Through the Lens Collective is a collaborative educational and developmental photographic space created by South African visual artists and educators who share a commitment to, and appreciation of, the photographic medium on the African continent. Through photographic training the collective aims to develop creativity, critical thinking and professional practice. Photographic practice is undergoing rapid change. What is of paramount importance is personal vision and voice. Through an educational workspace, including a studio, a darkroom, digital post production and a gallery, the collective aims to assist visual artists/photographers in refining their photographic practice, expanding their visual grammar and developing their narrative skills. In addition, what is of importance is the creation of sustainable structures that support contemporary photographic practice. Our courses are aimed at anyone who is passionate about the medium of photography and wishes to use the camera as an expressive tool.
Who are we?
Michelle Loukidis received her photographic training at TUT in Tshwane. She worked as a highly successful wedding photographer for over 10 years. However, her keen interests in photographic development led her to the Market Photo Workshop, in Newtown, where she has trained and mentored young photographers for over 15 years. Many students have then gone on to receive important grants and mentorships through her guidance. Through this process she has also helped train photographers from other African countries, running workshops in Sudan and Cape Verde.
A fine artist herself, she has exhibited her photographs in solo and group exhibitions. Recent exhibits include a solo exhibition, Recesses, at Res gallery, participation in group shows at the Turbine Art Fair, The Fringe and at the AVA gallery in Cape Town. She also participated in the first Everard Read Photographic Mesh series (2018), which aimed at acquainting audiences with critical photographic practices.
Michelle prefers working in film using medium format cameras, where she feels a certain amount of the magic of photography is still retained. She is currently facilitating an analogue photography course at the Wits School of Arts. She works and lives in Johannesburg.
Natalie Payne's artistic practice and photographic career have, over more than a decade, consistently influenced and nurtured one another. As a commercial practitioner, she has photographed campaigns for both South African and international advertising agencies. Her editorial work encompasses portraiture, fashion, travel and social documentary. In her artistic practice, she explores the intertwining of identity and society. Her photographs have been exhibited in a number of group shows nationally as well as published in magazines and books, both nationally and internationally.
Payne has a diploma in photography from l’école nationale supérieure de la photographie (ENSP), Arles, France. In 2018 she completed a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand, where she deepened her knowledge of the medium of photography, enabling her to situate her practice in a broader art historical and theoretical context. As part of the MAFA degree, she produced a body of work representing the domestic sphere of suburbia, familial relationships and the experience of mortality. This resulted in a solo show at The Point of Order gallery, Braamfontein, in 2017. The work was also exhibited in the TAF 2018 Graduate show Home/Land.
Alongside her photographic practice, she currently works as a photography lecturer at Lisof Fashion and Retail School, a higher education institution based in Gauteng, where she developed the fashion photography course. She has taught at The Market Photo Workshop, as well as facilitated studio practice photography workshops for 3 rd and 4th year Fine Arts students at the Wits School of the Arts.
Having attended photography masterclasses and international photography fairs she has kept abreast of contemporary photographic practice in both the African and global context. Through sustained research she has developed an awareness of the critical role photography plays in society, both historically and in the changing contemporary social landscape. She is deeply invested in photography and education in South Africa.