We’re looking at an incredible initiative started in Pretoria. It’s called Pretoria Street Photography. The movement is headed by Emmanuel Munano and a team of seven other creatives. These guys are taking back Pretoria, one shot at a time.

DYD: Tell us a bit about yourself and your team:
Emmanuel Munano: I am a UNISA graduate, currently completing my Post Graduate Certificate in Education. I developed an interest in the arts in Pretoria and used photography as a platform of expression. Street photography interested me because it allowed me to try and connect with people without them noticing. I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the decisive moment within a photograph.

Within Pretoria Street Photography I work with 7 other creatives who are brilliant photographers in their own right – and who also have the art of socio-documentary at heart.  We meet at least twice a month to develop and work on projects for the society.

DYD: How did you get into photography?
Emmanuel Munano: I am self taught photographer. I bought my first camera – a Kodak C300 from my elder sister for R100.00. My first real gig was in 2006, our matric farewell. For lack of having a partner I decided to rather document and capture people at the event. I made a bit of money for myself. I enjoyed roaming the streets of Pretoria after school and on weekends and shooting random things – that is when my love and interest in street photography began.

DYD: What prompted you to start Pretoria Street Photography?
Emmanuel Munano: 
In August 2011 while on a personal photo walk in Marabastad (a bazaar area just outside the Pretoria CBD) I was mugged. The thieves took my camera, my laptop, my money and my two iPods. They then tied me up, threw me in a nearby river and left me for dead. I survived, but vowed to make a public statement against the social ills that prevented people from roaming our beautiful CBD. I decided the best way was to form a society where we could walk in groups and collectively capture and document Pretoria. I formally established Pretoria Street Photography in April 2013.

DYD: What do you love most about Pretoria? 
Emmanuel Munano: 
Pretoria has a heart of its own. The people here are ambitious and hard working. I love the fact that I have lived and experienced life in the East, West and Central district of Pretoria and life is just the same. I also love how the city comes alive at night without human activity. Pretoria has amazing structural and architectural beauty.  Pretoria truly has the potential of developing into a world-class city. I love that the city challenges me.

DYD: Where do you want to take Pretoria Street Photography?
Emmanuel Munano: The idea is to organize photography workshops for the youth in schools around urban, rural and township areas in Pretoria. We’d like to also host photo walks where people can go out in the streets and document the environment. We plan to host online, public and print exhibitions to showcase the work. We are also in the process of developing photo commissions backed by academic research on various social issues affecting the city. We would like to document and exhibit them online and through print publication.

In the long term, the plan is to inspire and encourage young and old photographers in Pretoria to explore the streets and document the human condition of Pretoria.

DYD: What gear do you use and in your opinion what is the best gear to use for street photography?
Emmanuel Munano: 
I have two cameras a Nikon F100 film camera and a Nikon D5000 digital camera. When shooting landscape or environmental street shots, I would use my digital on a standard 18-55mm lens. This allows me to zoom in and out to try different frames for my shots. When I look for more personal intimate images I use a 50mm lens – this usually requires that I talk to people more to let them know that I am taking an image of them.

Experts advice that you use a 30mm or a 35mm lens to get personal images and/or using a small camera (digital or film). I think it largely depends on what kind of image you are looking for. For me, people and subjects are different in each street. For me, in the streets there aren’t any rules in street photography, the most important thing to master is the lighting, the concept and framing for your image and not your camera.

DYD: What advice would you have for anyone who wants to become a street photographer?
Emmanuel Munano: 
I’d say you have to love walking and discovering a particular area. Before photography, I was an explorer, I loved finding myself in new parts of the city.  You also have to love interacting with people. Street photography is about finding the heart and soul of people in the city. Be bold and spontaneous – not everyone will like their photograph captured. Fear nothing and conquer fright! Delight yourself in that you are a story teller and that history will one day remember you. If you’re unsure about exploring an area alone I advice that you ask a friend or a group of people to come along with you.

DYD: Any upcoming projects that we should know about?
Emmanuel Munano: 
Presently, we have a host photo walks coming up. We have collaborated with Capital Arts Revolution and are planning a massive photo walk on June 16; our theme for the photo walk Documenting Youth Pop Culture – 20 Years After Democracy. We would love for people to join us for the mission, the identified areas are as follows:

  1. Mamelodi West
  2. Mabopane
  3. Atteridgeville
  4. Pretoria CBD
  5. Pretoria Hatfield

Details and times of the photo walks will be communicating in time through our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PretoriaStreetPhotography

Our future plans involve hosting our first photography workshops in townships, rural and certain city centre secondary schools on the fundamentals of photography and an introduction to socio-documentary and street photography. We  are planning to collaborate with a photographic school/faculty to assist us with a curriculum and accreditation for the workshop. We will be hosting a few exhibitions at venues around the city, all details will be shared on our Facebook page.