After being schooled about this pandemic I got to know more about the man outside the lab.
Brian Lehang: What were your plans outside of your “9-2-5” before this outbreak?
Tony Maake: Traveling, unfortunately all had to be cancelled.
Brian Lehang: Where to?
Tony Maake: Italy; Cape Town and Madagascar
Brian Lehang: Did you have any shoots and campaigns that were scheduled?
Tony Maake: Yes, in Cape Town with few fashion and alcohol brands
Brian Lehang: Thinking about how we first met, we actually met in Italy. For me personally it was overwhelming to see so many photographers in one spot just to get a snap. For you as a photographer how did you find it?
Tony Maake: It was one exciting experience ever felt as a photographer. It’s the only space I have been where creatives deeply enjoy and love what they do. It was like a photography competition but I got to learn that every photographer tells a different story and know what they’re looking for in every snap they take
Brian Lehang: Very true. The signature in their images differs. You can actually tell who shot a specific image without looking at a photo credit. So how long have you been doing photography?
Tony Maake: Since 2010
Brian Lehang: Wow, it’s been quite a while
Tony Maake: Years of learning and striving to master the craft
Brian Lehang: Micro biology is your profession. Since you been in photography for a decade, would you say you are a professional photographer or do you have a term to define it?
Tony Maake: Personally a professional is defined by skills; experience; and not by paper. That’s just a norm.
Brian Lehang: With your expert analysis from micro biology, photography was just a perfect combination
Tony Maake: True, in microbiology I spend most of my time with microscopes which aligns well with camera lenses
Brian Lehang: So with microscopes on a daily basis looking at ultra-small particles, it makes one to pay so much attention to details in photography and I got to see that with you.
Tony Maake: It goes without saying
Brian Lehang: Having had the opportunity to shoot internationally such as Europe, how is freedom of photography there compared to here at home?
Tony Maake: Based on my experience in the photography industry, I can say as an African your craft; talent and passion is more appreciated abroad than here in South Africa. It’s not about “who you know; connections; fame; nor a number of “likes & followers”. It’s simply about who you are, how creative can one be with a camera. And with that said, I have accomplished and executed greater and massive goals internationally than locally.
Brian Lehang: I can say we share the same sentiments, my content was first featured in European and Western publication before it was seen in local publications.
Tony Maake: Indeed. So that’s the dynamics between here at home and overseas.
Brian Lehang: Often photographers don’t dress as dandy and dapper as you do, as the man behind the lens, how do you juggle being in front and behind the lens?
Tony Maake: Being Dapper or Dandy to me it’s not a trend; it’s as good as culture or tradition. It is self-expression and a lifestyle with utmost humility. Being behind the lens is talent, passion and a skill that I am still learning to master since I’m self-taught. I find balance between the two. There are shoots I directed and managed to be in the picture and there are some that I remained behind the scene, regardless how dandy the picture was, so there’s always time for everything.
Brian Lehang: Having been to Florence for Pitti Uomo, and looking at the fashion industry (menswear) in South Africa, where do you see it in the near future?
Tony Maake: Menswear fashion industry in South Africa is growing. However, I think with more education and knowledge about Menswear, it will be bigger.
Brian Lehang: What have you learned from this outbreak?
Tony Maake: I have learnt that small things that we took for granted before, such as washing your hands, have become so important. Science matters, and with that said doctors and scientific researchers should be paid better. Having access to the internet should be a basic right for everyone. Talking to your loved ones and appreciating every day you have. Ignorance could bring endless consequences and education to public health matters is very important.
Brian Lehang: Future plans? After the lockdown or rather once this pandemic has been curbed
Tony Maake: There’s lot of plans ahead but few of them are to reciprocate on my previous photography and traveling projects, expand and grow Tonyshouz Children’s Foundation to assist schools affected by the lockdown, and just continue to progress career wise.
Brian Lehang: I must say that you’ve always inspired me with the work you did for your foundation. That has propelled me to do more with golf for my community. It has been a great pleasure chatting to you and I can only wish you all the very best with your future endeavors.
Until next time, stay safe at home