I got to have a chat with Thupetse Lephoto, founder and owner of Conflicted Art Photography. He is a Photographer based in Pretoria , Tshwane and he is a close friend of mine. And here is how our conversation went.
Beliciousmuse: Mr Thupetse Lephoto, are u ready?
Thupetse Lephoto: Yep
Beliciousmuse: Ok… Sooo… How was your day?
Thupetse Lephoto: My day was busy, had a session with a client from 10 till 13:00. Then had to fetch my little sister in Pretoria north, where I also had to fetch a camera from my partner, then take her to Krugersdorp and then afterwards fetch my child in JHB CBD then bring her with me. So very eventful
Beliciousmuse: Sounds hectic, glad you are settled. So, I am going to ask you 15 questions I am sure our readers will be very interested in getting to know ☺️
Thupetse Lephoto: Ok, Got it
Question 1: How do you like to be addressed? By your first name, Mr Photographer or government name and why.
Thupetse Lephoto: In whichever non offensive manner that a person pleases, but there is something beautiful about people who take time to learn and pronounce a somewhat difficult name like mine… Thupetse.
Beatrice: Hhhmmmm Thupetse is a beautiful name. Especially when it comes to the kind of work you do. Correct me if I am wrong, but Thupetse means ‘trained’ or to teach or direct in Southern Sotho, right?
Thupetse Lephoto: Thank you kindly. It is a Northern Sotho name which, when translated to English, means “the improvement of something”, in a word Thupetse means Betterment.
Beatrice: Nice. But I was not too far off the mark. I am not taking that L ?
T Lephoto: hahahaha
Question 2: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
Thupetse Lephoto: Good composition and a story ( does not have to be a good story, it just has to make the viewer think about the picture, and perhaps arouse some emotion).
Question 3: Which is your favourite lens? And why?
Thupetse Lephoto: Has to be the 50mm Canon Lens paired with the Canon EOS R. I like this lens mostly for how creamy it makes the background look.
Beatrice: Here is where we insert the actual creamy photos. Cannot wait to see it.
Question 4: who are your favourite clients to work with?
Conflicted Art Thupetse Lephoto: Hopefully I do not come off as creepy, but I find that taking pictures of people who are unaware that there is a camera shows off the beauty of a shot, For example street photography. It is all legal
Beatrice: I think a lot of people love Street photography, me included. But I hate pictures taken of me unawares, especially when the picture is awkward.
Thupetse Lephoto: ??? I live for street photography it is one of the reasons I have love photography
Question 5: In your free time, what kind of pictures do you like to shoot and which ones do you avoid?
T Lephoto: So it would be unsuspecting people and insects ?. I like going to the mountains to shoot insects mostly. Macro photography is one of the, I would say, difficult forms of photography which I love.
Beatrice: I’ve seen some of your macro photography. And it is amazing. Hope our readers will love them as much as I do.
Thupetse Lephoto: I hope so too. They better… “I am an artist and I am sensitive about my sh!t”
Question 6: What kind of details do you look for when taking pictures of couples
Thupetse Lephoto: With couples there is always this awkwardness they experience with each other for the first few minutes during a session, so I always encourage them to be playful with each other and pretend I am not there. The first thing they will do is lean in for a kiss or, not to point fingers, the man would, in most cases, squeeze their partner’s butt and that would occasion a sweet intimate moment for me to capture. So intimacy and playfulness
Beatrice: Aaaahhh… I love this ♥️♥️♥️
Why don’t you invite me to some of your shoots. Yep… That is question number 7
Conflicted Art Lephoto: I did not know that was a thing. So if I invite you what would your role be a co-photographer, an assistant or the model?
Beatrice: Just to witness some of these sweet moments first hand. I am a hopeless romantic. But… Back to you.
T Lephoto: Ncooh… I will give you a heads up, I have a pregnancy shoot soon. Just don’t cry there because I am an Aries, we are not know for giving comfort when someone cries ??
Beatrice: Thanks for the Invite ??
Question 8: Who has been Your most powerful or most famous client.
