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Cover image photographed by: Justin Dingwall | Model: Moostapha Saidi | Makeup: Renate Willems | Costume design: Chloe Andrea

Comfortable in our own skin. 
 
As humans we’re all born naked and vulnerable to the world. We cover our bodies to protect ourselves and adorn them to define our individuality and to show our belonging to a group. We’re the same in our difference.
 
What is beautiful? What is different? In human history our skin has denoted race, class and culture. It’s been a defining mark of our destiny and set our course in life. But that’s changed. There has been a revolution in how people around the world perceive beauty. It’s no longer out there, but within. We are all beautiful in the skin we’re in. Beauty standards have shifted to embrace difference and celebrate diversity, because beauty is more than the skin we’re in.
 
At Lampost we have always celebrated difference. It’s what unites us and makes us who we are. We’re individuals. We wear our colours on our sleeves and don’t apologise for who we are. In the second edition of The African Edit we showcase our Skin Stories to see what sets us apart and binds us together. We take a look at what makes us human.
 
Jodie Ennik
Principal
Photographed by: Ross Garrett | Model: Giannina Oteto | Makeup: Michel Ingoglia | Originally Commissioned by: Unknown Design Agency for Clearwater


Antonia Steyn chats to Wendy Jane Herbert.
On meeting Antonia Steyn you get the impression that she is unassuming, earnest and quiet, then you look at her photography and you get to know the person behind the lens better. When Antonia opened up about her concept for her Skin Stories shoot, one understood how deeply she felt about life and the creative process.

Antonia: "I received the brief for The African Edit, and my first reference point was to look at my own skin. After a long day on set, I looked at myself and saw something that resonated with me, but also on a universal level. What I noticed was the physicality of skin. The obvious first impression of skin is age, race, gender, but I was drawn to its ability to tell stories."
Impression | Photographed by: Antonia Steyn | Model: Jethro Jaftha | Digital Operator & Retoucher: Zak Basson | Wardrobe (supplied) by: Petro Steyn, Kristi Vlok & Jethro Jaftha

We explore the cultural and social shift around vitiligo and the reframing of “beauty” speared by social media and a global celebration of difference. Written by Alix-Rose Cowie.

