Founder of My Beautiful People South African born Zozo Mposula is a photographer, dancer and overall creative, after moving to Copenhagen at the age of 21, Mposula found herself interested in photography, this began her journey to creating My Beautiful People, a platform she has created to connect black people in Copenhagen through art, photography and creating space for community and dialogue. Mposula showcases the wonderful variety in the danish African community, capturing individuals with unique street style and celebrating them through the arts. We spoke to Zozo Mposula about her experiences and her inspiration, she gave us some interesting and inspiring insights.
What is it like being a minority in Copenhagen, is there a big community of Afrodanes?
Mbp: Being a minority in Denmark can be quite challenging. It is getting better with regards to us Africans creating the spaces we wish to see and making certain that we represent ourselves in images, poetry, business, fashion e.t.c.
In Fashion, there has been an interest in the black models, black features and hair so we have been seeing black models but still a handful. To me, it seems more like tokenism than representation. I guess that is up for discussion.
How important it is to be a part of a community and how can Someone feeling isolated get involved in a community like my beautiful people?
Mbp: It is extremely important to see yourself represented in many facets. It communicates to you that you exist, you matter, you have a voice, you can take space and the images you see representing you are as important as the people representing you. More images of diverse black people rather than the monolithic people is the way forward for us.
What is a really important aspect to capture in an image for you?
Mbp: Everything is important, the background. I usually take my pictures outdoors. My subject’s connection with me, the chemistry with the camera, pose, poise, smile how they stand, their attitude, the pride in their eyes or shyness even.
I love the clothes, how it is put together never haphazardly but with thought for detail, colour, textures. The hair, accessories, it could be how they wear their scarf, their Afro or cornrows or the bold earrings. I also love the way they play with makeup. I am such a visual and a detail orientated person. So practically everything can make or break an image.
What makes someone stand out enough for you to capture them?
Mbp: What I have described on the question above. Basically, anything could make me stop someone and ask to photograph them. Although there has to be something that captures my attention and want me to run after them. I do that often by the way.
How do the youth of today inspire you and your creativity?
Mbp: They are fearless in their attitude and style. They are not bound by any historical past as my generation is. I am a product of apartheid in South Africa which means it is hard not to see colour which can sometimes moving forward can be hard to dismantle.
They are not bound by any rules of fashion. They mix and match old and new. They wear their African attire proudly together with their latest fashion item. They are trailblazers, bold and go-getters who are proud to rock the so-called “ghetto look” ( durags, hoops, cornrows) proudly and make others imitate and appropriate them.
How do you think we can do more to support young people in pursuing their creative aspirations?
MBP: Through dialogue, conversations, listening and sharing our world views. Through involving them in what we are creating, hear their opinions on how they would tackle certain situations or what is missing, what needs to move forward.
They are the future leaders. They have dreams and hopes of things to be different and probably have solutions as well. We need to impart whatever knowledge we have as to inspire them to continue in their own path of creating legacies.
We need to create a space for this to happen so that they know this is their space for expressing whatever ideas they have before they take them out into the big world.
Do you have any advice to aspiring fashion photographers?
Mbp: “All roads lead to Rome”.If you have a vision, explore that vision. Ask for help to those who have already walked the path. Decide what is your aesthetic and focus on that with room for growth and change. Nod politely to the naysayers and keep moving because you know the fire in you and in those dreams.
Create, collaborate, check other people’s work and be inspired. Have values that will the basis of your work so that you do not end up selling yourself short or doing something against those values. Keep learning, I am still learning.