Thabo Keorapetse won the first prize under the photography section of the President’s Day Competitions which were held this past Friday. Keorapetse who has undoubtedly been one of the few gifted individuals from Botswana has given a fresh face to contemporary photography in the country.
Although it is generally believed that photography is a simple discipline, dedicated professionals say it involves some complex elements such as studying a scene, locating tones and seeing how different lighting complements their capturing process. Award winning photographer Thabo Keorapetse who tells stories through photography says “I was quite interested in taking art as a subject, although most people avoided it in fear of failure. When we bought a small digital camera at home I started experimenting with capturing pictures and I never stopped,” says Keorapetse.
From intricate images of hands, gorgeous sunsets, to models and celebrities, his subjects of interest are diverse. Keorapetse’s photographs also portray strong detail that draws attention and demonstrates his great eye for highlighting features we often overlook.
He describes himself as a versatile photographer: “Generally I prefer taking pictures of people than any other subject. I enjoy working with black and white photographs as they are more documentative and memorable than pictures in colour. I personally believe that a good photo is one which encapsulates a story and evokes the viewer to reflect,” he explains.
“Photographers such as Kabo Olesitse, Mikey San inspired my work and made me see that it is possible to make a living out of this craft. I believed I had the talent to make it work so I engaged them to mentor me where possible,” adds Keorapetse.
On his challenges, he singled out that procuring quality equipment was financially frustrating, especially as a young person. “It took me a while for me to have the equipment I have now. There were days I had to eat plain rice for days just so that I could afford my equipment. It paid off at the end but photography equipment is expensive so you need to be very determined,” he states.
The 22 year old photographer says he is currently planning to have his own solo exhibition soon: “One of my projects in the pipeline is a solo exhibition I want to have early next year. I want to travel to Xaxa, a small village at the edge of Botswana and take pictures of the people and surroundings there.”
To aspiring photographers, he advises that passion should be their primal focus. “If you want to be a photographer, firstly make sure that you are passionate about it instead of just doing it for the money. The passion will allow you to be more patient in honing your skill. Also, the President’s Day Competitions, as one of the biggest events in the creative arts calendar, is a platform artists must take advantage of in order to gain visibility.”
“I want people to look at the world differently and to appreciate the little things when they view my pictures. Extraordinary moments happen every single day, and photography allows me to express that,”says the photographer.