Teaching documentary photography to the youth of Kliptown, South Africa

The Kliptown Photo Project is dedicated to creating opportunities for the high school students of Kliptown, South Africa, one of the oldest informal settlements in Soweto, where residents live with up to four generations of their families in one or two room shacks without electricity, running water or public services.

In July 2014 we went to Kliptown and worked with one American photographer and three young African photographers to run a week long photo workshop for 15 students. We believe that learning photography is a way to foster creativity and connection. We wanted our students to show us the world through their eyes and gain skills, confidence, and agency through the process.

We provided digital cameras for each student and worked with them in the classroom, the community, and the computer lab, teaching them everything from lighting and composition to how to photograph strangers and upload their photos to facebook. The students were hard working, enthused, and hungry for knowledge; it was an exciting and powerful week for all participants.

An exhibition of the photographs taken by the students and their teachers took place a month after the workshop at Mashumi Art Projects in Soweto and was a great critical success. The students were able to see their work in the gallery, which was an empowering and thrilling experience for them. Photos are also available for sale on this website.  Proceeds from the exhibition and sale of photographs will go to the Kliptown Youth Program to further their educational and arts programs in the community.

Browse through our store -- you can purchase photos taken by our students and instructors to help sustain the project or you can simply make a donation to sustain the project. 

Ulwimi ululodwa alonelanga, which is a Zulu phrase meaning, "One language is never enough."


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Linda Dukess.

Linda Dukess is a clinical social worker who has maintained a private practice in Pittsburgh for the past 15 years. She has a long-standing interest in the arts, social justice and community global health. 

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Jody DiPerna.

Jody DiPerna is the hands on owner of Allegheny Organizing, an independent organizing and decorating business. She is also a free-lance writer who has written for both national and Pittsburgh news outlets. 




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Heather Mull. 

Heather Mull is a Pittsburgh based photographer who has been working at her craft for 20 years. She will be designing and overseeing the entire curriculum and working with our South African photographers. Her work can be seen at Pittsburgh's City Paper, Table Magazine and numerous other outlets, as well as her flickr page:  Heather Mull Photography




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Jerry Obakeng Gaegane.

Jerry Obakeng Gaegane is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Edward Ruiz Mentorship award. His most recent work includes an exhibition documenting the informal miners working in Gauteng-Booysens.

Mail & Guardian story about Gaegane's photographs. 

Obakeng Gaegane will teach a workshop of interior photography with the Kliptown Students. 



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Patrick Selemani.

Patrick Selemani is a Congolese contemporary photographer who is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studied at the Market Photo Workshop. In 2013, he was awarded first prize in the I Exist Jovi Visual Arts competition.

Selemani is currently working on a portraiture project under the mentorship of John Fleetwood, the head of the Market Photo Workshop. He hopes to return to the Congo to document the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the near future. 

Selemani will teach a workshop on shooting portraits with the Kliptown Students.



Tila Nomvula Mathizerd. 

Tila Nomvula Mathizerd has always gone her own way, exploring the world with her unique compass. She has studied things as varied as meditation and jewelry design, but her real calling is photography. She began her photographic journey as part of the Mofolo Youth Programme, wherein the kids shared an analogue camera. Her work was exhibited and she won a digital camera, which she uses to this day.

Tila remains inspired by the worlds of American writer, James Baldwin:  "The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as when you came in." Tila will teach a workshop on capturing social issues via photography to our Kliptown Students. 




Zanele Mashumi

Zanele Mashumi studied Fine Arts at the University of Johannesburg. Upon completion of her studies, she founded her own art company, Mashumi Art Projects, which is dedicated to supporting emerging artists in South Africa. The company also focuses on project managment, art consulting, art rental, commissions, exhibitions and curating. Mashumi Art Projects hosted nine exhibitions in 2013 and has also worked on the Bombay Sapphire Imagination Room Project. 



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Juliana Kreinik.

Juliana Kreinik is an art historian in Brooklyn, New York, whose teaching, research and writing focuses on twentieth century culture, photography and visual culture. She most recently taught a seminar at Pratt Institute on Depression-era documentary photography in the United States. She earned a BA in art history from Wellesley College, and an MA and PhD in art history from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.