Monetization (Pt 2): Photography And The Art Market with Francki Burger

I decided to start this monetization series as a quest to help young up-and-coming artists like myself to better understand the creative industry. The series started with Modise A. Sepeng who has found a way to urn his “curiosity” into a viable source of income and business. This post is a continuation of the series.


I met up with Francki Burger at Speke, the photographic arm of the CIRCA, where she has helped curate work by photographers such as Hentie Van Der Merwe. Francki is not only curates but she also teaches fashion photography with Lisof and the fine art honors students at TUT. Her experience in photography spans across all genres ” from working with the press, commercial photography, fine art photography, I have seen work in all disciplines of the medium” she adds. We discussed her relationship with the Speke and the importance of understanding the art market as artists and this is how the conversation went…



Shots011: Who is Francki Burger?


FB: Francki Burger is a passionate photographer. I have been doing photography for a very long time, from working with the press, commercial photography, fine art photography. I have seen work in all disciplines of the medium. I am also a teacher at Lisof which is a small fashion photography school and at The Tshwane University of Technology teaching the honors students.


Shots011: What is the relation between you and CIRCA?


FB: There aren’t a lot of photography spaces in Johannesburg. We wanted to create a space that will be solely for photography. The relationship started like that and I helped curate a few shows from up-and-coming photographers. We try as much as we can to keep this space purely for photography and we host shows like the one showing now.


Shots011: How important is it for artists to understand the art market?


FB: I think it is very important, especially in South Africa because it’s hard. It’s hard selling photography. The South African audience is not well-educated on a) how to appreciate and view photography, and b) why to buy it. It is important for photographers to learn the ins and outs of the art market but more importantly where they can get exposure. In countries such as America, they teach their photography students marketing skills and that becomes a huge part of a process and that helps.


©Katlego K Tshuma



Shots011: Why is there such a huge disparity between the really successful artist and the number of struggling ones?


FB: There is not a huge amount of photographers who are doing well, there is maybe less than ten. They come from our complex history and either documented the apartheid era in a different way and kept on working. They have been around for longer and that’s why.


There is not a huge amount of young photographers making it but slowly we are seeing a number of young photographers breaking through. Photographers such as Lebogang Kganye, she did well at the Bamako Biennale. Zanele Muholi, she might not have been around as long as David Goldblatt, but she is doing very well.



© Zanele Muholi, Thulani II (Parktown), 2015
© Zanele Muholi, Thulani II (Parktown), 2015



Lebohang Kganye, The Pied Piper 2013
© Lebohang Kganye, The Pied Piper 2013



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


FB: Know your medium! I see a lot of photographers who kind of know how the camera works but aren’t so sure. They go out and shoot, but they are never in control of the camera. It’s like someone painting with oil and they don’t know what the oil paint is going to look like on the canvas, it makes it very hard. Once you know the medium you can then become creative.


Read! You need to read a lot! Art history, the history of photography and how has it progressed throughout the years. Learning the theory around photography is very important and that helps grow your interest in the medium.


© Katlego K Tshuma


Shots011: Who has been your greatest influence?


FB: A lot of things! A lot of fine art, Anselm Keifer and a lot of German expressionists, I find that a lot of their landscapes resonate with the South African history. The South African landscape fascinates me because it is filled with so much blood. As South Africans we have such a huge connection to our landscape.


Shots011: Are there any contemporary artist who have work you admire?


FB: I like the work of Jo Ractliffe. Hassan Husein, its documentary but pushes it a bit further conceptually.


Then there is a lot of fine art work that I like, like Minnette Vari who uses photography and video in her work. There’s quite a lot.



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


What is your favourite word?



What is your least favourite word?

I can’t do it.


What turns you on creatively?

Seeing an inspiring exhibition.


What turns you off?

A lack of enthusiasm


What is your favourite curse word?



What sound or noise do you love?

An Aeroplane taking off.


What sound or noise do you hate?

Thunder when I have a picnic outside.


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

I would actually love being the MC at a circus.


What profession would you not like to do?

Anything in an office.


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

You made beautiful work, welcome!

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