Rights of Subjects in Documentary work

Initiated by our Tutor we contemplated the rights of the subjects in the plagiarism photographs and whether the model release form from the original photographer/artist legally cover the second appropriation of the image?

There was also a sense of discomfort that the rights of the model/subjects are not being considered in both these cases. Especially when in both these cases their include people from the BAME* community.  

I could not agree more. the terms of the release form should apply. Especially when it comes to documentary work where you have the opportunity to engage with people. I have done some street photography in the past where  I did not ask permission to photograph the people. There is no law prohibiting me from doing it in South Africa. However, for my current project work I feel ethically challenged to ask verbal permission to photograph people and explain why I am doing it.  I am guided by David Goldblatt’s approach which allows me to engage with my subjects. This becomes a very personal and life-changing exercise for me.  But, in some cases, under certain circumstances, I need to take the photograph first. In those events, I will ask permission to use the photograph and I will delete the photograph if they disapprove. This process allows me to engage them in conversation and record their story and become less of a Flaneur. I am contemplating, where possible, returning to some of my subjects and give them a photograph and may consider getting them to sign a release in turn if I intend exhibiting it in the future.

The rights of the people being photograph blur a bit in the case of journalism were getting the subjects to sign off is near impossible as it gets to photographing riots and protests.  That is probably why David Goldblatt generally avoided doing it or using those photographs in his exhibitions.

This should explain why I was so active in this forum discussion. I am personally experiencing the threat of my work to be abused in the same way.

* BAME (Black. Asian and Minority Ethnic).


Introduction to my Project Proposal

Respected African leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Robert Sobukwe, championed the cause of the African Philosophy of Ubuntu, “a person is a person through other persons (Shutte, 1993)”, as the solution to resolve the major issues of inequality, poverty and dehumanisation of all people in South Africa. My intent is to critically investigate the impact of this philosophy in series of images.

“Photography has always been fascinated by social heights and lower depths. Documentarists prefer the latter. For more than a century photographer have been hovering about the oppressed, in attendance at scenes of violence with a spectacularly good conscience. Social misery has inspired the comfortably-off with the urge to take pictures, the gentlest of predations, in order to document a hidden reality, that is, a reality hidden from them (Sontag, 2005, p. 42).”

Sontag’s negative observation made in 1974 is still relevant and arguably informed by the socio-political-documentary photography in this period. Many journalists and documentary photographers gained photographic “immortality” and “fame” as they engaged in documenting the social injustice, suffering and struggle of the non-white communities in South Africa between the 1960’s and 1980’s. In spite of this, it managed to serve a moral purpose.

Another of Sontag’s critical observations was also upheld.

“Photographs may be more memorable than moving images, because they are a neat slice of time, not a flow (Sontag, 2005, p. 11).”

Figure 1. Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo. His sister, Antoinette, runs beside them (Nzima, 1976)

The Journalistic and documentary photograph was used to promote support for the anti-apartheid movement and there are many memorable moments permanently captured in the minds of many via photographs of the South African experience.

 Who will forget this tragic image of the shooting of Hector Peterson that arguably changed the mind of any further international support for the Apartheid regime.

It also divided Afrikaner unity…

“A careful chronological reading  of his (Gerrit Viljoen, the rector of the Rand Afrikaans University and the head of the Broederbond in 1976 ) published speeches suggests a fundamental shift took place in his thinking after July 1976 student revolt, as a sort of protest, had revealed to him the bankruptcy of Verwoerd’s claim that black urbanisation would be turned around during the 1970s… the actual significance of Blood River lay not in the Voortrekkers’ physical survival against Zulu attack but rather in the values and culture they represented.

 Four sets of values were paramount, he argued:

  • the political values of freedom for all nations;
  • the economic values of the Protestant ethic;
  • a fundamental (Christian-based) humanity in dealings with other nations and persons;
  • and a rich spiritual life of cultural appreciation and open, critical conversation.

Viljoen admitted this was an idealisation. Basic humanity had been transgressed, he conceded, in job reservation, the application of the Group Areas Act, migrant labour, the quality of life in black townships and the handling of political prisoners, but these issues were being raised and debated. One might well wonder what remains of Afrikaner ‘Christian humanity’ after this list (Moodie, 2017).”

