Life through the lenses of Durban's street photographers

2015-05-22 22:30

Durban - “Come sisi, let me take a picture of you. Easy. Quick and fast. Only R20.” This is one of the many tactics used by Dumisani Zondo, 53, of Dumi’s Photography at the bustling Workshop in Durban.

The freelance street photographer from Umlazi based at the Gugu Dlamini Park said he struggled for many years to get a job in the main stream media after studying photography. 

“It all started in Umlazi. I used to go door to door, showing people my portfolio and advertised myself to my potential clients. I would tell them about the business and what the business offered.

“They would hire me for birthdays, weddings, 21st birthday parties and other traditional events.”

Photography wasn’t Zondo’s first choice. He always dreamt of having a career in medicine.

“At school I did maths and science and I always loved electronics. I wanted to be a doctor, but we were poor at home and my mother was a single mother raising five children.”

Zondo’s day at the Workshop begins at about 09:00.

“When I get here, I canvass people to take pictures,” said Zondo.

A picture by Dumi’s Photography will cost you R20, the standard price around the shopping complex.

“On a good I make about R300,” said Zondo.


(Dumisani Zondo)

Sunshine Mncwabe, 36, from Inanda joined the group of freelancers at the Gugu Dlamini Park in 2004.

“The first time I touched a camera was in 1995. My father had a camera and he used to let me use it, take pictures of family members during family gatherings. I also used to go knocking door to door even on Christmas day.

Mncwabe said he used the money to support his family.

“I use a Cannon mobile printer to print the pictures, it take about 47 seconds to print the picture. The quality is really good.”

Street photographers along Dr Pixley KaSme Street shove pictures of ID photographs in your face begging for support as you walk along.


(Sunshine Mncwabe)

News24 met up with Lindani Muthwa, 23, from Umlazi.

Muthwa was sitting with a group of photographers a few metres from the doors of the home affairs office.

“Today I am without a job because Home Affairs chose to do their own pictures for free. I have four children and I am unemployed,” said Muthwa.

Muthwa said he was “hustling”.

“I used to take about 10 pictures a day and take about R100 home. But now I take nothing home.”

Muthwa said ever since home affairs allegedly started taking their own pictures, there are long queues.

“People know that you cannot do your ID without an ID photo. Some of these guys I work with came here in the 90’s, even their grannies used to take pictures before going into Home Affairs.

“When they changed their system they took away food from our months. They needed to include us in the changes so that we do not lose our customers, we feel left out.”

Muthwa said he spends most part of the day outside begging people to take their pictures.

“We have really lost our businesses; we do not want to turn to crime. If government needs our vote they should include us in their system.”


(Lindani Muthwa)

Neatly dressed in a blue tracksuit with a Cannon camera hanging on his chest at the Durban beach front was Sibusiso Mhlongo, 64. He is part of 29 photographers on the beach front who wear smart uniforms written Quality Product Excellent Service.

“I started taking pictures as a beach photographer in 1980. I used to take pictures of tourists and people at the beach.”

Mhlongo said everything changed when people started owning smart phones.

“We are not only competing amongst ourselves, we are also competing against cellphones.”

Mhlongo said he loves what he does “only because it puts food on the table".

“What helps a lot is when there are conferences in the hotels along the beach. We are able to make a lot of money especially from tourists,” said Mhlongo.

(Sibusiso Mhlongo and Sibusiso Mkhize)

Images by: Amanda Khoza, News24

Read more on:    durban

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