by Tumi Nkopane
The 11th of January 2017 was my first day studying a Foundation Course (FC) in photography at the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) in Newtown, Johannesburg. The opportunity to study was granted to me by Zanele Muholi who is my mentor. It had been too long without studying full-time but I couldn’t wait to meet new people who also wanted to pursue their careers in photography but in different genres understandably.
Everyone was welcoming especially the staff, as they made each student feel at home and we were the first Foundation Course students of 2017 to attend classes in the newly built building in Newtown and the building looked stunning.
I am very fortunate to have received this opportunity to study photography in one of the best photography institutions in South Africa, and of course an institution that taught some of our well known photographers such as Sabelo Mlangeni, Thabiso Sekgala, Musa Nxumalo, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Lebohang Khanye, Zanele Muholi, and many more. I would also like to be one of the best photographers who have been groomed by the Market Photo Workshop.
Photography seemed easy at first but as time went by and we were introduced to new new techniques daily which became challenging. I am glad that I had to study photography because at first I didn’t know the advanced techniques that were introduced to us in the course; I had only been introduced to basics of using a camera by Zanele Muholi when we did PhotoXP 2016 in KwaThema.
On the 8th Feb 2017 there was an Exhibition of a former student Phumzile Khanyile who had been awarded the Tierney Fellowship that took place at the school Gallery since she was also a student at the MPW. It was inspiring to see a young black female having to share her body of work featuring her own personal touch to it. As an artist you’ll have your own analysis or interpretations of each image or the whole body of work. I didn’t know that but because of the Market Photo Workshop I was able to do that.
We were given a brief for photographic assignments every Monday and we had to present our work and be critiqued by professionals. It was scary at first but we all got used to the crit. sessions and they were helpful to students. That experience helped us to improve our technical knowledge of a camera and editing images.
The part I enjoyed the most in all the sessions was when we watched a documentary of a photographer Sally Mann which particular genre like one of the greatest photographers, . Even though some of my classmates would be bored and complain about watching one and the same thing every now and then not knowing that it’s for our benefit at the end of the day. Before studying at MPW I didn’t know about South African photographers and I had not seen their work. Studying at the MPW made me enjoy my studies, even though I was unfortunately distracted and had to be pulled out of the course because of the accident I was involved in while going to school on the 13th February 2017. At that time I was assigned to do my Home and Portrait series critique which happened on that day. However, I wasn’t badly injured, I had sustained some injuries and I still went to school and reported the incident, and I was advised to go home and be back whenever I was feeling better.
I went back after few days thinking I was fine but I was not coping very well so the management told me to stay at home and come back in June to complete the course with the 3rd FC group because I’ll be fully recovered physically by then. I stayed at home but still continued taking pictures as it was therapeutic and it helped with my recovery.
On the 12th June 2017 I returned to school and it was difficult for me because of the (painful shoulder) side effects sustained from injury. This time I managed to do very well at school. My brochure was selected as the best one because of the choice of place or location and the way it was neat and technically edited.
The final assessment presentation was on the 6th and 7th July 2017, the atmosphere was so warm and we were working as a team for the last time, some members of the group were panicking thinking they won’t make it to Intermediate Course. It was nerve wrecking because I had to present my 24 Summative portfolios, surprisingly things went well even though the questions were tricky.
I really enjoyed studying the Foundation Course and I am proud to have managed to finish the course in 8 weeks, it was no child’s play, and we had to submit assignments after another. It was a valuable experience and I am honoured to have been a part of it.
I’d like to see myself achieving a lot in the future, especially in photography and I am grateful to have a mentor like Muholi, a person who encourages black women to work hard and make things happen.
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