An Interview with Harness Harmese

Khumbula a name that has become synonymous with the South African fashion scene. At the center of it, lies the group’s eye, Harness Harmese articulating, through the camera all things representative of the collective. Their love for the African Fashion Culture. His love for fine clothing and photography has helped establish him as one of South Africa’s leading Fashion Photographers landing his work in Chicago, USA. . Shots011 caught up with Harness and this is what he had to say, enjoy!


Shots011: Why photography? 1460077_1526325947608361_1295577303677920470_n (1)


HH: It is like being a super hero. You see things other people can’t. Then you influence change with it, where and when it is required.


Shots011: Earlier this year you were part of an exhibition Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity, in Chicago at The Museum of Contemporary Photography, how was that experience?


HH: It was an extraordinary feeling to have my first exhibition internationally. I wish I had attended the opening. I was however, informed by Shantrelle P Lewis, curator and researcher for the Dandy Lion Project, that the exhibition had the best attendance ever in the history of the museum and my  that work was one of the favorites.


Shots011: Please explain your relationship with Khumbula?


HH: We are friends that met by coincidence. I had just purchased my camera and was practicing street photography in the Johannesburg CBD. I was approached by one of the most well-dressed, beautiful young ladies I have ever seen, Andile Biyana. She proposed the collaboration. I suppose she was impressed by how handsome I looked with way I held and moved with the camera. The appearance of a Pro when I was really just an amateur.


Shots011: Looking at your work, what is it that you want viewers to take from your images?


HH: Whatsoever it is that they wish to take. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”


Shots011: Culture is one of the themes your work explores, what is your view on contemporary photography and its influence on culture?


HH: It is a cross pollination. Culture should not be an indoctrination, but a means of exploration and redesign of ourselves and what we perceive as culture.








Shots011: Collaboration seems to be at the heart of your creative pursuits, what propels that?


HH: The desire for two entities from different backgrounds to create , learn and celebrate our differences.


Shots011: You lost your equipment earlier this year, how has that affected your photography?


HH: It has surely slowed down my productivity but, has also made me more creative and mindful of compelling subjects, “The Blind Side”.


Shots011: Do you have any advice on insurance and keeping one’s equipment safe?


HH: Do not be a fool like me! Thinking you know your way around and that you won’t be mugged. Any photographer serious about their craft should insure their equipment, KLAAR!







Shots011: Do you have a friend or contemporary who has work you admire?


HH: Japanese photographer Sohei Nishino. Exceptional work!


Shots011: Which photographer has been your biggest influence?


HH: Richard Avedon, his ability to sincerely portray someone’s character and soulfully inject himself in them.


Shots011: If there is one thing you wish you knew at the start of your career, what would it be?


HH: The business of photography, and be weary of exploitation.



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 Harness the person, instead of the artist, a bit more about Harness outside photography


What is your favourite word?



What is your least favourite word?



What turns you on creatively?

Movement and facial expressions.


What turns you off?  

Too many photographers on one subject at the same time.


What is your favourite curse word?



What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of a Harp.


What sound or noise do you hate?  

A person shouting for no reason.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Making handmade Belts and practicing how to Code.


What profession would you not like to do?

Call Centre Agent – I aint going back there!


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

I am sorry I took your father from you just as you were getting to know him.

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