However, documentary photography is more than photojournalism. It’s the documentary photographer’s “interest in capturing a living record of extraordinary people, places and stories that emerge from creative treatment of actualities (Franklin, 2014, p. 9).

In South African documentary photography, the oppression resulted in a new approach to documentary photography called:” Resistance or struggle” photography. South African documentary photographers decided that they “were not above the struggle for change, but part of it”. Photographers in this genre include Omar Badsha, Paul Weinberg, Albie Sachs, and Guy Tillim. (Krantz, 2008). However, there was not complete consensus among documentary photographers

“David Goldblatt, South Africa’s pre-eminent documentary photographer, voiced the contrary position observing that ‘the camera was not a machine-gun and that photographers shouldn’t confuse their response to the politics of the country with their role as photographers’. Photographers required a degree of dispassion. They should not deliberately seek to be positive or negative, but should attempt to convey the reality of things, with all its attendant complexity. ( (Krantz, 2008)”

Resistance and Struggle photography was fulfilled when Apartheid was abolished, the criminalisation of apartheid and the handover of power to a black majority government.

While there have been some movement, it must be stressed that abject poverty, dehumanization of people, injustice, violence, and corruption persist.

Omar Badsha reflects: “I was told by an Old man from Amouti: ‘Take your pictures, show the world the how we black people are forced to live. But don’t show too much suffering. It makes those in power angry. No one likes to be shown the results of their stupidity and neglect! But if you are brave then you must tell the truth.’” (Badsha, et al., 1985)

It is tragic that this statement is still true despite the change in political power, and the dismantling of Apartheid. But international interest in the challenges South Africa disappeared due to the “normalization”. South Africa has become just one of many postcolonial African States with similar issues. And the Sontag’s Flâneurs disappeared.

Nelson Mandell made this prophetic call at a union meeting: “Power corrupts. Anybody is corrupted by power, can be corrupted by power. And a society should have means of ensuring that power will not corrupt those you have put in power. And one of the ways of ensuring that does not happen is for you to be critical, to be alert, to be vigilant.” (Africa Check, 2019) It is as if he posthumous calls documentary photographers into action.

While, in my view, there is no need for resistance or struggle documentary photography, there is still an urgent need for socio documentary photographers to act as prophets.  This practice is not spurned on by sensation and funded by newspapers. And we need to look for ways to make it relevant. South Africa require David Goldblatt style of Socio-political commentators and if done well may, as in the case of the Americans like Dorothy Lange, Walker Evans and Robert Frank be able to re-establish the importance and value of Photojournalist and Documentary Photographers.

Whether we can make a difference is a matter of debate, but I conclude with this background statement By Susan Sontag: “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one-and can help build a nascent one. (Sontag, 2005, p. 11)


Africa Check, 2019. Africa Check. [Online]
Available at: https://africacheck.org/spot-check/were-these-words-about-apartheid-and-the-anc-uttered-by-mandela/
[Accessed 14 08 2019].

Badsha, O., Tutu, D. & Hughes, H., 1985. IMIJONDOLO. Johannesburg: Afripix.

Franklin, S., 2014. The documentary Impulse. s.l.:PHAIDON.

Kleinman, P., 2013. philosophy 101. Avon: F&W Media Inc.

Krantz, D. L., 2008. Politics and Photography in Apartheid South Africa. History of Photography.

Krotopken, P., n.d. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. [Online].

Louw, D. J., 1999. Towards a decolonized assessment of the religious other.. South African Journal of Philosophy 18 (4):390-407.

Moodie, D. T., 2017. Vicisstitudes of the National Question: Afrikaner Style. In: E. Webster & K. Pampallis, eds. The Unresolved National Question. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, pp. P 227- p 228.

Nzima, S., 1976. The Star. [Online]
Available at: https://images.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/canada/2013/11/12/could_this_man_in_canadian_jail_be_south_africas_missing_antiapartheid_icon/mbuyisa_makhubu_1976.jpg
[Accessed 13 08 2019].

Shutte, A., 1993. Philosophy for Africa.. Rondebosch, South Africa: UCT Press.

Sontag, S., 2005. On Photography. First electronic edition ed. s.l.:Rosetta Books.

