Learning to see the Light

Photography | By Ryan Chokureva, Graphic Designer | 11 January 2014
PHOTO: © Ryan Chokureva

Being a creative, photography was always going to be one of those fringe things I had to do. I had to understand it enough, to be a creative director of any merit. Photography  sells products, attracts attention and ultimately shapes perceptions. In our growing digital world it has fast become a medium from which we consume a good percentage of our information.

I have always been an avid observer, drawing inspiration from everyday life and the details that pass us by in our hustle and bustle. I didn’t want to just see people, I wanted to observe them more. I wanted to absorb my world better, close my eyes at the end of the day and go through a gallery of images, information and moments that would grow me and move 
me forward.

The next obvious step was to try and record some of these moments and captured information into some kind of visual sketchbook that I could reference. This perhaps then shaped the rest of the year for me, because being competitive by nature I not only wanted to gather visual references but also wanted them to be good, at least as good as the seasoned professionals I worked with. So a journey that had purely been about learning to be more observant became also a skills challenge.

As always with all my work there is a struggle about meaning. What am I recording, how does it fit into a bigger picture of my being, what footprint am I leaving and what image am I projecting? Photography  then becomes more of an art form, that should never be done without the awareness of artistic vision and interpretation. We do not just capture images, we tell stories, sell  and share them.

The more I cared about what I was trying to say, the more I realised that quality and skill come naturally. As you fight to find ways to show what you want to say, you inadvertently push your skill set to the next level.  You are looking to control the outcome even before you attach a lens to camera. After a couple of campaign shoots, I realised that there is a commercial side that’s grown into my learning curve. The beautiful part of it is that the more I focus on seeing the light, especially the light of my place of birth – Africa, the more my skill is   improving and opening new possibilities.

As with all learning , a bit of you is revealed. That’s the challenge, commercial photography will pose for me. The why? I always want to answer that question creatively, with my moral and humane feet on solid ground.

What if Black was black?
The one thing you notice when you do fashion and commercial photography is how much black models suffer. The lighting has to be turned up just a little more, adjusted exposures and tons and tons of make up that often is applied to correct and limit perceived darkness.There’s a misconception that black is not beautiful enough in its natural form. This inspired me to do a project, that explored   darkening my models and limiting the lighting to reveal the beauty of natural form.