stunning sample of just how rich South Africa’s image-making scene is, whether working here in the country or abroad. We look forward to seeing more of the world through their lens’ – onwards and upwards.

Botter Paris photographed by Elie Benistant

CALLA Paris photographed by Elie Bentistant

Written by: Holly Beaton
For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

You May Also Like