Get inspired by Themba Mbuyisa, a young South African photographer taking the world of fashion and street style by storm.


If you follow the Orms Instagram account you’ll know that our Orms Maker Series creative this month was none-other than Themba Mbuyisa. Themba is an upcoming fashion photographer based in Cape Town, he also won the Elle Style Reporter earlier this year.  We caught up with him to find out more about how he started in photography, what about fashion drives him and where he finds inspiration.


How long have you been doing what you do?

I have been photographing since 2013 when I was a photographic student, graduated in 2015 and this is where I am now.

How did you get into photography? 

After my 2nd year of studies, I took a gap year from my BSc Degree due to financial reasons at home, during that time I felt bored, especially with the idea of a 9-5 career and soon found myself studying photography through the Market Photo Workshop. The fees were a bit more affordable there, so I stayed. It was a financially driven decision, to be able to study for something that will generate a form of income whilst studying. Since then, photography has become second nature to me. I also plan on continuing my studies, it never stops.

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

What about fashion inspires you to create? 

I like how fashion designers and stylists think way different from how photographers think, the creation is different of course. But there comes a time where all those ideas have to merge and that’s what I think is beautiful about fashion. As a photographer, you get to represent something and be rational and controversial about it and I’m inspired by the thought of having a certain responsibility to represent, or rather re-represent something.

How does living in South Africa shape your art?

South Africa is a very diverse country, it feels like there is always more to discover. That said, once in a while I like to escape South Africa in search of different cultures, with a different way of thinking and use that as a base of my new creations.

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

Music is a big part of creative culture. How does that fit into your creative process? Who are some of the artists you love?

Local is lekker! There are amazing, unique bands in South Africa that are yet to be discovered. Some of my favourites include; The Brother Moves On, Zuko Collective, TSA and New Creation. I always attend their musical shows and always get inspired by how they experience being a young person in South Africa through their lyrics. I also really like PARTYNEXTDOOR, The Weeknd, Little Dragon… eish there’s a lot, I’m a music person.

All creatives experience creative block. How you work your way through that? 

I speak to my mother!

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

Do you have a creative mantra/motto to keep you going through tough creative times?

I have learnt that I should always try to work harder than anyone else. Sometimes it’s exhausting emotionally and I’m not from a rich family, but I think that also drives my determination to do my best.

Who/what has been your greatest creative influences?

I assisted Steve Tanchel last year when I asked to intern with him. From the time spent with him, I realised that everything is possible if you work hard and treat everyone with the respect they deserve. With him, I learnt how to pitch ideas to big clients, communicating with them and handling big shoots. And to put in the hours, sometimes I’d go to sleep at 2am and wake up two hours later to prepare for my next day. It was amazing really to think how life moves on whilst most are sleeping.

Also whilst in Brazil, I saw that most people there have about 3 jobs. Some days we ate supper after midnight and then have to be up by 5am to get our day going. So my experience there really triggered my thinking around work ethics in relations to the times of the day.

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

What gets you behind the lens? You know, the greater reason for doing what you do? 

There are other ways of imagining immortality and for me, photography is one them. It is timeless, to think that I have an opportunity to create something that will still remain relevant long after I’m gone is quite amazing.

If you could describe your photographic style in one word, what would it be? 


Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

What does the future hold for you? What are your plans, hopes and dreams?

I want to have my own magazine that’s run under my own media company. Just a little bit more of time and studying, then I’ll be ready. I know that my magazine will be the biggest one born in SA.

When you’re not taking photos, what are you most likely doing?

I’m probably watching old photography documentaries, doing some work in the office at ELLE Magazine or in the out streets enjoying life.

What is your approach to editing photos?

I don’t even edit that much. Hahahaha. But since my budget for fashion shoots is currently from my own pocket, I highly depend on my own retouching skills. For me, the main thing is to make sure the lighting is correct.

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

In your opinion, what makes a great fashion photograph?

One that is interesting to look at that you created from your own ideas!

What’s your ultimate camera and lens?

It has to be between the Hasselblad H5D or any Leica M series. But I’ve been a Canon baby since I started photography, so I think I’d enjoy the new Canon 5D mark IV with an 85mm, f1.8 lens.

Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Muyisa

You can keep up with more from Themba by following him on Instagram.

If you are not familiar with the Orms Maker Series, our mission is simple – to spread inspiration. No one knows for sure where inspiration comes from. All we can be sure of is that it exists. Some of us chase it; others have enough of it for all of us combined. It’s just one of those things. You know it when it hits you, and when it does, you have to act. You have to bake, paint, capture – you have to create.

So our big idea with the Orms Maker Series, to inspire creativity through beautiful photos of the creative process. Over the coming months, we will be collaborating with local photographers, designers and creatives to showcase a variety of inspirational projects. Stay tuned, we’ve got so much more coming your way!

One comment

#OrmsMakerSeries Interview with Fashion Photographer, Themba Mbuyisa

  1. Beautiful interview. I could see him laughing. He is slowly becoming one of the photographers to watch out for in and out of South Africa. Elle Magazine chose well.

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