Some thoughts on Mutual Aid vs Mutual Support

Brotherly aid. (Andre Nagel 2019)

Paul recommended the Mutual Aid book by Peter Kropotkin, and I have been reading. It does inform the position from a modernist thinking point of view. It is what aid means to a capitalist where I see a disconnect. Kropotkin refers to mutual support and I think that is more in line with what I am looking for. Ubuntu is more about social responsibility rather than optional almsgiving…

What I am going to say now may be controversial so please bear with me. The Afrikaners were Calvinist and this thought was embedded in their ethic – refer to the Swiss. Calvinism originated there and influenced the Dutch philosophies and ethics which traveled to the Cape. Social Responsibility and Mutual aid were embedded in terms such as “menslikheid”(translated directly means being a human being) and “gasvryheid” (hospitality). However, Post-war poverty, industrialisation and urbanisation of the Afrikaner lead to unhealthy selfishness and internal focus. It lead in aspirations of upliftment for the Afrikaner people. Exclusive Mutual aid… It worked… but the Exclusiveness of this mutual aid was the major issue. in less than 20 years the Afrikaner and other Europeans experienced growth and strength. While some mutual aid did cross the line it was insufficient. The way I was taught “Separate Development” meant that all people needed to be developed but due to disparity and between levels of urbanisation and education, they thought this had to be done at different rates of change. However, this principle warped when the Afrikaner was corrupted with political and financial power and of course racist views that were common in South Africa at that time (Dutch (Afrikaners), English, French and Germans colonialists). 

I have the same concern for the new South Africa: that Ubuntu will similarly be misdirected by those in power for capital and racist goals. I fear a new form of apartheid or nationalism. i.e. discrimination between European, Eastern and African or even nationalism. Even Ubuntu does not discriminate on the basis of race or nationality. Neither did Calvinism. Looking past the errors of the apartheid system there were programmes that were implemented by the apartheid government that, if applied or re purposed will help the new South Africa. If South Africa can apply mutual support to all as described by Ubuntu and Peter Kropotkin, in the same way, we will survive the future. In that, I agree with Peter. Urbanisation was not the survival of the fittest. It is the week organising in a way that aims prosperity for all.

Getting back to my photography I will be covering these issues in photographs in my project and in a small way help to keep the process on track. I know it it is idealistic. I know that most post-modern artists seem pessimistic. But the artist has been known to provide a vision of a way forward or at least act as a prophet by comparing intent versus reality. 

Context And Audience

Position and Practice Week 8 and 9

My most Controversial Photograph on the Course so far!

“I am” -Model taking a selfie at the Photography and Film experience at Kyalami Midrand.

During Webinar Week 9. Thursday 1st August. 2019. 1600-1730hrs BST (GMT+1) I presented my peers and our tutor this photograph with the assumption that they understood where I was coming from. Wrong….

Generally I did not understand my audience and I they did not understand the context of my photograph. Part of it may be due to a discussion that took place before I joined, where abuse by two dominant males was discussed and secondly not all have seen my presentation.

It was interesting how what I saw differed from what people see when they view this photograph. And yes, it is about context and audience. How you prepare your audience and share the photographs does influence the way they experience it. But you may have a photograph that cannot be contained within its original context… This is a good example of that.

Lets first explain the context within which I took this photograph. As a person, I am predominately driven by western modernity. That means I am influenced by that philosophy. This photograph intended to show how the Cartesian Cogito, ergo Sum negatively influenced western philosophy. Making the individual the centre of all truth.

As part of that project I want to change my gaze to see other philosophies interacting on my world. In my world both philosophies exist and influence the economy, art and politics and even individuals.

I attended a Film and Photography Experience expo where, apart from the workshops and expo areas, various practical shooting areas was set-up for photographers to use or try out various camera equipment. When I passed through this particular area I took one photograph of a young model posing next to a car merely as a composition and colour exercise when the above photograph happened. A photographer was done shooting the model and car and as she relaxed, the model took out her cellphone, kneeled down and started taking a selphy of herself. I realized that I am seeing a very self absorbed moment where the model was focusing on herself in front of the car which in my mind represented the abuse of modern/post modern use of the “I am”. I can never be sure what of her actual thought or motivations.

