Themba Mbuyisa

Photographer and fashion blogger

Themba Mbuyisa is shooting towards a permanent career in fashion after being named Elle magazine’s style reporter of the year.

It’s the second time Mbuyisa’s eye for style has earned him that role, as he was also Elle’s top choice in 2013. This time he’s won a contract with the magazine and camera equipment worth R25 000.

“Themba’s work wowed us; it’s edgy, architectural and his strong point of view, visual narrative and passion for style reporting sealed the deal,” said the magazine.

Mbuyisa often photographs “street style”, seeing the streets as “a personal runway for every individual who takes time to think about how they want to look for the day.” He’s a snappy dresser in front of the camera lens, too.

He points his camera lens at beautiful colours and wonderful sunlight, and at people who catch his attention with the way they walk and their facial expressions. “For me, colour, personality and facial expressions are what tell a story,” he says.

The first time he ever used a camera was when his mother wanted him to photograph her and her newborn baby, when he was 10. He’s turning 24 now, and has completed an advanced programme in photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, after first studying the foundation and intermediate courses.

Before that he studied desktop publishing and design at Vega School and took a BSc in mathematical sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Success has come quickly in the last couple of years. He won third place in the national award run by the World Photography Organisation at the Sony World Photography Awards and had his entry exhibited in London when he was just 22. He travelled to Brazil for an arts residency in 2014, taking part in the Rural.Scapes arts residency in São Paulo. In the same year he was shortlisted for the 2014 Gisèle Wulfsohn mentorship in photography, and last year he was a finalist in the Ariano International Film Festival in Italy.

His work has also been exhibited several times in South Africa, most recently in the What Does It Mean? photographic exhibition and video installation at the Goethe On Main gallery. Mbuyisa was also hired as a live-streaming videographer for the South African Fashion Week in 2015, and took photos for the Fassi 2016 photography advertising calendar in Italy. — Lesley Stones

Twitter: @Themba_Mbuyisa