FEATURE

Give the Photographer What He Wants

Ace Moloi watched Makhosi Mamome of M2M PHOTOGRAPHY live in action, and rates him as everybody’s dream photographer.

Hypothesis

I’ve always been fascinated by photography. Not the beauty of its works per se, but the art of it. There’s something about the spirit of a photographer that captures your heart before everything else. It’s in the direction they provide to a model. It’s in how they position themselves to aim at the target. All of it, from the body to the soul, tells a tale rich in creative passion.

I brought this curiosity with me when I followed Makhosi Mamome of M2M Photography for a photo-shoot with radio personality, Portia Sebothelo.

The shoot, which first began at the CUT FM studios during the radio beauty’s show, answered a number of my questions and thoughts about photography and its artistry.

Give me my mountain

For me, it was a great honour to finally interview the leading photographer at M2M. Our interview, which formally happened for 45 minutes, but went on unscripted throughout the photo-shoot, affirmed my keenness when it comes to M2M Photography as one of the known and respected photography institutions in Mangaung.

But first, what is the inspiration behind this otherwise uncommon name? M2M was first inspired by the surnames of its founding members, but as time went by, a new revelation came and the company redefined itself into Mountain to Mountain. Makhosi tells me that this new name was birthed as a result of his pastor’s bold spiritual war cry, “Give me my mountain.”

From then onwards, every business deal clinched has been symbolic of a mountain climbed. This, I think to myself, shows the seriousness with which M2M Photography treats its customers.

Not all mountains are the same: in range and height. Each mountain requires its own attentive preparation. Essentially, no photo-shoot is ever the same, and Makhosi and his M2M team are forever aware of this.

The role model

It’s almost 10:00 on a quiet Wednesday morning.

We’re 15 minutes away from the first episode of the shoot, and both the model and the photographer have arrived. A brief briefing session is held, and chemistry between the two key players in the shoot is effortlessly achieved.

Before beginning, the two decide to test the waters and agree on the trial location: the nearby CUT photo booth. It turns out this was a smart move, as the banner compliments Portia’s personality and outfit in a manner only a skilled photographer can narrate.

Her white jean catches up with the liveliness of the background banner, and suddenly everything becomes magic. Three, four or five trial poses later, Makhosi has seen Portia’s strong points, and Portia is now at ease with the whole thing.

Wednesday mornings in Mangaung have been captured by CUT FM’s Girl Talk: a show that is increasingly becoming a festival of progressive conversation, aimed at empowering, liberating and repositioning women at the core of human affairs.

Portia Sebothelo presenting GIRL TALK on CUT FM. Credit: M2M Photography

Hosted by Portia Sebothelo – the day’s model – and produced by Tebogo Madalane, Girl Talk is a place everyone who thinks the thoughts of gender equality, social justice and feminism should visit from 10:00 to 12:00 every Wednesday.

It has formulated this ideology for itself: “Why ask a man when you can have girl talk?”

Give the photographer what he wants

But men are not marginalised from, and by, the discussions that take place on the show. So, there’s a man in studio today, and he’s here to listen to this girl talk with photographic ears.

Portia is well-versed in radio presenting, but, in her own words, lacks professional photography experience. But with Makhosi’s years and years of business, no role is too difficult to model, and so Portia learns quickly to model the role, and juxtaposes being on air with being on camera.

I fail to hold myself from marvelling at this beautiful intersection of different worlds, bound together by common love: art.

Inside the studio, Makhosi succeeds in taking aim at Portia without causing a glitch in her on-air fluency, and Portia gives the people what they want on the other side of the 105.8 frequency.

The second instalment of the shoot is taking place in the streets, and both the sniper and the target are excited about it. They’re talking like ancient friends as the connection thickens, and this makes the next shooting incident a wonder to witness. The shoot unfolds at the bridge at which everybody takes pictures, but nobody knows its name.

Portia Sebothelo captured at the bridge. Credit: M2M Photography

This location provides a picturesque view of the city, and collaborates with the part-sunny and part-cloudy weather to give the photographer what he wants. Cars rush up and down Markgraaf Street, and pedestrians sometimes cost the shoot a few seconds as they pass. I’m leaning against the bridge as a spectator.

Earlier I had asked Makhosi about ingredients of a good model, and he mentioned comfort as a primary requirement. “A good model is one who is super comfortable,” he told me, and in response to my question on whose duty it is to make the model feel at home, he squared it 50/50 on both the photographer and the model, and went on to say that being comfortable outweighs any negative feelings a model might have about themselves. “From being comfortable, everything that follows is perfect,” he said.

I’m thinking of this conversation we had at CUT’s cafeteria as I study with awe the extent to which he goes to make his model feel relaxed, bold and beautiful in her own body type.

Is this always the case? Is every photographer able to work with any model, regardless of their physique, and without bias?

“There’s a certain level of skill that’s involved in taking shots of various body sizes. If somebody is used to shooting runway models, they won’t always be able to interpret ‘plus size’ women,” he replies, confessing that with him a lot of difficulty stems from kids.

“With me, I’m used to adults. I kind of don’t relate with kids. So I always have to work on it. If I’m booked for a shoot with kids, and it’s for an hour, I always allocate three hours to it.”

Glory to glory, through the lens

This brilliance I’m smiling at is not an overnight creation, but a result of hardwork, discipline and passion. It’s a journey that began five years ago when Makhosi Mamome was asked to take pictures at a wedding to fill in for an AWOL cameraman. He knew nothing about images then, and wasn’t planning to become a photo Gupta in the soonest of soons.

But fate and faith merged, and he’s here today, still moving from mountain to mountain, glory to glory.

The brand story of M2M Photography is of insane belief in possibilities.

It’s a tale of a young man who left his boring job to pursue a dream. Of course, it’s a story that is not told without hiccups; the sun hasn’t always been shining on his face. But it took determination to bring him here, and prayer to sustain him.

To build a name for his craft, he volunteered at people’s events, which had their own official photographers, so that his work can be known. Now he has established a market for himself, predominantly consisting of students and entry level middle-class folks.

Not only that, but Makhosi Mamome has shot cover images for OnPoint Magazine, and took care of the commercial publication’s fashion page. This he did in addition to many other projects he captures, locally and nationally.

So, as he kneels on the floor of the bridge and stands on his feet; as he conducts his model’s posture and breathes life into her confidence, as he makes conversation and forms a bond with his client, this story of excellence comes out sparkling—and each picture he takes tells it in a thousand words.

Ace Moloi is the Editor of ART STATE.

One comment
  1. Theo King

    Wow, awesome article indeed.

    I’ve had the opportunity to work with M2M Photography before and I’ve been more than satisfied with their service. I still use pictures they captured of myself todate…. their work is timeless and their services is beyond satisfactory.

    Looking forward to work with the team again in the near future.

    Yours Faithfully
    Theo King

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