Soweto photographer Thapelo Motsumi to train photojournalists in Los Angeles

Thapelo Motsumi with Richard E Grant at Oxo Gallery, London 2011 Exhibition. Picture: John Cole

Thapelo Motsumi with Richard E Grant at Oxo Gallery, London 2011 Exhibition. Picture: John Cole

Published Dec 13, 2023


South African photographer Thapelo Motsumi is excited about extending his abilities to the global stage as he prepares to train photojournalists in Los Angeles, US, through the Wembley to Soweto Foundation.

Multi-award-winning actor and producer David Westhead, who is based in the UK, founded the organisation to provide training to underprivileged photojournalists in the lead-up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Motsumi, from Soweto, was one of the first eight photographers taught in 2010, together with a broad cohort of former programme participants, and will be training four new students in the art of photojournalism in Los Angeles, as well as coaching two alumni to be trainers.

Speaking about the opportunity, he says he looks forward to helping others with their creative skills.

“I am looking forward to working with peers in the USA and doing the documentary with the Foundation,” enthused Motsumi. “Being selected for the 2010 programme was life-changing and I am always so happy to help impart my skills, knowledge and experience to help other brothers and sisters move ahead with their creative skills.”

Some of the bigggest names in film and television in the world, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Idris Elba, Adjoa Andoh, Muthutuzehli Matshoba, Christoph Waltz, and Emily Watson, are listed as supporters of the Foundation.

Thapelo Motsumi at pitch side during the Newcastle United v Liverpool match in 2012. | John Cole

Originally the Foundation’s programme was set out as an in situ training programme to help uplift, empower and enable young people, instil valuable life skills and help them progress positively and make meaningful contributions to society.

Weasthead said their focus was that art could be accessible, and they aimed to inspire the creators of tomorrow. “Little did we think that the programme would grow exponentially beyond our expectations,” he added.

“The training programme proved so successful, with many of the Sowetan photographers being able to elevate themselves socially and economically that it evolved into a “tag-teaching” model.

“This meant past trainees who share similar backgrounds and experiences could easily connect with compatriots across the globe and impart their experience and knowledge of photography with those entering the programme.”

The Star