Expression: The Couch Sessions With Siphiwe Mhlambi

Multiple award-winning photographer, Siphiwe Mhlambi (founder of African Sky Media), opened the exhibition for a collection of his Jazz photographs on the 6th September 2018. This exhibition showcases how he captured the history of South African Jazz Music through his lens. This was not the end though as Siphiwe continues to create a platform for photographers to come together and discuss critical issues affecting them in the industry. The platform is called Expression: Couch Sessions by Siphiwe Mhlambi.

The Couch Session will take place during the 22 day period of the open exhibition for Expressions. These sessions will be hosted in series and a total of three panel discussions, that will take place at the gallery FotoZA – Rosebank Mall.

The first Couch Session took place on Saturday the 8th September 2018 2pm to 3:30pm.

Topic discussed: The Evolving Role of the Jazz photographer over the last 50 Years – then and now – technology evolution and the social media revolution

Anchor : Gwen Ansell – jazz writer and arts & culture journalist


Daylin Paul – visual editor New Frame – Centre for Pan African media.

“Jazz photography tells a story of what people went through during the apartheid period in South Africa. As important as Jazz photography is, it is not given enough platform and exposure.”

Percy Mabandu – writer, journalist, jazz radio show anchor Radio 702

“I feel that there is an urgency that needs to be created about the person behind the lens (photographer), as they are telling their story as well through the images they take. The rise of Social Media has self-disturbed the photography process because photography is not only about documentation, it’s about telling a story. I feel that the quality of photography has been hacked”

Percy had a critic toward Siphiwe Mhlambi Jazz Exhibition: Expressions, “I do not see the representation of the audience in the exhibition”.

Caroline Kaminju – digital social writer and photographer

“The relationship between a photographer and their subject is very important. You can photograph one subject in different ways and if you as a photographer don’t have a relationship with your subject, that limits you. This also determines how the images will turn out , remember that the viewer/ audience can read the story in the image and of how the image was created”.

Leslie Dikeni – urban sociologist, author/editor of Poverty of Ideas and of forthcoming book: Music Agency and Power

“Photography goes beyond capturing a moment, it provides us with the window to see who the Jazz musician behind the instrument is. Siphiwe has managed to link the subject (jazz musician) with the object (instrument) in his images, giving the audience a clear picture into the musicians soul. Social media has contributed in promoting various forms of art. Social media has also discriminated the very same artists it helps to promote. We need to focus on exposing the forces that control social media, bringing down artists and crippling their careers. Social media leaves artists with a difficult choice because it can help you build your career but it can also destroy it”.

Siphiwe Mhlambi:

Siphiwe took a moment to thank everyone who have been supporting him, specifically the people who came to attend and contribute in the Couch Session.

“People need to understand that you have to create your own opportunities, especially as a photographer. Work on your own pace and from a place of inspiration to be great as a photographer. Make you’re your own rules and it’s very important to develop a relationship with your subject”.

No one could have said it any better. The exhibition is still open for those who are interested to see it or even buy. See information below.

Congratulations once again to Siphiwe Mhlambi!!

Below are some of the memorable moments from the Couch Session:






The following sessions will be on these dates:

Sunday 16 September – 2 pm to 3.30 pm

Topic Discussed: The Influence of Jazz Photography in Jazz History

Anchor: Dr Lindelwa Dalamba – Wits School of Arts – historian and lecturer. 


– Siphiwe Mhlambi – exhibiting Jazz photographer

– Sam Nhlengethwa – artist, jazz aficionado and collector

– Candice Jansen – documentarian on photography and currently is a PhD Fellow in Art History at WiSER

– Nothemba Madumo – radio jazz show presenter/producer and MD of 4everjazz ( a Jazz media and events company)

Sunday 23 September – 2 pm to 3.30 pm

Topic Discussed: copyright and photography use – contribution of jazz photographers to increase artists profiles in the age of social media

Moderator : Rashid Lombard – Visionary entrepreneur, master programmer of the arts, photographer and co –founder of the Cape Town International Jazz festival 

– Siphiwe Mhlambi – exhibiting Jazz photographer

– Rod Taylor – photojournalist and jazz photographer

– Lindo Mbhele – jazz photographer

– Oscar Gutierrez – arts & culture photographer

– Sufi Don / Hugh Mdlalose – jazz photographer

– Neo Ntsoma – photojournalist and photo trainer

– Rafs Mayet  – photojournalist and jazz photographer

All sessions:  2pm – 3:30pm


Image: @Hlohlwane/ Princess Mahogo