Thupetse Lephoto: The most famous person I have had the pleasure of working with is Amanda Black. Today we were shooting Vukosi Mashele who played the role of a “tsonga Gangster” on The Queen.
Beatrice: I love that you have worked with Vukosi Mashele. There is a beautiful and colourful picture of him and a red wall on his Instagram, and the moment I saw it I suspected it was Conflicted Art. But I am not stalking. Moving on…
Thupetse Lephoto: Yes, most of his photos are taken by us, but I would have to confirm with regards to the picture you are describing.
Also… who is creepy now??
Beatrice: Don’t go there ???
Question 9: OK, this one is a Trio… From what age did you know that you wanted to be a photographer? Who influenced you the most in regard to photography and, Is there any other photographer that you considers as a kind of idol?
Conflicted Art: Actually, I did not realise that what I was doing was photography. I would always follow ants and other insects, taking pictures of them and posting them. I remember posting a certain picture on Facebook I think before 2015 and my brother inboxes me and said, “we need to get you a camera” and that is when it clicked… I am a photographer
I just thought I was weird this whole time. All my mates were into soccer and other things considered as masculine, and here I was following a ladybug ?
Anyway… after I bought a camera I was introduced to a whole different side of photography. I could shoot all day, watch tutorials, and read a lot on cameras and how they work.
It is in my pursuit of this great knowledge; I met a lot of Instagram photographers. Justin Dingwall, Blaqsmith etc. Their work inspired me a lot when I was starting.
I do not have an idol yet, but I am enjoying the work of a KZN lady by the name of Zamakhanya Mncwabe. Hopefully, that is correct.
Question 10: You have travelled south Africa and gone to amazing places. Which is the most breath-taking place you have captured.
Thupetse Lephoto: Funny enough the picture I like were taken right here in Atteridgeville: I have only been to Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Freestate, KZN and Western Cape
Question11: What keeps you happy?
T Lephoto: What makes me happy is seeing my family happy and helping people
Beatrice: I love seeing that. Your happy family photos and videos have gotten me through some of my hardest days. Your WhatsApp stories in regards to your family can be a very therapeutic. A happy pill of endorphins.
Beatrice: Ready for question 12?
T Lephoto: Hold on
T Lephoto: Okay I am done blushing now. And I am happy I managed to help you out during your hard times.
Question 12: What is (one of) the most eye-opening photo projects you have covered? And please post a link if you can…
Thupetse Lephoto: Working on a perfume for a client. This was challenging and made me realize that it is okay to breathe and just keep things simple sometimes.
And, of course, working with nude models. I am a hands-on kind of guy so when posing a Client I like taking them by the hand and showing them where to stand and so on, but the story becomes different now when the person is naked. Boundaries must be observed and you have to watch your hands carefully so they don’t accidentally swing in to, we… the person’s private areas.
At first but you eventually get used to working under such pressure.
Question 13; What advice would you give to an amateur photographer wanting to change their passion into a full-time profession? And do they need fancy equipment?
Thupetse Lephoto: Shoot everyday whenever you get the chance. Challenge yourself beyond the equipment you have. Fancy equipment is nice to have but most definitely not a defining factor to becoming a photographer. I started out with a 1200D, and I would flip the camera lens so I can shoot insects. I pursued the knowledge and challenged myself and I can say skill and experience are much more valuable in this field
Ok… Question 14. What would you like to say to future clients?
Last question: What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually, or emotionally?
T Lephoto of Conflicted Art: I enjoy the work of other photographers and the ideas they keep putting out there, which always gives me inspiration and motivation to shoot more, learn more and grow more in this field I love
One bonus question. What is the difference between Conflicted Art and Lephoto?
Thupetse Lephoto: Well as a company Conflicted Art (Pty) Ltd is phlegmatic and confident, but as Lephoto the insect chasing individual, I am shy and awkward and to your reader a little creepy.
Beatrice: This has been fun and very eye opening. I feel like even thou we have been friends for a while. I am only now getting to know you a lot better. Thank you for doing this ???
T Lephoto: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about photography. You have no idea how much I want and can talk about it. Would also like to interview you in the future.
Beatrice: That would be awesome. We should do a live soon on Instagram.