A Chat With The Photographer Behind Nhlanhla Nciza's Forbes Woman Cover

In case you have been under a rock for the past two weeks then you might have missed news that Mafikizolo's Nhlanhla Nciza is gracing the cover of Forbes Woman Africa and making history as the very first South African entertainer to do so. I chatted to the photographer behind the critically well received cover, Neo Ntsoma. 

On the cover, Nhlanhla takes her throne, while rocking an avant-garde black-and-white dress and a statement necklace made with black beads.

The cover story leads with an assertively inspiring quote; “Nothing can get me down” from Nhlanhla Nciza as she speaks candidly to the publication about being a successful musician, survivor and an entrepreneur.

What was motivation behind the direction of the shoot?
Neo: I never take for granted the fact that my subjects are famous people and their faces are known extremely well and they’ve obviously been photographed before. The last thing I want to do is mimic any existing image of them, so I purposefully have foraged around to look at their portraits hence I always research before I go to a photo shoot. Days leading to a photo shoot with Nhlanhla Nciza for Forbes Woman Africa, I spent a lot of time looking at how she has been captured by camera before. I wanted to stay away from the expected image that I kept seeing repeatedly.
What was it like to work with Nciza?
Neo: The minute Nciza walked through the door I knew then that this shoot would be different. When she walked in it was like greeting an old friend that I had not had the pleasure of seeing for years.  I cannot claim to have known her well before I suggested to her as a possible candidate for the cover, besides that we have a common friend, Nthato Mashihshi, the brains behind the incredible make-up and styling for the shoot. 
The truth is, Nhlanhla and I first met 15 years ago on a photo shoot for Sunday Times newspaper, her first professional photo-shoot experience for a publication. We were both nervous looking, understandably so since the shoot happened right in the middle of Small street, one of the busiest streets in downtown Johannesburg, a first time experience for both of us. She was still a young lad starting out in the music industry and I was also relatively new in my field.
Well, Ntsoma definitely captured an beautiful image that will become iconic. She managed to assert her subject's dominance as a force in her field but still retained the softness that exudes from Nciza's femininity. It's rare to find a perfect combination of soft and regal especially with subjects that are well known and have been photographed a lot. 

Mashishi and Ntsoma definitely hit the right balance visually to make this cover beautiful, different and inviting. 
"I am are so proud of our August-September cover and on behalf of the Forbes Woman Africa team we’d like to thank our readers for the positive feedback we’ve received thus far! I am always happy to get constructive feedback on my artwork, be it positive or negative.  This provides me with the reinforcement that I’m headed in the right direction. Seeing how many great photographers there are in this industry and having my work recognized from the crowd is quite an uplifting experience. It keeps me going." added Neo Matsoma

Congratulations to the team and Nciza for a beautiful cover. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wase wamhle

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