If you’ve ever met Peter Matlowa, you probably know about his undying love for photography, more especially film photography. Most things I know about film photography, I learnt through him, and I’m pretty sure many other people could say the same. I had to contact the man for a virtual interview (thank you Corona…) to ask a few questions and try to better understand the mind behind the lense.
You moved to Johannesburg for varsity last year. How has the Jozi experience been? How different is it from living in Vaal?
“I’m not gonna lie…moving to Joburg from the Vaal is a big move for anyone that knows how life is in the Vaal because it’s pretty slow. We have everything we need but not EVERYTHING. Joburg is huge and literally has everything. So when I moved for varsity, I kinda had to adjust to the fast pace that Joburg operates in. It’s just so quick, you know. Things take time in the Vaal whereas things are always on the move in Joburg. I think that would be the main difference”
You’re a photographer and skateboarder. What influenced you into picking up a camera and a skateboard? Which one did you fall in love with first?
“Well, skateboarding came first. I dabbled a bit in illustration and graphic design before that but that didn’t really last long. Photography came after skateboarding when me and my homie Ofentse went to Cape Town and got some film cameras because they looked really cool. We started taking photos together and I just really liked it and decided to pursue it. Every time I shot something I’d get pretty good feedback from a couple of people which just kept me going. I’ve never quit skateboarding or photography ever since.”
Do you have a specific aesthetic that you try to achieve with your photography?
“Uhh not really. I just try to take photos of things that are visually pleasing to me and the people around me. There isn’t a specific aesthetic I’m trying to go for because I’m really just trying to do everything. I don’t want to limit myself to a specific style of photography, I just document whatever seems visually pleasing to me in the moment.”
Who are your 3 favourite photographers?
“Damn, that’s a hard one. Well, definitely my homie Ofentse Serobaste (@photofentse). Second would have to be Karabo Mooki (@mookimooks). He covers a lot of the Joburg skate scene. Lastly I’d have to say Andile Buka (@buka_andile). The reason I really like him is because he photographed this other spot where I started skateboarding when I was a kid. That photo really connected with me. Yeah that’s my top 3.”
Photography has changed a lot over the years. Film photography evolved to digital, but it seems like you’re one of the photographers that still makes an effort to shoot film. What makes film photography so intriguing to you?
“For me it’s the fact that one would really have to sit down, plan and picture the photo in their mind when shooting on film because you don’t get the opportunity to see the photo right away. After a shoot I can only mentally revisit the photo whereas if you shoot on digital, you can see the photo right away but you’d sometimes notice that most of the images are pretty bad because you didn’t think thoroughly about them. Also, film has a really nice colour and grain to it which really adds texture and emotion that we don’t really get to see with digital photography.”
How far do you plan on taking photography?
“I guess for as long as I can still get film wherever I’m at, but yeah it’s kind of a forever thing now. I really fell in love with it.”
Which music artists would a typical Peter Matlowa playlist comprise of?
“Yo I’m a big grime fan so definitely Skepta, a little bit of Playboi Carti…mmh yeah but mostly musicians from London. If it’s from London and it’s dope and makes you bop your head then yeah that’s what a typical Peter Matlowa playlist would comprise of haha.”
I know you’ve been spending a lot of time in Braam over the past year. What’s the creative scene like and how has it influenced you in general?
“The creative scene in Braam is crazy. I feel like that’s where most creatives around Joburg get together and get to know each other. Where I’m from, there’s literally only one gallery. It’s actually a bookstore but they have an additional space that they turned into a gallery. Braam is crazy. You meet a lot of cool folks doings a lot of cool things. All of it kind of influenced me to be more open to knew stuff. I wasn’t really the open type, I always preferred to have my guard up but this past year and a half taught me to be more open and not limit myself in anything, be it my photography or any other form of expression that I decide to pursue.”
Where do you usually go to catch a weekend jol in Jozi?
“Woah…well I usually go to Kitcheners and Great Dane which are in Braam, next door to each other. So I’m basically at the same place most of the time, but I really just go jol wherever as long as I don’t have to pay for beers. Free beers and I’m in haha!!”
Any final words?
“Shout out my momma *takeoff voice*! Shout out my choms in Jozi and Vaal and also, buy a Neversafe tee, damn!”