Your perfect picture, on the street
The street photography movement made popular by the likes of New York photographer Scott Schuman of the The Sartorialist blog and Karl-Edwin Guerre of men’s style blog Guerreisms is a growing phenomenon. Every city around the world has its own group of street photographers who are telling their pop culture story in pictures. In South Africa, the likes of Trevor Stuurman and the Soweto trio, I See A Different You, have put the country on the global stage.
In Cape Town, Ebraheem Davids is making waves with his sleek, simple and stylised imagery. He talks to us about the Ebenphotography brand that he co-founded with his high-school friend Shameem Cole.
A short introduction to your business?
Ebenphotography formally became a business idea at the beginning of last year. It came about when Cole and I wanted to start a street style magazine, the first of its kind in Cape Town. We encountered various challenges at first and the main one was that of finance because funding a magazine is no joke.
Cole and I matriculated from Trafalgar High in 2012. Thereafter, in 2013 we did an enrichment course at an Islamic college. We had to choose our career paths and I chose to study photography while he chose business. That’s really how the journey began for us.
What drew you to photography?
I really did not think I would choose photography as a career path, but in 2014 I developed an interest for street style fashion. I enjoyed capturing moments, seeing the end result of a thought put together in my head with someone wearing clothes they feel most comfortable in and at the same time making a fashion statement.
It was also a time where street style photography was not really a big thing in Cape Town. I took this as an opportunity to develop, not only myself as a photographer but also to develop the street style community as a whole, where I would ask random people if they wanted to shoot.
One thing that really helped me a lot in the beginning was social media platforms. And also when my work was recognised by big brands like Puma and Adidas.
Why do you take photos?
I have full control of capturing a moment that showcases how much I love what I do. It’s also about working with different people all the time and meeting new people from all walks of life in the fashion industry. As serious as the pictures look, there is a lot of love that goes into the final picture. That I get to make someone smile means the world to me.
Were you formally educated in photography, or are you self-taught?
Without knowing anything about photography I decided to attend a part-time photography course which really taught me a lot. Thereafter I studied for a year at City Varsity. However, I think that photography is mastered when you go out on your own and really get to know your camera. That’s really how I got used to shooting, going out every day and shooting.
What does “street style photography” mean to you?
It’s a platform on which I get to showcase my talent and what I love doing. I try not to limit myself to only one aspect of photography, hence I have done other parts of photography. But the feeling and feedback I get when shooting fashion in the streets of Cape Town is what keeps me going.
How would you define your personal style of street photography?
I tend to go with what is trending, but I also keep things simple. I think this allows the work to speak for itself… A word that comes to mind is that of finesse, keeping everything in its simplest form and making the picture look so much cleaner. I also stick with neutral colours such as grey, black and white, which really goes with anything at any time.
Tell us a little about the Cape Town street fashion culture?
When I first started with photography I wasn’t really exposed to the Cape Town street culture, not until I started shooting in the city’s streets. I noticed that the street fashion culture is not that big here compared to rest of the world. However, it is growing.
How do you find your subjects?
It is a bit tough to just go out and capture random individuals as a lot of people are not exposed to it here. So I tend to photograph people I’ve already met or have interacted with on social media.
What do you think makes a memorable photograph?
Capturing a moment that will always be remembered, a moment that attracts and engages the viewer. Also, what the model or person is wearing plays a massive role.
What do you want your viewers to take from your work?
I want them to be able to recognise the hard work and love I put into every image. And for clients to say that they enjoyed working with us and that they want to shoot with us again.
What street photographers and collectives do you follow—and what is it about their work that you love?
International street style photographer Tommy Ton is probably one of my biggest influences, the way he captures each moment of different people at fashion weeks across the world. Also, he has this style of shooting that engages you in such a way that you are able to put yourself in the moment that picture was taken.
Home grown, it is a friend of mine, Trevor Stuurman. I love the way he keeps everything South African and represents South Africa. He also has a clean style of capturing his style and what he loves. I am inspired by him on how the rest of the world has started getting to know him and his style.
I use two cameras, a 600D Canon and a 5D Mk II.
I have a few things lined up for 2016. One of them is starting a small street brand inspired by my photography, called Eben Supply. Also, I am planning to broaden street photography by taking it national, then hopefully international.
Where can people find your work?
Facebook- EBEN Photography