Shawn Kieffer is a Tanzanian photographer based in Cape Town South Africa who has almost seen it all.
His choice to become a photographer was a natural and necessary one. In many ways, his preoccupation with beauty gave him an alternative to the loneliness he experienced in school, and in the social environments outside his family home. He has won several accolades including fashion photographer of the year Africa by AFSA.
How does it feel like being recognized on a platform like AFSA?
I’m so incredibly honored to be recognized by the ASFA committee. I am indeed overwhelmed at this incredible news. This is a huge honour. On the other hand my deepest gratitude goes to the Swahili fashion week team and for those who nominated me.
Do you think you have what it takes to win the categories?
The main reason why I think I’m the perfect candidate for the award, I believe that the talents they seek are well matched with my qualifications and skills. There are several people who know me either in person or online — and those are a lot of people.
What distinguishes you from the rest of the crowd?
As an imaginative and passionate photographer with two-plus year truck experience in Fashion photography, I am a people person with a knack of getting smiles and making clients happy. I am reliable and capable of handling a fast-paced environment and above all I always deliver results on time. I am highly organized and extremely attentive to details, with an eye for presentation.
Does Photography pay or you are doing it for fun?
Photography business/market is huge. As long as there is demand for photographs produced to specification, there will always be a demand for professional photographers, be they studio, technical, commercial or journalist.
There will always be a market for professional photos. Companies always need product photography, and people will always want a well lit professional portrait. Modelling agencies will always need a well skilled professional photographer to shoot a full portfolio look.
What has been your best experience so far?
I was in Germany doing some modelling work with one of the leading agencies there for a three month contract. After five weeks I was selected to be on Beyonce’s media team for the Formation World Tour. I still have my media pass. I think I’m going to frame it . Beyoncé was scheduled to perform in Dusseldorf at the Esprit Arena. Her stage set up consisted of a moving cube screen that could split in half and rotate in a circle. On this screen, during her outfit changes and during her songs, she displayed snippets from her “Lemonade” film.
One of the parts of the concert was when she showed “throwback” footage of her and Jay-Z raising their precious daughter, Blue Ivy, together. She also showed a video of her 16 year-old self bragging about her belly button ring she had just gotten for her birthday. Beyoncé also thanked her fans for always supporting her and encouraging her to do what she loves. It was all real cute.
And what has been the worst or most difficult part of this journey?
Well my friend a well known designer in Tanzania once told me I will never make it, and that he doesn’t see me as a photographer. I will never forget this statement as I’m happy I have proved him wrong. Even though he has since apologised to me, it is something that has kept me on my feet. I became more motivated and ambitious to achieve something