However, I had four people viewing the photograph. My tutor at first saw the photograph as the model angrily photographing the photographer and it brought up that the photograph brought up many topics – using sex to sell? which side tracked my intent.

One of my fellow students and passionate champion for feminine and children rights raised that in her mind it presented the exploitation of the model. And I must admit my response was typically that of a male photographer, so I won’t venture into that. She saw something that was way off from what I saw.

Another student with whom I have been engaging reviewed my oral presentation and could reflect immediately on what I saw.

It does speak to how we see the world. Our photographic gaze!

When I showed the second set, we aligned a bit more and we started to discuss what I was intending with my project. I had the feeling that even Paul had a problem understanding where I was coming from but we did reach a touch point when he suggested I read.

When I showed the second set, we aligned a bit more and we started to discuss what I was intending with my project. I had the feeling that even Paul had a problem understanding where I was coming from but we did reach a touch point when he suggested I read Pëtr Kropotkin Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.

Just to reflect on something important regarding Ubuntu. The western concept of aid means the great I am…. help others. Ubuntu is bigger than that. Your humanness is defined by the way you treat those that require your support. Pëtr Kropotkin uses two terms Mutual aid and Mutual support. I believe the “mutual” part is more in line with the Philosophy of Ubuntu.

Nelson Mandela stated: it takes a village to raise a kid. Those of us in happy families knows that being able to support a happy family does raise your self steam and sense of being, especially if you do it because you are a human being not because you feel obligated to do so. The well known Jewish Rabbi, Jeshua, promoted this oneness, the love driven support to all our neighbors. As in the case of the the Hawain Ho’oponopono, and the Jewish Mensch, it promotes that the person that support others is the also a beneficiary or gets the healing. The become complete and balanced individuals or get healed. The Hindu faith and Budism embeds this connectedness. We forget that modernity raised multiple ideologies which either reject these philosophies or supports it. e.g. Socialism and capitalism.

In conclussion

It was recommended that I don’t use this photograph as part of my submission as it distracts people from my intent.

After thinking about it a bit more I decided I will use it. The reactions reflected a paternal post modernist view in it’s own. I however altered it to try and eliminate the alternative readings.

In my opinion, it is also a worthy picture to use in my teachings in the future without any comment to illustrate the principles of interpretation of a photograph.

Still Defiant – Final Thoughts on Position and Practice

The First semester is gone. Time to reflect on it all….

(Andre Nagel 2019) Statue honoring the Miners of both African and European decent, back dropped by the New Johannesburg Council Hall, a symbol equality and common sharing. Symbols of Synergy between Modern Mining and African Mining.

For me this semester was most definitely a decision to select my practice and positioning myself as a contemporary documentary photographer . However, it was never easy for me. In Brassaii’s words: “I’ve always hated specialisation. That’s why I constantly changed the medium I express myself…that way I can breath, I can see things anew (Gautrand, 2008 p 9).”

I realized at the outset that I needed to select a specific “practice”/ genre that I want to use to grow . I have done many personal projects ranging from landscape, abstracts, flowers, portraiture, wedding and events and other “eye candy” work. I definitely did not want to socio-political documentary. I even stated that to my on line tutor, Paul. But that intent was short lived.

When I started the program I wanted to break away from my past. I did not want to engage with a political agenda. I just wanted a “normal” project. But this changed when I was challenged by the reading work from “Practices of looking” (Sturken and Cartwright, n.d.). This monograph highlighted that my gaze as a photographer may be from a Paternalistic Western view and that I may not be able to see other original philosophies prevalent in my context as a South African. I knew I wanted to pursue the Documentary photography practice from the start, but thought I can get away with a simplistic subject. This was not to be…

My Oral presentation became a deep self analysis, and from it was borne a need to investigate the post apartheid South Africa and the collision between unpopular and sometimes condescending Colonial philosophies and Ubuntu, believed by many to be the answer to South Africa’s challenges. And I started on a journey of discovery far beyond my expectations of the course.

In an earlier blog I mentioned that I no longer wanted to define myself as white and South African, but I have discovered that it is not easy to break those bindings. I discovered how I am entwined in the knowledge of major socio-political issues still prevalent in South Africa. I found myself being alien to the challenges of my peers to the extend that I was alienating myself from them.

