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Feature: Chat with photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg, South Africa


 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

 

Depth of Focus.

 

By: Jesica Colbyn

Johannesburg, South Africa

 

Photography… Art or past time? Needless to say, we owe a great deal to Johann Zahn, the guy who envisioned the world’s first portable camera. Through his 17th century vision, man has been able to capture moments. While reflex mirrors, focal-plane shutters, pentaprisms and condenser lenses make it all look effortless, good quality photography still lies in the hands of the photographer.

 

While the science of photography has exploded at the turn of the millennium, the detail in photography is still a function of a keen eye, a brilliant mind and a creative soul. Pictures are more than just images. Pictures have a life, a character and a story… To enhance these attributes, the individual behind the lens needs to be at the top of their game… Enter Anthony Bila. A man of not many words… With photos that say so much, I needed to know the depth of the character behind the lens. My curiosity was soon rewarded. Enjoy.

 

Who is Anthony Bila?

 

I am an introverted, shy, unassuming artist, writer and photographer from South Africa concerned with bring Africa to the world and the world to Africa.

 

Photographer Anthony Bila

Photographer Anthony Bila

 

Your fashion & photographic style commands attention, it is intentional?

 

I just try to be as honest and forthright with any work that I do, my moniker, “The Expressionist” is partially derived from wanting to be honest, raw in singular in my vision.

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

Where do you personally prefer to shop for your clothes and accessories?

 

I prefer not to shop. I actually kind of just pick up off pieces of clothing from anywhere and everywhere. I’m not an afficianado of accessories bar watches and I only have about two or three.

 

Why the expressionist?  Is it an extension of who you are; an alter ego perhaps?

 

I believe we are all blank canvases when we are naked, that is human beings, and everyday we “paint” ourselves in the clothes we wear and how we wear them that expresses something of ourselves everyday. So when I photograph people, I try to capture that expression, and show as closely as possible what that person is trying to tell us about themselves or the world as how they see it. I also believe that a picture expresses a thousand words and sometimes, expresses things words simply cannot, things that can only be expressed, interpreted and felt with the eyes.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

I know you’re still walking your journey, but how did you get where you are today?

 

I actually discovered photography by accident through the internet and friends. But I first started curating  a blog about 3 years ago and slowly, curating wasn’t enough and I wanted to capture the world as I saw it, not through the eyes of others whose wonderful images I had curated. The rest from there is history, that’s being written right now. The more I photographed and posted to my blog, the more people paid attention until brands started  to approach me to collaborate with them.

 

If you weren’t creating or telling stories through photography, what would you be doing for a living?

 

Well photography is only one of my outlets and although it’s my favourite career, it isn’t my only one, I also work as a copywriter, videographer and fine artist. So anything and everything I have wanted to do for a living, I am doing in some way, shape or form.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

Social media is a force for change with our socialisation mainly occurring online. What’s the message behind your blog and how do you hope it’ll touch the lives of your readers?

 

I just want to bring Africa to the world and the world to Africa through my imagery. I feel Africa as a continent has been misrepresented in the media and thanks to the internet, everyone has a voice and subsequently we can rewrite the obscure history of our beautiful continent through our various creative fields, from music, fine art and photography to film making and fashion as well as everything inbetween.

 

Would you say your photographic style is advertorial or documentive?

 

I hate classifying or putting myself into any category, so I’d say that my style is whatever my vision is, for that project, the style may vary but it will always be from my unique perspective which is a style in itself.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

 

Is there a lot of post-production involved in your work or you prefer an untouched, natural feel?

 

I prefer as little post production as possible, but again it depends on the mood and feeling I’m trying to convey, thus I’ll use whatever tools at my disposal to translate that vision, sometimes It’s with the help of post production, other times it’s with little to none at all.

 

What are your views on the African Fashion landscape?

I think we are making incredible strides and we are finding our own voice. That’s wonderful to me because for too long, all our trends and fashion sensibilities have been derivatives of westernised standards, I think with the internet and young people especially are redefining the landscape.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

Do you think both fashion and photography can be utilised as a vehicle for development?

 

I certainly do, I believe it can highlight certain aspects of the converstaion and shine a spotlight of pertinent issues. At the same time though, we cannot be naïve, fashion won’t change the world. Photography on the other hand, has moved mountains in a way that it only could through it’s long and rich history, photography has become a cornerstone in human storytelling and change.

 

Whose work has had a profound influence on your photography style?

 

I’m inspired by anything and everything; it never comes from one place. Lest of all just the photographic field, I could be influenced and inspired by music, fine art, design, nature or anyting else for that matter.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

Is there any cause that is dear to your heart?

 

I think the educaiton of men, women and children, teaching skills to all and thus helping those people to become self-sufficent rather than giving aid which doesn’t solve the problem in the long term. Teaching a man to fish versus giving him a fish, and all that jazz.

 

If you could tell the world about South Africa in one sentence, what would you say?

 

South Africa is a place bursting with potential, possibility and creativity.

 

By photographer Anthony Bila from Johannesburg South Africa

By photographer Anthony Bila

 

What can we expect from future projects that you’re working on?

 

I have an exhition I am working on currently as well as a few other photographic series projects not to mention video and fine art paintings I am working on. The exhibiton’s a personal enedvour with no backing but I’m excited an adamant to show it to the world when it’s ready. I’m also going to be in a film later this year, called Andani, playing myself, or a version of myself anyway for the feature.

 

In all your travels, what city would you site as you’re favourite and why?

 

I have not travelled nearly as much as I would like to, actually I’ve only ever been to England and Botswana. I loved both places for very different reasons, but my ultimate place to live and work for a while would be Japan.

 

I chatted with Dale Stephen Strime of Swede & Crow, and he thinks your work is on some KaPow level! Are you open to doing collaborative work with the BADASS duo? Had to put it out there just in case the ‘law of attraction’ sets to motion…

 

I am always excited and keen to collaborate with anyone willing and able to reciprocated or even exceed my commitement, enthusiam to produce thought provoking, beautiful and creative work.

 

Please share with us anything you might want to add that I haven’t touched on…

 

Let’s all be concerned with surpassing the mundane and mediocre, the tried and tested and push our creative selves further than we ever have, I believe we also need to be humble about our gifts and limitations. Social media has a danger of making us think we are more than we are, at the end of the day, we’re all people so let’s never forget that and treat each other with kindness.

 

You can find Anthony’s work on his Tumblr page, his website (www.anthonybila.com).

 

 

 

Special thanks to:  Tshepo Ramonyaluoe; Photography courtesy of Anthony Bila 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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