Woman power behind the camera

Vicky Sheelongo

Fashion editorial photographer Vicky Sheelongo finds her power behind the camera.

The Roeland Street resident represented Africa among one hundred other participants at the Art Connects Women – International Exhibition in Dubai in March.

Vicky, 25, who was born in Namibia, received an award from the ZeeArts gallery, which hosted the exhibition, for being selected to take part.

She is also a film-maker and graduated from City Varsity School of Media and Creative Arts with a Bachelor’s degree, focusing on film and television production techniques in 2019.

It was through her studies that Vicky found herself, her voice and her style of creativity.

“I was taken by the creative process during the course of my studies where I ventured in the pursuit of creative expression.”

She said she grew out of the idea of posting a photo for the sake of doing so ages ago.

“Purpose has lost its popularity over the past years but when I found mine I was left with no choice but to own it and embrace it.”

She has always been captivated and fascinated by powerful imagery, concepts and the ever-changing and compelling world of fashion, which resulted in her identifying her true passion.

Upon her return from Dubai she said, “My art continues to influence society as it instils values and translates experiences across space and time. It also allows people from different cultures to communicate through feelings which I often see as a vehicle for social change. A voice is given to the socially disenfranchised and with no harm it is communicated strongly yet so beautifully.”

Additionally, she said that it is through “this that emotions arouse in those who encounter my work, inspiring them to rally for change or gain a different perspective” in how they see things.

Her sense of creativity stems from an incorporation of herself into her work such as wearing her hair in a certain manner.

“My friends would claim how intentional my personal style including my hair appears to be, how it resembles and inspires my work somewhat.

“Something I never really took note of and was hesitant for a while until my gut spoke and I went ahead with merging both these together. I now use the expression of my style as a way to engage and express myself too, mostly in self portraiture.”

Some of her achievements were being featured in the world art book titled Women Artists around the World 2020 and most certainly, completing her education.

She said that three years of school and working towards becoming a visual storyteller was a risky plan but exciting.

“Risky because I needed to finish school first although I already knew what my blueprint was before finishing school. I decided to start working towards my art brand and really taking my craft seriously. I got the hang of things by my third year and secured my first ever international art exhibition before I even graduated. I never gave praise to myself now that I actually think about it, I normally don’t really but sometimes I think about it. So I am really glad I managed to secure both the qualification and freely take on being a full-time visual artist.”

She said that her journey as a photographer has opened her up to exploring untouched territories and her voice to merge her distinctive aesthetic and compelling concepts with the vision she has for fashion in order to create and portray stories through the art.

And with regards to the lockdown imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, she said that working from home is not challenging at all for her, apart from not being able to go ahead with onsite work.

“It’s not so much of a hustle to communicate to clients and share briefs/work. The process of post-production is the same for me, working on the project and sharing it with the client or intended person electronically has always been the quickest way of doing things for me unless they need to sit down to show me instructions.”

And when working on something with a team, she said, “perhaps only then would we need to sit down together to track the progress when it’s strictly necessary which can still be done through video call.”

Other than that, being a creative highly demands time alone in order to recharge.

“For me solitude has been the greatest gift of all time. There is a great amount of value in it and so I tend to cherish moments when I am alone knowing what an investment it is for me as an artist and my craft.”

At the moment, she is working on a project to promote her artworks and entire brand to a global audience with the aim of attracting collaborations with artists from across the world and most especially here in Africa.

The solo issue of Wabi-Sabi, an online African contemporary magazine, which she worked on is almost ready.

“I can’t wait to share what my heart and eye have put together,” said Vicky.