Where Do Great Photographers Find Inspiration?

Great photographs are not captured, they are made. And in most cases, all that differentiates between an iconic photograph and a mere snap is the inspiration that propels the person looking through the lens. At the 2014 Design Indaba Conference, photographer David Goldblatt shared his journey as a photographer and the inspiration and process behind some of his iconic images:

Nearly five decades ago, when Goldblatt started his journey, he was merely following his passion. But that quickly turned into a lifelong commitment.

One of the iconic photos that he ever made was this famous portrait of Nelson Mandela:

madiba by David Goldblatt

‘Madiba’ captured by David Goldblatt

Goldblatt shared an interesting story behind the making of this image. He had arrived at Mr. Mandela’s Johannesburg home at five in the morning along with two other journalists. The press secretary showed him around and pointed at a chair, which he felt would be ideal for a portrait of Mr. Mandela. It was a deep chair and Goldblatt didn’t agree; it did not conform to the idea that the photographer had in mind. It was one of those deep chairs in which a person would simply sink.

“If you want to destroy a politician that’s one of the best ways of doing him because he becomes all knees.”

Much to the bewilderment of the press secretary, he requested a straight-back kitchen chair instead:

“I have come to photograph Mr. Mandela and not the furniture.”

The image was taken and it turned out exactly how Goldblatt had envisioned it.

“I think that photography has the capacity for recognizing things and bringing them out of obscurity as it were of or out of where they are into another frame, so that one looks at it somewhat differently.”

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