Reading “On Photography (Sontag, 2014)” I came to realize how unpopular the practice of documentary photography has become, reinforced by the inability to ensure the delivery of “truth” with the arrival of the digital age. (Ritchin, 2013)

That being said, I also found a diamond where Darren Newbury quote Susan Sontag at the “Photography, Politics and Ethics seminar”, held in Johannesburg in 2004, where she talked about being struck by a strong moral and ethical dimension within South African Photography and the attention given to the politics of photography (Newbury, 2009). This has made me realise that I have an obligation to attempt to uphold such a standard.

One of the most important things I did discover is in my picture taking. I needed to learn to detach myself my believe systems and opinions. I needed to become dispassionate with my subject matter, following in the path of my favorite documentary photographer, David GoldBlatt.

I started reviewing the work by my favorite photographic mentors and among of all the gold nuggets I found a mantra to work towards during the coming semesters: Don’t be a Thief; don’t take people by force. (Gautrand 2008 p9)

I will also pursue the following as a creative principle: “There are two gifts which every man of images needs to be a true creator: a certain sensitivity to life, to living things, and at the same time, the art which will enable him to capture that life in a certain specific way. I’m not talking about pure aesthetics: a confused photo isn’t capable to penetrate the the viewers memory. I’ve always felt that the formal structure of a photo, its composition, was just as important as the subject itself… you have to eliminate every superfluous element, you have to guide your own gaze with a strong will. you have to take the viewers gaze, and lead it to what is interesting“- Brassai (Gautrand 2008, P 12) .


Gautrand, J. (2008). Brassaï, Paris, 1899-1984. Köln: Taschen.

Newbury, D. (2009). Defiant Images Photography and Apartheid South Africa. 2nd ed. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Ritchin, F. (2013). Bending the frame. New York: Aperture Foundation, Inc.

Sontag, S. (2014). On photography. New York, NY: Picador [u.a.].

Message and Strategy

Week 5 and 6

Oral Presentation

Oral Presentation for Position and Practice By Andre Nagel

Transcription of Video

Slide 1

Slide 2

My name is Andre Nagel and I consider myself to be a “Light Scribe…. “

Let me explain.

Slide 3

This photograph, by Gary Winogrand (Winogrand, 1969), resonate with me and my past in so many ways. The little boy on the bench looking at the world represents me. I was 10 years old when this picture was taken.

Slide 4 and 5

Ever since I opened my eyes to the world I was fascinated by light, shapes, lines, form, texture, the people and the world around me. From the start I felt the urge to talk and tell stories using pictures and build visual models in my head when describing complex theories. 

At first, I just wanted to, as Gary Winogrant asserts, “see how something looked Photographed. (Directive, 2019).”

Slide 6

This is one of my earliest Photographs. I was learning to see light. The soft focus and reflection in the eyes have a certain dreaminess,and in this I see myself reflected in this picture. My teachers always said I was a dreamer.

It was my first attempt at doing a “Rembrandt” using window light. I can’t remember, but I was possibly reflecting Art works that my Dad shared with me. Today I see a bit of Julia Margret Cameron in it too.

Slide 7

I took this image of my cat, backlit with my study lamp in 1979.

A photograph reminisced of Brassaii’s Paris at night. However, for me it reflects on a time I deliberately removed myself from general societal issues.

I no longer involved myself with the lives of any communities outside the perimeter of my protected life of relative bliss; deciding that I had too much of politics and violence in my military years, I immersed myself into my studies, starting my own career and finding love.

However, The Poem by Rod Mckuen I added into my album, amplify how I felt about myself at that time. Especially the line: “I do not live within a lie. Because I do not live at all (Mcheuen, 1972).”

Before finding love of course…

Slide 8

In the same way this photograph haunted me. “As If I we needed something else to worry about. ”  This is a quote from “A Tree of wooden glogg’s , 1978”. A film by Ermanno Olmi , which I saw in 1979.

 It was a story about Young love, getting new clogs for the son, slaughtering the pig, and daily laboring in the fields, while being oblivious to the outside world, where the Italian revolution raged.