In one of photographer Justin Dingwall’s images from the series A Seat at the Table, model and collaborator Moostapha Saidi’s body is covered with a swarm of stick-on googly eyes. He raises one hand covering his face in an attempt, it seems, to block our gaze. The image is a visual interpretation of what it can feel like to grow up with vitiligo: the object of an onslaught of blatant stares.  
Photographed by: Justin Dingwall | Model: Moostapha Saidi | Makeup: Orli Meiri
Vitiligo is a skin condition that manifests as a gradual and sporadic depigmentation of the skin. It often occurs on the most visible and expressive parts of the body — on the hands and face. While it’s estimated that 0.5% to 2% of the world’s population has vitiligo, it’s recurrently misunderstood and people with the condition are regularly othered for their appearance. “There are so many misconceptions attached to vitiligo,” Moostapha says, “one of which is that people say it’s witchcraft. People tend to have an assumption that it could be contagious, and that has an impact on the person experiencing vitiligo.” 
“It is seen as a weird thing which people are not used to or don’t know of,” says Dineo Mkhabele, a model with vitiligo who features in recent images by Chris Saunders and Alex Jamin. “At first people were scared of me. I was also shy to face the community. I was embarrassed to go outside. I had a low self-esteem.”
Photographed by: Chris Saunders & Alex Jamin | Model: Dineo Mkhabele | Makeup: Orli Meiri | Styled & Clothing by: Nao Serati | Assistant: Lebogang Ramfate
Ironically it’s an increase in visibility that is making all the difference. It’s not hiding, but stepping into the spotlight that’s making change. Through her season on America’s Next Top Model and as the face of major fashion campaigns, Canadian model and public spokesperson for vitiligo, Winnie Harlow, is redefining what society sees as beautiful. Vitiligo dolls have been made in her image and, last year, UK fashion retailer Missguided included vitiligo mannequins in their store windows. “I think fashion images can change culture and perceptions in society,” Moostapha says. But it wasn’t always obvious that fashion would be the driver of an inclusive world view.  
Photographed by: Justin Dingwall | Model: Moostapha Saidi | Makeup: Orli Meiri | 
Costume Design:
Chloe Andrea
Elisa Goodkind is the co-founder of StyleLikeU, a platform launched ten years ago to advocate for body positivity and self-acceptance. As a fashion editor starting out in the 80s, she found the industry to be a haven for the outsider. “It was a refuge for misfits, largely comprised of strong characters who couldn’t compromise themselves to fit in,” she said recently on Instagram. She watched as this changed drastically over the next decade and beyond the millennium to become a breeding ground for stifling and damaging beauty standards, homogeny and exclusion.
This legacy continues today where young, light, perfect and pore-less skin is the ideal so many buy into. It’s bolstered by a proliferation of air-brushed imagery that we’re fed on the daily. But just as images can perpetuate harmful beauty norms, they can also be the arsenal for a counter-revolution. “I feel like fashion has opened a platform for people to come through and really stand for something,” Moostapha says.
Fashion and beauty photography is a medium where so many find their self-expression as photographers, stylists, models or makeup artists — it can be a space for liberation and celebrating difference. And eventually, what’s made on the fringes, for the personal projects or the independent publications, slips into the mainstream where the real cultural shifts and acceptance can happen. “I think that fashion imagery is a mirror or a reflection of our society and how we are constantly evolving and changing,” Justin says.
Photographed by: Justin Dingwall | Model: Moostapha Saidi | Makeup: Orli Meiri
The title of A Seat at the Table borrows from the age-old expression for having agency. In many of the images, Moostapha holds the gaze of the viewer, staring right back. In the images, Justin developed a visual language of posture, lighting, props and adornments to tell Moostapha’s life story, which he gathered through a series of interviews and discussions the two had. “In our conversations I learnt that it was very difficult for Moostapha growing up [with vitiligo], but through these challenges he has gained strength and confidence from looking different. He no longer sees his vitiligo as a hindrance, but as something precious and unique,” Justin says. In some of the images, glittering precious stones are placed with care on the edges of the pale areas around Moostapha's eyes and nose. “I found [the images] to be a channel through which to communicate what most people who are sitting with what I have go through; negative energy due to society’s response to vitiligo,” Moostapha says. “I found it to be a platform to express the greatness within and to allow others to express their greatness.”
It was Marian Wright Edelman, an American activist for children's rights, who said: “You can’t be what you can’t see”. For Dineo, it was seeing herself in fashion images that had an impact on her. “It means a lot,” she says, “To be seen as a normal person helps me a lot to regain my self-esteem. I'm now positive about my life. I don’t see myself as different from people who are living without vitiligo. It shows that I’m beautiful, that I can do whatever with vitiligo.” She now sees her vitiligo as something to flaunt.
Photographed by: Chris Saunders & Alex Jamin | Model: Dineo Mkhabele | Makeup: Orli Meiri | Styled & Clothing by: Nao Serati | Assistant: Lebogang Ramfate
In the photographs by Chris Saunders and Alex Jamin, Dineo performs a non-binary love story with Alonso Strauss and Khutso Mphalela, in gender fluid clothing by collaborator and designer Nao Serati. “I think fashion images and/or portraiture are always a collaborative expression,” Chris says. “In this series it serves to normalise a scenario which in a stereotypical situation would seem abnormal or unbelievable, but within the images plays out in a genuine and un-treated manner: no lighting, no major retouching, and shot on film.”
Photographed by: Chris Saunders & Alex Jamin | Model: Dineo Mkhabele, Alonso Strauss & Khutso Mphalela | Makeup: Orli Meiri | Styled & Clothing by: Nao Serati | Assistant: Lebogang Ramfate
“If you look at the models being used in the fashion industry [today], they are distinct people, far from typical, and there’s a message carried within that,” Moostapha says. “It resonates better with people.”
Whether fashion imagery celebrates or normalises marginalised gender, race, beauty and ability, its new role as advocate of inclusion is one that suits an industry of visionaries. Hopefully it’s possible for the world beyond the edges of the frame to become a place where a person who has grown up with all eyes on them can finally be seen for who they are.
Vitiligo begins as small patches of milky skin here and there, which expand over time and in some cases can come to canvas the whole body. This complete transformation feels like a physical metaphor for a more subtle internal transformation happening: a reminder that we are all constantly changing, whether it's physically noticeable or on a more invisible level, and hopefully into a more inclusive and embracing society.
 

In conversation with Zander Opperman & Annegret Affolderbach.
Cultural futurist Annegret Affolderbach met up with photographer Zander Opperman for a lively conversation around tattoos, permanence, skin and literally "wearing your heart on your sleeve". 
Cinematographer and Editor: Ed Blignaut


A photo essay showcasing skin as the new canvas.
Skin is intimate, vulnerable, bare to the world. Our skin bears the traces of our life’s story. Eleven Lampost photographers share their visual skin stories with us for this edition of The African Edit. Justin Dingwall’s surreal portraits use skin to explore the rebirth of ideas and the questioning of beauty and identity. Zander Opperman captures the fierce beauty of tattoos and the romance of the male form. Liezl Zwarts shows us skin as an instrument of expression through dance. Antonia Steyn explores skin as fetish and an impermeable layer. Lesedi Mothoagae and Tatenda Chidora portray the fragility of skin and remind us to love the skin we’re in. Hanro Havenga and Andile Phewa capture the identity written on our skins. For Bianca Theron and Travys Owen, skin is a creative canvas, while Paul Samuels turns our gaze towards the relationship between the subject and their skin.  
 
     
    Credits (starting top left to right): 1. Photographer: Justin Dingwall, Makeup: Lesley Whitby | 2. Photographer: Justin Dingwall, Makeup: Alex Botha | 3. Photographer: Zander Opperman | 4. Photographer: Justin Dingwall | 5. Photographer: Liezl Zwarts | 6. Photographer: Antonia Steyn | 7. Photographer: Antonia Steyn | 8. Photographer:  Lesedi Mothoagae, Stylist & Design: Nao Serati, Makeup: Orli Meiri | 9. Photographer:  Zander Opperman | 10. Photographer: Hanro Havenga | 11. Photographer: Bianca Theron, Makeup: Alex Botha, Creative Direction & Styling: Chloe Andrea | 12. Photographer: Travys Owen | 13. Photographer:  Zander Opperman | 14. Photographer: Paul Samuels | 15. Photographer: Andile Phewa | 16. Photographer: Lesedi Mothoagae | 17. Photographer:  Lesedi Mothoagae | 18. Photographer: Travys Owen | 19. Photographer: Tatenda Chidora | 20. Photographer: Zander Opperman | 21. Photographer: Paul Samuels

For a full credit list, please click here.     
     


In conversation with Liezl Zwarts. Written by Wendy Jane Herbert.

Photographer Liezl Zwarts’ style is clean, pared back, almost stark. The visual simplicity of her work rests on a deep narrative that is the crescendo of her lived lives, her collaborators, and the feminine force behind her lens. I wanted to find out more about her approach to the Skin Stories shoot.
 

Your work on Skin Stories is distinctively you but you’ve used only women models. Why?
 
It was such a special shoot for me, and I really think for everyone else too. It was the first time I shot so many women together. It was an all-women crew. From my assistant, to the models, and working with Alex Botha – who is an amazing makeup and hair stylist. One of the things I wanted to show was intimacy and vulnerability. I had a rough idea that I specifically wanted to shoot women together, their skin tones, and their different body shapes. I wanted to show the sameness of women, even though we are all different.
 
Is your starting point for a shoot very different from what is produced in the end?
 
I always have an idea of the shoot before it happens. I feel like it [the shoot] becomes what it is supposed to be in the end.
 
Feminity is very topical at the moment. You shot all the women naked and showed almost every inch of their bodies. Was any of the background attention to femininity and masculinity incorporated into these images?
 
I know there are all these #womxn movements, and the whole female-power thing is so topical. But, I didn’t want it to be just that. I’m obviously very much for women but I didn’t want to take this to the extreme. For me, it’s about embracing our femininity and the power of being a woman. If you think of business, often women who want to become super successful end up having to become incredibly masculine, they almost have to lose some of her femininity. I find that sad. I don’t think women should have to change to fit in. Men need to embrace the femininity of women. The differences we have all complement each other, almost like puzzle pieces. With the shoot, I wanted to express the beauty of being a woman.

You and Alex Botha painted splashes onto your models. What were you trying to communicate through these visual comments?
 

We wanted to put the paint all over everyone, for the paint to merge each woman to the other. For us it signified unity, equality – simply the essence of being human. The paint splashes represented scarring made beautiful through our own perception of them. Our scars make us beautiful. Regardless of our skin colour, we all bleed the same blood, we feel the same love for our families and our children. With the white paint over the mouths, I wanted to show how we used to be voiceless but we’re no longer voiceless. With the paint on the breasts – that’s an incredibly intimate thing. I was so proud of the women for being willing to shoot that. It’s an image of strength and courage and our own dig at social media’s censoring of women’s breasts.

Photographed by: Liezl Zwarts | Makeup: Alex Botha |  Retoucher: JP Hanekom | Photographer Assistant: Basetsana Malule |  Models: Rose, Shae Barnes, Radiyya Hajat (Boss Models ), Kghoti Iman (Ice Models ), Tayla Joubert (Lampost), Annah S (Fanjam)



A photo exhibition by Koos Groenewald.
"The idea for the story comes from a quote from my also ginger friend, Danielle, which she said while we were on the beach one day. 'Everyone would know we're here because you can smell the SPF coming.' Jks." – Koos Groenewald.
 
Credits (starting top left to right): 1. Nipslips  | 2. Danielle (Savvas)  | 3 & 4. Sunkiss + Playboy + (Glenville) | 5. Chocolate the Cat | 6. Spook + (Meghan HoTong) | 7 & 8. Bird + Bush + (Wendy Dixon) | 9. Koooooos | 10. LawdHaveMercy + (Roger Sivuyile) | 11 & 12. RogerIsYours + (Roger Sivuyile)          
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The African Edit is produced by Lampost Productions.
Contact
info@lampost.co.za for comments & collaborations.


Founder:
Jodie Ennik
Creative Director: Kassie Naidoo
Production & Curators: Boipelo Molwela & Kathryn Matulovich

Contributing Writers: Alix-Rose CowieLayla Leiman & Wendy Jane Herbert
Design: Jeanne-Marie Hickley
Proofreader: Colin von Berg

 


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