Sipho Mpongo is an ambitious young photographer living in Langa and studying at the prestigious Cape Town School of Photography. Sipho graduated from LEAP in 2012 and took some of the breathtaking photographs for the LEAP Annual Report 2011. We caught up with him to find out how he is finding life in the fast lane.
“My matric year was stressful because my mind was too much on photography and I had some catching up to do,” says Sipho. “At the end I did it and I’m happy but I worked very hard last year.” The hard work meant that Sipho was awarded a scholarship to study at the Cape Town School of Photography.
Wow, it is really amazing man! It is like a dream come true for me. I am doing something I love and I don’t want to miss a class – not even a single minute.”
There are some challenges, Sipho concedes: “It is expensive to buy all the equipment I need. I’m slowly getting there but I am hoping to get a part-time job or even to sell some of my photographs on my blog, siphompongo.blogspot.com.”
We asked if being at LEAP had helped Sipho to prepare for his studies. “It enabled me to go out and be who I am, to go out and hustle for myself,” he says. “I’m not doing what I’m doing now because someone told me to do it, I’m doing it because I love it. I really appreciate LEAP for giving me the knowledge to go out and be independent.”
“And to have faith in this. A lot of people said ‘no Sipho, this is too Western and stuff but a Teach With Africa teacher [Karen Page] said ‘hey, you can do it’. And that’s where I got that I must go on.”
When he thinks about the future, Sipho makes it clear that he’s living his future right now. “My goal is to photograph Langa. The richness of music, of talent – I want to capture every moment. I want to tell the world the story of Langa at street level.”
“Eventually, I would like to have an exhibition of my photographs around the world. I want people to appreciate my work.”