2014 July 12: From Soweto to Paris for the love of photography


Teaching photography to young women at Aurora Girls High school
with my 3 collaborators/ facilitators: Lindeka Qampi (SA photographer and activist), Linda Mankazana (SA educator and activist) and Valerie Thomas (French physician and activist).
We started the visual project in February 2014 at Aurora Girls High School.
The participating learners’ age group (13 – 20).

Our major goal is to have photography introduced as a course at township schools in South Africa. AGHS is our pilot project. We will host a conference on Young Women and Visual Activism where an exhibition featuring mainly the students photographs will be on show. We wish to have a publication to mark this project.

So far the project is not funded by any donor, Muholi pays for equipment, field trips and compensates the main facilitator for her time. She regards this visual project as part of her social responsibility.

Photo Experience (PhotoXP) was founded by Muholi in 2004 and more than 50 black women have been trained in Basic Photography skills.


2014 PhotoXP group photo_0557


2014 April 16:  Our photography facilitator Lindeka Qampi at the centre with our photography learners at Aurora Girls High school, Soweto.


2014-02-21 14.23.11

2014 Feb. 17: Photo XP facilitator and founder, Zanele Muholi with one of the young learners at AGHS


linda lindeka valerie_2933


2014 July 2: Our beautiful and brilliant facilitators outside French Institute, Paris.L-R:  Lindeka Qampi, Linda Mankazana and Valerie Thomas.


2014 PhotoXP Linda Lorraine Muholi Lindeka Valerie _2912

2014 July 2:
…with Lorraine Gobin of RubisMecenat at Zanele Muholi’s studio – Cite Des Arts in Paris.


2014 July 4 PxP Crew with Sandra & Camilla in PARIS_3362


2014 July 3: At the back Linda & Valerie (at the back) with Sandra & Camilla (front) looking at Lindeka Qampi’s presenting Aurora visual project.


2014 July 5 Valerie Linda Camilla Lindeka Sandra_3379

2014 July 5: … at Muholi’s art residency studio, Cite Des Arts in Paris, France.
with Sandra Terdjman and Camilla of Council (an agency for artistic researches) 
L-R: … with Valerie,  Linda,  Camilla,  Lindeka,  Sandra and Muholi in front.
Self timed photo captured by Zanele Muholi with Canon 6D.


Linda Nathalie Muholi Lindeka Valerie-1


2014 July 5:  After our meeting and presentation
 at Muholi’s art residency studio, Cite Des Arts in Paris, France.
… with filmmakers from Chromatic Existences – Valerie Urrea and Nathalie Masduraud, who recently launched a documentary on South African photographers.

L-R:  Linda,  Nathalie, Muholi, Lindeka and Valerie Urrea.
Self timed photo captured by Zanele Muholi with Canon 6D.


2014 July 5 Muholi LINDEKA Manu Piet LINDA Valerie in Bondy PARIS_9781-1

2014 July 5:  After dinner in Bondy, Paris. France
Our last meeting was with the physician Emmanuelle Piet, director or the Collectif feministe contre le viol and in charge of the PMI organization in Seine-Saint-Denis for the conseil general. She has just launched a campaign against incest in France.
We discussed with her the possibilities of extending the PhotoXP in Seine-Saint-Denis.

The 2014 Cite Des Art Residency in Paris, has given me more than a chance to create but to network with many creative/brilliant minds and also to further my collaborative strategies.



Origins of the concept

In June 2004, Zanele Muholi started teaching photography skills to black youth and women under the Photo XP banner while she was a photo-journalist and webmaster at Behind the Mask.
WomensNet provided a space for the resulting exhibition during their Gender Stats launch at Museum Africa for Women’s Month that year.

In July 2004, Zanele trained women in Ngotshe, in the Eastern part of KwaZulu Natal, with the support of the Market Photography Workshop. The third Photo XP took place in 2006 under the auspices of Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), of which Zanele is a co-founder.
FEW’s 2007 calendar was the primary output.
The next was in 2008, with Lulekisizwe black lesbian youth from Gugulethu and Nyanga townships in Cape Town.

In 2009 was commissioned by Triangle Project to train young black lesbians photography for research, themed Ndim’Lo. The participants came from various township of Cape Town. A book for research was realized from that experience.
In 2011 – 2012 worked with FreeGender, a black lesbian organisation based in Khayelitsha and the experience was themed Ikhaya.
I co-facilitated the project with Lindeka Qampi who is currently working with us in 2014 PhotoXP.
We partnered with  with Greatmore studios and  exhibition took place at their premises, Woodstock, Cape Town in May 2012.
The Photo XPs are thematized like Indawo Yami – My Place, since the central idea was for participants to capture everyday images from their immediate environment.
The previous projects included field trips where participants were exposed to gendered mainstream sites, corporate boardrooms, museums, galleries and archives.
The overall objective of the Photo Experience Project is to continuously promote and support the self-production of photographs that will trace, document, and preserve black, female, lesbian and queer existences within the South Africa social and cultural landscapes.

So with this visual literacy initiative, the idea is to increase women’s participation in Photography so that they learn about South African history and rewrite their own as a way of celebrating 20 years of Democracy in South Africa.
Siyafundisana (meaning we are teaching/ learning from each other) aims to embrace the question of women’s empowerment, by giving participants a platform to talk about their lives – how they are being raised and educated in Soweto and beyond – through the production of their own images of their daily lived realities.