It’s exactly how I lived!

Ironically, this photograph juxtaposes the wealthy and the poor embracing each other.

Slide 9 and 10

Franklin in his book; “The documentary impulse”, write that “the documentary impulse is about human experience in all its range and complexities (Franklin , 2014).”

The impulse to document my life and that of those around me is prevalent in most of my photography.

I strive “to describe the world as I see it with my naked eye (Franklin, 2014).”

Slide 11

At first,  I did not know how to define my photography, but two years ago, when doing the course: “Looking at Photographs” with the Museum of Modern Art, I realized that I have been primarily taking documentary photographs.

To Illustrate briefly, I present one of my photographs from a series I took while visiting Turkey in 2000. I used the repetition of the obelisk and towers to accentuate my sense of the intertwining of Egyptian, Roman and Turkish Histories and architectures.I missed the top of the obelisk because I used a 35mm Instamatic Camera.

Slide 12, 13

As part of my personal growth I started to study Theology and Philosophy. This introduced me to critical thinking, I found that things were changing in me at a deeper level and the way I see the world…

Some may call this the “dark night of my soul.” I died to my egotistical self.

As St John of the cross wrote in the last stanza of his Poem

 “I abandoned and forgot myself,

laying my face on my Beloved;

all things ceased; I went out from myself,

leaving my cares ( The Value of Sparrows, 2019) ”

Slide 14, 15

This led me into a new phase of my photography. I was looking deeper…

 It is what David DuCheman says: “When we look at our photographs and find not the slightest reflection of ourselves, it’s a good sign that our images have lost their souls (Duchemin, 2019).”

Slide 16,17,18,19

The digital age arrived, and my wedding business expanded at a rapid pace.

This new learnings,and the experience with some Social documentary work I did for the church, taught me storytelling, which found its way into my wedding photographs and my popularity increased.

My personal research led me to investigate ways in which I can make my photography more significant and to re-establish the links to my artistic self.

Slide 20,21

This newfound passion for photography, and the effort to develop myself made me realize how much I had to offer as an art and photography teacher.

As Frank Oppenheimer said: “The best way to learn is to teach (Oppenheimer 2019)!”

I developed training courses for amateurs and, in a way, this was my informal tertiary education. I was being inspired by the practices and photographs of the masters I was now referencing in my courses.

slide 22,23,24

As Desmond Tutu said:

“We are all connected. What unites us is our common humanity. I don’t want to oversimplify things, but the suffering of a mother who has lost her child is not dependent on her nationality, ethnicity or religion. White, black, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim or Jew – pain is pain – joy is joy-(Huffington post, 2019).”

At first, I mentally changed my nationality from “Afrikaner” to “South African”.

In my mind I would no longer associate myself with a specific group being defined by race, creed or religion.

Taking a position require you to draw lines…“apartheid!”

More recently I have decided to even relinquish my position as a South African. I have become Egalitarian


I removed the following due to time constraints. < I am… just me. And you are just you…. No need for pretense to be accepted. Like every sparrow I am special to God or if you prefer the Universe. A Unique person, living in a world of special and unique people.>

Slide 25

This is a photograph taken at a retired apartheid Police general’s funeral. It was attended by Rightwing AWB members and his ex-colleagues; some which happened to be African. All unified in grief.

This new freedom from the constraints of my ego; conforming to someone else’s views on politics, nationalism, religion, and economics allow me to see people as people.

Slide 26

South African’s love sport. This moment was captured during the celebration of Wade Van Niekerk’s World record. The diversity of people celebrating the event, standing on a stairway, seem to celebrate our ascension from our past.

Slide 27

For my project I propose to use the Hegelian Dialectic as a basis to describe through images, our current societal development documenting the resolution of the conflict between Western Modernity and African Ubuntu.

I am heavily influenced by, what Sturken and Cartrwright describe as Colonial modernism or Paternal Modernity.

As a descendant from Europe, I tend to consider it better than any other philosophies.

The theory is that if Western Modernity was and is still seen as superior and influenced us, and keeps on influencing us, then I am a product of that philosophical system.

It presents the thesis of society before the handover of political power in South Africa in 1985

Slide 28

To explain: Using architecture as a theme.

