Guy Tillim

My tutor suggested I looked into the work of Guy Tillim, a South African photographer who mainly works in Africa. Starting out as a photojournalist, his work has shifted from news photography to a documentary style. I listened to an interview in which he explains his view on photojournalism, whether photographs are ways to be a witness of a situation, how photographs are always taken out of context and put in a completely different context and that it is therefor impossible to know what kind of an effect an image will have on its viewer.

I found it very interesting to hear Guy's opinions, especially having photographed in an African country myself and having struggled with the meaning of my photographs, the messages I want to bring across, or don't want to bring across. Looking at his work, I see a lot of similarities in the things that interest him and it's fascinating to hear what triggers him in his work. Here are a few quotes that stand out most to me:

"I tried to make a portrait of the city (Johannesburg), but after 6 weeks of photographing in the streets I realised how absurd that notion was. The impulses of a city can’t be captured by anything."

"One needs to narrow its focus to, hopefully eloquently speak about something and then maybe, enter some truth. And I think that’s the only way to go. There’s no reason why in photography, we shouldn’t narrow our options."

"One shouldn’t ask oneself to many questions about what one’s mission is. I mean it should be personal, you should be some kind of curiosity, because that’s the only justification for being there in the first place.there’s no way you can say, well, I’m here as your witness to the subject these times, it’s too arrogant to say that"

"You want to somehow honestly see things. Not just look, but see… What you achieve with your pictures is not really up to you, actually. I mean you make the images and then they’re sort of out of your hands."

"You can’t perceive everybody as victims, because then you’ll come up with some sort of prescriptive idea."

I like Guy's open mindedness and realisation that as a photographer, you can't come with preconceived ideas, just curiosity and photograph what you see. Looking at his images I can sense his open mindedness and recognise the idea of showing the renewed function of old colonial buildings.