I asked four photographers from around South Africa, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg to capture their cities as they see them through their lenses. This feature by lensman Alessio La Ruffa is the first of four instalments in the series titled ‘Photographers tell a story of their cities’. [This feature was first published in the Cape Argus newspaper on April 28 2015]
ALESSIO La Ruffa is based in Pretoria and is the founder of a small company called Visualeyes that specialises in storytelling through visual and social media.
He describes himself as an Instagrammer, photographer and urban explorer.
Q and A
What was the concept behind this shoot?
Pretoria gets a bad rap. It’s often seen as a boring, conservative, Afrikaner city. While that may be true to a small extent, there is way more than meets the eye. Pretoria is way cooler than many people think. I have a couple of friends who are helping to raise awareness of Pretoria’s cool factor.
What makes your city special?
Pretoria isn’t as fast paced as Joburg and is fairly laid back in comparison. However, that doesn’t mean we lack culture or adventure. There are so many incredible things to see if you just go out and search for them.
Tell us what most people overlook when visiting your city?
The rich history, which is more evident in the city centre than elsewhere. Most people visit Pretoria to attend events or go to shopping malls, which is so sad.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people, urban spaces, textures and exploration. Everyone has a story to tell, and I love exploring historical urban spaces. I was a bit of a history nerd in school.
I’d tell my mother to take me to museums during the school holidays.
What makes a the good picture stand out from the average?
A good picture is made. The average picture is taken. A good picture is intentionally composed and edited for the greatest visual impact. An average picture is taken without
How would you describe your photographic vision and style, and what kind of look do you try to create in your photos?
My photographic style is experimental. I stick to the same subject matter, but I tend to play around with it a bit. I try to create a raw, honest feel in my photos.
How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his subjects to bring out their true self?
It depends. I’ve taken most of my portraits within seconds of meeting someone. But the better you know someone, the more you know about them, and the easier it is to tell their story.
Photographers like to show their audience something in their pictures, what do you hope to inspire in other people with your work?
In my cityscapes I want to inspire people to get out and explore, because our cities are filled with so many hidden gems. With my portraits, I want to inspire people to take a raw, honest, and closer look at each other.
If you could visit and photograph any place in the world, where would that be?
I would love to go shoot New York City more than anything. I’d be happy to shoot there for six months solid with very little sleep. The city’s energy, architecture and people
really inspire me.