 This is the head office of Sasol – Originally a parastatal company created during the Apartheid era, to overcome the embargo on fuel by producing oil from Coal.

 A Symbol of progress through Science.

Today they provide labor to over thirty-one thousand people in thirty two Countries.

Slide 29

 “In Southern Africa we have a concept called Ubuntu – which is that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. You can’t be human all by yourself. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas what you do, what I do, affects the whole world. Taking that a step further, when you do good, it spreads that goodness; it is for the whole of humanity. When you suffer or cause suffering, humanity is diminished as a result (Desmond Tutu, Huffpost.com, 2019)”.

The anti-thesis is the African philosophy of Ubuntu, a Zulu word meaning “Humanity”. It has been prominent in the minds of African people, but I want to learn to see how they see it.

I want to capture this anti-thesis in my images.

It may allow me to change my gaze to something that is unfamiliar to me.

Slide 30

This is an architectural drawing of the Ubuntu center in the Zwide Township, Mandela Bay.

 The Ubuntu centre currently feeds 2,000 poor children each day, provides holistic support to 3,500 clients and their families, delivers after-school education to 250 students, and issues HIV counselling and testing to 6,000.

Slide 31

If the Hegelian dialectic is a valid approach, then one can expect a natural synthesis of the two philosophies where conflicts will be resolved, and a new thesis be developed that is uniquely South African.

I want to also investigate if I can observe this synthesis in my photographs

Slide 32

This architectural drawing is of the latest retail space in Midrand.

“The Mall of Africa.”

It provides 485,000 Square metres of space, the shopping space itself is “only” 131,000 squares.”

Slide 33

This is a view of the Western Gateway, a post-Industrial building, at the main entrance of the mall.

“Here is a tree rooted in African soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Afrika. Come and sit under its shade and become, with us, the leaves of the same branch and the branches of the same tree- Robert Sobukwe (Sobukwe, 2019).”

This image not only stimulate my visual senses through the aesthetics and lines but fills me with an excitement. My children may still have a beautiful future ahead of them!

Slide 34

I realize that a work of this magnitude could take more than a lifetime. And I have little of that left….

So I will address themes in workable chunks clearly demarcating the scope to achieve the desired outcome. The depth of my research will depend on time constraints and my commitment to the task. But the work can be done iteratively with each cycle building on the other. ..

In this semester I will open my photographic eye and do an initial photographic survey, critically read Franklins book “the documentary impulse”, and scholarly works on Ubuntu. I will also attempt to identify knowledgeable collaborators to assist me in reviewing my future work.

 I will record my findings and determine which themes I want to pursue in the other semesters. 

As my ultimate intention is to teach, I will also focus my research on the documentary approach and aim to prepare for a workshop to share my learnings at the end of the MA.

And if I am successful do my first exhibition in South Africa.

I believe that I need to do this, and keep on doing it,

to improve my practice and to progress from a successful to a significant documentary photographer within a contemporary South African context.

And maybe do some penance for my ignorance in the process.

Slide 35

I conclude in the words of David DuChemin:

“The camera on its own is a wonder, but in the hands of the poet, the storyteller, the change seeker, or the frustrated artist, it can create something alive that touches humanity (DuChemin, 2019).”

Slide 36,37,38,39



Franklin, S. (2014). The documentary impulse.
Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (n.d.). Practices of looking. Oxford University Press, pp.95,96.
Versace, V. ca (2007), “Welcome to Oz: A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography”.
Kleinman, P. (2013), Philosophy 101 pp.108,109,110.
McKuen, R. (1972). To every Season. 1st ed. Simon and Schuster.


The tree of wooden Glogs. (1978). [film] Directed by E. Olmi. Italy: RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, Italnoleggio Cinematografico.

List of Figures

Figure 1:  Gary WINOGRANT(2019).  Street scene at Hollywood and Vine, LA. [online] Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/47323/garry-winogrand-hollywood-and-vine-los-angeles-american-1969/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].

