After my previous interview with Tom Joy from Leeds Lurking I got the itch to interview more creative people who inspire me. Everyone has a story to tell and I want Style Division to be the platform to showcase these people and their stories.
This week we have Themba Erik, an up-and-coming photographer based in London whose urban shots have left me with a lasting impression. I first worked with Themba for our Savile Row Lookbook shoot back in spring and through getting to know him I thought his style would complement the magazine perfectly.
Style Division: When did your interest in photography begin?
Themba Erik: I wish i had a cool and amazing story of how when i was 3 years old i picked up the camera and the rest is all history. Sadly that wasn’t quite the case for me, I’ve always been a shy and reserved person and i noticed i always came out of my shell when doing something creative. It offered me another platform to communicate without much use of words.
SD: While out taking shots you must have encountered some unique individuals and situations. Any particular moment comes to mind?
TE: I met a musician by the name of Che-lingo, i saw him perform once and i knew i had to work with him! I emailed him that same night, fast forward a couple months and I’m his stage photographer! What drew me to him is his ability to bring people together through music and its something i want to do through my own work.
SD: Onto some geeky stuff. Can you tell me more about your gear? Do you use any specialist equipment and what would you say is essential to have on you at all times?
TE: Oh how i dreaded this question! I always read about other photographers and their awesome kit bags but mine is the your standard 24-105mm L lens and my 50mm 1.8, And of course my iPhone for some shots too! I recently purchased my 24-105mm so I’m loving walking around with that but a 50mm is honestly a MUST for any street photographer, it is by far my favourite lens.
SD: Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
TE: I still consider myself a student of the game still, I feel I haven’t gotten my feet wet yet, so i’m still overly critical of my work to the point I always go back and re-edit shots. I still have pictures from 2009 i edit and re-edit to this day.
I recently did a lookbook shoot for Ralph Lauren which served as confirmation that this is the life i wanted but even then I’m over critical of my work and always looking for ways to improve, i can’t put my feet up yet.
SD: Can you tell us the kind of emotions you get from the buildings you photograph?
TE: When i look at a building i feel inspired and insignificant at the same time. Inspired because i try to place myself in the shoes of the architect who designed it; the pride they must have felt knowing that it all began with a pen and pencil and here stands a building that holds so many stories. At the same time I feel insignificant because that same architecture will be forgotten over time despite the joy a building may bring.
SD: Have you ever come across a building that you feel you couldn’t photograph?
TE: I can’t take a picture of Kings Cross station, its such a beautiful station i feel i need to become a zen master of photography to do that place justice. From its structure to symmetry, its basically architectural poetry in motion!
SD: Could you tell me about OverDaux?
TE: Overdaux ( overdose ) is a movement I’m trying to build, that will hopefully give artists the platform to fully express themselves without the need to conform. I feel like too much emphasis is placed on fitting in and being viewed as the IN crowd.
What i want to do is have a group of friends who just want to make stuff, from photography, design, fashion, music, poetry what ever you craft is. I love learning but more importantly i just want people to know its okay to do exactly what you want to do and have it appreciated.
SD: Do you think we miss out on things when we don’t ‘lookup’ from our phones?
TE: Yes Yes Yes! I remember my most productive week was when I told myself that everyday i leave the house I’m not going to look at my phone and just absorb the world around me.
I felt so refreshed and enlightened it was crazy, i struck up conversations with random people and gained a lot from it. I think as amazing as social media is it can also be very limiting and absorbing to the point you miss out on the random moments of magic that happen around you everyday.
SD: Which areas of London do you find yourself returning to over and over again? Why?
TE: I love Canary Wharf ! It’s a new experience every time i visit, it’s just the epitome of architectural beauty to me after Kings Cross Station. The layout and the magnitude of it from the moment you head towards the tube exit, its like the Jurassic park of buildings to me. Everything is grand!
Themba has created visuals for a number of well known brands such as Ralph Lauren and his shots continue to surprise me every day. If you wish to know more about Themba make sure to check out his PORTFOLIO and follow him using the links below: