Jan. 9, 2020

Alfred Wango Is Capturing More Than Just Smiles With His Photography, He Is Capturing Souls

Cover image by @slumphotography

I came across Alfred's Instagram account after Blankets and Wine. I was scrolling through my feed looking at portraits that the numerous photographers at Blankets had captured when I came across a set of particularly striking images that caught my eye. It was the face of this stunning woman with skin as dark as coffee beans and platinum blonde hair, cropped short - almost down to her scalp. She had gold flakes coming down the side of her face from her temple down to her cheeks. The contrast in the image was intense, to say the least. The specs of gold against her dark skin reminded me of stars sprinkled over a night sky. In one of the images, the woman was staring directly into the camera and it had a somewhat stirring effect on me. I almost felt shy looking at the image. It was almost like she was urging me to reveal a hidden truth. It's not often you come across a photographer with the ability to simultaneously capture and stir a variety of emotions with the same image but Alfred does it almost effortlessly. His images speak to every eye they meet. He creates imagery that tells tales vast and wide.

MOOKH: You are a visual artist in more ways than one; you are both a photographer and an artist. What was your first passion?

Alfred: I’ve been an artist since I was a kid. Photography came much later on.

MOOKH: How did you discover your love for photography?

Alfred: So, this friend of mine bought a really cool Sony phone that had a really good camera, which we took photos with just for fun. With time this hobby grew into a passion, then into a lifestyle.

MOOKH: How long have you been practicing photography?

Alfred: It’s been around 4 years now, 3 years professionally.

MOOKH: You describe yourself as a documentary and portrait photographer. Were you always a portrait photographer or did you explore other avenues before you started doing portrait photography?

Alfred: When starting out, I literally took photos of anything, but with time, I started gaining interest in story telling, focusing on people, mostly societal issues and humanitarian works.

MOOKH: Looking at your work, I can’t help but notice that the human element is a core theme. What is it that draws you to documenting the human condition?

Alfred: First of all, I love people. I also feel that it’s an artist’s role to tell the people’s stories, stories that give hope, inspire, provoke, basically trigger emotion which is the basis of humanity. Being under the mentorship of @slumphotography and @everydaypeoplestories also influenced my path into storytelling through my pictures.

MOOKH: I noticed you share most of your portrait shots with the tag #CapturingSoulsNotSmiles, tell us more about that?

Alfred: I believe in telling stories that capture the soul, the emotional or intellectual energy within us which is deeper than the physical smile. People could see you smile, but they don’t know what you feel inside.

MOOKH: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

Alfred: Definitely a painter.

MOOKH: What message do you hope to convey with your photography?

Alfred: Hope! Hope keeps us alive, and there’s still hope in humanity.

MOOKH: Any new projects we should be on the lookout for?

Alfred: For sure! Basically about our culture as Africans. Can’t disclose more! Watch this space..haha