Figure 2: UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (1965). Andre Nagel at the age of six. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 3: UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (1977). Midshipman Andre Nagel. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 4: ANDRE NAGEL (1977). The Great White Shark. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 5:ANDRE NAGEL (1977). Self portrait with my first SLR Camera. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 6:ANDRE NAGEL (1978). Cecilia. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 7: ANDRE NAGEL (1980). My Cat and My Flat. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 8: DELPORT (1981). Andre Nagel taking Photographs in The Gardens. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 9: ANDRE NAGEL (1979). Koos and Barbara. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 10: ANDRE NAGEL (1979). Nicholene on the Stoep. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 11: ANDRE NAGEL (2000). The Obelisk of Theodosius with Blue Mosque in Mist. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 12: ANDRE NAGEL (2016). Death: 3 Hours in darkness. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 13: ANDRE NAGEL (2016). Resurrection: Fish on the beach. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 14: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). A New Dawn. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 15: ANDRE NAGEL (2007). Erik and Christine: The first sunset as a married couple.Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 16: ANDRE NAGEL (2005). Koot and his Horse Carriage Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 17: ANDRE NAGEL (2005). Chopper at the annual Toy Run.Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 18: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Mandy. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 19: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Cecilia. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 20: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Reco, my grandson, making a smile. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 21: MORNE NAGEL (2018). Teaching the Masterclass. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 22: MORNE NAGEL (2018). Showing Bonny the way. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 23: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). Children playing with a statue of a Boer warrior. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 24: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). A millennial busy with his phone. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 25: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). Kasper waiting for a friend to bring him money. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 26: ANDRE NAGEL (2017). Farewell to “The General”. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 27: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Celebrating Wade Van Niekerk’s Olympic Record. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 28: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). The Photographers Gaze. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 29: Businesstech.co.za. (2019). SASOL headquarters in Sandton. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sasol-concep-2-640×353.jpg [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Figure 30: Serengreenity. (2019). South Africa: our Next Sustainable Champion? Available at: https://serengreenity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/uc2-arch-mag.jpg [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Figure 31: Businesstech.co.za. (2019). Mall of Africa. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Mall-of-Africa-overall-640×427.jpg / [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Figure 32: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Celebrating Wade Van Niekerk’s Olympic Record. Private Collection: Andre Nagel

Figure 33: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). The Photographers Gaze. Private Collection: Andre Nagel


The Directive. (2019). A Collective Interview with Garry Winogrand: Rochester Institute of Technology, 1970 | Zinzin. Zinzin.com. Available at: https://www.zinzin.com/observations/2012/a-collective-interview-with-garry-winogrand-rochester-institute-of-technology-1970/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].

Winogrand, G. (1969). Street scene at Hollywood and Vine, LA. Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/47323/garry-winogrand-hollywood-and-vine-los-angeles-american-1969/?dz=0.4983,0.3599,1.00 [Accessed 9 Jul. 2019].

Openheimer, F. (2019). TOP 6 QUOTES BY FRANK OPPENHEIMER | A-Z Quotes. A-Z Quotes. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/author/60735-Frank_Oppenheimer [Accessed 11 Jul. 2019].

Huffpost.com. (2019).  Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/desmond-tutu-jimmy-carter_b_476610 [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].

 DuChemin, D. (2019). The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making. [online] Scribd. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/read/350232885/The-Soul-of-the-Camera-The-Photographer-s-Place-in-Picture-Making# [Accessed 9 Jul. 2019] pp ix, 25

The Value of Sparrows. (2019). POETRY: The Dark Night by Saint John of the Cross. Available at: https://thevalueofsparrows.com/2014/05/21/poetry-the-dark-night-by-saint-john-of-the-cross/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].

Businesstech.co.za. (2019). A look at Sasol’s stunning new R2 billion headquarters in Sandton. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/131046/a-look-at-sasols-stunning-new-r2-billion-headquarters-in-sandton/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Serengreenity. (2019). South Africa: our Next Sustainable Champion?.

Available at: https://serengreenity.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/south-africa-our-next-sustainable-champion/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Businesstech.co.za. (2019). A look at the massive R5 billion mall being built in Joburg. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/general/114480/a-look-at-the-massive-r5-billion-mall-being-built-in-joburg/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Sobukwe, R. (2019). TOP 5 QUOTES BY ROBERT SOBUKWE | A-Z Quotes. A-Z Quotes. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/author/42988-Robert_Sobukwe [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].