by Leptie Phume
About 3 years ago I got the opportunity to be featured in Faces and Phases, a series by Zanele Muholi. Back then I had little knowledge of who she was and I didn’t understand the series at large. As time went by I began to know who she is and what she does best. I fully understand the concept of the series and why she chose to photograph the LGBTI community.
My first portrait was taken in Etwatwa extension 7, Daveyton. I didn’t know what to expect that day. I had mixed emotions about the shoot, for someone who loves photos I was nervous. I mean that’s unlike me, to be nervous to be photographed. Anyway I over came that feeling, I relaxed and got in my comfort zone and we created legendary black and white image that will always be my favourite.
On the 3rd of April 2016 I had a follow up Faces and Phases 10 shoot for a series that will be turning a decade in four months. The shoot took place at my house in KwaThema, I am very happy that the shoot took place at the comfort of my home.
After finishing with an unplanned shoot we turned the focus on the main reason she came. The fashionista in me, I prepared 3 different outfits for the shoot. Ended up deciding on black pants, white shirt with a black blazer and Adidas superstar sneakers which are a must have. Since it is a black and white series my choice of colours complement it best.
I’ve always wanted to relive the first photo’s moment, so we tried doing the exact pose but truth is we both knew it would never be the same. I never struggle during shoots, as I believe I’m a natural in front of the camera plus the camera loves Leptie like how Leptie loves the camera. During the shoot I felt dizzy and I couldn’t stand for long, lucky for me we had our shot by then.
But the day was not over, I got to witness and help out when shooting other Faces and Phases participants. From Mbali Zulu who I’ve known for a while now from being opponents during soccer matches to dancing partners during parties in our varsity days at the University of Johannesburg. Also watching first time participant Luyanda Mthembu who was rather nervous while doing her thing in front of the camera.
2014 Follow up photo in Krugersdorp, Johannesburg
2015 Leptie posed in front of a garage door, in Durban
I appreciate being given the opportunity to be part of this magnificent project and being able to speak out about my sexuality without using any words but through images.
That is me saying, “I am not scared to be who I want to be and love whoever I find attractive be it the same gender as me.” Fact is we are not going anywhere; we belong in this world as much as everyone else who lives in it.
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