I feel as though it is important for creatives to be able to be vulnerable. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing but that’s the most effective way to connect with your audience, by opening ourselves up to share our stories and dig deep within ourselves to portray our truths in our most authentic voices. The truth isn’t always pretty but nothing resonates more than authenticity.


INTERVIEW: RICK DE LA RAY

PHOTOGRAPHY: THANDEKILE MKIZE


Where are you from and how do you feel it has influenced the way you look at the world?

I was born and raised in Cape Town; for the first 3 years of my life I stayed in Langa and then my mom bought a house in Brooklyn where we still stay. I wouldn’t say that places influenced the way I see the world but rather the experiences I had in those spaces. What I remember most about growing up is being reprimanded for portraying effeminate characteristics through the way I walked or talked. People would often point it out. It would annoy me that I would often check myself, ‘’am I masculine enough?’’ I don’t know when I decided, “ fuck it, I’m gonna do me and stop putting people with their discomfort at ease”, but I learnt to not care at some point. I guess I was tired of feeling repressed.

When and how did photography become a part of your life?

Photography became a part of my life when I decided I wanted to model and create my own fashion editorials. I started off working with photographers I found on Instagram whose work I admired, like my friend MilkandOj, Luxolo Witvoet, Saif and Meghan Daniels. It was Saif who encouraged me to get a camera and start shooting. So I got my first film camera which was some old Kodak, I didn’t know what I was doing but I got some interesting images from that camera.

Do you have any inspiration that influences you and your work?

What inspires my work are stories of how we are able to overcome our personal struggles. I love the idea of flowers blooming in dark rooms. I’m inspired by everyday life and how people move day to day through the city. People who are bold and unapologetically living their truths.

Do you feel its important for creatives to be open abut their experiences?

I feel as though it is important for creatives to be able to be vulnerable. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing but that’s the most effective way to connect with your audience, by opening ourselves up to share our stories and dig deep within ourselves to portray our truths in our most authentic voices. The truth isn’t always pretty but nothing resonates more than authenticity.

How do you feel your experience as a stylist has influenced your photography?

I think that it’s helped me to see the image more holistically and highlights the mood or feeling I’m looking for.

What inspires the subject matter in your images or do you allow it to happen spontaneously?

I like to let it happen spontaneously and allow my muse’s special nature to shine.

Do you see photography becoming a full-time thing for you in the future or how do you see yourself evolving?

I love having a camera on me and capturing moments that move me. I would incorporate it seamlessly and effortlessly with everything that I do because its how I would like to document my journey as a human and a creative. Immortalise those moments. I aim to share African stories in an authentic voice and rewrite the narrative and share images that speak of our power and glory as Africans.

What medium do prefer shooting in and what camera are you using at the moment?

I prefer shooting with 35mm film but I’m slowly moving toward shooting digital and I would love to start shooting medium format as well. At the moment I shoot with a Pentax P5035mm.

Besides the styling what other work are you currently busy with?

Besides styling, I’m working on producing content for THUG ALCHEMY, a multi-medium production house.

What drives you to capture an image? What type of situation appeals to you?

I see an image in my mind and just want to see it through. It’s an extension of my thoughts and desires to a tangible thing that depicts my thoughts. I also want to capture what moves me. It could be the way a muse slightly tilts their head to right facing down or how the golden light illuminates their skin. Or the tension in their face when they are in an uncomfortable position or the softness in their face when they are relaxed and at ease.

What is the most uncomfortable moment you have encountered while shooting?

That hasn’t happened yet.

Who’s work do you admire locally and why?

Noncedo Gxekwa. Noncedo captures her muses so gracefully and I love her perspective – it reminds me to look beyond what I see in front of me and look at things from a different angle. Justice Mukheli. Justice has such powerful magical energy and it comes through in his photographs. He pays attention to his muse’s eyes and is able to capture the essence of his muse that makes me feel as though I know that person’s story just by looking at the portrait. Haneem Christian. A power house! Haneem’s work excites me. Their compositions reflect the power and strength they see in their muses.

Do you have any future projects in the pipeline that you would like to share with us?

I’m working on a portraiture series with Cape Town rapper GREEKGOD, capturing him and his collaborators on his latest EP called ‘Phila’. I’m working on a series of fashion editorials with Noncedo Gxekwa that aims to expose our limitlessness and liberate us from the conditioning of the past. I’m also working on a multi-medium project called ‘The Jewel of Africa’ which I hope to release early next year.


HIGH FIVES



INFO: @tandekile_mkize
               www.inthelandofthugalchemy.tumblr.com