Photography and Democracy

I have recently had some interaction with Johannesburg based Swedish photographer, Eva-Lotta Jansson who is undertaking a valuable project to capture the history of how important photography was for South Africa’s transition to democracy. is the output from the project that is only part way through. Eva-Lotta has begun to interview leading photographers in South Africa including David Goldblatt, Jodi Bieber and Cedric Nunn. The videos are published on the web site which is a free resource for photography training in South Africa.

David Goldblatt is interviewed by Eva-Lotta Jansson. PHOTO: Eva-Lotta Jansson
David Goldblatt is interviewed by Eva-Lotta Jansson. PHOTO: Eva-Lotta Jansson

Eva-Lotta says she created the interviews with South African photo students in mind. “The interviews are a little longer than one would normally see on the TV news or information-age web publications,” she said, “I wanted to try to capture and share the experience of listening to a mentor.”
“A photographer myself and sometimes a guest lecturer in photojournalism here in South Africa, I often wished I had more materials with which to prepare my lectures – especially when it comes to events here in South Africa. I like showing examples throughout history during which photographic documentation of events played a big role in protecting human rights and upholding democratic values.”
“There are few places where photography played as big of a role in shaping a democracy as it did here in South Africa. Photographers risked their lives to show the outside world what life was like under Apartheid, and to document the struggle against it.”
“Although a wealth of books and films has already been produced, these resources are not always accessible to everyone. So I thought this website might be useful to other tutors, students and photo enthusiasts in general. Fortunately many of the photographers I ask for an interview agree to participate. And luckily, the Open Society Foundation of South Africa thought it was a good idea too, and decided to sponsor the project.”
“Over time, I hope the series of video interviews will provoke interesting discussions about photography and South Africa’s democracy – in its current state, and for the future.”