Cameras can be powerful tools used to drive change. In Cape Town, South Africa, a fighting spirit and a positive outlook gave one visual artist the gravitas to represent his country through a different lens.
Imraan Christian is a skilled photographer with an impressive resume bursting with popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, MTV and RedBull.
“I identify as a story teller first and foremost. I use several tools to convey a message, one of my favorites being photography. The camera is like another limb to me,” he said.
It’s not the household brand names that make Christian a popular artist. It’s the social activism he displays all across the Cape of Good Hope that has left an imprint in peoples’ minds.
Inspiring youth through positive imagery
Having grown up on the Cape Flats — an area notorious for gangs and drugs — Christian aims to educate and inspire youth through murals with strong positive imagery.
A recent display in Hangberg, a community on the Cape Flats, depicts children using cameras and musical instruments in place of gun.
“It’s about channeling that same passion and force into a more positive way. Its’ a reminder for young people that the potential is infinite. That they should dream wildly,” he said.
Fostering change by shedding a light on the next generation seems to be a recurring theme in his life.
‘I was born to bring light’
In 2015, students began to protest the rising cost of college education in South Africa. Christian, a fresh graduate and freelance journalist, was there to capture it.
“They called me ‘the eye’ during the protests. In representing the protests, I was very conscious about what I represent and the lens to represent it,” Christian said.
With a click of his camera, he catapulted his career to the top of the commercial world with this iconic photo of the “Fees Must Fall” protests.
For Christian, there’s no greater purpose than sharing his talent.
He moonlights as a mentor in an Adidas program in Cape Town, where he teaches young creatives between the ages of 14 and 20 the tricks of the trade.
“I knew I was born to be a leader and I knew I was born to bring light. There is this saying in Arabic, it’s ‘mahtomb,’ it means ‘it was written.’ And for me, I feel like I’m walking a path that was written.”