FAR FEATURES
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Our collection of feature assignments from around the world. 

I WAS SHOT IN JOBURG

FEATURE Nº14

I was shot in Joburg by Far Features | Far Features media production company | Johannesburg
 

THE FORMER STREET KIDS WRITING A NEW FUTURE THROUGH
PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE ART OF BUSINESS

By Fraser Morton

In a dilapidated ghetto of Johannesburg a former street kid stares at a crumbling wall graffitied with the words, “Write The Future”. There’s a click of a disposable camera shutter and the kid has his shot. The image will go on to sell thousands of copies - printed onto notebooks, canvasses, keychains and postcards - and ferried to all corners of the globe by tourists. The boy will go onto become a photographer and a businessman. 

He is one of many success stories from the "I Was Shot In Joburg" arts collective. 

 
 The "Write The Future" notebooks have been a huge success for the collective. 

The "Write The Future" notebooks have been a huge success for the collective. 

 Two of the "I Was Shot" photographers at a cafe on Arts On Main. 

Two of the "I Was Shot" photographers at a cafe on Arts On Main. 

 Author's stash. 

Author's stash. 

 Nelson Mandela as a young boxer painted in a giant mural in downtown Johannesburg. The "I Was Shot "  collective sell prints of this image. 

Nelson Mandela as a young boxer painted in a giant mural in downtown Johannesburg. The "I Was Shot" collective sell prints of this image. 

 

“I Was Shot In Joburg” was established as a community project in 2009 by South African photographer Bernard Viljoen to provide a platform for disadvantaged street kids to learn photography and business skills to empower them to turn their lives around.

“What I would like to propose for the project is using my photographic skills and talent and give of my time and resources to make a positive contribution to and enrich the lives of kids who might otherwise not have had the exposure nor the opportunity to develop their own photographic skills and talent,” Viljoen said.  

The “Write The Future” print is just one successful product the young photographers sell at their Arts On Main studio, a mixed-use creative hub in Johannesburg’s arts-gentrified neighbourhood in the Maboneng Precinct.

 
 The boys making photo frames from old magazines at the "I Was Shot "  studio. 

The boys making photo frames from old magazines at the "I Was Shot" studio. 

 A local street seller hawks his wares on Arts On Main. 

A local street seller hawks his wares on Arts On Main. 

 

The young students learn photography, craft skills to make prints and other products to sell their work and business acumen. They also learn how to open a bank account and manage money for themselves for the first time. 

“Teaching and enabling them to see the world through different eyes. Teaching them to look, to see, to compose, to capture what it is they see in a such a way that they can be proud of it,” Viljoen said.

 
 The gentrified area today is clad in street art the boys photograph.  

The gentrified area today is clad in street art the boys photograph.  

 The boys on one of their daily photography tours. 

The boys on one of their daily photography tours. 

I was shot in Joburg by Far Features | Far Features media production company | Johannesburg
I was shot in Joburg by Far Features | Far Features media production company | Johannesburg
I was shot in Joburg by Far Features | Far Features media production company | Johannesburg
 

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I met the collective in 2016 while shooting a short commercial film about their work along with producer Ahmad Yusman and journalist Nastasya Tay for Click2View and VISA. We spent the day with the boys and Bernard walking the neighbourhood of Arts On Main. The photos on this page are from that walk as we filmed them capturing their photos. A great group of guys, collective and cause using creativity for the good of others.

Visit "I Was Shot In Joburg" here 

 

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Fraser Morton