What inspires you to take photos?

No doubt its people that inspire me to shoot. I believe in the immeasurable value and beauty of a life being lived, whether it’s in happiness or sorrow. Our daily lives are rich and meaningful, and through photography, we can share them with others who have experienced the same things.

I also think that the idea of “the decisive moment” has a huge influence on the type of photographs I like to take. In one frame, I try to tell an entire story, to describe a very complex state of being.

“Our lives are inherently beautiful and powerful.” – Nicholas Rawhani @nicrahwani

With and UJ students at the #FeesMustFall protest march towards the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Photograph by Nicholas Rawhani.

© Nicholas Rawhani


I took this photo while covering the #FeesMustFall protests. This young lady is at once a strong, independent powerful vision, yet part of a greater movement. The more young people find their voice and act on it, the more progress we will make.

Older generations can teach us how to be authentic. Photograph by Nicholas Rawhani.

© Nicholas Rawhani


Authenticity isn’t something you have to prove. It takes a lot of inner strength to remain authentic in our current society and I think there’s a lot we can learn about life and what it really is about from the generations that came before us.

A candid moment whilst a women rides the bus on the way home. Photograph by Nicholas Rawhani.

© Nicholas Rawhani

A candid moment

This beautiful lady’s on her way home from work, probably quite tired, but at the same time so welcoming. I love that moment when you catch a stranger’s eye and decide whether you’ll just be another drone passing by or make a small difference in their life.

What makes the South African landscape your muse?

South Africa has a complex mix of social challenges, yet the most beautifully diverse and rich cultures on Earth. Like a flower garden, it’s diversity that makes us beautiful. As a photographer, I have the privilege of capturing the changing landscape and exposing certain realities that not everyone gets to see.

We’re in a unique position to tell the truth, to showcase the beauty of our intermingled lives. We have all got so much in common. That’s a huge part of what excites me about our country. Thanks to a massive diversity we have so much to share with one another yet we tend to keep our distance. I believe that photography can help to close those gaps by giving us insights into each other’s lives, eventually bringing us closer.

A South African man showing raw, complex emotion. Photograph by Nicholas Rawhani.

© Nicholas Rawhani


Emotion is a very complex thing. Words can’t fully explain all the ins and outs, but perhaps photography can. There’s a lot going on in this photograph, but it’s his face that holds our gaze.

Where is your favourite location to shoot?

I love the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, people don’t have time to put on a facade. They focus on the things they need to be doing, on each other and on their work – so you can capture them in a really sincere way.

What makes a great shot stand out from the rest?

Sincerity, true thought behind it and, of course, capturing the decisive moment.

Organic beauty as women looks out her door. Photograph by Nicholas Rawhani.

© Nicholas Rawhani


There’s a noble, organic nature to her beauty that is both calming and awe-inspiring. It is sincere.

Which photographic techniques do you like exploring with?

I don’t focus on the technicalities too much. You should have a solid understanding of the particular technique, but once you get a feel for it, the technicalities can get in the way.

Do you have any tips for getting great local street photography shots?

You have to be able to observe and empathise with people. If you don’t put effort into understanding people, treating them as objects, you’ll create a space between photographer and subject – and that’s not a space I usually like to see.

At any given moment, what gear will we find in your bag? I keep it simple with the gear – a Canon 5D MK3 camera body and a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is like because it’s the focus length closest to the human eye and this is the perspective I’m mostly interested in capturing.