A Sit-Down with TC Maila

TC Maila has one of South Africa’s most recognizable styles and approaches, and is nothing short of breathtaking.  Each frame is frozen for you to pause, contemplate on the visuals presented, plunging you in emotion, with each image holding a story of its own. Besides his personal work, TC uses photography as a vehicle for change with projects such as One Click, One Smile geared towards inspiring and motivating young children across some of the most remote villages and townships in South Africa. That’s not all, he is also a keynote speaker at the upcoming Photo & Film expo, Africa’s biggest photography and film expo, from 19-22 Nov 2015. Shots011 caught up with TC to hear him share his thoughts on his work and some of the projects he is involved in.


580600_4447517420789_491517027_nShots011: Why photography?


TC: It is just one of many more mediums I’m privileged to be able to use well expressing the artist in me. I am particularly impressed at how it helps me to preserve moments.


Shots011: What is your relationship with the camera?


TC: It is a tool that allows me to explain to the world in detail what I see out there.


Shots011: How would you define your work?


TC: Story-telling in silence.


Shots011: How does your approach to commercial work and personal work differ?


TC: Extremely. I haven’t decided to make a living out of my personal work as yet, so my commercial work is what keeps me going and is funding all my personal work.










Shots011: Which photographer/artist has been your greatest influence in developing your personal aesthetic?


TC: Photography is very broad, so I admire usage of different styles in photography. Anyone who’s work happens to engage my emotions and attention at that point in time. From the well-known guys to the guy who had just picked up a camera.


Shots011: Which friend or contemporary has work you admire


TC: Rey Mangouta for his use of artificial lighting. Joey Lawrence for his style of portraiture and subject matter. And Lezzet Abbott for her ability to see beauty in the things we usually don’t.


Shots011: Looking at your career, what’s the one thing you wish you knew before you started?


TC: I thought photography was about the quality of the work, and little to do with the person behind the work.


Shots011: You’re working on a Project to put a smile on 100 000 children, where did the idea sprout from?


TC: As a travel photographer I find myself in remote areas of this country most of the time. I have seen how a well taken image of someone can change how that person feels, thinks and values themselves. I saw how photos can build and boost confidence in people. This is why I would like to put smiles on young people who are in dull situations using photography. A well taken photo of someone can channel a person to start seeing themselves in a positive light.


Shots011: You’re one of the speakers at this Year’s Photo Film Expo happening in November, how did come about?


TC: Well it started long time ago. The invitation is the result of daily exhibitions of my work on social media for the past seven years. I don’t believe in luck and I am very humbled for the opportunity.


Shots011: How important is collaboration in the creative industry?


TC: Very important, they can make you or break what your work is about. One should be very careful who they associate themselves with.


Shots011: Looking at your work, what would you like people to say about it a hundred years from now?


TC: I can’t believe his work is still relevant.










These 10 questions originally came from a French series, “Bouillon des Culture” hosted by Bernard Pivot. They’re better known as the questions that James Lipton asks every guest at the end of “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. Their addition to this questionnaire is to get to know a bit more about Mario the person, instead of the artist, a bit more about Mario outside photography



What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on creatively?
The creative process itself, and seeing someone create from it.


What turns you off?
Disrespect for nature, and disrespect for the next person.


What is your favorite curse word?
I choose not to curse.


What sound or noise do you love?
When you are alone up high in the mountains surrounded by trees, birds and river, that sound of nature.


What sound or noise do you hate?
The song of a caged bird.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I am not one for professions, I do what I love. I would love to go into farming someday.


What profession would you not like to do?
Everything is worth a try.


If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?




See more of his work at See What I Saw or his Facebook profile.

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One Comment

  1. Masego said:

    His work is just stupendous, beyond words can explain. You can never just browse through his photos. You must engage, it draws you and emotions will be high whenever I view his work. Local is Lekker!!!

    9th November 2015

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