This pilot project was started in February 2014. Ten students who showed interest in visual media and journalism were identified. Capturing images of their daily life became a long journey of storytelling. They have explored many aspects of their reality, documenting, among other things: the challenges of the environment including poverty, sexual abuse and rape, teenage pregnancies, and living and aging with HIV; local history reported by the oldest witnesses of the community; sexual orientation; and tradition,

The project borrows from the conceptual and strategic approaches of previous Photo XPs,  and involves the following:



  • Provision of cameras and other production equipment
  • Training in photography, film-making and related skills
  • Train the learners interviewing skills before the photograph is taken
  • Assignment of areas and/or events for trainees to document, with a focus on their own communities
  • Field trips
  • Guest workshops and discussions facilitated by subject matter experts
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Paid assignments
  • Dissemination of trainees’ works through online portals, live events and self-produced publications

The subjects being covered in the pilot include school activities, social landscapes, daily experiences in the communities where they live, and the activities and portraits of family members and friends.



  • To train ten learners in photography, creative writing and basic entrepreneurial skills
  • To enhance the number of black women photographers in South Africa
  • To encourage them to document their daily realities, produce visual materials that speak the truths, have the final production exhibited and published in various publications: book, journals, magazines, etc.
  • To empower the learners regarding their needs, career choices and personal expectations in life
  • To open a visual space for them to address their education, safety, freedom of expression, sexuality and health-related concerns
  • To conscientize the participants on gender-based violence and health related issues
  • To use visual media as a priceless way of understanding adolescents’ knowledge and perceptions
  • To provide participants with the opportunity to question mainstream media representations of them
  • To increase young women’s participation in photography
  • To introduce a different approach to life skills training

Expected outcomes:

The project facilitators play the role, not only of trainers, coaches and mentors supporting the learners to document themselves, but of archivers and documenters themselves, helping to produce a photo-history for the school and community. The following outcomes are expected:

  • Participants are equipped with skills and knowledge to make an independent living from photography
  • An exhibition of the images produced
  • Visual Activism conference with female participants
  • A publication and other photographic products


The pilot involves the following ten learners from Aurora Girls High School in Soweto:


Name & Surname Age Grade
Elisa Pica  (17) 10
Kamo Petlele (16) 10
Nonhlanhla Maluleka (17) 11
Mthabiseni Mbhele (16) 11
Ntombifuthi Shabalala (16) 10
Sihle Shezi (18) 11
Sindisiwe Ncube (18) 12
Thando Methane (17) 12
Thobekile Zwane (20) 11
Tsiiseleretso Machuisa (18) 11



Photographs taken by Aurora Girls High learners will follow…















This entry was posted in About PhotoXP, Aurora Girls High School, Commitment, Committed, Communication strategies, Community Mobilizing, Community outreach, Community work, Conference, Connected souls, Connections, Cultural activists, Emotional support, Empowerment, Exhibition, Freedom of being, French is a language, Guest speakers, I-N-K-A-N-Y-I-S-O, Invisibility, Know Your SA Queer History, Knowledge, Lack of Resources, Lack of sponsorship, Language, Lessons learnt, Life Stories, Lindeka Qampi, Love, Love is a human right, Mainstream media, Media works, Memory, Open relationships, Participants, Penetrating mainstream spaces, Photo Expressions, photographers, Photographs, Photography as a therapy, Political Art, Politics of existence, Politics of representation, Power of the Arts, Power of the Voice, Presentations, Professional black lesbians in South Africa, Professionals, Proud lesbian, Publication, Queer & Straights, Queer Power, Questioning, Questions & Answers, Readers, Readings, ReClaim Your Activism, Recognition, Records and histories, Response, Social responsibility, South African struggle, South African townships, South African Visual Activism, Soweto, Speaking for ourselves, Students, Subject of Art, Support, Supported by French Institut - Johannesburg/ Paris, Supporting each other, Uncategorized, Valerie Thomas on 2014 Photo XP, Visual Language, Visual narratives, Visual Power, Visual Voices, Visualizing public spaces, We Are You, We Care, We Love Photography, Writing is a Right, Young Black Women and Photography, young women, Young Women and Visual Activism, Youth voices, Zulu is a South African language. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to 2014 July 12: From Soweto to Paris for the love of photography

  1. lu gwen nkosi says:

    I am inspired as a facilitator of young children soul buddyz club teaching them about their rights and challenges like hiv , other health related issues ,self sustainance boosting their self esteem. I wish you all the best in your endevours. All this changes the mind set of our youth. Keep up the good work! Lu

  2. Ramazan Ngobese says:

    Bahle abantu kodwa ngisacela uze ngapha Muhlo uzosifundisela izingane zala ezisePrimary ukushutha cos ziqala seziseMacollage imvamisa plus akusiyo into enekakile ngala kodwa ngibona abantwana bethanda ukushuthwa ikakhulukazi laba abaseprimary uGrade 5 kuya phuzelu

  3. sbongile says:

    I love ur work wish to b part of it I love camera kodwa clueless abt it,great work ur doing so big ups to yourl ladies keep up da good work and may god bless u all

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  6. Thulile Portia says:

    How I miss you guys , I felt at home menginani.
    I truely am inspired of your work Zanele
    I wish God can keep on blessing you njengoba nawe usiza abanye abantu

    May the good things come your way

    Love Thulile Mdlalose

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  14. nokwazi says:

    am so loving my school yeah AURORA WITH A DIFFERENCE big up to MISS LINDA MANKAZANE

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